13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Think your comic can improve? Whether it's art or writing, composition or colouring, feel free to ask here! Critique and commentary welcome.

13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Wed Aug 17, 2011 6:17 am

This is a sequel to this thread.

This list isn't as structured as the last one, more a bunch of things I've come to realise in my time.

1. Get critiqued.
If you really want to improve the first thing you need to know is your faults and the easiest way to find out is by being critiqued. Here on the CGforums there's several options like the annual Webcomic Above You thread, occasional review binges by people like Serge or just plain asking. Most of the people around here are honest and straight to the point without being cruel so don't be afraid.
If you are going to ask for a critique I'd suggest adding a link to the thread in your sig so that the maximum amount of people will see it.

2. Accept you're NOT perfect.
Okay really this should be first but for most people this acceptance doesn't come without a good hit from the reality anvil.
There is nothing wrong with having flawed artwork, that should be the motivation to improve so that you can see how far you've come.

3. Practice every day.
Honestly there's no excuse not to do this, you don't have to draw anything elaborate just five minutes doodling on a napkin at lunch is enough (although you should try to dedicate more time when able to). Not only will this help you become faster at drawing but you will sometimes find amazing ideas in the crappy doodle you do.

4. Push yourself by trying something new.
It doesn't matter if it's a new drawing style, new medium or new poses you always try to do something new, you don't necessarily need to do this in your comic but you'll be surprised how often trying something different gives you the answer to a problem you've been having.

5. Find a HELPFUL community.
Whether it's online or real world you need to be among others who share the same interest (this really goes for all hobbies). The best kind of group is one with a mix of experience/talent levels where your peers are willing to share those tips and answer those questions without any elitism.
CG is a good place for this, so long as you're not an arse about it you'll find people willing to help. I've heard from others about bad experience on other online communities - many anthro artists find problems with the furry-forums for instance - so the best advice would be to ask for help on a few different forums and see what you get. The goal is to get feedback that points out flaws honestly and maybe adds suggestions, avoid meaningless praise it is just as destructive as meaningless insults.

6. Take an interest in other arts.
Go to galleries, chat with people at your local art supplies, browse deviantArt if you must, the point is to see more art outside of the comics. Learn how other artists convey moods and messages on a purely visual basis whether it be by the colours, the composition, the lighting or some other intangible quality and see what you can apply to your own artwork.

7. If you get a good idea for a new comic TRY IT.
You don't necessarily need to abandon your current comic or even continue with the new one but if you get an idea try sketching out a page or two, a fresh start can often bring the chance to learn from earlier mistakes.

8. Keep doing the basics and build on them.
No matter how far you think you've come, keep using those BASIC skills. Draw out basic shapes, guidelines, skeletons or whatever underdrawing technique you found works best for you.
Keep learning your anatomy, once you know how a person goes together learn how the parts move, learn how muscles affect each other, learn how the posture can display mood, learn how hair moves, the list goes on forever you can never say "I have nothing more to learn."
Once you are fairly competent with the basics try adding techniques like line variance and shading they do wonders for an image.

9. Expect to find answers in strange places.
Like the real world for instance. Watching real people move and interact will help you more than you could imagine.
Failing that watch movies and TV.
Read magazines - adverts can give inspiration for splash pages or pin-ups, the style/make-up/health sections in girls' mags are helpful for guys making female characters (and vice versa too I suppose).
True story: My boob drawing until recently has been the subject of much discussion - mostly that it was unrealistic and too ball-like - but I had two lightbulb moments that helped me to make them more decent (the first is a section in the back of a certain men's mag that just has pics of boobs of varying sizes and shapes and the second was just admiring a certain celebrity-crush who has very little in the way of boobage), the main lesson I learned is that no matter how big or small they are boobs sit lower down on the chest, the base for the boobs is roughly the same and they just expand from there. (Note: previous hands on experience was not usually accompanied by any thoughts other than "yippee", yes we men are that juvenile about sex.)

10. RESEARCH
Unless you're writing about something you already have a massive interest in (or a biographical comic which you should probably stop) you're going to need to know about what you're writing. This research could be as little as reading a couple of books to asking people about their life/work to taking a trip overseas and immersing yourself in another culture. The more knowledge you can bring to the table the greater the authenticity of the work.

