What Art School Taught Me About Comics

If you caught the reference in the title graphic, well, you’re probably a product of an art school yourself or just love indie-films about art school. We’re a different breed, we definitely didn’t have the usual college experience… no frats or sororities, lots of “free-thinking” and unstructured projects, probably twice the drugs, and a whole lotta  pretentiousness to go around. The least “art school” of the majors is probably Graphic Design/Illustration, because of its commercial nature. I’ve always said I’m the most left-brained artist you’ll find, so naturally I knew I’d be a Design/Illustration major from the start. Just as I was the weirdo in High School, I was also the weirdo (for being more “normal”)  in art school/college. (my love for sports didn’t help that notion either)

While the genre of cartooning and comics (erm, “manga” in a lot of cases today) is starting to flourish… moreso than it was in the late 90’s when I was in college… it still seems comics are an “outside” genre. Looked upon by most professors as the cute hobby a “real” artist will toss aside to start working on a REAL project. Rarely do you find “sequential art” classes (if you do, TAKE them!), but those are the closest to true training in the comic arts. Me, I didn’t have that opportunity- the closest class to that was the Children’s Book Illustration class I took twice. While I did have a wonderful Illustration Professor who would give me pointers on my comic after class, his classes were more based in molding a “style” for freelance illustrators-to-be. Needless to say, I trained myself to apply what I learned in design or illustration classes to my comics…. the results being pretty good in the end anyway!

We’ll start with some simple pointers…

 

  1. Don’t expect your comics to be a “Wow Factor” when applying to art schools, throughout art school, or in the design/art “real world”. There’s still a stigma about comics, particularly comic STRIPS, that says “low-art form”. I had a local art school reject me solely, as they put it themselves, “because comics are not a high enough art form to be accepted into this institution”.. even though I had a well-balanced portfolio with other mediums and styles. Just the fact that I included some sample comics in my portfolio nixed that application on the spot. Unless you are applying to a rare Cartooning School or work amongst other cartoonists, you will be fighting an up-hill battle with most of the art world. Case in point: I get far more appreciation by people who aren’t in the comic world, for the kids books I illustrate. THOSE make sense. THOSE belong in a bookstore. A comic strip is cute but ultimately a waste of time. Am I being harsh? Maybe, this is just the feeling I’ve gotten over the years. It’s hard to believe that cartoonists were practically celebrities of media/ newspapers back in the day.
  2. Painting and other similar fine arts professors are going to be the death of you. And you, to them. Unless of course you have another whole side to you besides the commercial-esque quality us cartoonists have. We draw for other’s enjoyment, for mass-consumption (generally speaking). Our concepts are quickly & easily comprehended, they don’t need to be decoded or digested or pondered over in a museum for hours. In fact, the QUALITY of a comic strip is based on how widely well-received it is.. if the masses like it, it’s GOOD. One painting class jolted me to this realization, after seeing a blank canvas with a single yellow stroke receive top-honors, while a tediously rendered landscape was scoffed at. After literally tearing up one of my paintings during the semester, at my final review my painting professor turned to me and said only these words: “You’re a designer, ain’t ya? You get a B” You have to live and let live with these types and hope they return the favor. And if you can play that game as well, more power to ya.
  3. Typography is boring. But necessary. Yes, even in comics. You tell a story with pictures AND words. Even if you are hand-writing your copy, you need to know the basics on how to convey what you intend with words. Kerning, leading, tracking… serif, sans-serif… and a long list of  fonts to avoid like the plague… Typography is far more useful than you think it will be at the time. Those words taking up space in your comic are trickier than you think.
  4. Your webcomic’s site is like a packaging project. You need a hero, you need associated colors and a simple way to move the eye around in the correct order of hierarchy. If you’re looking for a box of cheese crackers, and you have to stare at an over-loaded design with call-outs and bursts screaming at you all over it, that’s poor design. Your comic’s packaging should be the perfect display for it to shine (ie: the HERO).
  5. Making computers work for YOU and not the other way around. Many of my design professors were proponents of sketching out concepts before even touching a mouse. Even for a typography project! Don’t be lazy… block out some time for laying the groundwork.  Foundations are what makes buildings stand tall, so goes with your logo, sculpture, or comic.
  6. Learn to GIVE and RECEIVE criticism. It’s the only way to grow and get better at what you do. It took all four years of art school to fully adjust to having my work shred to pieces (sometimes literally)…. but when I’d see how far a project came by LISTENING to others’ suggestions, 9 times out of 10 I was happy I listened. This goes for my current profession as well as a real designer, dealing with marketing reps and my own art director. So, if you’re in a rut with your comic, ask for help and be ready to take it. If you’re rolling along happily and someone interjects their advice…. listen, as hard as it may be. And in return, try to offer fellow cartoonists the gift of constructive criticism.
  7. Do not get comfortable. I always quote my favorite Illustration Professor Dave Noyes on this one, and I STILL have my issues listening to his wise advice. When I finally, after years of classes with him, managed to bring in a piece that he loved stylistically, and had nothing bad to say about it, I rejoiced (in my head of course) for all of 2 minutes. Mr. Noyes said, “Congrats, Dawn, you managed to impress me, you nailed this one!”  He then came up to me at my desk, leaned on the front of my desk, looked me right in the eye and said, “Now don’t get comfortable.” Here, I thought I could coast…  I know what he likes now, this will be CAKE. But his words made me realize what an artist is. An artist NEVER coasts, an artist pushes him/herself to go beyond the boundaries and try new things. Now that I had conquered one style, one project, it was time to shake things up and push to the next level. This is hard to translate to comics as a lot of what we do is to retain a style, the way we draw our characters… so I see this as a more gradual occurrence in cartoonists. We do need to keep a structure to better tell a story… but the NEXT story– you better push something- the character’s depth, the writing, the detail in the color, the control in the lineart. And after a year, look back at what you were drawing before… you will see that growth.

