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A Foray Into Webcomics

DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
Hello AC,

I am a hobbyist when it comes to art. I like to draw and paint and took quite a few art classes in high school, but ended up not focussing on it in college. I have done a lot of pen/pencil and paper drawing and have tried different styles, but I've never really been able to translate my drawing over to digital.

I have more recently purchased a Bamboo tablet and am working from that. What I would like to do is do a webcomic, I already have the idea and everything behind it decided (a story involving a group of friends and seeing a great dane and a chihuahua next to each other brought forth the whole concept). The name of the comic is Megadane and for purposes of ease of website, I am hosting the comic via blogger. The story is about Megadane, a CIA agent and his life as he goes about being an agent, a husband, and a dad and his sidekick and partner Micropup.

What I am looking for are critiques to make my comic and skills better and possible ideas about how to transfer what I can do on pencil and paper to digital via a tablet. Right now all I have up is the cover page I have created. I am not entirely a fan of the background of the image but I do not know what I can do to make it better. I also do not like how my characters seem to pop from the background. The software I'm using to draw the comic is GIMP as it is free and I don't have the cash for a more expensive software.




  • SeraphSwordSeraphSword Sketch Fetishist Austin, TXRegistered User regular
    Well, part of the reason your characters seem to pop out of the background is that they don't seem to have any connection to it. Your background is made up of very simplistic shapes with fairly saturated color, but your characters are meticulously shaded with very detailed clothing and forms and very muted color. Another thing is that your characters have no black at all, which is part of what makes them pop out of the pure black of the cityscape. If anything that relationship should be reversed, although you shouldn't be afraid to use black, especially in comics.

    As for the background itself, I would suggest using photo reference. You don't have to follow it exactly, just get an idea of what you want your scene to look like. Even a hint of reality will help ground the action.

    Of course, none of that has anything to do with comics, but for this illustration, that's the best I got. There are far better artists than me on here, and they can probably help you more.

    Mastery is the result of ceaseless error, combined with ruthless self-appraisal.
  • MustangMustang Arbiter of Unpopular Opinions Registered User regular
    One really quick thing, contrast gets stronger the closer you are to something. The further something is away the more particles in the air diffuse it by bouncing ambient light/color back to you. So the distant object appears less contrasty as it is bathed in the ambient light. If you have hills in your area, look at them on a bright day and you'll notice that they take on a blue hazed tinge. That's an extreme example but it occurs in almost every situation, some more subtle than others. You'll often hear this referred to as values.

    Your art is doing the opposite, the background is heavily contrasted, and your characters are washed out.

  • PifmanPifman Registered User regular
    The dogs are sketchy in a good way, the background and logo is sketchy in a bad way. The dogs look like it could carry a story without looking distracting or bad, where as the background looks 100% digital and instantly gives me an, "Oh, no." feeling. "Ahh it's better than nothing" might not be the right thought in this particular situation (not that you said that). I'd find a better solution to the problem.

    Also, post more work to help us get a better feel for your work.

  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    I went and redid the background trying to adjust things using what was suggested. Here's the new image.


    I also have some other images that I got scanned in. These are only a few examples. I need to find the rest of my drawings and get them scanned up.





  • MustangMustang Arbiter of Unpopular Opinions Registered User regular
    I would try to reference as much source material as possible at this stage of your development. The best way to learning to draw without reference is drawing with reference, even the very best artists usually refer to something.

  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    Thanks for all the feedback and suggestions at this point. Here is a quick sketch I was able to do in some spare time today.

    And this is the reference I drew from.

    I also have a question which is software related. My lines are very ragged why I draw in GIMP. What can I do in GIMP to make them look smoother?

  • CyberMonkeytron3000CyberMonkeytron3000 Registered User regular
    It's not apparent in these sketches, but how much do you use construction lines?- you know, the underlying skeleton of your drawing? It just seems like a like bit more work before you start to try and render would help with a lot of the proportional issues you are having with your characters.

  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    edited February 2013
    I do use construction lines. I have done figure study and I can get the proportions correct, but I have problems with drawing clothes on the figures and keeping proportions correct. That's part of why I'm doing a webcomic. I want to get better at utilizing digital rendering and drawing people with clothes, which is also the reason why I chose the more super hero style for the comic as well.

    DrScientist on
  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    Here I was looking at an image of a guy leaning against the wall, just working to get the proportions and overall shape correct.


  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    I did another figure while I had a break today.


  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    Working my way through character development. Bosses always seem to be disappointed when it comes to comics and so here is a sketch of a disappointed boss.


  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    I scanned it in and have rendered the lines. I can tell that as I do more, I'm getting a better feel for it and I can tell it's working out. I'm using stock photo references for the poses I'm choosing and then I have a drawing comics and graphics novel book that I'm using to try to get my clothing drawing better.


  • Couple of thoughts looking over this stuff:

    And just in case you want the full skinny on drapery instead of the vastly simplified version I gave:

    This is all good information, don't get me wrong- but it may be overwhelming and distract you from more important matters at this point. (If the simple version was good enough for Disney animation for the better part of a century, it should be a solid place for you to start getting a handle on the subject.)

    MuddyParasoltapeslingerninjaiMoorkusNibCromKochikensbombardierJproductionsRed Raevyn
  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    Wow, thanks for the mini tutorial. I've already started to try to utilize what you suggested and to be honest, even though it's simpler, I like the look it gives a character more. I made an attempt to do so with a different pose and character than the one you used as an example. I will post that here later as I'm also using the example as an attempt at a method of coloring and shading in order to obtain feedback on that as well.

  • even though it's simpler, I like the look it gives a character more.

    Well, I'd rather not come across as trying to force a 'look' on you so much- I try my best not base critiques on style- it's more that grasping the simple aspects of drawing is useful because while on one hand you can use it to achieve a simple, clean look effectively, those same principles are also the key to being able to achieve more detailed, rendered results if you so choose.

    People that are really good at detailed drawing don't start by trying to grapple with every wrinkle and line- they start out with the same simple setup, and merely layer other simple concepts on top of that in progression; the end result may seem very complicated and hard to fathom how they arrived there, but that result was derived from seeking out the simplest possible solutions at each stage.

    Simple composition -> simple gesture -> simple construction -> simple rendering.

    Once the basics are in place, the details are just using that same process and principles, and applying them at a smaller scale.

    For example, the guy who taught me the whole CSI layout method and wrote those drapery .pdfs?
    His bread and butter is not simple cartoon characters, it's really detailed stuff like this,
    , and that same exact method would have been used to lay out the extremely complicated figures in that extremely complicated painting. He could only make a painting as complicated as that work by mastering simplicity first.

    You don't draw complicated things by thinking about how complicated they are; you draw complicated things by figure out how to break down that complexity into a few simple, manageable ideas.

    That's why stuff like that enrichment thread exist- nobody really needs or wants to render out a bunch of solid colored cylinders and spheres and cubes for it's own sake, it makes for some pretty boring pictures on their own- until they find out that since everything can be broken down into cylinders and spheres and cubes, and realize that it's an absolutely essential skill to have and practice in order to render anything effectively. It's one of those simple ideas that makes complicated ideas possible.

  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    Here are a couple of drawings I did. They are going to be gifts. I've never been that great at vehicles but I did what I could for the car.

    I like how this turned out even though I'm not sure the picture shows it that well.

  • DrScientistDrScientist Registered User regular
    Another drawing I did. This one just for practice.


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