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Strengths and weaknesses
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 2:55 am    Post subject: Strengths and weaknesses Reply with quote

I think I've said it a few times here, but when I started my comic, I released the whole first chapter on launch day. The reason being that my art was terrible and I figured that if I wanted to get any readers at the start, my only hope was the writing - which really needed a whole complete chapter to have a solid foundation.

My comic's been live for just over a year now, and I've put a good deal of effort toward improving the art to where I'm finally (mostly) comfortable with it. I still have some things to practice, but for the most part, I can get whatever pose I want out of my characters - which I couldn't before. (Though I do occasionally look back on a page that I was proud of before and think "ew.")

My writing has made some changes, but nothing quite as drastic. I haven't worked at it as much because I consider it one of my greatest strengths. (Maybe I'm deluded.) But there are definitely things to pick up just by doing it through the course of the comic.

So what about you guys? In terms of your comic or some other creative project you're doing, what do you consider to be your greatest strengths and weaknesses? Do you try to improve them, and how's that been going for you?
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Lavenderbard
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 840
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 3:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm actually not sure what my strengths are when it comes to comics.

Someone once complimented me on how well I kept my characters proportions consistent for Black Flag. That amused me a lot. Clearly they didn't 'get' how this whole 3D CGI stuff works.

I know I can write... but can I write comics?

... Oh, I remember, for Scent of Spring (that's the one I'm drawing) I got complimented on how well I make use of backgrounds to convey extra information about culture and stuff. (I actually get the same compliment for my novels.)

My kids think is really weird that I can stand to put so much time and effort into backgrounds, but for me they aren't boring, they're a fun and interesting challenge. They only get boring if I have to draw the same background over and over... I tend to write so that this doesn't happen. I'm sure my readers appreciate it as much as I do. Smile

Weaknesses... um... er... everything else?

But I don't try to improve myself I just try and make each story the best I can make it, and assume that as long as I'm working on making the story better self-improvement will naturally happen.
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JFD



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My greatest strength I think is creating and populating a fictional world. That was true as a DM and amateur writer, and I hope it will be for the comic as well as the world gets revealed along with the characters evolving in it.

I'm told I'm good at writing dialogues as well - I'll let you people decide if it's true Smile

My weaknesses are clearly my art - working on that - and layout. I'm boring myself to death with my pages layout. I just can't make interesting ones. Confused
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lavenderbard wrote:
Someone once complimented me on how well I kept my characters proportions consistent for Black Flag. That amused me a lot. Clearly they didn't 'get' how this whole 3D CGI stuff works.

Haha, clearly. Though I've made comments sort of along those lines before. Not specifically with CGI stuff, but complimenting someone's work on something that I think looks fantastic, but it turns out to just be a really simple option in whatever program they're using.

Lavenderbard wrote:
... Oh, I remember, for Scent of Spring (that's the one I'm drawing) I got complimented on how well I make use of backgrounds to convey extra information about culture and stuff. (I actually get the same compliment for my novels.)

My kids think is really weird that I can stand to put so much time and effort into backgrounds, but for me they aren't boring, they're a fun and interesting challenge. They only get boring if I have to draw the same background over and over... I tend to write so that this doesn't happen. I'm sure my readers appreciate it as much as I do. Smile

Backgrounds are definitely a great asset when they're done right. I'm in the I-don't-like-to-do-them camp though, haha. I do have better luck with them if I make sure to include them in my character's sketch. It's too easy to just sketch a character and go straight to creating the final version, but then you have no plan for the space around them. And I have no patience for any of that. Wink

Lavenderbard wrote:
But I don't try to improve myself I just try and make each story the best I can make it, and assume that as long as I'm working on making the story better self-improvement will naturally happen.

Yeah, that's pretty much my attitude on my writing. It's much easier for me to see my visual faults/improvements than conceptual ones as well.

JFD wrote:
My greatest strength I think is creating and populating a fictional world. That was true as a DM and amateur writer, and I hope it will be for the comic as well as the world gets revealed along with the characters evolving in it.

I'm kind of the opposite where I like to have all that stuff taken care of for me. Which has a lot to do with why my setting is modern-day, pretty-close-to-reality. So I do think it's really cool when people can create extensive worlds with lots of history.

I used to write terrible fan fiction when I was younger, though I created all my own characters then just set them in someone else's world. From there I have no problems with changing the world, but I like having that baseline.

