Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)
 
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    Wasp Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Hi ConceptArt,

    Somehow, I kind of forgot I even had an account on this site. Because I would like to take advice from professionals as a... let's say "not-quite-gifted" amateur webcomic artist, I thought I'd attempt to post WIP of pages here before release, to submit it to your critique.
    I'll openly admit I've never taken a real drawing lesson, and it probably shows; at the moment, I can't afford such lessons, so coming to CA appeared to me as the best way to improve the quality of my work. I'd be very grateful if you could redline my stuff, or at least tell me what's wrong with it and maybe what's right.

    I think I'll post composition sketches, then lineart ready for colouring, then the finished picture, sometimes for several frames at the same time.

    Below is the composition sketch for the first frame of page 27 of my "modern look at Greek mythology" comic. Poseidon and distressed Zeus (holding his head in his hands and staring at the table) are chatting in a cafeteria. In the backgrounds are the dishes on the left and (the basic spot where I'll put) some other character having lunch. Other decorative items haven't been added yet, and the light blue mark above Zeus' head is the vanishing point of the picture. Anything wrong with the composition or should I go on and start drawing? Disregard that: below is the version I used in the final comic.

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    Last edited by Greek Pantheon; April 3rd, 2010 at 05:12 PM.
    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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  3. #2
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    I went to your site and read all of "Zeus & Sons" so far...it really made me laugh! I sent the link to all my Greek friends.

    The sketch looks OK to me...In the long run, if you want to improve your compositions, my advice would be to draw the figures separately and assemble the panels in Photoshop (or whatever)...given the style you're working in, I wouldn't worry too much about precise perspective.

    Also, regarding drawing lessons--even given the present world economic situation, there's still probably some opportunity for you to take art classes for free or near-free. I'd check the schedule at the nearest community college (or whatever the EU/UK equivalent is.)

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  5. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    I went to your site and read all of "Zeus & Sons" so far...it really made me laugh! I sent the link to all my Greek friends
    Well, the least I can say is that that comment cheered me up quite a lot I definitely love entertaining people, and seeing as I don't have all that many readers at the moment, the gesture is all the more appreciated.
    Maybe you've noticed it, but in the early Z&S pages, I used to draw different characters on different images before assembling all the panels. It proved to cause several problems, including disparities in line thickness due to heterogeneous resizing and the drawing of redundant element that turn out to be overlapped by another object/character. I changed my panel composition method around page 7. Precise perspective isn't my main concern, but I'm considering it wouldn't hurt to get it right
    Since my town's kind of a university town anyway, I might as well check for cheap evening classes or something.

    All right. Next time I'm firing up the GIMP, I'll get to the drawing of the lineart (along with the composition of other frames).

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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    I understand the "disparities in line thickness issue." I suppose should've said, "do sketches of the various elements, assemble a rough version of the page in Photoshop, and then when you're satisfied with the composition, pencil and ink over that."

    Without wanting to seem patronizing, I will say that in my experience there's a tremendous amount of redundancy, development, and work-that-never-gets-seen-in-the-final-product in the process of art making...ranging from "creating concepts that the client doesn't end up liking" to "putting together intermediate sketch-stages in Photoshop." The idea of the artist as some kind of virtuoso who just sits down and bashes out masterpieces ex nihilo is a myth.

    Since you brought up the topic of line quality, my other suggestion would be to add some kind of variation to your line weight...your drawing is solid, but the jittery single-weight quality of the line bugs me a little (actually, a lot.) If you can't afford a better tablet, you might want to consider printing out your sketch and re-inking it by hand. I realize this entails additional labor (see preceding paragraph.)

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    Oh, don't worry about sounding patronising. I came here to hear the point of view of people with more skill and experience than I have, so I'm prepared for statements that someone less humble may take badly. Redundancy's the burden of the artist? Then so be it, it'll be mine as well. I've taken account of your suggested composition method, too. Does sketching foreground, middleground and background on different layers do the trick? Because so far, that's what I do.

    Also, although I'm quite influenced by the ligne claire style (what with being French and all), I hear some people are quite bugged by the uniform line. Should I bind the thickness of the line to its pressure? Or maybe I should draw the foreground in a thicker line than the background? If I change my uniform-lined ways, I may need additional guidance on line weight... and then I'll need to experiment.

