This video gives me so much hope! I can’t wait to be sharing my own work at TCAF or at any other comic convention again for that matter. I’ve attended Anime Expo and a few other conventions before. For the most part, my experience has always been positive. I make up the costs of attending through commissions and it’s wonderful to meet other artists and people who like my work face to face. But I’ve always felt woefully unprepared in more ways than one.
While I do enjoy creating fan art, I’d always feel like I didn’t quite belong as I exhibited my work next to other artists. I had an ache in my heart that couldn’t be satisfied by my provision of prints, commissions and bookmarks of other people’s characters. I felt like I was doing things backwards. I have nothing against my fellow Artist Alley attendees some of whom I have great fondness and admiration for, but what I longed for more than anything else was to have an original body of work on the table: A story to share. I felt incomplete without it. I wanted something to prop up with the full force of my passion and it had to be something I created.
Ofcourse, I really have no idea how I’ll be around this time next year. Signing up for all these conventions at this point feels premature somehow. Perhaps, I’ll wait another year before debut-ing my work in Canada!
Links I’m sharing this week:
Jason Brubaker’s post Growing Your Audience is like Growing a Tree is a fantastic must-read for aspiring comic creators. Just like improving your craft, building an audience that appreciates it also takes time and effort. The most important thing to take away is PERSIST!
Meanwhile, Jake Parker’s story of three travelers as they traverse The Known World of Visual Storytelling is insightful as it is playful.
I was part of a Deviantart comic group that opened up a suggestion box to Ask the Mods when I noticed artists were asking for tips on how to make manga panels. Eager to help, I immediately wanted to reply with something but found it was difficult to boil down everything I felt needed to be included. Reflecting on my own learning process, I wasn’t even sure I knew what made my own panels ‘good’ or ‘good enough.’ So like everything you’ll probably read on this blog, these posts are somewhat selfish in nature, as they also serve to remind me of the important stuff that go into creating comics.
Elements of Good Composition
If you think about what creating comic panels really are, it’s the art of arranging boxes on a page. Manga is particularly known for its diverse and bombastic arrangements. But first and foremost, nothing beats knowing the most basic of design elements: composition. Fortunately, the Temple of Seven Golden Camels (a fantastic resource blog for story board and layout artists) has two short reference links on this: Composition 101 and Composition 102. You just can’t go wrong brushing up on foundational stuff.
Panelling and Pacing
Lilrivkah’s post regarding the pages of her OEL manga Steady Beat is quite informative as she analyzes how creating her panels informs the pacing of her story. On this note, I think it’s really important for manga/comic artists to actually “study” how the comics they read and appreciate actually work for that particular genre. For instance, the elements of a shojo manga like Fruits Basket won’t necessarily work for a seinen comic like Naoki Urasawa’s Monster. The two are very different stories and therefore, employ different kinds of pacing, layout and panels. I find that I go back and forth between more open layouts and strict grid-like formations because I want to make the panel arrangements serve the purpose of my scenes.
Disney Comic Artist’s Kit
Carson Van Osten’s helpful handout illustrates some recurring problems with staging and perspective within panels and also shows how to resolve them. I’m personally ecstatic to have come across this because even if superficially, it has nothing to do with manga, it has everything to do with depicting characters in believable environments – a most difficult task for beginning comic artists everywhere. Wally Wood’s 22 Panels That Work handout (pictured above) is a nice little reminder of the different ways you can stage panels in Western comics and also helps fuel more interesting compositions.
Feedback from a Manga Editor
SASAKI Hisashi (former Editor in Chief of Weekly SHONEN JUMP – where Naruto, Bleach and One Piece are all serialized) recently gave some insightful feedback to young American mangaka at Comic-con last month. He also shares a lot of beginning artist problems which are worth keeping in mind. It’s no question getting feedback is an important step in growing artists’ process and whether it’s from someone as high up the ladder as Hisashi-san or your own best friend, I think you can always learn a thing or two from the people who read your work.
Manga-Apps Template Page Layouts
Finally, for manga artists totally in the dark about composing their own panels, here’s a Deviantart resource group filled with Template Page Layouts. The risk of using cookie-cutter boxes is ofcourse you may not learn the right way to do things from the ground up but learning is very personal journey for everyone. What works for me may not be the same for you and I’ve always felt you still learn something just by the sheer act of DOING IT. So if you just want to make comics, go MAKE COMICS!
What are some other tips, posts, and sites about comic panels you recommend? Feel free to sound off below!
I was in line for the Gallery Nucleus‘ Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition opening night the other weekend with some friends and by 9 PM, gave up on the idea I would make it to any of their advertised events. Seriously, it was like a Hall H line around the block and through the parking lot! I wasn’t too bitter though (I had a yummy dinner at Noodle World nearby) and was delighted so many people and their kids showed up and wanted to be part of the celebration.