11. If you're feeling burnt out, take a break.
Don't be afraid to put the pencil down completely for a couple of weeks, more often than not you'll find yourself itching to pick up that pencil and get back into drawing with renewed enthusiasm and it's enthusiasm more than anything else that will help you improve. It's impossible not to get better at something when you're doing it because YOU love it, all the compliments in the world can't match up to that feeling of doing something you truly enjoy.

12. Better tools give better results.
I'm not saying that if you go out and spend hundreds of dollars on top of the line pens/papers/computer tablets/etc you are automatically going to become a better artist what I AM saying is that the expensive stuff does exist for a reason more than just emptying the pockets of the pretentious, once you are feeling comfortable with the cheap stuff try stepping up a few dollars - a better pen might have better ink flow, higher quality pencils are less likely to break, bristol paper IS awesome.
Look at it as part of the learning process like riding a bike, you start off on a tricycle then a BMX with training wheels then no training wheels then a ten-speed - your equipment improves with your skills.

13. Find a way to kickstart your mojo.
It is so hard to create anything if your head is not in the right place so you need to find a way to put it there.
For some people this is as simple as music in the background or the right beverage, whatever it is figure it out.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby CMikeNIke on Wed Aug 17, 2011 10:59 am

These are all quite good. I like that you address that there is a reason that expensive tools to exist: because they really are good. I've had a couple of times where I've had to explain that I paid for something more expensive because you really do get what you pay for.

I would add one thing to this, as well.

Set goals
Setting goals that are reasonable, but that still push you to try harder to complete it. I've found that goals that I reach in itself give me the motivation and eagerness to meet the next one. And, if you don't go overboard with what the goal is, even if you miss it, it won't be as crippling of a disappointment. Overall, goals will help give a more focused idea of what you're doing, so you don't meander on unnecessary components.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby McDuffies on Thu Aug 18, 2011 2:21 pm

Mostly good advices. Here are a few from me:

-I like to repeat Terry Gilliam's advice: read a lot. Be erudite, be informed. If you want to tell stories, it's better if you have to have something to say.

-When you're going somewhere, asking for help will get you there faster. If you want to learn a certain skill (say, anatomy or perspective), buying a book on that subject will get you there faster, but enrolling into classes where you can draw from a model or get advices from a tutor that adress your drawing directly - will get you there even faster. It's not that drawing from comics or freeze-frames of movies won't teach you anything, it's just that it'll take several times longer.

-Don't learn anatomy from magazines. From magazines, you learn how to draw people posing for magazines. What you need is to learn how to draw people doing stuff.

RobboAKAscooby wrote:The more knowledge you can bring to the table the greater the authenticity of the work.

I think it's worth mentioning that this knowledge should be visible but not explicitly shown in a comic. When you research, you're tempted to spill all the things you've learned in a comic, to show off your knowledge, so to speak. But that's not good and writer should exercise moderation, after all a reader can read all the same books you did if he wanted. You need research to learn how things function, and then show them functioning that way in your comic.

Failing that watch movies and TV.

I dunno, we're already so saturated with pop culture that we have some trouble discerning reality from, shell we say, simulacra. I blame derivative nature of much of comics on author's inclusion of pop culture's strictly fictional tropes without realising that they're not actually coming from real life, or without realising to which extent they're derivative, or to which extent they disrupt internal logic of their own comic, or just subconsciously aping things they've seen elsewhere.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Aug 18, 2011 3:23 pm

McDuffies wrote:
Failing that watch movies and TV.

I dunno, we're already so saturated with pop culture that we have some trouble discerning reality from, shell we say, simulacra. I blame derivative nature of much of comics on author's inclusion of pop culture's strictly fictional tropes without realising that they're not actually coming from real life, or without realising to which extent they're derivative, or to which extent they disrupt internal logic of their own comic, or just subconsciously aping things they've seen elsewhere.


I was thinking more along the lines of physical interaction, not everyone has the ability to watch people in everyday life without coming off as a weirdo (like a certain co-worker of mine) or the availability of time to take classes.

Otherwise I pretty much agree with you although I think one or two tropes doesn't hurt so long as you're using them for a reason other than just because it's "cool".

