help with spotting blacks in comic art....

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  1. #1
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    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    i really like the look and style.. but i really dont understand it.. im lookin at comic books and some of the black spots seems random.

    is there a rule to this? i need insight on this method


    thanks for ur help

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  3. #2
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    What are you talking about? Can you give an example?

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    basically just comic book shading, but i dont really get how they choose where and why, i understand if theres a shadow it should be black but its seems pretty random to me

    http://timtownsend.deviantart.com/ar...pread-74709194

    there u go alot of examples at his gallery

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  5. #4
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    It does appear random...

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    Oof, that example makes my eyes hurt a bit. It's not drawn bad, but the inking, while neat, doesn't make ANYTHING clear. Maybe the artist is expecting the colorist will make it all turn out ok in the end. In my opinion though, strong ink work makes everything easier to see, not super cluttered. Look at Mike Mignola, his inks (and art of course) are so friggen great because it's big bold blacks and shadows making everything so clear. It makes every panel have this easy to read, iconic look.

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    ideally, the masses of black and white should help describe form in simple shapes that can be easily understood. They're a simplified interpretation of light and shadow.

    Frazetta is always one of the first I think of when it comes to simple but elegant inks:

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

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  9. #7
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    This had a very, very misleading title.

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  11. #8
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    The point of the larger black shapes in comic book art is to emphasize the most important elements of the graphic design... so that the storytelling is clearer.

    The picture link you posted, on the other hand, while "ulta-cool" is indiscriminately placing dark areas... and the randomness of the spotting of the blacks is making the storytelling confusing... so the clarification of what is actually going on is being totally left up to the colorist.... (who usually is just someone who knows a few rules about the science of light and is not a visual storyteller himself.)

    Look a lot at Alex Toth... the page below, while seemingly simple, is actually the work of a consummate master. Every black area helps the story and defines the graphic character of each moment.

    Look at the gun holster in the first panel, how the handle points to the man's head. How the man is "caged" by the two black bars on the bed... how the right-most bar (in the second panel, which is like a camera pan from the first) is thicker and "walls-off" the man from the nude girl. Toth is telling us stuff with the objects in the picture... metaphorically.

    Third panel, black bulletholes... white silhouette of figure on black background... a clear intro to the character's costume... which makes the black silhouette on white background in the next panel easily identifiable as the same character. The reversing of the black and white silheoutte also makes the second panel "pop" out at us... waking us up as we enter the story.... A nice piece of visual theatre there. Notice how much is hidden in that black silhouette... beautiful mystery... yet the hand and the phone mouthpiece and the phone wire tell us everything we need to know about the action.

    Fifth panel, the black doorway perfectly frames the man and because it is centered, it shows his dominance... he's the boss. Notice that the henchman on the right is wearing a white suit... and how that blends him into the background. Yet the man on the left has a black spot of shadow on his coat... drawing your eye to him... which is good because his interaction with the boss is the point of the scene.

    Last panel... the black in the photo frames the girl. Notice how the photo is at a similar angle to the girl in panel 2... so we understand the visual association.

    The word illustration, by the way, means "making clear." Toth was the Michelangelo of clarity.

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    Give the guy a break.

    It's not random. The inker looks like he's honestly trying to covey form. Maybe he even just inked over the the penciler's hatching. The visual effect of randomness and confusion was probably caused by a combination of the penciler and inker's styles with the subject matter. Frankly, there's just too much going on.

    If you've ever seen Geof Darrow's work, inked but precolored, they're virtual games of "Where's Waldo?" On the first page, he'll hide candy bars and fetuses in machines and you won't notice for thirty minutes because it's just that friggin' detailed.

    I hope that answered your question.

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    Zaxser, he may be "honestly trying to convey form"... but form is not the point of art. When the shading of form becomes the dominant idea, you have an exercise in rendering. Which is to say, even though the artist has an objective, our objective as consumers of his communication take precedence. And in terms of making some dramatic point that interests the viewer, those black areas are indeed "random".

