Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

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Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

Postby Exoventure » January 9th, 2018, 2:04 am

So my comic is yet to be officially hosted yet. I'm currently kinda running around looking for critiques on what I can do better at the moment. (And also looking for hints.) So far I've been told that I should change the font. And my characters tend to jump around a lot from frame to frame :P (And the story is a bit hard to follow at the moment, based on the dialogue.) Wouldn't mind hearing what you guys think is good either.

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Also sorry one more question. This was originally intended to be more of an action/drama type of story. (With magic.) And I've been considering removing the magic because it feels out of place, especially the way it begins. (And there's no magic until like probably 50 pages down the line.)
I know Hunter x Hunter kinda pulled it off if I remember correctly, where Ren (Form of magic basically) was revealed really late. But still would like people's opinion >.>
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Re: Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

Postby eishiya » January 9th, 2018, 11:14 am

I apologise in advance if I misidentify the characters' species. They're quite stylised and a bit vague, which isn't a bad thing at all since it doesn't look like their species are critical to the plot, but that vagueness means I might make a mistake. Since their names aren't given in the comic, I'm going to use their species to refer to them, since it seems like good shorthand, even if it's wrong.


You're missing a lot of commas in the text, including the title xP There is also some other incorrect punctuation, such as missing periods, and a single hyphen used for interrupted speech instead of two. You should give the text another look-over to fix these issues. If you struggle with punctuation, have someone else proofread your text for you, maybe even a few people. Having someone else proofread is good even if you are good with that stuff, as it's easy to become blind to silly mistakes when you've been looking at the comic for a long time.


The comic's title being in the top right of the first page makes it look like it reads from right to left, and nothing on the first two pages contradicts this. But, the remaining pages seem to only make sense from left to right. I think there are a couple of fixes you could implement to remedy the first two pages reading wrong:
- Have the title overlaid over a wider first panel rather than in its own block, or have the black creep into that panel's shadows. That'll make it look less like a separate, attention-grabbing panel. Don't have the black from the title bleed into the panel below, either, as that makes the title look like a separate entity rather than just something that's part of the normal flow.
- The first panel on page 2 comes out of nowhere and means nothing to the reader, and then the door opens. It reads much more naturally in the other direction: the door opens, and a new character emerges. I think you should cut out that first panel entirely, and just have a wider panel of the door opening. Door opens, the character we've already seen reacts, and a new character emerges. It would still work with the previous page, and probably even flow better, since the character comes out of the room not smiling, as predicted by the first page. On a related note, it would help to connect the door-opening panel and the green-tinted panel if it was white behind the door, rather than dark.

I think part of the difficulty in following the story is that I can't easily identify the characters. For example, on my first read of the first two pages I thought the Dog and the Cat were the same character because on those pages they're both shown facing in the same direction with no apparent context switch (I read the door as something they're both looking at, and thus read Cat's appearance as a reaction shot). Then on page 2 I realized they were two characters because Dog was reacting to Cat... but then the green panel makes it look like Cat is a third character, because they're missing what I thought were eye markings rather than a shadow. The eye shadows/markings later come back and go missing again, and it was just confusing. I think since you're dealing with animal-headed characters, you should avoid shorthand that might be confused for markings. You can make the character look like they're looking down and upset using their head position and expression, you don't need to put their eyes into an opaque shadow.

Once I figured out that there's no Tanuki character, the first few pages became easier to follow. It helped a lot that you followed the rule of 180, keeping Dog on the left and Cat on the right for the majority of the comic (would've probably helped if the Dog was facing to the right on the first page, too).

Things get confusing again on the page where the Rabbit character appears. They were sitting near what looked like a wall/window, how did Rabbit get behind Cat? It was only after multiple reads that I realized Rabbit apparently pulled Cat up and posed them in front of Dog. I think that sequence is something you need to expand a bit to make it clearer. For example, you could replace the first panel with Rabbit pulling Cat's hand instead, and have a more zoomed out shot in panel 2 where we see all three characters in their new positions. Then, panel 3 can have a close-up of Rabbit's face next to Cat's.
In the second row of panels on that page, it's currently hard to tell who Rabbit is talking to. In panel 3 I identified Dog by the shirt, but I think it would've helped if you'd kept Dog's snout size consistent with earlier panels, as it looks much flatter, more like Cat's. In panel 4, I have no idea whose face is shown because you draw their snouts and noses almost identically. It think it would help if they differed more than just by the shape of the bottom of their nose. For example, you could give Dog a wider nose, wider, flatter snout, and a less pronounced lip cleft (:3-mouth).