JFD wrote:
I'm told I'm good at writing dialogues as well - I'll let you people decide if it's true Smile

No complaints so far. Wink

JFD wrote:
My weaknesses are clearly my art - working on that - and layout. I'm boring myself to death with my pages layout. I just can't make interesting ones. Confused

Oh yeah, I have a hard time with interesting panel layout. I think it's because I'm big on having structure when I put things together, so my panels aren't very creative and usually just blocks.

I've been trying to take some cues from Bearmageddon (as well as some others), but I doubt I'll ever be able to do pages quite like that. My brain just isn't wired that way.
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Lavenderbard
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
Posts: 840
Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera wrote:
JFD wrote:
My weaknesses are clearly my art - working on that - and layout. I'm boring myself to death with my pages layout. I just can't make interesting ones. Confused

Oh yeah, I have a hard time with interesting panel layout. I think it's because I'm big on having structure when I put things together, so my panels aren't very creative and usually just blocks.


I don't split my scripts up into panels, I just split them into pages.

So when I go to lay out a page, I create the whole page as if it were one thing, not x-many panels. I start with: "Here's a page, what images and talk bubbles does it need to have?" I create the images and text first, and I decide where the panel lines go in last. And when I'm deciding where those lines go, I'm thinking of the lines as being a part of the picture, not as borders around a picture.

I don't really know that much about what anyone else thinks of my style of panelling. But at least I'm not bored.
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Lindemannade



Joined: 18 Feb 2014
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Tue Mar 18, 2014 5:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As someone making what is essentially a gag-a-week comic, I thought I'd chime in with how different I find my priorities to you hard-working narrative folks (seriously I find it staggering, kudos to all!)

For me, I've been complemented on my pacing which I THINK is possibly my main strength - it's certainly one of the most important elements to me. Building the comic to hopefully get the right impact (often subtle shifts as well as any bigger 'punchline' moments) kind of goes hand-in-hand with my writing/dialogue in hoping the sort-of 'timing' comes off right for the reader (this is also the reason for my long-column-SMBC-inspired layout, the reader doesn't see anything early, just whatever you want them to, whenever you want them to - lets me control the pacing).

Other than that I hope I'm at least improving with character expressions and reactions, something I've certainly been working on with Lindemannade - a lot of my pre-Lindemannade work looks a bit stiff and lifeless to me at times whereas now trying to embrace being more cartoony whenever possible is pretty important to me.

My main weakness is probably my work ethic - I love making comics but in the past I've often felt myself struggle to get around to actually working on them, so I've been trying to be a lot more diligent with schedules and deadlines with myself on Lindemannade, which is working so far! I also probably spend waaay too much time digitally editing a black-and-white cartoon. I'm constantly making sure individual pixels are the correct shade of grey and can spot a single slightly-off pixel when fully zoomed-out which others probably wouldn't notice. It might not look it but after it's drawn and scanned each comic still goes through hours and hours of editing. Any other weaknesses I'll leave up to everyone else to notice! Wink
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Ronin Glen



Joined: 25 Mar 2013
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ugh. I don't think I have any strengths, just weaknesses. I suppose it's all relative but mostly I look at my stuff and think "Wow. I suck like a Black Hole. A Black Hole that desperately needs money to support a debilitating crack habit."

I do work on stuff. I make a point of making sure I draw at least one hand on every page in order to force myself to get better at drawing hands. As to how well that's been working...well, nothing escapes a Black Hole. Smile
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 5:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lavenderbard wrote:
MindChimera wrote:
JFD wrote:
My weaknesses are clearly my art - working on that - and layout. I'm boring myself to death with my pages layout. I just can't make interesting ones. Confused

Oh yeah, I have a hard time with interesting panel layout. I think it's because I'm big on having structure when I put things together, so my panels aren't very creative and usually just blocks.


I don't split my scripts up into panels, I just split them into pages.

So when I go to lay out a page, I create the whole page as if it were one thing, not x-many panels. I start with: "Here's a page, what images and talk bubbles does it need to have?" I create the images and text first, and I decide where the panel lines go in last. And when I'm deciding where those lines go, I'm thinking of the lines as being a part of the picture, not as borders around a picture.

I don't really know that much about what anyone else thinks of my style of panelling. But at least I'm not bored.

Ah, I think I can see how that kind of approach would help. I usually write my script, then break everything down into panels, and from there seperate into pages (depending on several factors). I do think paneling is something you do well.

But what you did here, for example, I can't wrap my head around to do myself. You have no borders there, but it's easy to tell where you're supposed to look and keep moving in the right direction. I can't do that, haha. I need the borders.