    EDIT:

    Uh. Well, yes, binding the thickness of the line to pressure does give the image a different feel, and I think I like it.
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Feel free to redline while I'm fiddling some more with that new line style. One thing I know for sure is that Poseidon's right eye looks a bit too wide. His shoulder looks funky too for some reason.

    (in case you're wondering: the thing on the fork is a fish stick)

    Last edited by Greek Pantheon; March 11th, 2010 at 03:28 PM.
    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
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    The pressure-sensitive linework looks great!

    The ligne claire style is fine...however, most of the artists I know of who use it combine it with a more rendered coloring style. Something to consider.

    One thing I'd recommend is to not crop the balloons unless you're going to really crop them...in the panel you posted there's sort of an unpleasant tangency betweeen the balloon and the panel border.

    Another thing you might want to consider is the overall composition of the panels. It can be a good idea to break up the composition by alternating close-up and long shots, and varying the dark/light relationship of foreground and background. Scott McCloud's book "Understanding Comics" explains the basic details far better than I can in a single forum comment. (JPEG attached.)

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

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    I think I'll shrink the balloon a bit in the first frame so that the tangency thing's sorted out. Now that (after the first frame's been seen) it's clear who's talking with whom, I'll experiment with the second panel. That's one try:

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    I admit drawing that's a refreshing change (for me) from the usual relatively close-up frames I usually draw. I feel it may need a character walking with a lunch tray somewhere, too.

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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    Your thinking is good. However, the dialogue in a panel should always read left-to-right and top-to-bottom...the panel you posted takes some work to figure out because the dialogue is backwards. I flipped it to show what I'm talking about. (And I also cropped it tighter to remove some of the excessive empty space, moved the figures to one side, and turned the horizon to horizontal--all of which are artistic decisions you may or may not agree with.) I hope that is of some help.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

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    This is actually very helpful, and I think I'm starting to anticipate the critiques now. As I was sketching the scene, I kept thinking "Aw hell no, the speech bubbles are going to be weirdly placed" and "I'm not sure I should keep my horizon at that angle. Unless I'm trying to give the reader an uneasy feeling or something in a creepy setting."

    I'll rebuild the scene (I showed the hot dishes self-service thing on the left in the previous frame so I can't just flip the frame) and get to the lineart step. I've taken note of the "too much empty space" thing too. However, because each frame is actually a piece of a pre-planned layout, I'll probably solve it by enlarging the sketch keeping the same frame size rather than by cropping the frame.

    So far, your advice is being quite useful to me, by the way!

    EDIT:

    Switched the point of view, now the entrance of the cafeteria, with the trays and the cutlery, is visible, which may be good for the overall feeling that yes, we're in a cafeteria. I added a clock (useful for knowing how long you have to finish that pita you ordered), a potted plant, a character walking away, presumably after emptying their tray, and someone eavesdropping. Also a lonely can on the floor.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Last edited by Greek Pantheon; March 12th, 2010 at 12:32 PM.
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    That looks much better! My immediate response to the revised panel is that since Poseidon gets the punchline, it would probably be funnier to show Poseidon's face instead of having him turned away from the viewer.

    Something to think about.

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    That'd mean he'd be looking away from Zeus... which he can do if he's eyeing somebody or simply relishing his awesomeness as a sea deity. Easy.

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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    Actually, what I meant was I liked your previous sketch, where Poseidon's facing the viewer and Zeus isn't. In my opinion, that worked better than the "reverse angle" you have in the most recent iteration.

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    This causes quite a big dilemma. In one case, I can't place the text in a way that both looks good, and can be read chronologically. In the other, Poseidon's looking away from the reader.

    (then again, I've tried to fix it by making Poseidon look the other way. It results in him turning away from his brother as he's talking. I'm not sure it's all that illogical, as he's exposing a plan without much detail, perhaps trying to be cryptic or something. I think I'll go with my latest sketch and keep the layout considerations in mind so I don't get in such a situation next time )

    EDIT:

    Working on frame 2's lineart. In the foreground is Mnemosyne, covered in Post-it notes. There are a few anatomical problems as usual when I draw so small, and something terribly wrong with Demeter on the right (the character leaving muddy footprints all over the place) but I can't pinpoint it. Feel free to warn me about anything you may consider worth pointing out! :p

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Last edited by Greek Pantheon; March 13th, 2010 at 10:45 AM.
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    Zeus and Sons pre release red lining fest

    thats the way i was thinking but Ive seen other pictures where there is virtually no colour at all, like photos on misty days and I love that look. Can anyone show me how to improve the picture?

