Random Comic Tips and Questions

Discuss the art of creating art here. Share tutorials and tips with your fellow comic creators.

Random Comic Tips and Questions

Postby H0lyhandgrenade » January 17th, 2011, 11:48 am

I thought this might be a nice idea. Everyone loves lil' tips and tricks, right? So how about we post a few things we've picked up along the way whilst comicking, about drawing them, writing, inking, whatever. It could be something seemingly simple that'd be handy for someone new to comics, or something advanced and specific. Whatever you like.

-The size of a comic panel tends to show how much time is passing in that panel. A small panel shows an instant, whilst a larger panel is more likely to show a longer period of time. Different factors can change this, such as how much speech is in them, but it's a general rule.

-If you struggle with backgrounds, don't shy away from them worrying that they'll look bad. Leaping headfirst into backgrounds and deciding you WILL draw them and you'll damn well go for it is the best way to get better at them.



Edit: You can also post any comic-making questions you have that you don't think deserve a separate thread here!
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby eishiya » January 17th, 2011, 11:52 am

Even if you're not working for print, try to give your pages a bit of margin room, keep your text away from the edges of the page/image. Text near edges is more difficult to read and leads the eye off the page.

Speaking of text, remember to position it so that it leads the eye around the page and the panels in a way that covers all the important parts! When a page has text, it often becomes the focus rather than the art, but you can use that to your advantage to lead the eye around.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby Nymine » January 17th, 2011, 12:34 pm

A good sketch makes a world of difference. Don't worry about the details; it could be anything from placement of people talking to simply the progression of boxes. Even if what your doing is completely digital, some kind of sketch will give you a guidepost as where to go next.

Also, white space is your friend. Don't be afraid to reduce the amount of boxes/things in a panel if your page gets too busy(as in it gets hard to tell what's going on).
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby Jadiekins » January 17th, 2011, 6:10 pm

Study what established artists have done, and not just comic book artists. Look at painters of all kinds, read books, study films. Look at the ways they compose a shot and how they pace the story, and look at how they use color or how they render in black and white.

For God's sakes don't use COMIC SANS.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby sukai-yume » January 17th, 2011, 6:16 pm

H0lyhandgrenade wrote:-The size of a comic panel tends to show how much time is passing in that panel. A small panel shows an instant, whilst a larger panel is more likely to show a longer period of time. Different factors can change this, such as how much speech is in them, but it's a general rule.


Thats such a good idea I'll take that on board.

- Learning the rules of 1 point and 2 point perspective are so helpful when drawing backgrounds, especially in an urban enviroment. It's all about practice.

- Try not to slack off on drawing the backgrounds. I beleive that the overall aesthetics of the page are as important as the quality of the artwork itself. Too much white space can make the page look empty and it is difficult to gauge the location of a character. Plus I also beleive it helps set the scene and create an atmosphere. However I find white space is great for impact.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby xkrazydog » January 17th, 2011, 7:11 pm

Ink with confidence. If you dont have confidence in your strokes, chances are you will mess up indefinitely no matter how careful or slow you are.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby Thera Dratara » January 18th, 2011, 12:47 am

- Cyan-light blue colours don't show up while scanning. Use these to sketch when you prefer using pencil or when you can't be bothered to erase when inking. There's even mechanical pencil leads in this colour but Pilot's softblue is the only one that has the precise colour neccesaryLink to some reviews.

- Long-haired brushes are the best for brush inking. Do get expensive ones.

- Prepare you comic. Storyboarding and scripting really really helps keeping the motivation up, because you can work out the bumps and you won't have to think too much during drawing, allowing you to focus on the art.
--Plan out the balloons when sketching. Balloons will have a huge effect on the composition in the end, and a good composition is more important then great art.
--When writing, try to practice saying as little as possibly needed. Comics are a visual medium, and like film this allows for imformation to be communicated more subtilly. Slapstick will work in film and comic. It won't work in a book. Long monologues every 5 seconds work in a book, it doesn't work in film and comics.(well, I guess it depends on the comic).
--Read "Understanding comics" It points out some of the finer strengths of the medium.(like H0lyhandgrenade's suggestion)

-When working on a pose you are not familiar with, try taking a picture of someone in that pose. The extra effort has always given me a better result compared to me trying to construct it.

- Do look into hand-lettering. It may be that you suck at it(like me), but none the less, improving on it will allow you to increase you expression. However, if you aren't very good at it yet, do replace it with a comic-font before publishing.
--Don't forget the sound effects ;)

- Learn about masks in image editing programs. They're very versatile and will allow for amazingly complex things in quite an easy way.

And to add to Sukai-Yume's tips:
-Enstablishing shots and how to use them is one of the most important things out there. In short: At the start of every scene, show off the enviroment your characters stand in. This'll prevent the 'floating in white space'-effect a lot of starting comic artists have. After the enstablishing shot, you can get awa with a abstract background or two.

EDIT: Thought of another one:

-When having a lot of dialogue, allow the characters to do something inbetween, like having dinner or folding an origami crane or whatever. This'll both give the characters personality as well as break up the monotony of the art.