Now, lets Critique!

I’ll be the daring one and pin up a Pre-Art-School Comic of mine to the front board. Please keep chuckling, pointing, and mocking to a minimum.

ugh, I know. Click to enlarge, if you dare.

Now, lets see this “masterpiece” after an Illustration/Design Professor has had at it…

ouch.

Fast forward to post-grad Dawn, and amazingly, she is STILL making comics! Lets see how she has improved.

not bad. a bit cleaner, more legible. comic-sans-free. Thanks 4 years of art school!

Fast forward again, after about 7 years of “real-world” Graphic Design experience. Has she applied what she learned in those 7 years of employment to her comic?

this looksssss..... familiar.....

Isn’t that nice. I improved.

But I sure ain’t comfortable.

 

Just for fun, lets take a look at a “Art School Confidential” critique…which seems so very, very familiar….



 


Dawn Griffin is a self-described “crazy chick”. She likes steak, Cleveland sports, video games and oh yeah, comics. She spent her high school years either playing street ball, pitching, or drawing comics and submitting them to syndicates. Once she –accidentally– discovered the world of webcomics, the sydication route became a pointless hurdle. After all, “Crazy Chicks” do things their *&%$ selves. Dawn is the mastermind behind Zorphbert and Fred, and the illustrator of the Abby’s Adventures kids book series. She can be easily bribed with ice cream.

 

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Posted in Drawing, Featured News, Helpful Hints, Tech.

31 Comments

  1. I never went to art school…but I love this advice! Particularly learning to take & give constructive criticism and not getting comfortable. Thinking perfection has been found is death. It means there’s nothing left to learn.

  2. Hey, look who it is! While I didn’t go to “art school” I did take every art course my rural school offered with a great art teacher (Larry Scott) which made up a third of the honours courses at school, and learned a lot of the same lessons (this was in the nineties, before the digital revolution had really taken hold, so lots of card stock, glue stix, and waxing machines and X-acto knives) And agree with pretty much everything you say. I too was more design oriented (a true ambidextrous brain lives in my head) so I always excelled more at layouts and action lines and eye tracking than at actual “finished art.”