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    Quote Originally Posted by maximmax View Post
    thats the way i was thinking but Ive seen other pictures where there is virtually no colour at all, like photos on misty days and I love that look. Can anyone show me how to improve the picture?
    I have no idea how this relates to the thread, as it sounds like something you'd have posted in a thread of yours.

    On topic:

    This is how the cafeteria scene's coming along.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    The same things I mentioned in my previous post still bug me, so feedback would be most welcome. I'm not used to drawing islands springing from the sea either (who is? Seriously now), so I'd also like advice on the following frame.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    (sorry if I sound demanding, I really don't mean to. I'm just trying to advance so that I release soon enough and that's why I ask for replies so often )

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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    If it were me, I'd do it in multiple panels.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

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    Small point, but that table is way too low. It makes the characters look like their elbows are hovering, and very little clearance for the knees beneath. I'd also add some thickness to the top of that low wall in the back, right now it's paper-thin.

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  26. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Giacomo View Post
    If it were me, I'd do it in multiple panels.
    To avoid messing up my layout too much, cutting the island panel into several parts, right away! It's not like there's much important detail involved and I'm sure the panel will handle being shrunk just fine.
    It's true. It makes it much clearer that the island wasn't there earlier and that it's just appeared. When I draw it in one panel, it looks like Poseidon's caused some freaky reverse tsunami.

    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    Small point, but that table is way too low. It makes the characters look like their elbows are hovering, and very little clearance for the knees beneath. I'd also add some thickness to the top of that low wall in the back, right now it's paper-thin.
    Small point, nonetheless valid. I'll lift the table or lower the characters. You're right for the half-wall too, I forgot to add some thickness to it because I'm oblivious like that.

    Stay tuned, I should post the modified images soon. Thanks again for the advice.

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
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    I'd lift the table rather than lower the characters. Pedestal legs and stools instead of chairs suggest a high-ish table rather than a low one, unless it's a square top. So lowering the characters would make the table itself look pretty squat.

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  29. #21
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    Lifted the table a bit as suggested. Is it lifted enough?
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Oh dear, the table's perspective is borked. Thankfully it costs nothing in term of effort to redraw that one line.

    I've also subdivided the island panel in four. The blue bit will actually be white, with standard comic frame borders. Maybe I'll add an onomatopeia or two as well. BLUB BLUB BLUB SWOOSH. Unless it's a really silent island. Stealthy island creation.
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    I've been pondering doing a frame in backlight, in front of the sunset. In case you wonder, I've drawn the characters normally before turning them into silhouettes. In case you wonder too, there'll be a speech bubble in the lower empty part of the image.
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Last edited by Greek Pantheon; March 16th, 2010 at 09:38 AM.
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  30. #22
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    Tabletop looks good, but I'd move the bottom of the pedestal it's sitting on down even more. Same for the table on the right, make them match up more. Wall at the back looks way better too.

    I rather liked the horizontal layout of the rising island, the square doesn't seem to flow as well. But if it doesn't fit your page, not much to do about that.

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  32. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nezumi Works View Post
    Tabletop looks good, but I'd move the bottom of the pedestal it's sitting on down even more. Same for the table on the right, make them match up more.
    I haven't drawn the actual table on the right yet, but I've fixed both the table in the middle of the picture and the one with the cutlery stand in the background.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Some things disturb me deeply with the first frame, especially with Zeus' hands. I think I drew them too big. I also think Aphrodite in the background is too small for how far (or close) she is. (There should be a tray in front of Poseidon too, but I'll draw it once I fix the big problems.)
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Shot-countershot experiment in the last two frames. I'm not looking forward to drawing the last frame, as I have no idea how I should draw arms stretched out towards the viewer (considering frame 6 is taken from the baby's point of view).
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing) Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    No speech bubbles yet, but from Leto's reaction in the last frame, I hope it's sort of obvious that the words in frame 5 are uttered by the surgical mask-wearing, forceps-wielding baby.

    (by the way: all the frames in this post have been shrunk to the size they'll have in the finished page)

    EDIT:

    All right, Leto's outstretched arms (she's still in the position shown in the silhouette frame, and the frame is from the baby's point of view) look really weird right there. Little help?

