I recently started making a webcomic. It started out as a simple what if between a friend and I, and it turned into a complete story. I would really like to have a few honest critiques on them. (I don't mean pat my back, I mean tear into it.)
It's a story about a man named Teddy who is living a mediocre life. His fortune is reversed and his life filled with turmoil and excitement when he becomes a servant for the Grim Reaper.
It's mostly meant to be a comedy, with death as its theme.
I've put it on tumblr, deviantart, patreon, and myown facebook page, but no one really seems to offer any critique, I was hoping I could get some here. The First Page
First Page Overall This page does not flatter your comic's opening because there is no pronounced visual attention-getter and no sense of place, both of which should happen on an opening page.
Pros: You have confident, clean lines. Keep that up. If you chose to open with the person facing away from the camera to introduce a sense of mystery, the purple color being dominant was a great choice because it is often used to connote mysteriousness.
1.) There is very little sense of depth here. How to fix that: experiment with contrast of hue, tone, and line weight.
2.) As an establishing shot, this is very poor because ...
2A.) The scene set is unclear: where is the main character? I'm honestly not sure if he's looking at a painting, at a field, or what. I'm also not sure how far he is away from it. The lacking sense of space makes it a lacking sense of place. How to fix that: Try adding more detail to the scene setting to give us more visual cues about what it is. To introduce a sense of space, since you are using color, you can push 'back' the atmosphere with color temperatures (cooler = further, warmer = closer) and aerial perspective (the further away, the more washed out: right now that cloud is very bright and seems like it's as far away as the person is), and contrast. The top of the character's head being purple and the cloud being yellow does produce a pop of contrast you can capitalize on.
2A.) There is no visual "hook" here. What I mean by that is, there is no emotional appeal to the reader, there's no "What's going on?". I can't see the person's face and there seems to be no reason for it. Perhaps there is the intent to make the character look mysterious or thoughtful, and this is why you chose not to show the face? This is a valid decision, but it has to be communicated more deliberately.
You need to fix your speech balloons. The text is too small sometimes: it needs to be consistent, and it needs to be legible. Page 2 is scarcely legible. What makes it more difficult to read is how close the white box's borders are next to the lettering. You need some 'padding', some white space, around these boxes. You will benefit from reading Amateur Lettering Mistakes
Second Page Overview: This page repeats the mistakes of the previous page and I still don't know where the protagonist is. You need to draw from life more and communicate what is going on because there are not sufficient visual cues to tell the reader where the guy is, or what the thing is. Is he ordering at a counter? How far away is he? What is that thing on the counter? Is it next to a green cup? Is that a door, not a cup?
Pros: Ears are hard to draw, and you drew one that fits in with your style, so props to you. Cons:
Exact same problems as above, plus:
You are recycling the same angle (and the same problems) without any obvious reason. Camera angles should be chosen for a deliberate reason, and not recycled unless this is for a deliberate reason. Your setting changes entirely and is very confusing. Twice the reader is put in a spot that is not established, and the next page doesn't help to expand on what was depicted in the previous page (or why he is moving from sceneset to sceneset. Is he walking? What is he doing?). I would stop reading at this point if I were not asked to deliberately review it because it is confusing.
Page Three Overview:This is an effective 'page one'. You sincerely could just kill pages 1 and 2 and open up with this, and it works. You know that this is a modern setting, and that death is a central plot device, and what the main character looks like, all in one go. The girl and the guy watching her give it a sense of mystery that would actually make me keep reading. The first two pages are ... Well, unnecessary exposition.
Pros: That you removed the girl's facial features and followed up with a picture of the protagonist watching is perfect in establishing that she is NOT the main character. Cons: The gutters (the space between panels) being uneven as they are seem to exist for the sake of looks rather than function. Remember, if you space out the gutters, you can make it appear as though time is stretched, or you can influence the reading order (the eye will, in general, jump to the closer panel), Insets (like the aspect shot of the police car) show a short moment, or a detail within the setting. You've used it properly, but you put this white gutter around it and the reason doesn't seem terribly apparent.
Page Four Overview: You need to draw from life and resolve proportions here because your style does not actually compensate for how off the proportions are. The reason why is because you establish no sense of space or form with your lighting and linework. Pros: Interesting imagery. I congratulate you on attacking real noses, not anime noses. You have a style budding out of this that sets you apart from "I am going to be a mangaka, Iook at me go!" people. Cons: There is no sense of form in this person. I want you to go grab photographs of real people on the internet and draw over them as if they have been wrapped in wire as a mental exercise in building a sense of 3D form on a figure. It will help your anatomy.
Type is just as important as the illustration. Look at Will Eisner for some direction on how to creatively implement titles into the illustrations directly. Look at typography projects in general for notes on how to more appropriately select effective typefaces. Times New Roman or Garamond or whatever you've got going on there isn't flattering your very thin line style, The placement of the text being so far away from the main visual is a poor choice in terms of balance. Try making it fill up more of the page and bringing it closer to the image.
Let me know if you want me to go through the rest of it.
You've got potential for the sheer fact that you've got ten pages. Congratulations on that: many people just like the idea of having a comic and don't actually commit to getting anythign done. So, do not be discouraged, keep on drawing, and keep on making this comic. Don't restart it, either.
I... I love you for this. I really like that you tore apart my comic. It makes me feel happy that you think I have enough potential to tear this apart. Go through it if you want. I'll be writing your tips down!