    I remember a go-around I had with Mr. Scott about photo-realism; you know, take the advertising photo, cut it in half, and hand draw the other half? I spent two weeks working it over again and again with my charcoal, my white charcoal, and my rubbing stick, and it continued to look little better than the sketch in Napoleon Dynamite. Finally, I just had had enough. My gifts obviously lay elsewhere (lo and behold I turned out to be a savant on the new mac PowerPC’s copy of Photoshop, and my perspective interior hung in the class all four years of school) So I turned in my deranged looking glass of sweaty orange juice and received a strong commentary on all the places I could improve it.

    Well, I accepted the criticisms, and returned that, while I could spend another month trying to get this up to the photo-realistic standard, I would be putting all my other assignments on the back burner to do so. We finally agreed on a C for the project.

    The lesson? Sometimes you have to be comfortable with saying you’re uncomfortable. Learning is fine, but you hit a point where it’s “I can keep flogging away at this, but it’s probably not going to get much better.” as in your “Gee, this looks familiar” example 😀

    (sad post-script on modern american education: three years after I left school, they fired larry scott, slashed the art program’s budget, and now the best course you can take is “crafts”)

    You’re right that “comics” are looked down upon. One of the reasons I left Deviant Art was because I was tired of watching my friends run off the site by moderators who considered photographic nudes taken on a cellphone camera to be the height of artistic expression, but cartooned nudes requiring tens hours of work to be nothing more than child pornography. Sadly, changing minds is a lot harder than changing the .2mm graphite in a drafting pencil. My lil irish grandma said it takes all kinds to make the world go round though, so ya just got to swallow it and keep plugging away till you find the people who do agree with you.

    • well hello again! Some funny stories there, bud… I was in college from 97-01 so I saw the end of the “traditional” design process… had my fair share of spray mount and low-tac and foam-core and X-acto knife wounds.

      and you’re right.. one needs to understand their limits, know where improvement ends and the “repetition with the same results” insanity begins. Training and hard work can only take you so far, you have to have that pure unadulterated talent to get you over that “good” hump to reach “great” status.

      It’s a shame how Deviant Art moderators treated you and your friends… I have an accoutn there but hardly am involved in the community. It was good of you to take Grandma’s advice… you definitely cannot please everyone. Most artists.. ESPECIALLY fine artists… our just out to please themselves (no suggestive pun intended)… so in the end it comes down to what YOU want to create.

  3. Oh, jeebus, I happened upon that movie last year and it speaks to me so much. Mindsets like the other students in that movie are the whole reason I won’t set foot in a “fine art” school (I went to engineering school, plan to go to commercial art school in the summer). In terms of left-brainedness, I think we’ve got a lot in common.

    I like making art for mass consumption. To me, it’s more meaningful than making something that’s just going to hang in a gallery for intellectuals to smell their own farts over. Art for mass consumption is still art and still very capable of educating and inspiring.

    Anyway, there is definitely good advice to be had here from the art school realm. I especially like the points about sketching before working digitally and typography. I almost never approach a project without sketching first (especially not concept art). As for typography, it can exciting and interesting if done well. I always like to learn new things about comic lettering and logo/font design so I can make pieces that look like book design covers.

    • I’d say for all the pretentious BS of the fine arts classes I took, I did also learn something. Sculpture helped me better plan out what I wanted to create, to ensure foundations are just as thought-out as the aesthetics. Painting helped me think outside the box and hone in one my brush work…. and the underpainting that your final pieces grows out of is also a lesson in foundation. These classes were not a waste… if you look beyond the “boring blowhards” in your class and apply what you learned to what you WANT to create, the class can be beneficial. Of course, it also helps to have a professor who can stay after and help you work out kinks and better understand WHY things work and why they don’t.