Lindemannade wrote:
My main weakness is probably my work ethic - I love making comics but in the past I've often felt myself struggle to get around to actually working on them, so I've been trying to be a lot more diligent with schedules and deadlines with myself on Lindemannade, which is working so far!

Schedules really help me too. I tend to be a procrastinator, but having a schedule helps me keep things rolling.

Do you do much drawing outside of making comics?

Lindemannade wrote:
I also probably spend waaay too much time digitally editing a black-and-white cartoon. I'm constantly making sure individual pixels are the correct shade of grey and can spot a single slightly-off pixel when fully zoomed-out which others probably wouldn't notice. It might not look it but after it's drawn and scanned each comic still goes through hours and hours of editing. Any other weaknesses I'll leave up to everyone else to notice! Wink

The line art in my comic takes the longest because I want it to look just right, or at least good enough.

Maybe you'll get faster at it the more you do it. Or maybe you'll be like me, and not get any faster but pickier... Razz

Ronin Glen wrote:
Ugh. I don't think I have any strengths, just weaknesses. I suppose it's all relative but mostly I look at my stuff and think "Wow. I suck like a Black Hole. A Black Hole that desperately needs money to support a debilitating crack habit."

I would definitely say it's relative, or at least for the purposes of this thread, it should be. If you're concerned because you compare yourself to other artists or you think "I should be better by now," knock that off, because it's counter-productive. (Though I know easier said than done.)

You don't suck. Your style looks like your comic belongs in a newspaper, though your format obviously isn't good for that. But it gives you your own charm. I haven't read your comic, but taking a quick glance through, I really like this page. The bottom two panels are just about perfect. I think the only way you could improve the last panel is by giving the guy a different pose, maybe a more surprised look, like maybe his jaw dropped a bit more. It would help match the energy you have with the other panels.

Even if you don't like your stuff, what do you think you do the best at?

Ronin Glen wrote:
I do work on stuff. I make a point of making sure I draw at least one hand on every page in order to force myself to get better at drawing hands. As to how well that's been working...well, nothing escapes a Black Hole. Smile

I've been doing the same thing and it certainly helps me. But overall, anatomy has gotten easier for me now that I'm actually using basic shapes for my models. One of those things teachers told me over and over to do, but I dismissed it because "psh I'm too good for that."

The most consistent problem I have with hands now is making them too small or too big, but thanks to the magic of the selection/resize tool, that's not an issue, haha.
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Ronin Glen



Joined: 25 Mar 2013
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
If you're concerned because you compare yourself to other artists or you think "I should be better by now," knock that off, because it's counter-productive. (Though I know easier said than done.)


You're right of course but that is one demon I can't seem to shake. Sad

Funny you should mention newspapers since most of my absolute favorite stuff was intended for that medium. The page you highlighted is a sort of tribute/rip-off of EC Segar's work in Thimble Theater.

I sometimes feel like I'm working on a giant scratch-off ticket. I get a glimpse here and there of something good, a well-written line, a nicely done pose etc. but it's a constant struggle to clear away the junk to see that nice piece of work I'm sure is hidden there somewhere. Smile
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JFD



Joined: 25 Jan 2014
Posts: 61

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 7:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ronin Glen wrote:
You're right of course but that is one demon I can't seem to shake. Sad


I can relate, we tend to be our own worse critics. But allow me to exorcise the demon right now : you certainly don't suck.

Just do what you like doing and let other people judge your work. There will inevitably be some people who like it and some who hate it.
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Ronin Glen



Joined: 25 Mar 2013
Posts: 32

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

*JFD flicks the vial of Holy water over the Ronin Glen*
Ronin Glen: (hissing) It burns! It burrrrns!!

Many thanks for the kind words. I fear we are a bit off track on this topic though so if I had to pick an area of "strength" I'd say dialogue. This can be a struggle sometimes too but I've lived with the characters long enough that it will frequently flow out almost like I'm just listening to them talk and taking notes.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 754

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My big strengths:
My writing is solid, layered and fascinating by an objective standard. It has always been better than my art.

My big weakness:
The subject matter I deal with is controversial at best and completely repulsive to the majority of potential readers at worst. This of course, leaves much of my work unread. My refusal to tone down my work or soften the subject matter any more than I already have is a thorn at my side when it comes to getting comments or earning readers.