McDuffies wrote:-Don't learn anatomy from magazines. From magazines, you learn how to draw people posing for magazines. What you need is to learn how to draw people doing stuff.


Not for anatomy but magazines do have their benefits for pin-up posing and layout designs, not to mention fashion ideas.

McDuffies wrote:
RobboAKAscooby wrote:The more knowledge you can bring to the table the greater the authenticity of the work.

I think it's worth mentioning that this knowledge should be visible but not explicitly shown in a comic. When you research, you're tempted to spill all the things you've learned in a comic, to show off your knowledge, so to speak. But that's not good and writer should exercise moderation, after all a reader can read all the same books you did if he wanted. You need research to learn how things function, and then show them functioning that way in your comic.

Exactly.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Thu Aug 18, 2011 4:38 pm

schoob wrote:I was thinking more along the lines of physical interaction, not everyone has the ability to watch people in everyday life without coming off as a weirdo (like a certain co-worker of mine) or the availability of time to take classes.


XD I want to hear mroe about this coworker
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Aug 18, 2011 5:01 pm

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:
schoob wrote:I was thinking more along the lines of physical interaction, not everyone has the ability to watch people in everyday life without coming off as a weirdo (like a certain co-worker of mine) or the availability of time to take classes.


XD I want to hear mroe about this coworker


No. No you don't.

Maybe in another topic.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby CMikeNIke on Thu Aug 18, 2011 7:06 pm

Also, as far as watching film and television, keep a watch for how the shots are set up, where the focus is, how long the camera hangs on a shot (easier before the '90s, after which most of the more successful movies don't keep the camera in one place for more than a few seconds. Go on, count how long before a cut, it'll probably be less than 6 seconds.).

If you want something moody, watch old noir like The Postman Always Rings Twice (the original), or the Maltese Falcon. These have fantastic scenes, very intentional lighting.
Watch the first Jaws if you want to know how to build suspense of the unknown, it's one of the best (If unintentional) uses of not showing the scary that makes it MORE scary. I think of one scene in particular, when Quint, Brody and Hooper are sitting around the table telling stories, and the cuts to outside the boat, the singing still heard, when the barrel breaks the surface. The dark scene, boat in the distance, orange barrel with the light on it in the foreground, and the knowledge that the shark is back, it's just fantastic.
Godfather is really good for the variety of shots, and The Sixth Sense was really good at setting up the ending, giving the clues as it went along, something that the clever audience can say "Ah, Yes, I did notice that!"

As said, don't watch to take the story, as that leads to the same tired ideas and self-referential cliché, but to help amplify your storytelling.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby Mastermind on Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:03 am

What about animated shows? They might be more inspiring than movies. Even if your comic is serious you can learn a lot from them, like using camera angles (Invader Zim ftw) or deciding how much detail is needed in the background.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby McDuffies on Fri Aug 19, 2011 5:23 am

RobboAKAscooby wrote:I was thinking more along the lines of physical interaction, not everyone has the ability to watch people in everyday life without coming off as a weirdo (like a certain co-worker of mine) or the availability of time to take classes.

Oh, you mean for drawing? Yeah, probably. Though it's surprising how much people would gladly pose you for a sketch if you just ask them, and also it's surprising how much you can get away with when people know you're an artist.
As for writing, I always figure that everyone has certain life experience from which he learned something about behaviour. I actually like to discreetly watch people and try to figure out what makes them tick. Also I like to listen to people talking, I think being a good observer helps writing greatly.

Not for anatomy but magazines do have their benefits for pin-up posing and layout designs, not to mention fashion ideas.

Yeah, I scavenge fashion magazines for clothing and haircuts which, being a man, I can't figure out myself.

Also, as far as watching film and television, keep a watch for how the shots are set up, where the focus is, how long the camera hangs on a shot (easier before the '90s, after which most of the more successful movies don't keep the camera in one place for more than a few seconds. Go on, count how long before a cut, it'll probably be less than 6 seconds.)...

