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General Chat => Creative Common => : Steven Denton 07 November, 2016, 11:01:50 AM

: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 07 November, 2016, 11:01:50 AM
I thought this might be interesting to some one. 

I had a go at the Though Bubble portfolio script and it didn't go particularly well.

The review was (to paraphrase) that my figure work was stiff and sometimes off and my inking could do with some work. Criticisms I agree with.

Even though I decided about a month before that I was going to have a go at it I still had to rush after real world pressures and short notice work ate up a big chunk of my free time and when I rush my figure work gets stiff, reference goes out the window and my inking suffers.

With more time I could have produced much better work, BUT that's unrealistic. Comics have deadlines and if my work suffers under pressure that's something I need to work on. The main reason my work has suffered under pressure is because I have drawn so little over the last 5 years. Until this year I had produced maybe 6 -8 pages of sequential art a year and that is just not enough.

If I want consistency and speed I need to practice until it's second nature. I would need to practice until any deadline crunch or dip in form didn't brink out my old weaknesses because even if I produced a superb sample script right now I wouldn't be able to follow it up with any kind of commission to a short deadline. There was a real value to setting myself a task with a deadline and completing it and showing it even though I wasn't happy with it. The feed back itself was also useful, and as with all feedback I have put some thought into whether I agree with it and what lessons I can learn.

I'm posting the pages bellow, the first two pages I spent more time drawing and although there are still problems, the problems get worse as the strip goes on and the deadline gets closer.

(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5718/30203424914_22c38fc893_o.jpg)
(https://c1.staticflickr.com/6/5348/30203424704_61257379f7_o.jpg)
(https://c3.staticflickr.com/6/5680/30203424514_e7000a47b5_o.jpg)
(https://c5.staticflickr.com/6/5657/30203424204_272116c51c_o.jpg)
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Bolt-01 07 November, 2016, 12:53:15 PM
Interesting. I didn't know you'd had a go, Steven or I'd have asked to see these. Can i ask if you made the final selection?

I got to see, I think, 4 other sets of pages. All of varying quality but I was able to follow the storytelling in them all.

: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Dark Jimbo 07 November, 2016, 03:48:37 PM
With more time I could have produced much better work, BUT that's unrealistic. Comics have deadlines and if my work suffers under pressure that's something I need to work on.

If I want consistency and speed I need to practice until it's second nature. I would need to practice until any deadline crunch or dip in form didn't brink out my old weaknesses because even if I produced a superb sample script right now I wouldn't be able to follow it up with any kind of commission to a short deadline.

Oh, yeah - that's such an important lesson to learn.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 07 November, 2016, 03:59:55 PM
Interesting. I didn't know you'd had a go, Steven or I'd have asked to see these. Can i ask if you made the final selection?

I got to see, I think, 4 other sets of pages. All of varying quality but I was able to follow the storytelling in them all.

I didn't make the cut but even from standing in the cue I could see plenty of work that was better then mine so I'm not surprised.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Jimmy Baker's Assistant 07 November, 2016, 06:40:38 PM
The feed back itself was also useful, and as with all feedback I have put some thought into whether I agree with it and what lessons I can learn.

Whereas I tend to react to any criticism with "why is this bastard slandering me?".

Personally I think the reason you didn't get better feedback is that the style isn't quite what 2000AD go for these days.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Colin YNWA 07 November, 2016, 07:58:45 PM
That's a fantastically honest and open assessment of your work and the feedback you've got from it. While I could never hope to draw as well as you I'm sure there's equally talented people on the board who will find great benefit in what you've shared.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: SuperSurfer 07 November, 2016, 10:18:04 PM
Fascinating and brave of you to post with the feedback, Steve.

Did the reviewers mention the positives?

I recently bought a book I've been meaning to buy for yonks: How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way (for just a fiver). Sure, it's a tad dated stylistically and the process of creating comics has changed in many ways since it was published. But it contains tons of excellent advice, in particular regarding inking.

Another useful publication: Draw (http://twomorrows.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=98_59&products_id=1258&zenid=d6d6e5f5cef3e994f090c341b9c9e98c)! magazine which usually has a brilliant comic art bootcamp feature. Well worth a look. (Out of date blog (http://draw-magazine.blogspot.co.uk)).

(Easy enough for me to talk as if I know what I am on about, though. I can read as many how to draw books as I like, but they are useless to me without practice. I have unfinished pages going back years. I think my page drawing productivity is at about 1.5 a year.)
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: SIP 08 November, 2016, 09:11:16 AM
Many years ago now I received very similar feedback on my strip work from the mighty one more than once on my stiff figure work. I've always found that a tough one to address despite numerous life drawing classes. I think you are absolutely right that it basically takes constant drawing and output to improve, sadly i think I just lost the drive and do next to no drawing anymore. I hope you keep going because your work is great.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 08 November, 2016, 11:03:51 AM
With the stiff figure work, I think part of it is an aesthetic choice. I find a certain angularity of pose visually pleasing and often more realistic then dynamic movement. In real life people are stiff and movements frozen in a picture are awkward. arranging awkward limbs creates a different kind of dynamic tension but not one that action comics are really looking for. And if it goes wrong like it did in my submission the negative impact is multiplied.

There is some truth to what Jimmy Bakers Assistant had to say. my work, even at it's best, is not really what 2000ad are looking for. My natural inclination is to work in a less dynamic more illustrative style. If I want to successfully submit I need to work against that and that takes a lot of practice.