I feel the colouring could use some more polish. I think your use of colour is effective, and you should keep doing that! However, the "loose, who cares about the lines" look requires a lot of skill, specifically a good understanding of light and form and good stroke economy to pull off, and I don't think it's quite working here. In such a style, the strokes have to communicate the form through their direction and weight; they can't be random and you can't rely as much on building shapes out of many strokes, because that's when it starts to look messy. I don't want to discourage you from that style, but I think you need to practice it a bit more before it's ready to be used in a comic. In comics, the panels have to read (be clear to the reader) instantly, so a messy colouring style can be quite detrimental in a comic, while the same look could work great in an illustration, where the viewer will spend more time looking at the art.

I think you're missing an opportunity in how you do shadows to show more texture. Where you have a boundary between lcolours, instead of leaving it smooth, break it up a bit to show the texture of the fur, fabric, or whatever else. It'll make the art feel a lot more detailed without being distracting and without taking a lot of work. It could potentially even save you some work on drawing all that fur in the lineart, as you could use much simpler, implied fur clumps and let the shading suggest that there's more fur everywhere:
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You don't need all those "sit" and "sip"-type sound effects. Your art does a good job of conveying what's happening on its own, and the SFX are distracting and make it look like you had no confidence in your art. Those kinds of SFX are common in translated manga because they're translated from Japanese, which has actual onomatopoeia for those actions into English, which does not, so the translators just describe what the Japanese onomatopoeia means instead of replacing it with an English equivalent. Since you're writing in English, either use English onomatopoeia (e.g. "fwip", "thump", "plop", "sssip", "thhhp", etc) or just skip them. In a serious story like this, I think it's better to skip them, as many English onomatopoeia can lend a bit of a light air to a story.

Your text is positioned quite well and lead the eye around the pages effectively, but the text doesn't fit in the bubbles comfortably and is positioned inconsistently, the bubble shapes are messy, and the speech bubbles sometimes point to random parts of the characters' heads instead of to their mouth. In the panel I edited above, the speech also barely fits in the panel! It's important to give text and important elements (such as speakers' faces) breathing room. When you plan your pages, make sure you do it with the text in mind so that you always leave enough space for it.

Your panelling is generally easy to follow, with the most confusing pages being the first two pages as I described above. Your pages are at their best when you keep things simple - clear and effective. On the page where Rabbit appears, you have gutter crash between the first and second rows (the gutters between panels all meet at a single point, which is distracting and can make the panel order unclear), which could be easily fixed by making the diagonal panel border less tilted, so the top of it is further to the right. On the last page, it looks like you're getting too fancy just to be fancy, the angular panels don't really help the page read better or look more dramatic. In addition, it leads the eye off the page since the characters are looking off-page. I think panels 2 and 3 there could be combined into a single panel, with Dog on the left and Cat on the right. You could have their speech bubbles sat in the middle, one atop the other, so they'll still read correctly.


This is a rather strange start to a story, and that's intriguing! I hope my walls of critique doesn't discourage you from continuing.


As for magic, I suspect HxH only did it because when the story started, the author didn't plan to include magic, but decided they wanted to much later on. Long-running weekly manga often have quite little long-term planning. That said, 50 pages isn't all that long, unless the entire story is ~100 pages. If you can cut the magic without hurting the rest of the story, go for it - unnecessary world details are just clutter. But if you need magic for the plot you want, I think you can leave it in even if it doesn't become relevant until later. If you're worried about it "suddenly" appearing, just hint at it earlier, perhaps with details in the background, or passing references in dialogue. Characters living in a magical world are likely to have idioms and metaphors that reference magic, so you don't need to have conversations about magic to hint that magic exists.
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Re: Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

