Monday, November 15, 2010

Working 1.5 Trial and Error

I was moving right along with my first One-Shot, also the first comic book I've done in a year, until something didn't feel right. I couldn't put a finger on it, so I gave myself a couple days to think about what I've done so far.

One thing that popped into my head was I broke a personal rule of mine. Work with in my comfort zone. I'm naturally a doodler when it comes to drawing. I rarely draw faces who's heads measure over an inch in length ( not aspect size, the size I draw them at ). Feeling I was doing myself a disservice by trying to do something I wasn't comfortable with, I thought I solved my lingering concern. But it was only the tip of the iceberg.

I also noticed the comic book in whole doesn't feel right. I got half of it done, and a part of me wants to finish it. But still I feel I missed something, so I went back to the books. As I mentioned before my favorite comics to read are GI Joe and X-Men. However when I draw, I prefer something that looks like a Manga. This is where I found the problem.

My script and style were dictating my overall direction of my story. While I wanted to make something that read like and old school comic book, I was really making something completely different. Now at first I thought this was just me being lazy again and I'll have another failed project on the shelf. However the more I looked into it and analyzed what I was doing, I found I created a conflict between what I wanted to accomplish and what I was actually doing. This conflict eventually over came my progress and made me sit back and actually examine what the problem was.

I couldn't figure it out right away, so I did what I usually do when I'm stuck. Just doodle and read some comic books. After a couple days I looked at what I was doing. When it came to doodling I was concentrating on Bust  and Full shots. When I read some comic books I was looking at more Wide and Mid shots. This was the conflict I discovered with in myself.

I wasn't concentrating on what actually made me read the comics I like. Instead I was relying completely off what I practice the most. Thinking I was on to something I decided to use Math ( Oh yeah, Math rules ) to give me a better picture of what I needed to do to keep myself interested in what I'm doing. To do that I broke down the different panels used in 2 comic books I regularly read to see what made them up. The results were surprising.

2 Comic Books for a total of 199 panels.

9%  were Close-Ups Shots.
23%  were Bust Shots.
10%  were Full Shots.
31% were Mid Shots.
27% were Wide Shots.

The One-Shot I was working on told a different story. It's mostly made up of Close-Ups and Bust Shots. With a majority of those Bust Shots mistaken as Mid Shots and with very few Wide Shots. In the end I found my answer to why I stopped working on it, I had an image of what I wanted it to be, but was doing something that wasn't even close to being that. In other words, my sub-conscience shut it down.

Now I was quick to figure I was just being lazy, but everything I've done the past year or so lead me to think this wasn't the case. To explain that I'll take you back to 2 years ago where I decided to take my fandom and hobby to the next level. At first I was all gun-ho about making a comic book. But I ran into a lot of problems off the bat. My depression which lead to me not drawing for nearly 3 years had a strong effect. I couldn't draw men, I forgot how to draw in perspective correctly, and all the other little things took a dive as well. Proportions, hands, faces, anatomy, the list went on.

So before I could draw anything I basically had to teach myself to draw all over again. I also took this opportunity to draw digitally as well. After nearly 2 years of doodling, sketching, reading, and studying I finally became satisfied with what I was doing. However I also felt I wasted time. All those activities created a lot of clutter, clutter I saw that could have been used to make a comic book. All that lead me to the One-Shot process I've put in this blog.

So laziness wasn't an issue. I've had countless days over the last 2 years of doing nothing but drawing for 6-8 hours straight. I would wake up in the morning and just draw as soon as I got my morning coffee. So when I had this urge to stop drawing my One-Shot last week, I knew it had to be something besides being a procrastinator. Something was trying to communicate with me, and by looking what i was doing, how I was doing it, and what I wanted to achieve made me figure out what it is.

For now I shelved my One-Shot, however I can pick it back up if I want to in the future. It might seem like wasted time, but I ended up learning something about myself in that process. If I had just stopped and tried to do another one thinking I was just bored with it and that was that, I wouldn't have come to the conclusion that I was making something I didn't want to make.