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Last edited by Greek Pantheon; March 17th, 2010 at 01:47 PM.
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    The page has been released, since it's update day. You can see it here. The few readers who've talked to me have noticed much more effort had been put in it than the previous ones, and the overall quality seemed to have improved a bit. I must also say I enjoyed looking at the final result more than I usually do. So, thank you, thank you, and thank you again.

    So if it's ok, I've decided I'd try to get more critique for next page's frames. Here's the first one - the thing behind Melpomene is a curtain, not a wall, hence the curves. The scene takes place on a stage from which the Muses tell various myths. I used a reference picture to extract the "bones" from so that I could reconstruct my character around them. It's strange for me to draw my characters whole, as I usually use mid shots... but at the same time, I find it a refreshing change.
    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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    The new page looks great...if I had one critique it would be to make the linework a bit thicker. Right now it's so thin it's hard to see. Also, the coloring is tending all toward the midrange, which tends to make the page look very flat. If the figure is dark overall, the ground should be light. If the figure is light, the ground should be dark. Following this rule whenever possible is likely to improve your work tremendously.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

    The picture of Melpomene looks good. My advice would be just sketch out all the panels as pictures, without considering how they will work on the page, and then assemble the page from the pictures, cropping and scaling them so they look good. The more you can separate the design process from the art process, I think, the better the final product will look.

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    Your biceps seem really narrow on the inner sides. Thicken them, taper a little down to the elbow, and add a slight curve on the outer side, and you should get really good results.

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    I'll mess around with the arms, thicken the overall lineart, and then improve the colouring according to colour theory when I reach that step. I feel I'm on the road to improvement, and I'm ready to walk it.

    Giacomo, I have one tiny little objection to the "drawing the frames without paying attention to the layout at first" approach, due to the fact that it may cause severe line thickness disparity as said earlier, and much worse, mess up my composition. What if I end up having a frame in which the speech bubble won't fit without hiding a significant part of the character, for example? How can I circumvent the problem, while keeping as much artistic freedom as I can? Should I draw the scene's elements on different layers, with one featuring a rectangle representing the frame's boundaries?

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Greek Pantheon View Post
    Giacomo, I have one tiny little objection to the "drawing the frames without paying attention to the layout at first" approach, due to the fact that it may...mess up my composition.
    Reasons to draw the art separately: I realize I'm venturing into highly subjective territory here, but it seems to me that--in general--you are being overly cautious about planning the panels. As a result, every panel, and every page, tends to feel very centered and symmetrical and static. So I guess one reason for doing it is to introduce more asymmetry into the design of the panels. Another (highly subjective) thing is that in my opinion, drawing cropped figures just never works well artistically...if possible, it's always a good idea to draw the whole figure (or the whole head) and crop the frame around it.

    The bubbles and inking are legitimate concerns. The last time I tried doing a comic, I did a really rough layout of each page with the balloons in place to make sure everything fit, then I went back and drew each panel, and then I sort of went back and forth with everything so it all fit. (I will try and post some examples.) Basically, I'm encouraging you to do some intermediate steps in the design of the page instead of adhering to a rigid "Sketch. Pencil. Ink. Color" kind of workflow.

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    FYI: Sample attached below of a page from my last attempt at making comics. It doesn't show the dialog (except in the single balloon where it's pixelated) because my writing was so awful that I can't bear the thought of anyone reading it again. However, you can hopefully get a sense of how I a) broke the thing down into its constituent parts and b) did a lot of iterations to get the thing to its finished state and c) tried to separate the "design" process from the "drawing" process.

    I hope that is of some use to you. I'm not necessarily suggesting you need to put quite so much labor in as I did on the piece below...although if you do, I'm sure the results will be fantastic.

    Zeus and Sons' pre-release red-lining fest (ongoing)

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    Now I see what you mean! Although the one-page-a-week rythm sometimes causes a bit of a rush, I'm sure I could do with approximate panel construction using a 3D program (I'm curious as to which one you used) or even a sandbox game allowing a relative camera angle freedom, such as The Sims 2/3. Another advantage would be that I'd have consistent backgrounds, as I'd be able to build rooms and never forget elements in between the appearances of said rooms.

    I'll try to follow your method (in the next pages if I don't have time to use it for this one), adapting it to my work rhythm. Thank you, the breakdown of the page creation process was quite useful.

    Take my advice with a grain of salt, I don't exactly have an artistic background (I'm an engineer).
    Zeus & Sons, my webcomic. You can help me improve its artwork in this thread.
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