Kav's Tips for Comic Artists - Design Fundamentals
by A. "Kav" Kaviraj
Comic book artist, A. Kaviraj, continues his op/ed series of providing useful tutorials for comic book artists.
A big problem even for great artists is they never studied design. There are four basic elements of good design- Unity, Space, Color, Balance. Let's dig in.
All elements of the drawing must look like they belong together. Avoid the common practice of just drawing a wad of superheroes all in different poses doing different things. This is unappealing and confusing. Take a look at two comic covers-one a FAIL because of the unity problem, and one a SUCCEED:
No unity at all-awkward poses to boot ([and] the woman doesn't look like she is running, she looks like a mad organ player):
Now look at this one-a central figure surrounded by the triangular three surrounding figures. The triangle is probably the strongest design shape and was favored by the old masters for a reason.
One of the biggest mistakes comic artists make is going out of their way to seemingly use every centimeter of space on a page. Often, the more space you don't use on a page, the clearer your message becomes.
Here's a FAIL:
You might say "Kav, how dare you-that is one of the best artists in the business!" True, but I see a lot of really great artists who haven't properly studied design basics.
Look at this one:
Much better, more focussed and draws the eye to the issue on the comic rack immediately while the other example fades into the background. Once again we see the powerful triangle.
[Using] too many colors is a frequent problem - the artist thinks 'more color = better'. Actually, a limited palette has way more impact. Stick to all or mostly all either warm or cool colors. Mixing warm and cool in equal proportions looks amateurish. Let's go to some examples:
Too many colors! No central binding pallete!
Now let' look at a SUCCEED:
This is possibly my favorite cover of all time. Notice not only the limited palette, but the expressionistic use of color-the people are blue but it WORKS! Kudos, Sean-uh, can I have this?
Color should be used to emphasize, not decorate!
If a design is out of balance, the individual elements of the design will dominate the overall design. A well-balanced design has a clear, single, unified message.
Here's another FAIL:
There's no balance at all here just your standard hodgepodge of superheroes.
And another Phillips SUCCEED:
Very well black/white foreground/background balance.
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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