Somewhere in between all this lies the connection between the doodler in me and the comic book artist in me. I need to find that connection so I can exploit it to the point where every time I draw, I'm working on a comic book. Because the doodler me can draw and draw 24/7.

So how do I get there? Do I just practice Mid and Wide Shots? Do I change my subject matter? Or is there something else I can do to make the connection easier? For starters I need to ask myself these questions and remember some tips before I embark on anything in the future.

Is this the kind of story I want to tell? If so, is it being told the best way possible?

That might seem vague, but in reality I need a good story. One that leaves me satisfied so I can keep drawing. My One-Shot was a story I wanted to tell. However one reason I stopped was because in the back of my mind, I know it could have been told better. In simpler terms, I'm a hard guy to please even when I'm the one making something.

If I don't want to draw something, don't draw it.

Against my better judgement, I went ahead and added capes to all my Heroes in the One-Shot. I hate capes. Why would I add capes? Exactly. It's not that they're hard to draw, but to me they add unnecessary clutter to a character's design. I had visions of cool poses with them, but that didn't translate too well when it came to the characters interacting in their every day life. For some reason I kept them all stiff and generic for way too many panels. I should have listen to myself, but I didn't. Which is weird since I had the same conversation with myself in the past and opted for no capes. Maybe I wanted a challenge, but for making a One-Shot, I need to keep the challenges to minimum. I need to draw what I'm comfortable drawing.

I don't have to draw everything, use dialog to help with the action. Switch between subjects when necessary. 

This is something I didn't catch till about 5 hours ago. I had a whole page that was nothing more than 2 characters getting from where they were to where I wanted them. Actually it was a page an half. In my head I thought " I don't want to draw all these backgrounds". But in reality I was adding an action sequence that was useless. I could have had the characters say " We'll make it over there" then cut back to something else only to show the characters where the needed to be later.In other words I wasted panels, time, and bored myself with a useless action. I should have known better.

Draw with in my comfort zone.

Remember I said I draw small. This is probably a handicap and definitely not an industry standard. But it is how I draw. Anytime I draw subjects bigger than I'm use too, things look weird. Including the pages I uploaded. Now I have 2 options on how to remedy this. I can still make my pages 1/2 larger than the finished sized, but keep my subjects with in my comfort zone and add more panels. Or I could make my pages smaller, even at 1:1 size. Now the second option has limitations. Even I can't draw that small, but to compensate I can do that on a story that has less than 5 panels per page ( I made a mini comic where each page was so small, I could only do 3 pages max ) I could have, and should have done this One-Shot like that, since all my perspective work was going to be done on the computer anyways. But for something that will use more than 5 panels per page, it would have to larger so I could have some various sizes on my subjects with in each panel.

This was something I decided when I was doodling, that the amount of panels per page will dictate the size I can make my comic book at. It will however, only work for me. It's part of that self discovery thing I was taking about.This is just one example of how all artists should review the things they do and how they do them. You might find something about yourself you didn't know.


I don't know what I'll do next. But after studying my work the past few days I've learned more about myself than I would have if I had done nothing at all. I still think the process I laid out for making One-Shots is a perfect example of how to balance writing and drawing to create a sequential piece of art. But as for me I have a split personality. The doodler artist and comic book artist with in me are struggling to find a common ground.

One one side I have the doodler who can draw for hours on end, wishing everything he drew told a story so he could share it with other people. On the other side is the comic book artist who has a story to tell, but can't draw for hours on end because something is holding him back. It really is a conundrum and something I need to address.

Will I find that perfect balance where I can draw for hours on end and tell a story? Am I doomed to doodle for the rest of life without every taking my talent to the next level? I don't know, but I do know that if I want to take myself to the next level, I need to figure out what's going on. It might take days or weeks. Maybe even months and years ( why not, I've wasted enough of my life already )

But I do know this. I have the passion. I have ideas. And I know if I apply myself a little harder I can find that common ground. I can make that connection. I guess I just never asked myself the one question I've always avoided.

How badly do you want it?

Oh so badly. Now to do something about it.

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