      Glad you enjoyed the article Jules :0)

  4. I never went to art school. I studied theatre, and worked in computers. How’d I wind up with a comic?

    I did, however, do a stretch of writing that started at 11 and continued..well, I’m still using it. But I’ll never forget my “creative writing” teacher in high school, who wouldn’t let us write fiction. She insisted that we “write what we knew”, because, she claimed, “Fiction isn’t CREATIVE!”

    Three of us in the class then raised our hands to ask her “what about (author name)?”, with the name of a very prominent, successful, fiction author inserted therein. After about the seventh or eighth example, she got rather testy. Finally, she relented and let us write fiction. She had to go lie down in the teachers’ lounge afterward, but she did let us.

    • actually… if you think about it… computers + theater = digitally created long-form comic with a dramatic storyline. That makes sense to me!

      I am still getting my head around the “Fiction isn’t creative” declaration. I mean, yeah, the creative writing classes I took in HS mainly consisted of whiny teenage lovelorn poems and short stories that were somewhat autobiographical in most cases… but we DID have to dabble in writing fiction too. I think that’s far more creative than babbling about your life or writing a “my boyfriend dumped me, my life is over” poem.

      Figures, I graduated with a “Quill and Scroll” honors due to one of poems my creative writing teacher submitted to the organization (without my even knowing it). It was quite whiny… minus the boyfriend references.

  5. Love this article, I just wish it had come a year or so earlier:) I’m another ‘never went to art school’ aside from taking a few classes at the university I work at. Most of these lessons I learned the hard way. Fortunately it’s sites like this and others that helped me improve.

    (Coming up on one year of comicking, looking forward to reviewing and seeing what I’ve learned).

  6. OK, I _am_ one of those that went to art school (OK, Illustration major at a “normal” college, not that I imagine it’s that much different) and man, did this post bring up uncomfortable memories. I had instructors that not only didn’t think of cartooning as an art form, but seriously couldn’t wrap their minds around why I would want to do it. The prevailing thought was, if Roy Lichtenstein did it, it was okay because he was poking fun at comics and was placing each one of those dots in just the right place to simulate off-set printing. So, if a cartoon is blown up to five feet by seven feet, it’s fine art. If it’s printed in a newspaper, it’s kiddie stuff!
    Phew! Man, did that hit a sensitive spot with me! Good post, Dawn!

  7. Not getting comfortable is probably the best advice I wish I had back in Archictecture school. The first few weeks of second year, I thought I had my professor in my back pocket. Needless to say, I got comfortable, and then one day I felt like he betrayed me and completely threw me under the bus. In actuality he was trying to get me to do what I failed to realize at the time, and actually push myself as a student. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to pick myself up in time and didn’t make it into the following semmester.

    Lesson learned.

    The idea of getting comfortable still creeps in once in a while (even in my professional career as a VFX artist), and I make sure to shake myself off it as quickly as possible.

  8. This is completely off topic, but how the hell do you make a movie from an page comic? I read the comic in 20th Century 8-Ball and thought “Huh, that’s kind of amusing.” Then I heard they were making a whole movie about it and I was left scratching my head. Still haven’t seen the movie though.

  9. Like Dawn, I completed my schooling during the tail end of the paste-up era and transition to digital. I have to tell you that there was some generous helpings of idiocy within the walls of higher learning.

    The College I attended lumped all two streams of creatives together into 3 groups. You had Fine Artists mixed in with Designers in order to expand creative influences. What that got you was more bellyaching by students about the curriculum. Why would a sculptor want to waste time learning how to design a magazine cover or write body copy for an advertorial? Why would a designer want to sit at a loom for 3 hours and weave a sarape?

    It was those little things that helped speed up the drop out rate and thin out the herd. When I was there, our group started with 96. When we ended there was 20 of us. Out of those 20, 5 of us work as full time designers. The rest of them went on to pursue different careers.

    But what does this have to do with comics, you say? I’ll tell you – it’s a school of hard knocks, and in order to succeed you have to stick it out. Along the way, your shell hardens from criticism, jealousy and deceit. Just because its school doesn’t mean you’re going to avoid the catty-ness of the social dynamic you’ve been thrust into.