Postby IVA_12 » January 9th, 2018, 12:06 pm

Hey there :D I was scouring the forum and found your thread, so I thought why not help a fellow webcomic-creator?
Here I go, I won't be harsh, really. I'm going to give an honest reader's perspective on it, and I'll add some advice of my own (lowly as I).
  • I like the font for the first page, real stylistic. Did you make that? If you did it's cool. If it's a font though, I'd like to know the font name.
  • The transition from yellow (i'm betting sunset) to greyscale and the red emphasis of the cig is excellent, it really sets the mood. Even the way the pages get darker at the points where it has to according to the story.Your key colours (ie. yellow and red) were placed perfectly. It completely notes the mood and character of the...characters haha :D .
  • The gender dysphoria is intriguing, and to know that the lord/lady is someone of repute in an arranged marriage. This makes the reader wonder what kind of culture the comic's world and the lord's/lady's family is like.
  • the vassal?-protagonist hints an interest or just really bashful (i'm assuming :P ). But am I also smelling a backstory?(at the end part) That would really keep some beef on the opening pages. Making the reader wonder about the characters is one way of keeping their attention, so long as it's executed well.
  • some perspectives are good, some can be edited. (I have problems on that too, so I try my best to just draw the scene differently--making them look visually pleasing, whatever suits your taste and mood of the scene. Experimenting is awesome, but effortful nonetheless). From what I've read and learnt, the good scenes (for me) are where the reader can have a scan/view of the setting the characters are in (like in yours, where the guy hands the tea, the lord/lady sips the tea, and where the rabbit-guy bids "later"). You don't really have to draw such detail, unless it's a feature page. I think one only needs to set up grounds/the reality/world your characters are living in; this makes the story more solid. It's essential, I've learnt. Although some of your scenes where the background gets blurry and abstract can be perfect for relaying intense emotions or emotions you, the creator, want the reader to feel emphatically.
  • another thing, "value". Since you're making the art greyscale, one has to learn about value. Don't get me wrong, your first few pages are real good. The darker ones can get adjusted. I get why you wanted it dark, but there's a thing as too dark to read. You could ease the black and just use a bland dark grey. Heck, it doesn't even need to be grey-ish, you can use any colour mixed with grey! But that depends on your preference of course.
  • Floating heads are things to be avoided, they say. But you can use it to emphasise facial expressions, although there's a clearance of where to cut the head. Like, it's better to show some shoulder instead of just the head. I'm guilty of this back then, now I'm trying to limit such occurrences. Besides think of it as exercise when drawing your character's other parts of the body. If you're gonna do action, floating heads must be limited.
  • story-wise, if you're gonna pursue the magic path, by all means go ahead, it's your comic! Have fun! :D But If you really want it to work, you best plan it. My advice, think of a shorter way to show that your comic is gonna deal with magic. (personally, I'm working on that for my present chapter. I promised a magic fight with this unknown creature-kin, yet i'm taking over a hundred pages to get to it. Please, don't do what I did.) You don't have to rush it though, work it in your own pace. Do it by what you think is best.

I'm sorry if I might sound hypocritical. It's just that I've seen the mistakes I made in my comic and I want to make amends, that's why I educated myself with other creators' advice. If only I've read their advice sooner before I made my comic. So yeah, i'm like a cautionary tale or whatever.
Honestly, I just wanted to help someone because no one did when I needed it most. Perhaps you'll read my super-duper long reply or not. At least I wrote & posted my say. If you read this, I hope you understand I mean well. You may be just in the beginning of this comic-creation-adventure, and the best advice I have for that is to keep moving forward!

Now I just sound sappy! :lol: :roll: :P
Anyways! Goodluck on your comic, friend! I hope my notes & secondhand advice reach you and help you in your need. :D
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Re: Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

Postby Exoventure » January 13th, 2018, 12:59 am

Thank you for the tips! I'll definitly look into fixing the grammar XDDD And finding a better font x.x I'm going to fix up that top right area in the first page, maybe add a frame instead. I've adjusted the characters a bit to make them easier to identify. (Particularly the eyes and ears and the shapes of the head.) I'm going to adjust the page with the rabbit entering. Maybe I'll have him in the background before he officially comes in. I was hoping from this comic that I would learn to get to learn to make better line art, especially with what Eiysha mentioned with stroke economy. So to me this is kinda like a learning experience as much as it is something fun to do >.> I'm going to work on the text bubbles as well.

I'm happy to hear that the story is intriguing though! It still needs a bit more polish admittedly lol. But hopefully I should have it planned out properly soon.

As for the font, it's handwritten with a cintiq. I used a brush from Kyle Brushes, the brush itself is called the Badass brush from Kyle's inkbox, which is what I'm using for the entire comic, including some of the shading xDD. (Except when I need to erase.)

Once more thank you for the advice!
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Re: Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

Postby IVA_12 » January 13th, 2018, 1:51 am

Goodluck on your venture then!
Have fun! We all start somewhere and if we keep on doing it again & again, we get better.
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Comic Status: ON HIATUS | Shall update on 1st Wednesday of July
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Re: Wanted some criticism on how I can improve my comic

Postby GreenRaptorStudios » February 4th, 2018, 8:01 pm

Generally put, I think we you have here is something interesting. You have anthropomorphic animals and real dramatic experiences. This is quite rare as you are taking something cute and making it into dark and serious. Your art style is messy, but at the same time that's not really a bad thing. I've seen many other comics with this kinda style and your crude style does help to add tension to the situation.

What I do think you have problems with is that everything is so close up. You have very few distance shots, this makes it pretty hard to get a sense of location, movement and also makes your comic look cluttered. With everything is such close up, I'm having trouble figuring out what is going on. I'm also kinda confused as to what the rabbit is and where he came from. Is this a dream or a flashback, and if it is, why does it look similar in color to the real life image. I think you need to have special colors or some style to signal a flashback or dream. Something you don't see in other areas.

Also is this the first part or is it just a segment? I think we should first identify who the characters are before we start doing these types of situations, it feels like we came in the middle, but this just be a middle part.

Again I think your storytelling is great and you have a potential piece right here, it's simply the art that needs some cleaning up. This style can work, but you need more variety in shots and different colors to decipher what's current and what's a flashback/dream. Good Luck
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