I'm on the fence about that, on one hand, many teachers will tell you that freeze-framing through, say, a Hitchcock film will teach you a lot about graphic narration. On the other hand, Will Eisner in one of hiw books made a very strong case against that, pointing how narrative techniques carried from movies will make very confusing narration, how a still image carries information in a different way than a moving one (most obvious with close shots) and how comics have a completely different set of techniques. Case in point, about half of all mangas are practically illegible in places because of using so called cinematic storytelling. So I'm not sure if a beginner should be getting used to a style of narration that might not be as legible to readers.

What about animated shows? They might be more inspiring than movies. Even if your comic is serious you can learn a lot from them, like using camera angles (Invader Zim ftw) or deciding how much detail is needed in the background.

I pick animated shows for designs but they always use less details than comics because movement makes up for a lack of detail, stills taken from cartoons themselves often look a bit unfinished.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Fri Aug 19, 2011 6:01 am

McDuffies wrote:
Also, as far as watching film and television, keep a watch for how the shots are set up, where the focus is, how long the camera hangs on a shot (easier before the '90s, after which most of the more successful movies don't keep the camera in one place for more than a few seconds. Go on, count how long before a cut, it'll probably be less than 6 seconds.)...

I'm on the fence about that, on one hand, many teachers will tell you that freeze-framing through, say, a Hitchcock film will teach you a lot about graphic narration. On the other hand, Will Eisner in one of hiw books made a very strong case against that, pointing how narrative techniques carried from movies will make very confusing narration, how a still image carries information in a different way than a moving one (most obvious with close shots) and how comics have a completely different set of techniques. Case in point, about half of all mangas are practically illegible in places because of using so called cinematic storytelling. So I'm not sure if a beginner should be getting used to a style of narration that might not be as legible to readers.


Yes I know that my own video/film background has hindered my comic composition more than helped, there is a big difference between telling a story with moving images and still images, with a comic you need to build a sense of movement and timeflow in a still image.
Unless it's purely conversational scenes in which case movie framing is okay.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby McDuffies on Fri Aug 19, 2011 4:49 pm

For instance, comic panel doesn't capture 1/24 of the second like film still, it captures a time fragment that can be from few seconds to minutes long. Panel lasts as long as all events represented in it do, and not all events shown in a single panel happen at the same time.
Another issue is establishing what's going on in the panel, which has to be done in a cleaner and more pragmatic way. But Eisner also argued that we percieve an array of comic panels in a different way from an array of film scenes, as if they're two completely different languages.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby Mastermind on Sat Aug 20, 2011 10:21 am

McDuffies wrote:I pick animated shows for designs but they always use less details than comics because movement makes up for a lack of detail, stills taken from cartoons themselves often look a bit unfinished.

Often? I'd say that happens only in cheap flash cartoons.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby McDuffies on Sun Aug 21, 2011 5:24 am

It's most noticeable in cheap flash cartoons. To me at least, if you take stills from any tv animation, it's pretty obvious that they weren't meant to stand on their own. Besides fewer details and layout issues, cartoons also don't need to pay much attention to expressive linework, which is one of the first things I look for in comic.
Theatrical animation is different thing, images from Disney films from before 90ies always look pretty great, and even had great linework, but I was never sure if I was watching actual still from a movie or promotional material which was made from the same source and, naturally, touched up and all.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby JustSarah on Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:27 pm

I was wondering, is studying how game designers in that field build 3D characters a good idea? It is a bit out of my field of expertise, but couldnt they be good for studying anatomy?

One thing I like to do, is study some illustrated novels. I mean yea its not comics exactly, but surely there is something useful in it.:D
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby VeryCuddlyCornpone on Wed Oct 26, 2011 6:36 pm

I'm sure that doing so couldn't hurt, though it is typically a good idea to first get a grasp on anatomy based as much off of real-life as possible before you move on to more stylistic representations (as you would see in a game).

The reason I say this is because you have one of two scenarios.

Artist studies from real life, and creates, within their world, representations of real-life anatomy.

versus-

Artist 1 studies from real life, Artist 2 studies from Artist 1, and therefore creates representations of Artist 1's representations of anatomy. While this still can look acceptable, Artist 2 has now built a framework of sorts based on another artist's interpretation of the world. When it comes time to create something that Artist 1 has not needed to represent, Artist 2 will need to begin from scratch and won't have that framework to fall back on anymore.

