Help requested...

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

Help requested...

Postby Somesuch on Wed Jun 26, 2002 9:44 pm

I need to (or maybe just want to) improve the art of my comic, SomeSuch. Particularly, I would like to improve my drawing of human figures... but I know that my critter anatomy isn't the best, either.

So... what I need are: suggestions, tips, critiques, websites with helpful info, etc.

As you can tell, SomeSuch is done in my own style--which is pretty much... well, my own style. :P It's not Manga, it's not Anime, it's not... anything, except for... SomeSuch. Or somesuch. ;P

I would love to improve the art, add the perspective that everyone keeps hounding me about, etc. I just need help! And lots of it.

Thanks!

Heather Kidd, author of SomeSuch

http://somesuch.keenspace.com
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Postby STrRedWolf on Thu Jun 27, 2002 4:53 pm

You need to ink your works, or run them through Photoshop or Gimp's Level command.
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Postby Somesuch on Thu Jun 27, 2002 6:48 pm

My main problem with inking is that it always takes away detail. There's one comic that I did ink (forget which one), and it turned out terrible. I'm not good at the whole inking thing... I've tried it, and I'm afraid to try it again. The only solution I know of would be to ink in ballpoint.

I need to know other things, too, though... like, where can I find a site that might help me work on perspective? I can't draw people very well, either...

I would like to shade my comic, and color it, more often, but it takes long enough just to sketch it out (another reason I don't ink...). I do try to darken the lines, but... Well, apparently that's not working.
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Postby Nick Sacco on Thu Jun 27, 2002 7:33 pm

I believe it's your layout. I suggest using a manga layout approach. You don't want to have three huge panels; it doesn't fit your style.

And use CG to make the comic strip layout; nothing looks tackier than uneven pencil lines. :oops:
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Postby Somesuch on Thu Jun 27, 2002 8:11 pm

I did. I got lazy. ;P It's faster to draw uneven pencil lines. ;P But now that I've figured out what size to resize comics to, that shouldn't be as much of a problem. I hope.

I really do need help on the art, though. And someone please tell me how I could ink it without losing so much detail? I can't get it dark enough in my paint program without leaving all those nasty gray areas... which looks horrible, needless to say.

If anybody knows a site where I could study proportion and figure drawing (I don't do the whole ovals and cylinders and circles thing, it takes a lot of time to do and then it leaves marks anyway, on your paper, and... blech... what I need is something to look at that I can just... look at).

As for manga style layout, I really don't know what you mean by that. I just put in however many panels I think my comic needs at the time (which is probably a bad idea, but it's usually three panels). I'm studying up on manga, mainly to do a parody, but who knows, the comic may go to manga someday if I decide to join the herd (which, due to my being me isn't altogether likely--though it may influence my art all the same).
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Postby Nick Sacco on Fri Jun 28, 2002 6:28 am

somesuch wrote:I really do need help on the art, though. And someone please tell me how I could ink it without losing so much detail? I can't get it dark enough in my paint program without leaving all those nasty gray areas... which looks horrible, needless to say.

As for manga style layout, I really don't know what you mean by that. I just put in however many panels I think my comic needs at the time (which is probably a bad idea, but it's usually three panels). I'm studying up on manga, mainly to do a parody, but who knows, the comic may go to manga someday if I decide to join the herd (which, due to my being me isn't altogether likely--though it may influence my art all the same).


As Kelly had suggested get Photoshop or GIMP. What you can do with this program is adjust the levels of a scan. What's this, you ask? You scan an ink drawing, but it looks pretty light. You use the Levels command (Auto Level will do fine usually), andn ow you have dark, crisp lineart.

As for detail, you just gotta develope an inking technique. Use different size pens; I suggest a set of Micron pens. You can also use color for detail.

When I say a manga layout, I think of http://www.megatokyo.com. The comic is the size of a 9'x"11 piece of paper (dimensions aren't correct of course, I'm just guessing). Mostly what I'm stressing here is to use more and smaller panels.

Let's look at your comic for today. You've got three large panels, and IMO the art is looking very fine. But when I read this, there are two turn offs; layout is penciled in, and it's too long length-wise, even for my large resolution. The way I see it, a horizontal layout only really works for humor comics, whereas all action and drama comic use vertical.

Manga is a vertical layout, and as you can see, Piro is very spontanious with it, as some panel boxes are different sizes, and some panels don't even have boxes. He makes his art more interesting just by how he presents it. I actually plan on using this manga style when I rebuild my own comic.

I also suggest the use of speech bubbles. I'm actually planning on completing a tutorial for such a thing today.
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Postby Kelen on Fri Jun 28, 2002 11:54 am

About the inking thing... Inking is a skill just like penciling. If you can pencil it doesn't mean you can automatically ink. I've got a lot of ruined pictures over the years to prove that one, and I've done inking for published small press comics. c.c;

Anyway, a good way to ink without ruining your picture is to use tracing paper. Just tape it down over your picture and ink on the tracing paper. This way you won't ruin the original, can practice, and can just scan the tracing paper for your web comic. :)

Either do that, or use Photoshop/Gimp like other people suggested. The Autolevels thing makes it look inked.