    I spent a lot of time at the pub. I was known as one of the ‘fun’ guys, and that really helped. I didn’t give a shit about school or the people I went to school with – but I did care about what I was doing artistically to keep me happy. And comics kept me going.

    I realized that they weren’t going to sustain me full time, so I tried to find the next best thing – and now, 13 years later, I love my job, I enjoy my hobby and I’m happy. That’s all you need.

  10. I got hurt reading this article. It’s tough love. I don’t know how to draw hands, I don’t know how to shadow, I don’t know how to draw backgrounds. I feel horrible now.

    • well, while I didn’t intend to hurt feelings, art school IS about tough love.. aka: learning how to take and give critiques. Take those negative feelings and turn them into a local art class, maybe figure drawing, where you can strengthen your weaknesses! Or, if you lack the funds, I’m sure a quick youtube search will reveal some simple techniques for how to draw hands, or adding shadows. Turn negative into positive! (and hey, shadows are a lot about negatives and positives, heh!)

    • Andrei, a really good book on inking is the DC Comics guide to inking. I’m not sure if that’s the exact name but if you Google it or look it up on Amazon, you should find it pretty easy. It should give you some great tips on rendering shadows.

      As far as hands go, I’m going to add something to dawn’s really good advice and this will sound strange coming from a guy who has “Babes” in the title of his comic strip…

      There was a time where I was truly unhappy with the way I drew women. I wanted to try and develop a style that was cartoony but still have some ‘cheesecake pin-up’ to it too. But I could never get what I wanted because I tried avoiding drawing women where ever I could. I much preferred drawing super steroided out dudes instead.

      but then I finally got so frustrated, I bought my a new sketchbook and vowed that I wouldn’t draw another male character – ever – until I had filled up the sketchbook with nothing but women. And I spent an entire summer doing nothing but drawing women or various parts of women… their eyes, their hips… I had two pages of nothing but different hair styles… I also experimented with different styles. I emulated Bruce Tim’s animation style, Disney’s Kim Possible was a huge influence on me. I did realistic too but I always went back to the cartoony style.

      And now I’m at the point where I really dig and like my own women. So it is possible to learn (or be satisfied) with the way you draw hands.

  11. everything here hits home with me. i recently completed my MFA (i say recently, i graduated in 2010…) and it was probably two of the hardest and most eye opening years of my life… artistic or otherwise. first off i was surprised that i even got into a graduate program. i submitted a portfolio full of cartoony images, but they were paintings, not illustrations. in the interest of full disclosure i let them know i was a cartoonist… thinking that one word sealed my rejection letter. but it didn’t. i’ll admit i was scared out of my mind the first day i was on campus. it is a fine art school so there were all kinds of video art, sculpture, installations, paintings… no cartoons though. i actually found myself rejecting the cartoon side of me in favor of the fine art side… can you believe that? by the second day i had a run in with a faculty member that convinced me i needed to leave. luckily another faculty member talked me off that metaphorical edge and i stayed. i vowed then and there i would do this on MY terms…with cartoons and comic art. it wasn’t easy and i met with resistance nearly every step of the way but that just made me stronger. the grad school experience taught me that i need to defend my work as a lion defending her cubs. it also made me realize that my gallery isn’t in a museum, it’s online, in books, papers…my gallery is wherever my audience is. in fact, when it came time to display work in the graduate show, i set up my gallery space with a couch, a coffee table, a lamp and every graphic novel i completed there as a student. no stuffiness… just sit down and read some comics. my final thesis: a process paper took the form of a comic book… which was easy to read and understand… no big words, no funky pictures… just words and pictures working together. grad school also made me fall in love with my line… a line that is distinctly mine and mine alone. i think i earned the respect of the faculty that tried to push me in other directions…it didn’t take me long to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that i am an inkslinger… that’s what i do.

