Thursday, 2 May 2013

6 Time saving tips when making comics

6 Time saving tips when making comics.

I'm not sure who will read this but its more of an accountability tool, where I can update the world on my creative process and progress, knowing as time to update the blog draws near, I need to,  to quote some guy whose name I don't know, "Don't make excuses, make comics".

Soooo, I'm working on a title that was previously featured in the now defunct single issue Anthology I self published, entitled "A Brigand's Tale". 

It did not sell well, and considering I got minimal feedback from the handful of people who actually bought it, it must have sucked real bad for there to be no comments forthcoming.

While this foray into print self publishing was fraught with problems, it also came with valuable learning experiences I figure I will share with you in this initial re-launch of my blog.

1) Don't collaborate, unless it's family- sounds nasty, but hear me out. People aren't identical, so that means whoever you decide to work with needs to be totally on the same level as you -or- as bitter experience has taught me, you will be the one pulling an all nighter re-lettering the book the night the file was supposed to be uploaded to the printers because the deadlines blew out and who ever proof- read it had no conception of spelling OR grammar. Independence means you need to know how to do it all, and that means production. 
Which seems to take longer in time than actually writing and drawing the darn thing.
The upside of this stance is you get to learn all aspects of production, so that when your brother publishes a way awesome book (which you can purchase here:http://theadventurers.bigcartel.comyou can help him avoid some of the pitfalls.

I'm working on a short back up story with one of the Adventurers cast, which is great because we do operate on the same wavelength, also as family - we can be honest with each other about editorial and no ones precious ego will be shattered, we are all just trying to produce the best stuff we can.

2) Limit the time you invest in others - if you choose to ignore point 1, at least listen to me here. In the recent past I owned & operated a comic book store, I tried to bring together a creative community so that artists could get together, draw and grow. I adopted the drink-and-draw concept that's quite popular nowadays and was lucky to get one other person to attend.
The point is you don't have enough time to waste trying to get other people to be excited about drawing, or comics if they cant do it themselves unsupervised.

While in the store, you become a captive to people who want to show you their art stuff. I was always polite and pointed out the aspects of their stuff I thought was good. Umpteen times I would offer pointers or tips, based on my experience of the market, and the general craft of storytelling, and as I recall, not one single person EVER heeded a word I said. 

So go ahead, build groups of people who can't motivate themselves, ignore every thing you say and suck precious time away from you doing your own stuff, or don't - and actually get your project done.

3) Story specifics. My tale is set in an all new world, therefore dont start off with the massive epic, start off with a series of smaller stories that introduce the main characters and aspects of the world. It will be much easier the sell the epic part of your story when the readers arent totally confused about everything. This means a lot more time being spent in the writing stage and mapping out a flow of ideas in a logical fashion, but this time spent will pay off down the track when people can actually follow the story.

4) Do your experimenting before going live. Rest assured, as you grow as an artist your style will change over time, I'm talking about experimenting (like I did with different inking tools, shading tools, techiques etc virtually on every page) with very different things. It creates an inconsistent visual motif and is harder for readers to stay in the story.

5) Continue to improve your work process to increase producitivity.
I must admit I am still in the throes of getting it right but have made some leaps in logic.
I was really married to doing inks and ink wash in the traditional manner as my art style for this tale, however as soon as I had to scan, clean up and (maybe) colour the thing, I spent a week in photoshop still trying to clean up the art. This means  something has gotta give, so the thing can  actually get started and done.

6) Do it for yourself.
Savage dragon creator, Erik Larsen is often tweeting on message "if you arent doing a story you want to read, your doing it wrong" markets change, it used to be all about the vampires and now, zombies are all the rage. Who knows what the next fad will be but if you telling a ripper of a story that you like, its probable someone else will also like it.

While not an expert the above are the guidelines I'm currently applying to get stuff done.

This has meant a real 'back to the drawing board' time for me, which is annoying in that I need to send more time prepping stuff, but also good because the story will have an idea flow that isnt too much all at once and a consistent visual that I can achieve quickly.

On top of this I will shortly be attempting to go all digital in my work process purely to save time.

I have splashed out and ordered my self one of the new Cintiq 13HD's because I cant see any way to do this stuff digitally without basically being able to draw direct on screen.

It also means our dining table is clear of pencils, pens, inks, brushes etc so my wife is happy theres no mess, and I can actually keep track of everything on my computer.

If it's arrived by then, I will be sure to show you the results of my experimentation...

but for now here's a peek at some of the characters and pages that have all been redesigned or changed for the above reasons

On the left is the titular character and one of his associates as children...
One of the badguys, who has since been redesigned.

A mostly inked page since canned for a number of reasons...

til next week!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks Dan, ALthough I would say that to point 1 you need to find the right people to collaborate with and even then set some rules in the beginning - go back to them often (post them on the wall or whatever works). I've not worked on a comic but I have worked on other artistic ventures (music, theater etc) all with creative people (and we know we are the WORST people to work with!). Setting clear boundaries and working out how a path to resolution (cause there will always be disagreements no matter the people involved). It seems a little managerial however there is a reason that business use this method - IT WORKS.
    In 2 I would also add that sometimes the most unlikely person can be your savior so be polite but firm in what you can and can't offer. Don't take it personally when your advice is ignored or not taken - it's their choice. Sometimes that person might just be someone you need one day...
    Cheers and good luck with the next comic adventure!