Someone also suggested Micro pens. They are also called Sakura pens, and they are WELL worth it. Don't cost too much, and last for many months.
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Postby Somesuch on Fri Jun 28, 2002 1:32 pm

I guess I'll have to try searching some of these art thingies out on campus when I go back to college next semester, because I don't have access to an art supply store in my town. :cry:

Tracing paper costs quite a bit, but maybe it'd be worth it... or I could just do it my old-fashioned way, same way I figured out my characters originally... use old lined paper notebooks I didn't use up while taking notes from lectures... Hey, whatever works, right?

I can get all sorts of lines from a cheap ballpoint pen, but they always end up looking like they're faintly bluish or something, even if they're black pens... except for the kind that bleeds terribly... and that kind you can't really control the lines as well. I do have a fine-tipped felt-tip pen, but I think it would work better for hatching/cross-hatching and stippling than for inking in comics (as demonstrated from my single inked comic--I used that pen for that comic).

I'm currently working on my people, thanks to some nice people on the General forum who directed me toward a website. Should help on my creatures, too. Sometimes I get the perspective all cruddy, as you can tell. I REALLY need to work on hands and feet. ;P

So you think I need to go vertical? I'd still have to resize. Really my comic IS funny sometimes. Should I switch layout like that?

And what do you guys think of my style? Does it resemble any existing style, so that I might be able to refer to such a style to help my art?

Anyway, since I really need to get going now, I guess that'll be all for now. Bah. Work.
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Postby J-Buckleyline on Fri Jun 28, 2002 1:34 pm

:-? If inking's the problem then you shouls buy ball-point pens. Or buy the pens at http://www.howtodrawmanga.com
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Postby J-Buckleyline on Fri Jun 28, 2002 1:39 pm

:) Comic's pretty go though. I don't see why you wanna ink.
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Postby Chascraw4d on Fri Jun 28, 2002 3:46 pm

Inking is a pain to learn (I still have very shoddy inking skills), but it does have advantages in scanning and in cleaning up an image for presentation. Pencil can work very effectively, but requires a bit more finishing work to look good.

On the topic of pens, I actually wouldn't recommend ball-point pens. The expensive ones work OK (cheap ballpoints aren't worth even trying), but line control is far from optimal. Nibbed-pens (like calligraphy pens), or a brush (if you're adventurous) work the best for inking; but barring that I would recommend fine-point felt tip pens.

As for cleaning your images after they're scanned, I wouldn't recommend using Autolevels (as you have limited control over the final results); but manually adjusting Levels, or Brightness / Contrast can clean up even pencil works without losing significant amounts of detail (you probably lose more by reducing). The trick to CG cleaning with pencil lines is to use a very delicate hand... just enough brightness to clear away the worst of the unintentional grey, then tweak the contrast up very slightly. Pencil doesn't need to be perfectly black, just dark enough to have a clear contrast with the white areas. For your work I might suggest somewhere around a Brightness +20 and a Contrast +10 (hmm... in Levels for Photoshop about the same effect would be to set the sliders at 30 .60 230). This clears up the smudgieness without getting rid of the deliberate pencil shading. For lighter images you can repeat the same settings a couple of times (repeating results in less image degradation than trying to get it perfect in one try).

The darker lines on the new panel are nice, and they appear to have scanned a lot prettier too. And the page size is much nicer, although I do agree that a manga-style layout might be more appropriate for your subject matter. I have seen horizontal strips work effectively for this kind of story, so it really depends on what you're trying for.

Stylewise you do have a passing resemblance to children's fantasy-book illustration (with hodge-podge elements from anime/manga and other sources). With a bit of refinement, I wouldn't find your work disjointing in a book of fairy tales, or an illustrated edition of The Chronicles of Narnia.
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Postby Somesuch on Fri Jun 28, 2002 8:21 pm

Eh? Fantasy book illustration? Resemblance to anime? Yeesh... I've got a weird style, then... I've been told by one person that it's a quirky sort of semi-realism. :P Well, I tried to cartoonize. ;P

As for a felt-tipped pen, I have one, but there's little control over the inking with it... it's always the same width, or it stops writing, and then if it does, then when I go over the part again, it's always too thick... and I lose detail. Which stinks.

I think I'd go for a nib pen, save for the fact I'm not sure if I could manage it. I'm trying to improve, so there's no telling what my style will evolve into. Beware. ;P

As for vertical strips, I'll try it. But I'm not sure if I'll try inking again or not...

I really don't know why my strip would be like anime/manga (though in the most recent, it's intentional, as a parody). The eyes are drawn big, but the sparkliness in my characters' eyes tends to be in the pupil only--it doesn't extend to the iris. I guess I can see where it might look like a children's book illustration, but I don't go so much for the cuteness that they normally want in childrens' books. Of course, Karystyn is cutesie because she's part pixie, but that doesn't make her any more likeable of a character. Stryke can be cute, and it's intentional when she is... but she isn't always. And Dart's cute, but she's a pet, and that's to be expected. Most children's literature involves rather cute, mild-mannered art; mine tends to be sharper, but I can still see what you're saying.