(Say Artist 1 draws beautifully, but for some stylistic reason (maybe the comic is about genies or something) never draws feet. Artist 2 will be fine until he/she must draw feet, and will not be able to look to Artist 1 for ideas.)

I guess what I'm saying is, it's always a good thing to take a look at how other people perceive/represent things, but it's principally important to first figure out a way to do them on your own. Drawing, I feel, is one activity where you can't quite be the best you can just by watching and learning from others, as you might be able to do with something simpler like, I dunno, folding a sheet or brushing your teeth or something. Art is greatly improved when the artist not only knows the "what" and "how" behind an image, but also the "why"- the thought process, the reasoning, the logic (physically or otherwise).
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby JustSarah on Wed Oct 26, 2011 8:44 pm

I bought a book a while ago, on drawing human anatomy from Michaelangelo, Leonardo. I guess i could start that up again.:3

See, I'm sort of going the Gantz approach. I would make rough sketched of what I want called a name. And then make 3D models from studying human anatomy (Or just using poser *dodges tomatoes), and then on a seperate sheet of paper, do my inking based on the 3D storyboard.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:29 am

JustSarah wrote:I bought a book a while ago, on drawing human anatomy from Michaelangelo, Leonardo. I guess i could start that up again.:3

See, I'm sort of going the Gantz approach. I would make rough sketched of what I want called a name. And then make 3D models from studying human anatomy (Or just using poser *dodges tomatoes), and then on a seperate sheet of paper, do my inking based on the 3D storyboard.


This is something you'll here from all the regulars here but the best thing to do is learn to draw real human anatomy.
It may take some extra time but believe me the results are worth it, my art was dreadful when I started 3+ years ago but now it's getting to the point that I'd almost call it good (and that I'm willing to risk it on Artist alley).
You don't need to be an expert just get a decent Anatomy for the Artist book and learn how a person goes together and soon enough you'll be taking in anatomy tips from everyday life.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Thu Oct 27, 2011 7:31 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:I'm sure that doing so couldn't hurt, though it is typically a good idea to first get a grasp on anatomy based as much off of real-life as possible before you move on to more stylistic representations (as you would see in a game).

The reason I say this is because you have one of two scenarios.

Artist studies from real life, and creates, within their world, representations of real-life anatomy.

versus-

Artist 1 studies from real life, Artist 2 studies from Artist 1, and therefore creates representations of Artist 1's representations of anatomy. While this still can look acceptable, Artist 2 has now built a framework of sorts based on another artist's interpretation of the world. When it comes time to create something that Artist 1 has not needed to represent, Artist 2 will need to begin from scratch and won't have that framework to fall back on anymore.

(Say Artist 1 draws beautifully, but for some stylistic reason (maybe the comic is about genies or something) never draws feet. Artist 2 will be fine until he/she must draw feet, and will not be able to look to Artist 1 for ideas.)

I guess what I'm saying is, it's always a good thing to take a look at how other people perceive/represent things, but it's principally important to first figure out a way to do them on your own. Drawing, I feel, is one activity where you can't quite be the best you can just by watching and learning from others, as you might be able to do with something simpler like, I dunno, folding a sheet or brushing your teeth or something. Art is greatly improved when the artist not only knows the "what" and "how" behind an image, but also the "why"- the thought process, the reasoning, the logic (physically or otherwise).


This makes me :D

Sorry for the double post but at the end of a 30 hour day I'm too tired to care :lol:
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic

Postby McDuffies on Thu Oct 27, 2011 8:44 am

VeryCuddlyCornpone wrote:I'm sure that doing so couldn't hurt, though it is typically a good idea to first get a grasp on anatomy based as much off of real-life as possible before you move on to more stylistic representations (as you would see in a game).

The reason I say this is because you have one of two scenarios.

Artist studies from real life, and creates, within their world, representations of real-life anatomy.

versus-

Artist 1 studies from real life, Artist 2 studies from Artist 1, and therefore creates representations of Artist 1's representations of anatomy. While this still can look acceptable, Artist 2 has now built a framework of sorts based on another artist's interpretation of the world. When it comes time to create something that Artist 1 has not needed to represent, Artist 2 will need to begin from scratch and won't have that framework to fall back on anymore.