-If you can't ink with confidence, or rather are afraid you are going to ruin you sketch, get your hands on some tracing paper. It's easy to scan in, and plenty of proffesionals do the same.

- Draw backgrounds in thin lines and forgrounds and main characters in think ones. Thick lines attract attention and going from thick to thin will create the illusion of depth.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby blankd » January 18th, 2011, 1:06 am

-Don't give characters static poses, if they have to stand around talking, incorporate body language, no one stands perfectly straight and if you have two or more characters doing the exact same behavior there MIGHT be a problem.

-Try to show things rather than tell them, if you HAVE to "tell" about something it better be about something that wouldn't be easily observable to either the audience or the character. (ie: Abstract concepts or ideas are fine to "tell" if they are complicated, but explaining how a character feels via text is never a good answer.)

-Don't be afraid of making your characters "ugly" if they get to have more expressions. (ie: extreme anger or really, crying in general)
SuperBiasedMan wrote:Just because you've proven something blankd doesn't mean I have to believe it.

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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby stripedwine » January 18th, 2011, 10:33 am

- Rule of thirds.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby KirbyHead » January 18th, 2011, 6:33 pm

-Try to avoid walls of text, unless you're actually trying to draw attention to the fact that you have a wall of text. You can split up dialogue and exposition so that it's easier digested by your readers.

-On that note, a comic without words can still be a comic. A bunch of text without pictures is closer to a regular book. If you're utilizing comics as a medium, make sure that the pictures are essential to the story, too. When you can, "Show, don't tell": to give an example, it's usually more striking when you picture someone stabbing a person, rather than simply putting it into text. Obviously, there are some concepts that are more easily conveyed using text, but if you're completely attached to to describing everything with words in lieu of pictures, you might want to reconsider the medium you're using to tell your story.

-There are a lot of useful rules you can follow when you're making a page. But don't be afraid to experiment! If you already know the rules, then breaking them at times can be rewarding... and sometimes, it isn't. But every page is just one step on a journey. If you didn't get quite the effect you wanted-- well, you've got dozens more pages to try it again.

-Read lots of comics! There's a whole world of reference out there where you can see what works and what doesn't. You can get new ideas for visual storytelling from pretty much anything. If you're into Marvel and DC, pick up an independently-published comic and check it out, and vice versa. If you're an avid manga fan, try out something from the Western world. That's all of Europe included: people tend to forget that they make comics too, for some reason or another.

You'll learn things in the process of reading, and plus comics are just fun. (Don't get so lost in reading that you forget to go out and create, though.)
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby H0lyhandgrenade » January 18th, 2011, 6:48 pm

-The distance between two speech bubbles tends to show the length of time between the two being said.

-The size of the text is a good way of showing how loud someone's talking.

-Bizarre panel layouts may look fun, but there aren't often many points being handed out for wackyness. What most people want is to READ the comic, so keep the layout as simple as you can at first with the main thing in mind being how easy it is for the reader. When you're certain you know how to make a page easily readable then you can try out the more interesting layouts.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby SuperBiasedMan » January 18th, 2011, 6:57 pm

KirbyHead wrote:-Read lots of comics! There's a whole world of reference out there where you can see what works and what doesn't. You can get new ideas for visual storytelling from pretty much anything. If you're into Marvel and DC, pick up an independently-published comic and check it out, and vice versa. If you're an avid manga fan, try out something from the Western world. That's all of Europe included: people tend to forget that they make comics too, for some reason or another.

You'll learn things in the process of reading, and plus comics are just fun. (Don't get so lost in reading that you forget to go out and create, though.)


Don't stick strictly to comics either. Use all mediums to influence your comics. Think about what others do that you like, and how you could replicate or improve the same effect in a comic.
Snuffan and on a separate occasion, my dad wrote:"don´t be a girls who needs a man, be the girl a man need"

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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby eishiya » January 18th, 2011, 6:59 pm

To add to H0ly's text size tip:

Don't have too many different sizes, at least for non-extreme stuff. Keep all normal speech the same size, all whispering either the same size or a tiny bit smaller. Keep the real variation for yelling. Constantly changing text gets really annoying to read, so be careful with it.
That said, try to express volume with the bubble shapes and sizes more than with the text size. A lot of white space around small text looks like a whisper, standard comfortable sizing is regular speech, and various degrees of jaggedness make for loud voices, yelling, etc.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby Nymine » January 18th, 2011, 7:07 pm

Adding to the text tips whee!

Try not to pick a weird font for your bubbles. This rule can be broken in special instances/special character types(demons, psychos ect.) but for the most part, try to stick with something easy to read. Sans-serif is usually easier on the eyes. This way, when something else happens, not only will the size of the action help draw the eye, but so will the different font.
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Re: Random Comic Tips

Postby xkrazydog » January 18th, 2011, 7:34 pm

To add to the whacked Panelling tip:

be sure you know which DIRECTION and where to go with your panels. and avoid CROSS ROADING gutters that usually results from too many angled panels. Cross roading gutters is like a carcrash, no matter how nice you draw inside of it, you'll keep staring at it and get pissed off. indefinitely.

here's a good one: Headsizing. You can tell when your comic is getting too static when the head sizes are the same in all of the panels. Spruce it up and crop em.
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