One of the reasons that I love comics so much is that there are many valid ways to approach the medium. When I make comics, the parts I’m most concerned with are character and story. Everything I draw on the comic page is in service to character and story. Because of my focus on those two elements over, say, experimenting with my art and page structure, I will sometimes get criticism that my work is safe or boring. This is probably fair criticism! I don’t do a lot of experimenting with paneling or challenging storytelling or explicitly challenging artwork in my comics, because right now that’s not what I’m interested in. Maybe I will be more experimental someday, but not right now, with the kind of stories I want to tell. :)
When I make a comic, my goal is for my readers to be engaged with the story I’m telling, and the characters in that story. That’s also what I look for when I want to read a good comic. I want characters to love, I want a story to be engaged with.
For the most part, I struggle with drawing comics (most artists do, if we’re honest ;)), but there are some parts of comics I think I have a good handle on. I feel like I’m strongest when portraying emotion on the page, and I’m good at drawing those scenes out and making the reader feel what my characters are going through. Some of the techniques I use to convey emotion came from being obsessed with movies when I was a teenager, and some techniques are stolen from my holy trinity of influences: Jeff Smith (Bone), Hiromu Arakawa (Fullmetal Alchemist) and Naoki Urasawa (Monster, Pluto, 20th Century Boys).
Of the three artists I’ve mentioned, I consider Urasawa especially to be a master of emotion and pacing. When I first started reading his comics, it was like light struck my brain; finally I saw what I’d been trying to do for years right there on the comic page in front of me! I like the way he lays out his emotional scenes a lot. Here’s an example (read right to left):
Urasawa uses repeating panels and decompression to draw out the emotions of a scene. In this single page there isn’t a lot of movement. It’s literally just two characters staring at each other, but the tension rises going from panel 1 to panel five. Gesicht (the man)’s expression doesn’t change between panels two and five, but we literally feel his anger rising off-panel, concluding in the close up in panel 5.
There’s an excellent You Tube channel called Every Frame a Painting (I’m sure you’ve heard of it, but if you haven’t, please go watch all the videos! There aren’t many, and they’re all really informative). My favourite video is this one, about editing:
This video hit on something that I strive for in my comics: emotion takes time. When I draw a scene that is emotional, when characters are struggling with something, or celebrating something, or being challenged, I want my readers to feel what the character is feeling, and one of the best ways to do that, for me, is to take my time. To give that emotion time to breathe on the page.
I’m going to use some scenes in my graphic novel The Nameless City to illustrate how I use decompression and pacing to underscore the emotion in my comics. To avoid spoilers and because this is getting a little long, I’m going to put it under a cut. Please read on! :)
Michelle Morin (American, based Dover, New Hampshire) - 1: Bird Sanctuary At Night, 2014 Watercolors, Gouache, Acrylics on Paper 2:
Irises And Distant Pelicans, 2014 Gouache, Acrylics on Panel 3:
Meadow, 2014 Gouache, Acrylics on Panel 4:
California Coast In February, 2014 Gouache on Panel 5:
Bird Sanctuary No. 2, 2013 Watercolors, Gouache, Acrylics on Paper 6:
Three Pelicans, 2012 Watercolors, Gouache on Paper 7: Winter Pelicans And Yarrow, 2013 Watercolors, Gouache on Paper
Today I learned a neat trick while working in Photoshop. I thought it would work nicely for creating comic panels so I thought I’d share it here. This is probably old news to some but maybe there are people like me who just now hear about this.
The first thing I did was open a new canvas the size of the page. Then I proceeded to create several panels using the Marque and Polygonal Lasso tools. You can create these separately or at the same time, it doesn’t matter. It might be more convenient to create all panels on the same layer but it’s not necessary either.
I filled in the panels with grey just to make them visible here. The colour doesn’t matter.
Then I double click the layer(s) to get to the layer properties. There, on the Stroke tab I set the desired colour, width and any other property of the panel line.
The great thing about this is that you can modify (cut, expand, even out, whatever) the panels but the line still follows the outlines of the panel. I think this is much more convenient than using a manual stroke because if you want to edit the panels you need to erase and recreate the lines. Here you don’t have to do this.
I did this in Photoshop CS6 and I’m not sure if/how this works in other versions.
If conference speakers were being chosen by a system that treated gender fairly (which is to say, gender was never a factor at all), then in any conference with over 10 speakers, say, it would be extremely rare to have no female speakers at all—less than 5 percent chance, depending on one’s assumption about the percentage of women in mathematics as a whole.
Turning that statement around, we conclude that any such conference without any female speakers must have come into being in a system that does not treat gender fairly.
Zhou Fan aka Chow Fan aka 周范 aka チョウ・ファン (Chinese, b. 1983, Taiyuan, Shanxi, China, based Shanghai) - 1: Untitled, Left Panel of Triptych (detail), 2007 2:
Untitled, Middle Panel of Triptych (detail), 2007 Paintings