Kav's Tips for Comic Artists - Backgrounds
by A. "Kav" Kaviraj
Comic book artist, A. Kaviraj, continues his op/ed series of providing useful tutorials for comic book artists.
Backgrounds play an important role in comics-they set the scene. The characters expand on the plot, but the plot has to unfold somewhere. And that's where good backgrounds help sell the story.
There are interior and exterior backgrounds. Interior can be a room, an office, a space ship. Picture 1 shows the interior of a pawn shop for mine and Tony Wright's 'Dr. Death vs the Zombie'. It shows display cases, cabinets and other pawn shop items. You don't want to overdraw the thing so I did a lot of suggestive work-eg the rings and jewelry in the display case. I made sure to have a good black/white balance.
Picture 2 shows a much larger interior I had to draw, the chamber of the Crimson Mask from 'The Crimson Mask' writer Elias Plagianos. I put a lot of detail in this one; I wanted a hyper-real atmosphere for the tragic scene which had just unfolded. I drew a high angle to emphasize the writer's demand for a spacious chamber. Side shots wouldn't do it.
Picture 3 shows the interior of the squad room drawn by Michael Lark for 'Gotham Central'. See how with bold non overworked lines and blocks of black he successfully sets that terrific scene.
Exterior scenes can be architecture or nature, or a combination as in picture 4. This is one of my panels, also from 'The Crimson Mask'. With brownstone buildings and trees in the foreground to establish a certain part of the city where upper income people live. I didn't overwork the thing and used a lot of suggestive brushstrokes.
Picture 5 shows a nature background from 'The End of Paradise'. Trees set the scene for this backwoods ambush.
Picture 6-sometimes you need an overhead, long range view of where the action is happening to pull back from the action, give a one panel breather and set a large stage. In this case [the scene is set in] Las Vegas where a Zombie is on the loose and a kid is trying to sell the artifact skull that, unknown to him, controls the zombie.
The best advice for backgrounds is don't overdraw, unless you are going for the hyper-real aspect I mentioned earlier. Picture 7 shows a very simple background from a Sean Phillips' Batgirl page I own. Note the very brief background which focuses the reader on the foreground action. Sean can draw very elaborate backgrounds, so when he does this it's for a reason.
For more of Kav's Tips at Comic Related: http://www.comicrelated.com/forums/index.php?showforum=602
A. KAVIRAJ: Kav is an artist, teacher, and biologist who lives in Sacramento, California. He is the artist forThe End of Paradise, Rapid City, and Dr Death vs The Zombie. He is the writer and artist for Dr. Death vs. The Vampire. E-mail: email@example.com
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