    At least Icarus tried!


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    Kev, you know so much stuff. I'm a total fanboy for your informative posts!

    *amazed and quite creepy stare*

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    Conveying form and storytelling can be done at the same time, but in a comic it's the storytelling that needs to take precedence. That guy's not doing much of either, it looks like an exercise in style to me. To much air guitar, not enough standing back to see if it's working overall (but with a title like Age of Apocalypse it sounds like air guitar is what they're shooting for anyway ). Conveying form doesn't mean "use hatching on everything!" it means really thinking about the 3d shape in space and how the light is affecting it, paying careful attention to the terminator edge where light no longer hits the object and the form is turning away, and he's not thinking about light at all.

    Your feeling that it's random is true in the case of this example but I'd agree that you're just looking at the wrong kind of comic inking and several great alternatives have been named. When you're looking at other artists' work for inspiration and instruction, you almost never want to look at someone who's stylish an popular - dig a little and find the guys who really understood what they were doing and did it extremely well, and study that.

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    well i wouldn't put him down his work is incredible

    http://timtownsend.deviantart.com/ar...-pg-1-69344882


    but i just didnt' get it thats all.. it does seem to be more about style then the actual rules of black spotting....

    so black spotting is pretty much up to you then huh?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyskoa View Post
    This had a very, very misleading title.
    LOL, I thought the same thing... and the fact that the individual who posted is Riceface.
    No offense intended, and maybe I've been thinking about it lately due to the political climate, but I just saw double entendres there.

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    Quote Originally Posted by riceface View Post
    well i wouldn't put him down his work is incredible

    http://timtownsend.deviantart.com/ar...-pg-1-69344882


    but i just didnt' get it thats all.. it does seem to be more about style then the actual rules of black spotting....

    so black spotting is pretty much up to you then huh?
    Spot the blacks where they will most help tell the story.

    At least Icarus tried!


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    Check out How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. It's in almost every local library. It's written in Stan Lee's quirky prose (Excelsior!) and its simplicity is really undervalued.

    The chapter on inking is quite informative. In comics there aren't any midtones (only blacks) so the pencils dictate where the shadowing occurs. It's the inker's job to spot the blacks and make it coherent so it doesn't become a jumbled mess. I think Tim Townsend is a bad example because his inking is sometimes a jumbled mess. Remember this: GOOD INKING IS NEVER RANDOM.

    Check out Derek Fridolfs. He inks Dustin Nguyen's pencils for Batman.

    http://dfridolfs.deviantart.com/art/...e-Dum-94049258

    ^^In the image above, the blacks dictate the mood and the inking seems to "point" at the focus of the page which is Batman.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BubbaGump View Post
    Check out How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way. It's in almost every local library. It's written in Stan Lee's quirky prose (Excelsior!) and its simplicity is really undervalued.

    The chapter on inking is quite informative. In comics there aren't any midtones (only blacks) so the pencils dictate where the shadowing occurs. It's the inker's job to spot the blacks and make it coherent so it doesn't become a jumbled mess. I think Tim Townsend is a bad example because his inking is sometimes a jumbled mess. Remember this: GOOD INKING IS NEVER RANDOM.

    Check out Derek Fridolfs. He inks Dustin Nguyen's pencils for Batman.

    http://dfridolfs.deviantart.com/art/...e-Dum-94049258

    ^^In the image above, the blacks dictate the mood and the inking seems to "point" at the focus of the page which is Batman.

    how dare u say tim townsend is bad, if u seen his stuff, the way he does grass is insane. the example u showed me is ultra simple... no where near tims level what the hell. i could have done that with a lasso in photoshop. looks like thats how it was done.

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    Rice face... you are only thinking about technique, not about design and storytelling. Technique is just the surface-level stuff. Storytelling is what's really going on.