    • Hi Frank! wow, your experiences sound all too familiar to me as well (as, uh, it should, since I wrote this article). I graduated with a BFA from a 4-year art school, and that first year was all about trying the buffet… so I was taking painting & sculpture & ceramics and whatever else. But I always knew I was a commercial artist (meaning, an artist who creates for others, not just myself). Only took a few “open-ended” projects to solidify my theory. I can’t do them. I need a PROJECT, something to go from, an assignment. Even though it’s actually a shame, I never just sketch to sketch, for fun. Everything I do is very purposeful, to ensure the most efficient time-management. Just how I am, I guess.

      I’m glad you stuck to your guns, and was able to achieve full assurance; you know where you belong, what you are supposed to do. Sometimes you need to be challenged with other options, and whether purposefully or not, your professors did this for you. In taking sculpture, I managed to impress my professors with my planning skills and capability to work in the 3rd dimension. Maybe it was all the lego castles I built as a child. Despite some persuasion to switch my major to sculpture, I stuck with design/illustration.. without a doubt.

      “My gallery is where my audience is”.. well put, that sums it up. It’s a simple concept, amazing how much people forget it. I LOVE your gallery space idea with the couch and such! A friend of mine and I did a comics gallery show as well (designers/illustrators weren’t required to have shows, we did ours just for fun). We made 4′ cardboard stands of our characters, displayed comic strips and pages as you would a painting on the wall, and served fun finger foods… made you feel like a kid again!

      Congrats on your MFA! I have never really thought about going back, but you get a ton of props for doing so! Truly enjoy Bob the Squirrel, too, so keep it up!

    • Frank… you’re missing a great opportunity here.

      If you ever find yourself in need of a serious cash flow, I would seriously consider making a small little investment and get some silk-screened t-shirts made with that saying:

      “My gallery is where my audience is”

      And then take all those shirts back to your alma matta and sell them during Homecoming week.

      You’d make a killing!

      • hey chris… if i ever do go back, there will definitely be a truck full of t-shirts to sell. thanks! i’ll be sure to send you a cut for the idea! lol

  12. I have to agree that pushing the envelope is normal for any artist. Even though I use digital media for making my comics now, I am constantly sketching and doodling hoping to improve the foundation my life drawing teacher helped me build. Though my comic books weren’t really a “wow” factor for him, my English teacher (who used comics to teach, happily for me) adored them. Publishers? Well, they pretty much told me my hand drawings weren’t realistic enough to publish and when I tried again with the digital renders, it was “3D doesn’t sell well.” Dumb excuses, if I ever heard them. They love the story and characters, but won’t touch it anyway. I just keep working on improving and move on. More recently, I decided to try self-publishing again – something that’s repeatedly failed me in the past – but this time, have the Amazon.com name backing it up. The result? See for yourself: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B009315BQA for Kindle (but you don’t need a Kindle to read it, just one of Amazon’s apps) and print: http://www.amazon.com/dp/147932907X
    It’s not wildly successful, but it shows I’ve got something worth continuing, so I’m going to release my second book in the series on December 3rd with a double free period for the Kindle edition after which the price of book 1 will be $2.99.
    Now, don’t think that just because it’s digital that there isn’t any work involved – there’s plenty. Odds of finding digital models of a good many of my characters online is slim and none. I do a good amount of modeling myself. As for my hand work, well, I have kept that up with a fan comic I’ve been messing with since high school that’s now well over 2,000 pages long. It does a wonderful job of showing just how much my drawing has improved and how my understanding of comics has expanded over the years. Most of my learning has been trial and error, though. Not too many classes to back up my art. Matter of fact, I can only think of 5 classes offhand that actually had any bearing on my improvement.

    • Hi Jennifer! Sounds like you have the determination and ability to try something new to find your niche in the world of comics. We’ve pretty much learned that the syndicates, editors and “big heads” who think they know best, DON’T. There’s just too much AWESOME out there, without any big company or publisher behind it, and that proves my point. Keep doing what you do best, and find new ways to ENJOY it when it becomes a chore.
      Do not take any shame from your art being “digital”. I see “digital” as a medium.. like saying “I don’t use water color, I use gauche”. It’s what you DO with the medium, and we all know… it’s the writing and content that carries it anyway.