Even so, my comic isn't my main art style... that can be found at http://elfwood.lysator.liu.se/loth/k/i/kidd/kidd.html

I'm practicing on dynamics and clothing and such, so expect the art style and quality to change. You might even see some action actually occurring in the strip (fights, etc) that hasn't been seen in the initial strips. It all depends on how well I can improve myself.

Even so, I still consider myself more writer than artist... Much as I love to sketch and draw and such, I tend to like sitting down and typing out a story, as well. Sadly, I think my comic-writing skills need vast improvement; I'm too used to stories and books and the like.

Again, expect stylistic changes (my style's been changing since the strip began, and I'm sure you can tell), and I guess I'll practice inking--don't expect it to pop up in the strip till I feel comfortable with it, though. I'm going to try resizing a bit more, and I suppose I'll go with vertical strips, as well. At least it'd stop me from having to turn the strips around when I scan 'em, if nothing else.[/i]
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Postby Somesuch on Fri Jun 28, 2002 9:25 pm

By the way, there's a poll for favorite character at my forum here.

The URL to the forum is:

http://forums.keenspace.com/viewforum.php?f=766

The poll's only there for one week, and I really want to know what people think of the characters. I might put an extended poll with no timeout limit up later.
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Postby Wulfae on Thu Jul 04, 2002 9:45 pm

One thing that I do know can help with shading and that sort of thing is using the different kinds of pencils. These can probably be bought at Wal-Mart or wherever. I like to use anywhere from about an 8B (for really dark shading) to a 4H (for really light detail). The only problem with this is that the Hs don't scan very well.

This could also be turned to your advantage, however. If you would like to try the whole sketching out the circles and stuff for your comics (which does help your anatomy a HUGE amount, I know from experience here.) you could always sketch with an H pencil.

And for perspective... Well, there are three different kinds of perspective, roughly. One point, two point, and three point. These refer to the number of 'perspective points' there are in a drawing. Sit in a hallway, and look down it towards the door. You see how all the lines are converging? That's one point. Look at a corner. These all go down towards two points. Third point's a little trickier... Um, maybe if you looked at the corner of a tall building. The lines going up converge, and the lines to the side also come together.

If you want to try to draw any of this, start off with a horizon line. THis is where the character's eye level is. Then, chose the perspective point, and put it on the line. After that, all the horizontal lines go towards the point for one point. All the horizontal lines going towards the left of the page go towards the left perspective, and ditto for the right. For three point (which I admit I haven't tried yet) all the lines going vertically go towards the third perspective point, that just FLOATS there or something like that. lol.

And that's my piece. I hope it's of help to someone out there, and hopefully to somesuch. :D
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Postby Somesuch on Sun Jul 07, 2002 9:53 pm

Hrrrrrm... I'm beginning to find that the anatomy isn't so much the problem as the poses I'm trying to do with no framework to guide me. I WILL be practicing, mind you. And yes, yes, I still need to try inking, but perhaps I will only ink the outlines, and pencil in the rest.

As for the different kinds of pencil, yes, I've been using them. I got them recently and of course I love them. :D

The perspective dealie might help me out, though. I'll try.

Hrrrrrrrm.

Someone offer assistance on faster, better backgrounds, and how to sketch out these blamed comics faster? Please? ;P

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Postby Laxmastro on Mon Jul 08, 2002 7:52 pm

I read through here rather quickly, so if someone has brought this up and I missed it don't hit me.
I found that my comics improved greatly when I started using non-photo blue pens instead of graphite pencils. there's no erasing because the
"blue line" isn't read by the scanner (supposing you scan the image as black and white drawing)
There are many types of non-photo pens and pencils. I like the pens because there's no sharpening. I have read where some artists use non-photo mecanical pencil lead, but I have been unable to find any.
This might only help you if you do decide to give inking a solid effort.
I have found that inking is a mindset. When trying the "blue line" method,
leave the detail work for the inking step. I just try to get an idea of the finished product initialy, then do all my "drawing" in ink.
Oh yeah, and as for drawing people in poses, it never hurts to get a friend to use as a model. Failing that, I read that Frank Frazetta would take polaroids of himself to get the right pose.
I'll let the comic speak for itself.
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Postby Somesuch on Tue Jul 09, 2002 6:51 pm

Hrm. I've no polaroid nor a lot of cash. I re-tried inking in the upcoming strip (Friday's), and it actually came out pretty well, although there is a bit of detail loss because my comics are drawn so blamed tiny. It just can't be helped.

Soooo... looks like I might actually try the idea I had with inking + pencil. Looks less professional, I know, but at least I could still get in the details I need.

Of course I might try some of the non-photo stuff except for the fact that I really like to be able to erase. My eraser is my friend. :P

Thanks, though. I might wind up using that suggestion. :)

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