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Hey all. I haven't drawn consistently since about 2007 when I graduated college. Recently my close friend John asked me to illustrate some comic strips he's been writing for his blog, and we turned it into a weekly thing.
I was never a spectacular artist, but I've really enjoyed drawing again. I work with a wide range of media and I try not to limit my subject matter to "only stuff I like drawing."
It's possible that all I really need to improve is just practice, practice, practice. Obviously that's part of it. But I'm gonna post the last few comics I drew here, in the hopes that some kind soul can see a theme or two that they can comment on and help me improve.
Most of these comics are drawn in 3.5" square panels (hand-measured every time, ugh) on 8.5"x11" paper, and scanned in on my ancient CanoScan LiDE30 8.5"x11" flatbed scanner. I'm trying to improve my handwriting, and for basically all of these, it's my first time using the tools in question in 3 years. Inking pens, watercolor markers... I've been digging it all out.
If you see a common mistake in all of them, or an overarching thematic element that just bugs the crap out of you, PLEASE post it here! I'm looking for every sliver of criticism I can get; everything from "You've built up so many bad habits that you need to start over from scratch" to "Everything is perfect except for your anatomy" is acceptable.
Also, I'm really frustrated with how my art doesn't look "clean" at all. Is there something specific I can do differently, or will I just get "cleaner" with time?
Without further adieu, here they are:
This one was very, very rushed, including the sloppy coloring in Photoshop. I'm not proud of it, but as literally the first thing I completed drawing in 3 years, it could be worse.
National Solipsists Society:
Cobbled together in Photoshop, after I scanned the pieces drawn in my sketchbook and inked with a Micron. Also pretty rushed--I promise they won't all be as sloppy as this one.
Starting to work more consistently with my inking here; but I felt like I struggled with a lot of the details.
I feel like this is one of the more successful comics, but again, I struggled mightily with properly representing a bar, and then the ruined walls in the last panel.
Cleanest and most consistent linework yet. Background still felt sparse. I wanted to go for a more "cartoony" style for this one, but it just didn't happen--I reverted back to my usual style and before I noticed I had drawn the whole thing that way.
A slightly less disastrous attempt at color compared to #1. This has lots of flaws, though. Horrible perspective in the first panel, and the colors aren't vivid after I scanned them... I couldn't fix that no matter how much I tweaked things in Photoshop. Maybe it's time for a new scanner.
Overall I feel like I need to work on backgrounds, composition and texture, but I'm just not sure how to go about doing it. I carry a sketchbook with me and try to draw out scenes when it occurs to me, but I rarely feel like I've learned from drawing it. Maybe I just need to do it more!
By the way, you can follow these comics and all of John's flash fiction at his blog, if you're interested: http://johnwiswell.blogspot.com.
Thanks for your help guys! I'm looking forward to seeing what people think.
If you aren't sure how or what to improve, I'd suggest going to fineart.sk and looking at textbooks by Andrew Loomis. I think "Successful Drawing" and "Creative Illustration" feel about right for you. I can also recommend "Understanding Comics" and "Making Comics" by Scott McCloud.