i’ve read 13 volumes of Bakuman manga so far, and as i’ve read i have noticed how much good advice the books contain (especially volumes 2 and 3). this advice isn’t exclusive to the book, but i highly recommend reading it if you haven’t; especially if you like comics, and/or want to make comics. i think the creators put a lot of themselves into it.
1. Left to right. Don’t get fancy and you won’t lose people.
2. Pay attention to eyes. That’s the first thing people look at.
3. Control as much of the process as you can: penciling, inking, coloring, even lettering. You don’t have to do it yourself, just get your own people in and keep an eye on it right to the end.
4. Don’t hide things you don’t know how to draw. Put them front and center so you give yourself a push to improving your skills.
5. Keep practicing drawing from life, drawing from a model, drawing what you see around you. When you stop doing that then you start to dry up and become predictable.
6. Nothing is un-drawable. It might be very very hard, but you CAN do it.
7. If you are working from another writer’s script, read thoroughly, then read it again. Let those words become your words and therefore your character’s words.
8. Try not to design asymmetrical characters. Also avoid tattoos.
9. Clarity above all. No fancy layout or visual flourish is worth losing your reader’s full comprehension.
10. All rules are completely ignorable, if you can make it work.
You can view Simon Fraser’s work at: www.activatecomix.com/creators?id=6
Except for some select experimental works, every piece of fiction requires a story, or plot. The complexity of this plot is determined by both the writer and the genre. For example, a thriller is always plot-driven, requiring an intricate story with twists and unexpected complications, while a literary novel can center on a much more straightforward plot that is subservient to character, language, and theme. No matter the genre, however, the story is what draws the reader into the writer’s fictional world. I’ve provided a few guidelines to help you succeed with your story.
- Plot is all about conflict, and conflict is all about denial. Know what your protagonist wants, and throw in obstacles that prevent him from attaining it. Without a sustainable conflict, a story becomes boring.
- Choose a story that interests you, not one that you create because you think it will sell. It’s obvious when an author has nothing invested in the plot.
- Let the plot unfold naturally –– that is, without the obvious hand of the author at work. One scene should logically lead to the next, even though chronologically the scenes may be out of order. A writer who tries to force the plot to satisfy his intellectual vision will always fail.
- Each scene should complicate the conflict, and thus move the plot forward. If the conflict never changes, then the story will feel repetitive.
- Your character should contribute to the plot development. Don’t let events happen to them. Make them change events through their actions and personalities.
I learned all this in college but for those who either need supplement, help, further explanation or a straight-up teacher (because you’re not going to college, which I highly suggest considering the economy and increasingly better online tools,) here is yet another charcoal-and-paper teacher.
A few things to note: his hand is always moving—half the time he’s not even making a mark, he’s just eyeballing the form, making a mental plan before he touches the paper. He’s moving his entire arm, giving him the mobility required for gesture and the stability for long strokes. (If you move only your hand, or even worse just your fingers, when drawing you severely limit yourself as far as line quality and size is concerned. You also will cause early onset carpal tunnel. So stop it.)
He’s using a pencil—a charcoal pencil to be specific. But he uses a pencil pencil, not a mechanical pencil. Mechanical pencils are used for drafting, ruler lining, and small accurate details. Never use a mechanical pencil when gesturing (or, subsequently, animating.) It, too, will limit your abilities and cause physical damage.
Also note how he’s holding the pencil. That he isn’t holding the pencil from the very bottom, he’s holding it about two inches back. And he’s holding it thumb-on-top.
All the same can be said for the following videos. (These unfortunately do not have an HD setting.)
This last couple are just cool. It’s about fashion drawing with Prismacolor Pencils and Copic Markers. There’s some interesting things to note about clothing dynamics here, as well as coloring techniques you can try traditionally or, I believe, digitally.
WHY YES I DO!
Where to begin though, let’s see:
- Good artistic stylization has a solid grounding on realistic concepts. You still have to be well adapted to forms and functions of figures and objects. Even if you look at some of the most abstract/highly stylized works they have a core base on something realistic and tend to function in a somewhat required area of believability. So please try to do studies in realism before you plan on stylizing!
- To reiterate STUDY, STUDY, STUDY. References either in the forms of photos or the object/person in front of you. Know what you are going to stylize to the best of your ability. How it feels, how it reacts, moves, rests, ect.
- You may be inspired by other people’s stylizations but do not try to copy them, find your own niche and make it personal. That is a big key, Your Stylization should say something about YOU. Make it identifiable to you and others that will know it is yours when they see it.
- Make sure you are enjoying how you style your work, if you find yourself too easily frustrated and trying to force the stylization, then chances are you will grow to be dissatisfied with your work. You should be able to let it come naturally. A good practice would be to spend about 15 minutes of your day doing a series of 30 second gestures to be able to loosen you up and give you a glance at how you draw when you do not over think the details.
- Remember, not everyone is going to enjoy your stylization and that is just how people are. Just because someone might not find your style appealing it doesn’t mean you have to dislike your work or that the work is even bad. As someone, somewhere once stated “Fuck the Haters”
- Side note to previous statement: Make sure you know the difference between someone saying “Your stylization does not appeal to me” and actually constructive criticism. Getting constructive criticism from a group of your peers is actually very helpful. Others will be able to see things you will tend to miss in your work (you do end up staring at it for hours until it is finished so your eyes can grow tired to the image and begin to miss things). This can help you improve faster!
- Keep all your work over the years to see how you change and improve. This isn’t just for people that want to stylize, but for all artists. Seeing yourself improve is a great motivator to keep doing what you are doing.
- Most Important and Cheesy: Have Fun! If you find yourself getting exhausted or overwhelmed take some breaks. You want to enjoy what you are doing, not end up irritated about how long it has taken to finish.
Hope this is helpful! If you want anything further go ahead and ask!
good advice. the first two and last two points especially.
draw from life!
keep old work to gauge your improvement.
if you’re not enjoying your work, do something else you enjoy.
however— if you’re not enjoying your work because it’s not as good as you want it to be and you’re frustrated, that’s different. don’t give up! take a break if necessary, but keep practicing. you WILL get better.
Hey, all. This is a comic I started on 24 Hour Comic Day, but I only managed to complete 12 pages on that day. That makes it a technical failure, but I decided it was worth finishing regardless of that.
I sold copies at APE, but I didn’t anticipate the demand and ran out of them pretty quickly. So, I promised to re-post the mini on tumblr when i got home, and here it is.
Some further reading, if this kinda thing is up your alley.
- Kevin Kelly’s original essay on 1000 True Fans. He also links to associated articles dealing with the theory, even one that disagrees with it. Interesting reading.
- If you don’t know about Kickstarter and what its done for indie comics, get out from under that rock already. Lots of small press and micro publishers now pre-order ALL their projects on KS, myself included.
- Patreon is the new kid on the block; not quite up to scratch as of yet, but full of possibilities. Search “comics” to find a number of creators using it to draw a page rate from their fanbase.
I hope someone finds this helpful. I may put a print-rez PDF up for sale, if any interest is expressed.