Improvement
I am obsessive about my writing. Technically after my latest car injury, according to the brain injury team that's working on me (especially the OT arm of the team and my GP), I shouldn't be physically able to write at all without special lenses that prevent me from constantly seeing double. But here I am, wearing an eye patch, powering through headaches, nausea, with one eye showing constant snow and the other taking in took much light. I powered through drug induced dyslexia that has been plaguing me since my twenties and still continues. Short-term drug induced blindness in 1997-1998 didn't stop me either. Neither has the autism that has been part of my life since infancy nor the schizophrenia that afflicted me from age thirteen until December last year, stopped me from obsession over my writing either. It's something I need to do.

My art on the other hand is something that I am not as obsessive about, and I prefer for other people to handle. I love doing art, and I am exceptional when I apply myself. Unfortunately, I am a classic case of a burnt out child prodigy. I never recovered from the pushing after getting kicked out of an academy for fighting with my instructors and the director at age eight. It's amazing how jaded a kid can get after an experience like that.
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Lavenderbard
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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Location: Ohio

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 9:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is going to sound horrible, but whenever people say that their writing is their strong suit, I wonder how they know that.

It seems to me that there are many, many people who think they can write well, when they actually can't. (I'm not thinking of anyone here, really. I'm mostly thinking of the people who post "please buy my book" posts over on the book forum I frequent. )

For me, I wasn't sure I was good at writing, until I sold some... and even after that I occasionally had my doubts.

When you're doing a webcomic, payment is based on the totality of both writing and art... so how can you be certain which one you're getting paid for? And what if you're not getting paid? (I am mostly not getting paid. But I did serve 630 comic pages last month, so I must have at least some readers.)


MindChimera wrote:
I usually write my script, then break everything down into panels, and from there seperate into pages (depending on several factors).


I find that the pages need a certain something to end on. So that's what I look for when I'm going through the script, the little punchy thing that ends the page, whether its a laugh line, or a revelation, or whatever. If I end up with too much material, or too little material on a page, I adjust the script.

As for needing borders to draw the page... If I tried to draw pretty art, straight from the get-go I think I would need them too.

But my storyboards are done deliberately sketchy and rough. They are to get the ideas down, not to look nice. Trying to make it look nice just makes it harder to change it and rearrange it. My kids call them my "scribbles".

Once I know where I want everything on the page, then I can take a fresh sheet of paper, place my borders, and do my good drawings. (Or, if I'm doing CGI work, I can pose my characters, position them in the sets, take virtual photographs of them, pull those photographs into photoshop, position them on the page... )

And because I already know where everything goes, I can occasionally draw things without borders. Although that's a technique that is MUCH easier when doing CGI stuff.

So far the panelling I have done for Scent of Spring has been much simpler than the paneling I did for Black Flag. I think that's only partly the difference between working in CGI and drawing... I think most of it is the nature of the story. Scent of Spring is a mannerly and reserved little romance, with no action scenes whatsoever. So I'm not really using panel shapes to heighten movement much, I'm not showing two things happening at once, etc. The story itself just doesn't seem to have the same needs.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 754

PostPosted: Wed Mar 19, 2014 10:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lavenderbard wrote:
This is going to sound horrible, but whenever people say that their writing is their strong suit, I wonder how they know that.


In my case, pretty much every English teacher, and college professor, editor and publisher that I ever had dealt with (with the exception of two) told me so. Had my ex-husband not been a complete control freak, and I hadn't obliterated my youth with pills, schizophrenia, illegal stupidity and alcohol, I'd probably still have a literary agent and a career as an editor. Also, most my life experience can be described charitably as unpleasant, so that didn't help either with my aspirations as a writer. After going through my personal hell, and making it through alive, I really have no interest writing for an audience, which is unfortunate, because I am wasting a ton of potential. If people like my work, great. If not, they're entitled to that opinion. But, at this point of my life, I don't give a toss anymore. I just write about what I lived through covered up in as much metaphor as possible.

Still, one of my life goals still remains to get one of my comics picked-up as an HBO series, so we'll see what happens. Otherwise, I'll be famous when I am dead.
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Lindemannade



Joined: 18 Feb 2014
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Thu Mar 20, 2014 4:04 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera wrote:
Do you do much drawing outside of making comics?

Not as much as I should but I've recently been trying to draw at least one thing a week just for fun that isn't my comic - although it probably helps for variety that without having consistent characters or a story I'm always getting to draw completely different things every week anyhoo.

MindChimera wrote:
Maybe you'll get faster at it the more you do it. Or maybe you'll be like me, and not get any faster but pickier... Razz

Oh God yeah, I feel like I'm constantly getting pickier and thus slower lol - it would of course help to ease my editing if I wasn't an utter clutz with the pen when I'm inking Razz
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