    Pull back a little from the pages you are looking at... a few feet... squint your eyes. If you can still tell what's going on, just from the shapes, then you are looking at good spotting of the blacks.... which is to say, good graphic design communicates what's going on before it is "understood" by the viewer intellectually.

    At least Icarus tried!


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  24. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by riceface View Post
    how dare u say tim townsend is bad, if u seen his stuff, the way he does grass is insane. the example u showed me is ultra simple... no where near tims level what the hell. i could have done that with a lasso in photoshop. looks like thats how it was done.
    It's SIMPLE. That's the point. To convey the subject matter as clearly to the reader as possible.

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    Even in a complicated scene like the one above you can clearly see where the inks flow.

    I don't see it in Townsend's Age of Apocalypse. I know the subject matter's much more complex, but the inking is supposed to aid the picture by focusing on the key objects. A good ink job would've made the pencils coherent, but Townsend's stuff just ends up muddling it further.

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    "the way he does grass is insane." Okay, great. If he spends so much time putting detail in the grass, he's probably directing the focus of the panel onto the wrong place. You like his stuff for its technical beauty but even you were confused as to the seemingly random spotting of blacks in his work. Because they WERE random.

    Like kev ferrara mentioned, inking is about storytelling, not technique. Tim Townsend's stuff looks great. But so does Jim Lee's and Alex Ross's art. They look pretty. Yet storytelling wise, guys like Bruce Timm and Mike Mignola (who draw in cruder, cartoony styles) will kick their butt all the time.

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    that age of apocalypse was a bad example.... and u can't blame tim, hes a hella good inker.. chris bachalo's work is just so much detail

    heres the grass i was talkin about

    http://timtownsend.deviantart.com/ar...plash-69328591

    if that doesn't impress u ... then i dont know what else to say

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    Quote Originally Posted by riceface View Post
    that age of apocalypse was a bad example.... and u can't blame tim, hes a hella good inker.. chris bachalo's work is just so much detail

    heres the grass i was talkin about

    http://timtownsend.deviantart.com/ar...plash-69328591

    if that doesn't impress u ... then i dont know what else to say

    It impresses me, all right. I understand the level of detail and the effort to stipple every individual blade. It's cool, but it's GRASS!

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    so... we blame it on the penciller?

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    Quote Originally Posted by riceface View Post
    the example u showed me is ultra simple... no where near tims level what the hell. i could have done that with a lasso in photoshop. looks like thats how it was done.
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  31. #24
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    I like that grass... That was cute stylized grass.


    But I've seen Berni Wrightson's grass, so it's kinda hard to impress me.

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  33. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by waranghira View Post
    so... we blame it on the penciller?
    That's basically what I said. Like geoff darrow's work, it's awesomely detailed, but virtually unreadable uncolored. I don't know what the hell I'd do about it if I was the inker.

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    And Franklin Booth's grass...

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    At least Icarus tried!


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  36. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    And Franklin Booth's grass...
    Look at those leaves. Damn...

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    while on the subject of simplicity and graphic design, Frank Miller (especially his Sin City work) also always had an impact on me:

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    help with spotting blacks in comic art....

    "Every little step considered one at a time is not terribly daunting" - Ethan Coen

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    Ah!I think I get it now. Just because you need to draw attention to something or render what the penciller told you to, doesn't mean you have to put a big fucking sploch of black on it. You can use light hatching- and even dark hatching- to draw the viewers attention without forcing it there, like the elephant rider under the dark tree. Thanks, Kev.

    Hey, where can I get a hold of an ink set?

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    Quote Originally Posted by kev ferrara View Post
    And Franklin Booth's grass...
    hmmmm i see why ur not impressed with my example... these examples are mind boggling,

    but it doesn't interest me because the finish product i want is to be colored... and those aint exactly comic book style... seems like finearts or something... insane tho

    i like the sin city stuff but clearly thats ment for black and white...


    anyways ive given up on it. im no inker.. back to good o' normal gradient shadows for me

    michelle tanner: u got it dude

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