      Kudos on getting a Kindle version out there, that’s something on my TO-DO list for sure. My books are on amazon as well (I use Createspace) but I buy them at base cost and sell via my website– that way I get more profit out of each sale. I don’t really promote that my books are even on amazon.

      Few classes in art school helped DIRECTLY with my comics. But many helped me in a more indirect manner. I have definitely used my graphic design skills for my comic. Much is simply self-taught… and practice, practice, practice!

      best of luck, and stick with it!

      • My problem is getting the readers to agree that digital is acceptable. I’ve seen a lot of negativity toward the medium because it’s not traditional, but computer-made.

        The other problem is that people look but don’t bother buying and all I can do is constantly post on my blog (http://www.dreamangelsparadise.com/blog) and pray people take up the banner to help. I started up a contest yesterday that would normally get a flood of interest, but nothing’s happening so far. I don’t know what else to do to get my book more attention before I release my second book. So far, the only marketing tip I haven’t tried is guest blogging, but I can’t seem to find a blog similar to my own so far.

        As for my artwork – my digital is pure self-taught. I haven’t had any classes at all (that meant anything) that taught me about the programs I use. The classes I did have toward a digital animation degree had instructors whose favorite answer to *any* question was “look it up online” or my favorite: “Ask a tutor”. Tutors were fellow students that barely knew the programs better than me and never had the answer to my questions. In short, they didn’t teach me anything, I taught myself.

        Frankly, I’m more proud of my digital work than my hand work. When I model something myself digitally, it takes more than a 10 minute sketch – it takes a couple days of battle, but the result is worth the hours of frustration, I think. I had one model take me a week to create and texture. One character took me 4 days to rig. In many ways, there’s more work involved in digital comic creation because you have to make the 3D elements before you can even pose and render them. Granted, creating the book is faster once you have them made, but making them is unforgettable. I’ve been doing every bit of my comic books completely alone and having the computer’s help certainly is a relief from nearly 6 months of painstaking drawings by hand that get thrown back in my face with the “unrealistic” rejection.

        The other piece of my comic book process comes from the little soft dolls I’ve made. They’re actually my biggest asset – quite an accomplishment for dolls that are primarily 5″ tall. They help me lay out the pages and get the dialogue in place before I even start the 3D work.

        Well, here’s hoping people explore my blog and enjoy the books and dolls. I really need the activity and sales to pick up.

  13. Great article Dawn :).
    Personally, I’m going through this right now with my schooling. I’m in a double major Visual Arts / Communication, Media and Film… yet, my first class was painting. Between strictly telling me “Don’t be ‘cartoony'” and being told to paint ‘loose’ I’m just making it through with shear tenacity and a sprinkle of cerebral bs 😉

    I understand there’s a process that we all have to follow to begin with and luckily I’ll have access to a print lab for learning lettering and all.

    As always #thanksdawn 🙂

    • Painting was my hardest class. I can paint a photo and make it look neat.. or I can be assigned an article to read and paint an illustration to represent that article… but tell me it’s an open-ended project and I’m screwed. The ONLY painting I did all semester that my prof liked was an assignment– we had to paint 1 photo with the color/tonality of another photo. I painted this really boring looking portait (another painting actually) with the colors from a rock concert pic. The irony of it made me laugh, but he of course thought there was all this subtle commentary and buried meaning behind it… which wasn’t intended, but hey, if it meant an A, I wasn’t gonna argue.

      Good luck to you, Kurt! Art school sure does have a thing against comics & cartoony styles, but it’s possible to find a professor who understands… my Illustration Prof was awesome in that manner. I would stay after class and we’d discuss cartooning and comics. I enjoyed his classes regardless- finding your illustration style, working on assignments as if I were a real freelancer… not too far removed from being a cartoonist!

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