Before I left, in the course of our conversation my friend asked me, “Wouldn’t it be great to create something this culturally relevant?”
I’m sure everyone reading this would answer a resounding, “YES! Ofcourse!” (and if you deny it, I think you’re probably not being honest with yourself XD). Everyone wants their beloved stories and creations to be appreciated. The especially fortunate few like JK Rowling have innumerable fans who not only love her books, but also everything that has to do with the world she created. They expand her established world by creating their own kinds of art (fanfics, fanart, costumes) and form communities that share their love for her stories.
I’ve always felt much respect and admiration for the storytellers whose works inspire such devotion and creative frenzy. Joss Whedon’s works (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly) and LOST, are a few more of my favorite stories with similar kinds of following. On the manga side, Hiromu Arakawa’s stellar work with Fullmetal Alchemist makes me weak in the knees and Naoki Urasawa’s handling of Pluto was very emotional.
It is somewhat intimidating to start off loving these phenomenal blockbusters and then, to ask yourself “What do I do to create something like that?” but I’m getting to the point of this post and it’s this: At the heart of each of these successful dramatic stories are characters. You may love the Harry’s wizarding world or enjoy deconstructing the Island’s mysteries but you tuned in and you stayed for the characters.
Creating compelling, sympathetic and memorable characters and giving them rich, believable and interesting stories is no easy feat. It takes time, lots of work and patience. In today’s fast-paced world, those are becoming rarities.
I’m discovering this gradual, fairly maddening process myself as I work on even more drafts for my story. As I suffer my way through rewrites this week, I take a lot of comfort in the fact that apparently, JK Rowling spent over five years planning Harry Potter’s story before she even started writing her first book. It makes me believe in the writing process and helps me be patient as I try to usher my story to be the best it can be.
Yes, my stories may never even be a fraction of the ginormous successes like Rowling’s or Whedon’s but if I plan it right, and respect the processes these creators share, no one can say I didn’t give it my best shot.
Some links I just wanted to share this week:
What if Harry Potter were an anime – a technically stunning anime illustration featuring Harry Potter characters by this PIXIV artist.
Another one equally as impressive is this Harry Potter collaborative piece by Rem and Maximo Lorenzo.
And finally, a must-read post on a now infamous SDCC panel and the questions about female DC creators/characters. Over at Comics Alliance, Laura Hudson’s response is equally fascinating and well-written.
Yey! I’m pretty excited to share the first promo image related to my new project, Polterguys. I’ve been working on the comic pages since the first of this month to give myself a buffer so I should be able to start publishing pages around mid-July.
Polterguys is the story which I based from to create my Yen Press Talent Search entry, Final Track. It’ll have comedy and drama elements (just the way I like ‘em!) so I hope you stick around for it!
This is Part 5 of a series of posts I’m writing about how I made Final Track, a 34-page shojo manga I worked on as my submission for the Yen Press New Talent Search.
I usually ink all the pages completely before scanning everything. I know some people like completing one page at a time and that’s fine. We all have different preferences. I scanned these pages in at 600dpi even though 300dpi is the usual standard for printing. Unless your computer can handle the file size, I’d say 300 is fine. I save them as Bitmap files (.BMPs) and import them in Manga Studio.
Using Manga Studio seems to have been fairly intuitive enough that I managed to plow my way through after looking up processes and figuring out what commands did what. Suffice it to say that I’m much happier with the results from Manga Studio than trying to tone in Photoshop. The database of built-in tones by itself was a lifesaver and the ability to use gradient tones made achieving certain effects efficiently.
If you’re doing a comic specifically for print, it’s important that you actually see what it looks like on physical paper. You’re likely to discover things that jump out at you very differently from viewing on a screen. I’m always fortunate to have a very patient and detail-oriented sister willing to go over my work with a fine-toothed comb and point out areas for improvement. Afterwards, ofcourse, the next step involves implementing the feedback. It’s only after I’ve gone over everything again did I feel like the work was polished enough for presentation. It’s important to put your best foot forward.
If the process seems unwieldy and time-consuming, it really is and it will totally be your advantage to give yourself concrete and achievable deadlines. This will allow you to keep track of your progress and make adjustments to your schedule as needed. Final Track was a project I undertook for 2 months with full-time work. I did take a week off on Thanksgiving but the rest of the time, I spent working on it weeknights and weekends. I gave myself plenty of breaks so not to strain my body, ate well and slept regularly. No last minute rush jobs here because I hate doing that. Some people might be able to produce their best work under extreme pressure but I know I can’t. I’ve never been prone to pulling all-nighters because I just can’t recover from sleep debt as graciously as others can. So, I rely on strategies and planning ahead to make sure the work gets done.
Well, there you have it! This wraps up my behind-the-scenes look at Final Track and my comicking process. Hope y’all enjoyed!
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