: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: pauljholden 08 November, 2016, 11:37:51 AM
With the stiff figure work, I think part of it is an aesthetic choice. I find a certain angularity of pose visually pleasing and often more realistic then dynamic movement. In real life people are stiff and movements frozen in a picture are awkward. arranging awkward limbs creates a different kind of dynamic tension but not one that action comics are really looking for. And if it goes wrong like it did in my submission the negative impact is multiplied.

Steven, I hope you don't mind my two-cents. I think were people are saying things are stiff what's really happening is your work is here is over rendered and too busy - it's hard, for example, see any one thing in the panel because you're over whelmed by everything in the panel. I took the (terrible) liberty of editing a page (sorry!) to show what I mean.

Panel one I isolated the two guys -I haven't seen the script, so maybe I'm working against it, but that sign along with the rendering of the people/building behind the guys took away from looking at these two, so I pared it all back a bit.

Panel 2: There was a weird confluence of factors that kept driving my eye to that cup - I think the two arms were directing the eye, so I moved it. Added shadows into the ceiling to keep you focused on the gun blast and paired back the rendering.

Panel 3: Made the background people more of a smear of people and the foreground guy entirely silhoutte focusing your attention on the dude at the front.

Panel 4: just dropped out some of those ceiling lines that were a bit distracting and paired back some rendering on the suits.

Panel 5: Just tidied up the shadows a little to allow you to focus better on the figures.

Fundamentally nothing stiff about the figures, beyond the rendering. I think if you can keep the silhouttes of the figures simpler and render only where absolutely neccessary to indicate fabric/shadows etc it'll make for stronger work.

(http://www.pauljholden.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/Screen-Shot-2016-11-08-at-11.28.23.png)

There is some truth to what Jimmy Bakers Assistant had to say. my work, even at it's best, is not really what 2000ad are looking for. My natural inclination is to work in a less dynamic more illustrative style. If I want to successfully submit I need to work against that and that takes a lot of practice.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 08 November, 2016, 12:12:51 PM
Thanks PJ,

your opinion is always welcome! as are your edits.

Also that's a very helpful practical assessment. I really do need to pair down the extraneous detail and work on using stronger silhouettes. Simplifying the backgrounds is something I really really need to work on! I have a tendency to over load locations with little details that would be fine on a full or half page frame but are just clutter at the size the frame is actually rendered. I have a terrible tendency to over hatch everything.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: mightybren 08 November, 2016, 01:38:33 PM
I think there's a lot of potential in your strip, so don't get too disheartened :) I agree with PJ it looks too cluttered with some distracting details and compositions.
The large panel on the last page is awesome however, there are some very clean inked lines. I think that panel would be a winner if you toned down the detail
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 08 November, 2016, 01:57:51 PM
I have the pencils for this scanned so I may have a look at re-working it.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Fungus 08 November, 2016, 02:48:09 PM
For what it's worth, your pages are on a par with the finalists in my opinion, and the quality was an improvement this year yet again. The "less [detail] is more" consensus is fair enough. Across a con you'll see everything from incredibly fussy to very sparse* material and taste has to come into it. Agree on your point about figures tending towards stiffness too. Thanks for posting your pages  :)

The best entrant in my mind didn't win (admittedly pencils only didn't help), but seemed to work by focussing on key elements and having great facial expressions and figures. At a glance it wouldn't have the detail of your pages.

* see Plans We Made (Simon Moreton) I picked up last year. Most minimal (bravest!) thing I've ever read!
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: mightybren 08 November, 2016, 03:57:29 PM
I'll also add that good figure drawing is incredibly difficult! My personal focus right now is mostly figure drawing and anatomy, and it's a long journey.
Posing figures naturally is a discipline in itself, and I'm always amazed at how the pro's make it seem so simple. I actually think you're figure drawing is very good, and more importantly consistent.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 18 November, 2016, 05:57:51 PM
Thanks  :)

I'm planning on reworking some of this as an experiment in the future. it will have to be after I have done something or the message board advent calender. I wouldn't want to miss out on that! 
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 20 February, 2017, 07:51:38 PM
Never one not to listen to a pro, I have re-inked page 1 with less fuss and more... not fuss

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/396/32203870483_37898a29f0_o.jpg)
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 27 February, 2017, 01:33:49 PM
Another page. I have simplified in places but my hatching noodling is, if anything, more present. I am happier with the page as a whole. I think the first time I inked it, I used the wrong tools in the wrong order.

(https://c1.staticflickr.com/4/3955/33021283221_9245f14a95_o.jpg)
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Old Tankie 27 February, 2017, 04:38:10 PM
Very nice.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Jim_Campbell 27 February, 2017, 05:23:16 PM
I really like that latest page, Steven. The only thing I'd single out, and it's something I struggle with myself, is that you probably need to vary your black density and line weight more from foreground to background. I find that the inks are flattening the depth of the shot, particularly in the first panel, where everything is lovely, but somehow we're losing the sense of distance between the elements.
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Steven Denton 27 February, 2017, 06:22:32 PM
I can see what you mean Jim, it's tricky to get depth and detail and tell the story clearly when there are so many elements all at once. I can get depth in an illustration by building the tonnes but that tends to make every element the same importance narratively which is fine for an illustration or a study but not so good for sequential art. I probably need more blocks of black, more heavy shadow in either the background of foreground but that would mean dropping detail and I love me some (medium) detail.

Working in colour for the last few years probably hasn't helped my ability to manage a black and white page. 
: Re: My Thought bubble portfolio review
: Paul Moore 28 March, 2017, 08:56:33 PM
If you want some pointers regarding black and white balance search for Sean Murphy's youtube vidz he mentions some of his rules careful tho it can be quite dispiriting he is very good
https://www.youtube.com/embed/-oO2J2ponho