(Say Artist 1 draws beautifully, but for some stylistic reason (maybe the comic is about genies or something) never draws feet. Artist 2 will be fine until he/she must draw feet, and will not be able to look to Artist 1 for ideas.)

I guess what I'm saying is, it's always a good thing to take a look at how other people perceive/represent things, but it's principally important to first figure out a way to do them on your own. Drawing, I feel, is one activity where you can't quite be the best you can just by watching and learning from others, as you might be able to do with something simpler like, I dunno, folding a sheet or brushing your teeth or something. Art is greatly improved when the artist not only knows the "what" and "how" behind an image, but also the "why"- the thought process, the reasoning, the logic (physically or otherwise).


Something like that. It's like a musician who's listened only to the genre he's working on, versus a musician who's listened to wide variety of genres - the second one will always end up being more interesting, innovative and appreciated. The more narrow your influences are, the smaller repertoire you have.
I see it often in comics, say marvel or DC or some indies that still do generic action comics, that an artist learned by redrawing his favourite artists - it's superficially attractive, but the more you read, the more you realise that he has a limited set of poses, grimaces, angles, generally artistic solutions. The problem is maybe that they learn to think in visual cliches, or that they stick in their comfort zone which is narrow, essentially, they get boring pretty quickly.

See, I'm sort of going the Gantz approach. I would make rough sketched of what I want called a name. And then make 3D models from studying human anatomy (Or just using poser *dodges tomatoes), and then on a seperate sheet of paper, do my inking based on the 3D storyboard.

There's more than one way to make a comic. My goal has always been to learn to draw as much as possible from scratch and not to need reference at least when humans are involved, but that's an unattainable goal and despite it I use enormous amounts for references (like, I can't draw architecture otherwise). God knows there's a lot of creators out there making great comics, who aren't great craftsmen.
Essentially I think that everything is allowed if you can get away with it, and the reason we harp on people who trace or cheat or whatever, is they most often don't get away with it and the second look at their work betrays what they do, and of course there's always an army of fans who never take that second look.
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Re: 13 Tips to Improve your Webcomic +1 ADDED

Postby RobboAKAscooby on Sun Apr 15, 2012 2:33 am

As I just had this lightbulb moment myself I'm gonna share it:

14. Use online stores as a handy outfit reference.
It's simple enough to be overlooked.
Us guys especially seem to have no idea when it comes to women/girls fashion, often leading to some pretty average looking outfits, but in this information age why should we struggle.
I was looking online for a new jacket (almost winter here downunder) when I realised "duh why don't I use online stores to find clothes for my girls?".
Most online clothing stores have photos of models in complete outfits giving you an idea of (for example) not just what top would look good but what kind of pants/skirt to pair with it.
And a simple google search can find you stores specializing in whatever style your character wears.
Now it may not seem like much of an idea for IMPROVING your comic but when you use more suitable/contemporary clothing you're adding a sense of realism to your world.

I've said it before (many times) "clothing makes the character".
Clothes say much more about us than we even realise but it's something we subconsciously recognise in others making it an important part of building not only realism but also characterisation.
If you dress all your characters in plain t-shirts and long pants you're saying one thing - Boring! - and you now have to work even harder on your characterisations.
But even if your characters are all so similar as to dress practically identical you still need to dress them in a way that's believable for them - examples:
- in an office environment lots of shirts and ties, women dressed more conservatively (except maybe the boss's "secretary")
- a group of average teens require the latest fashions (or more likely cheaper alternatives)
And even in these situations there should be subtle differences between characters - in the office example perhaps the office prankster always wears cartoon ties, maybe you have a teen girl who always wears pants never skirts/dresses - these are things that not only set characters apart from one another but also hint towards their personalities/quirks

Note this goes beyond modern settings, a period piece should have period costuming - it's only a google search away. Even if your story is in a fictional world (ie fantasy/sci-fi) you should still have some basic grounding in a real world fashion period or style - example Firefly based on Western clothing (mostly).
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"Your service is to the story and to the characters. Fuck the audience and fuck your own whims." - Yeahduff
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RobboAKAscooby
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