At 8/31/12 07:46 AM, LegBanger wrote:
Thanks for your comments Aigis. I do quite like the look of a rough and sketchy style but I also definitely have a lot of learning to do. Do you have any good methods for improving my technique or any helpful books or DVDs, something to get me started?
Practice practice practice.
As basically everyone will tell you, the first thing to do in art is to learn the fundamentals. Which is, you know, obvious. That's why they're called fundamentals. Learn how to draw real human anatomy before you go off cartooning everything. Learn that from drawing from life (real people, etc.), photos, read anatomy books, etc. Then learn how to simplify everything for whatever purpose you want. It makes everything easier. I find Andrew Loomis's books good for learning how to draw people. Though perhaps I'm not the best person to get advice on that from, since I'm not really very good at it.
Also don't force yourself to find a style. That's limiting in a lot of ways. If you practice a lot of different things eventually stylistic elements will come to you.
But since this is a comics thread, more important is advice about making comics. I don't REALLY have a lot of advice to give about comics. But I'll try to give some poorly thought out tips. I'm still learning myself so try not to take anything I say as gospel.
Based on this comic jam it seems a bunch of people haven't really been going to too much trouble to set up the location of a scene. I mentioned this in a couple of critiques I think. If you open a scene with some people standing in a featureless void people aren't going to know exactly where the characters are supposed to be. You still might be able to follow the comic just fine, as chances are the location isn't that important, but there's still going to be something of a disconnect between the audience and the characters if they don't know bits of information like that. A good idea generally is if you're moving to a new location in a comic to show an exterior shot of wherever it is, or at least an interior shot that gives you an idea that you're in a new location. You could just have some text saying "Location: XXXXX" but that's pretty lazy. If your script makes it awkward to have any of these sorts of panels, it's at the least a good idea to draw in a background before jumping to a featureless void.
Maybe I should also say that having characters talking around a featureless void is generally functional in a dialogue driven scene, but is kind of boring and lazy, in my opinion. In my own comic I generally take out the background only to punctuate certain things the character's doing or saying.
Try to keep the action within the panels interesting. If it's an action filled scene this will be easy, because everyone will be constantly moving around. But even if it's a scene of a couple of people talking you should make these attempts. If it's just a dialogue focused scene, where what they say is important, and all they have to do is stand around, why not have them perform an action? Maybe they can walk up to a vending machine and buy a drink and then drink that drink, I don't know. It's not going to affect the dialogue much but it's going to make it more interesting to look at. If that's not possible, at least vary up the composition of the panels and the posing of the characters. People generally move around while talking. They don't just stand with their arms at their sides. Even if they're sitting a table there are a lot of ways to move around. Don't fall prey to what Hyptosis called Floating Head Syndrome above.
I should probably note that posing is extremely important in comics. Since, unlike film or animation, comics are still, the pose of a character has to say a whole lot about them. There's too much about what poses say about a person for me to list quickly here while I procrastinate from my own comic, so look that stuff up.
The TVTropes article about floating head syndrome is about bad movie posters. That's a completely different thing.
I'm not going to say much about it here since there's far too much to say about it, but if you're doing a comic series making sure your characters are distinguishable by silhouette is very important so that the audience can instantly know who a character is. Different haircuts is not a substitute for this. I'm looking at you, generic anime. Here's a good blog post about that: Silhouettes: The Silent Killer. That's by the guy who makes the webcomic Dresden Codak. He did some other good blog articles about elements of comics before his blog just started being about whatever he's doing with his own comic, so check those out maybe.
I'm not sure how I can compress this into a short paragraph, but guiding people's eye around a page is a key element of comics. In general in Western society, people are conditioned to read everything left to right, before going down, including comics. Unless they've been reading a bunch of manga lately, in which case they might find them reading comics backwards. Generally the way you set up your panels should reflect this. If, all of a sudden, your comic expects people to move from right to left, then you need to set up everything to force them to do that. Maybe your panel borders can be diagonal in that direction. That's an easy way. Maybe all the lines in your panel can point towards that panel. Maybe your characters are looking towards the direction of that panel. I don't know. There are a million ways to do this.
I found the book Making Comics by Scott McCloud useful, since he's a guy who's clearly done a lot of research on comics. He also made the series Zot! which is fun if you're looking for a silly silver-age style comic. That's not advice, really. If you're interested in theory, his other books Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics are also great reads.
I found the book Drawn to Life, a collection of lectures by Walt Stanchfield, to be quite useful for me. It's actually about animation, so some of it's irrelevant to comics, but all the principles of squash and stretch, perspective,exaggeration, whatever are all applicable.
For writing I tried reading some books on that some time, but I got bored very quickly. Most books on writing are by people who aren't very good writers. Maybe that doesn't matter. You don't need to be able to do a thing to know how to do it. If you can't do teach. But it still doesn't give me confidence in them. Am I being unfair to them? I don't know. I read a bit of a book by Orson Scott Card but man, I didn't even like Ender's Game.
Anyway that's all a bunch of stuff I wrote. Lots of words. Maybe it's useful? Maybe not?? You decide. The power is yours, man/woman.