Environment and Background Critique

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  1. #1
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    Environment and Background Critique

    Hello there! A friend of mine recommended this place for getting advice and criticism for art so I'm gonna try 'em out.

    I really want to do (web)comics, specifically big long massive adventures. While I've been doing alright as far as drawing people and designing characters go, I have utterly neglected learning how to draw background. Case in point:

    I wince every time I look at my attempts at grass/bushes/trees etc.
    I've made some more attempts at drawing environments, but they always feel flat and I'm not sure how to go about fixing it. Here are two more recent examples:



    I'm especially interested at developing and drawing fantastic/impossible environments but I realize that learning to draw more basic ones is necessary.

    Critique/advice please?

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  3. #2
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    I'm putting this really short compared to what others will write, so sorry about that.
    You definitely need to quit drawing anime, and start observing from life.

    The lines you're making are hairy, you are taking to long making them. Making one stroke looks neater and doesn't take as long.

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  4. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by LukasA View Post
    You definitely need to quit drawing anime, and start observing from life.
    On this: I fell in love with anime and western cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender and I want to draw from them for at least this part of my art. I don't think this setting/adventure would work with more lifelike art.

    Quote Originally Posted by LukasA View Post
    The lines you're making are hairy, you are taking to long making them. Making one stroke looks neater and doesn't take as long.
    On this: Yeah, you're almost certainly right. I just have a lot of trouble with doing lines in one stroke, believe it or not; the line I naturally default to is one made up of tons of little scratches so yeah, a lot of my art tends to look 'hairy'. I'm gonna try and work on that some more.

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    Quote Originally Posted by morpheoMancer View Post
    On this: I fell in love with anime and western cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender and I want to draw from them for at least this part of my art. I don't think this setting/adventure would work with more lifelike art.
    While that's all well and good to have an idea set forth for an endeavor, you're missing the point.

    Everything in art, has some influence of the real world. What Lukas is saying is that to be able to stylize (<== KEY WORD) something, you have have to know what it looks like in the first place. Animu, is a prime example of stylized art. It's style based on 1950s American cartoons, in fact.

    It's extremely simplified. It's amazingly important to know what you're leaving out or suggesting when using such a simplified style. Many young would-be artists are drawn to animu because it's visually simple, but since they don't know the mechanics behind what went into making their favorite whatever, their attempts usually fall short.

    Enough verbose from me. Either you understand this, or you don't. You don't need to quit drawing anime, but you definitely need to understand what goes into making it.

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    Okay, now that makes a lot more sense. I'll work on drawing some more realistic stuff. Both environments and people.

    P.S: Thank you!

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    I think scratchy lines are typical to learning the process of drawing. Eventually you may need to work on being more deliberate with you linework, but that works itself out pretty naturally once you understand what you're drawing.

    Drop digital art, pick up a pencil. Invest in a book covering foundational drawing. Loomis is a good choice. Study anatomy. Learn perspective. Study the Fundamentals. Draw from life.

    If you're interested in comics, read Scott McCloud's Understanding Comics.

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    Quote Originally Posted by LukasA View Post
    and start observing from life.
    And I recommend this not just in artistic sense, but actually going to different environments and experiencing and observing them. If you want to draw forests, actually go into a forest, see what plants there is what the grass is like (of whether there even is any grass) what the trees look like, how many twigs you get in your face, how nice it is when you step into a puddle and have to walk back with a wet shoe and then you notice it starts to rain and you die in a mudslide. And so on.

    I kid, but my point with that is that lots of starting artists draw forests like they're just parks with couple more trees, and it feels like they themselves have never been in a forest themselves.
    When you have a real feel of the environment you're putting the characters in, it will also make it feel realer.

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  9. #8
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    I agree with Tinybird, you should go out every chance you get and look at everything. Even if you just went to a park and really looked, you'd probably eventually notice that most tree trunks are not brown. That's a small and simple thing, but how many other things are you missing because you don't pay attention? Add up all those misconceptions and what you have is a drawing full of mistakes.

    If you're drawing comics it's especially important to pay attention to everything because you never know what the story is going to need next. A fashion illustrator can draw nothing but clothes, someone who illustrates romance novel covers can just specialize in buff men and pretty women, but a comic artist might have to draw an epic battle today, a spider-filled dungeon tomorrow, and a tender romantic scene next week. You really have to be able to do whatever the script calls for.

    I'm going to add that you need to watch your composition. Word balloons are an important part of the panel. They carry the dialogue. They need to be planned into the panel the same as the characters or any other important bit. Imagine a movie where the soundtrack guy didn't give a shit about the words so he put the dialogue in slightly the wrong place or garbled it or sped it up so he could hear more of the music. The resulting movie wouldn't be all that great, right? So why are you doing the same to your dialogue?

    Panel 1: there's a ton of unimportant forest on either side of the characters. Give the word balloons a chance to breathe.

    Panel 2: you can move those characters over to the side. There's no earthly reason why they have to be splat in the center of the panel while the dialogue has no room. If you can't fit the words in one panel, edit out the unimportant words like "well" and "yeah". If you still can't fit them in, make the panel bigger.

    Panel 3: there's plenty of room here, having the balloons touch the panel borders is just plain bad planning.

    Panel 4: there's a ton of room on the right. Why is the guy squished on the left and his hand covered up by the balloon? You don't cover up important parts of a character like the face or hands unless you really totally can't avoid it. And you can easily avoid it here.

    Also, here's a rule from cinematography that comic artists usually follow: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/180_degree_rule

    Composition is the most important tool you have in visual storytelling. Study how the good comic artists place things in their panels. (Maybe avoid studying manga right now, translations are often awkward because of the shift between Japanese text and English text. You should have a good grounding in western comics so that you can look at a manga and say "Oh, here's where the translation team really fucked up the layout. I should not imitate this.")

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