Cons: The poses look a little boring, they could be improved by being a little more dynamic or exciting. The scythe looks like it is just kinda floating there. There is also an awful lot of negative space. Also I think it would look better if you could see the girl's eyes. It looks lazy not having her eyes visible. The colours are nice, but the shading is a bit too much. I would look up more on shading on a computer and I recommend avoiding the burn and highlight tools. I did the same when I was younger but it just doesn't look that good.
Pros: I like your colours again and you have positioned your main character well.
Cons: The shading doesn't look very good to be perfectly honest and I think you could improve it by not using such a dark colour to shade with on such a light colour. The clouds don't really look like clouds and if you are using photoshop, there are tutorials on making clouds. I think it would even look better if you drew a cartoon of a cloud and you can download star brushes to do stars as well. The stars just look too neat. Too organised. Real stars are messy and disorganised.
Page 2: (this didn't load properly for some reason so my critique might not be the best)
Pros: The pose is better than the first page and you have made progress in your art
Cons: Again, the shading needs improvement but it isn't the worst I have seen. I think you should use a different pose considering the last one was pretty much the same. You don't want your viewers getting bored now do you? razz
Pros: This is probably the most interesting page so far. There is a lot more going on for the viewer to enjoy. Good job. Also the girl's nose is cute.
Cons: Your anatomy needs some serious work because the torso of the man in the bottom panel is simply too short. He looks the size of a small child.
Pros: I like the outfit the character is wearing and the colours are again a nice choice
Cons: The eyes are much too high up. They look really out of place. Also again, he has child-like proportions. The skull would look even cooler with more detail. Try using a reference image.
Pros: The proportions of the body in this one are much much better. I also like that you added hairs, it is a nice touch.
Cons: The chair is on a bad angle. We rarely see something EXACTLY side on. Try having it on an angle. It will make it look more interesting.
Pros: Again your anatomy is looking a little better in this one. Nice job on the mum's face. She looks good.
Cons: The body is still too short. The face on the second panel on the left looks like his face is melting off to the right. Make sure you keep it on centre. A good way of doing this is using guide lines for the head shape.
Pros: The face of the protagonist looks quite good
Cons: It is already 7 pages in and nothing interesting has happened yet. It is progressing very slowly because you seem to have a maximum of three panels per page going on as it is. This all seems a little tedious and perfunctory to bother including in the story.
Pros: The bruise and the body hair look good
Cons: Again, nothing interesting is happening. So far all that has happened is he has walked around with some sort of internal monologue and now he is baby sitting his sister.
Pros: The story is finally moving a little
Cons: It is still showing uninteresting things your story would be better without.
Pros: The little girl is very well drawn
Cons: Again, nothing has happened. All that happened is a guy baby sat his sister and we are already 10 pages in. There is nothing here to hook an audience.
Sorry if I was too harsh or anything. Good luck improving it.
Thanks! I will admit, I even realized that nothing has happened yet. I'm a little stuck on what to do right now. I'm thinking about taking the pages down and redrawing them to improve anatomy and shading, maybe even axing a few so it's really more obvious of what's going on. I also really need to practic drawing my characters a little more. This is really helping!
If Death's My b***h is going to be your Big Serious Comic Work, be aware that you will probably always want to restart because you've learned more since before. Resist that temptation or else you will never get it finished. I started over my comic three or four times. It's been over 5 years and I am not even started anymore because my a** decided to start over again! Don't do what I did.
This comic is starting off so slowly that I wouldn't argue very passionately against restarting this time, but see if you can't just tidy it up minimally instead of starting all over.
Here's how I'd edit it:
-> Evaluate each page and ask yourself, "Does this develop a character? Does this reveal something about the character that will come up in the plot later? Does this move the current plot forward?" If the answer is no to all 3, remove it.
Page 1: Reveals nothing about any character, establishes no setting.
Page 2: Reveals nothing that the story won't reveal itself because it's about your main character's attitude towards death, and you might as well show, not tell.
Page 3: Keep it, it's the strongest thing here, commands attention, etc., and can be a good opening.
Page 4: Chapter title (works as a transition).
Page 5: We learn the main character's name and that he sleeps on a couch, sufficient.
Page 6: We see the family members, and the mother mentioning "I need the hours" following that Theodore sleeps on a couch is a nice establishing of 'We are poor." Keep it.
Page 7: Unless Zoey's food allergies come up later in the plot, like she nearly dies, this doesn't reveal anything significant about Zoey.
Page 8: did not reveal anything to me about the plot. I did not know that that was a bruise on his back.
Page 9: If you cut out page 8, there is continuity between pages 7 and 9. The panel that is next-to-last can be redrawn to how a shot of his back that reveals the wound he has while he gets dressed.
Page 10: Axe it. It does not reveal anything, does not move the plot forward, and does not really show any details which will come up later ("Chekov's Gun"wink.
- Fix all of your lettering mistakes according to Amateur Lettering Mistakes
- Kill pages 1 and 2. They contribute nothing: removing them removes nothing.
- Rethink how you present the chapter opening (Chapter One: Henry). You should keep it so you can transition between "here's the intro" and "This is another scene," but as for the art, keep this in mind for future chapter opening pieces: Chapter opening artwork pieces are generally a waste of your time unless they are designed so that you can use them promotionally (posters, desktop wallpapers, prints). It is up to you whether the "Chapter One: Henry" image is worth using like that, but, I personally feel that it is too weak to command a lot of visual attention and be distributed.
-> Fix the tangenton page five. Page five has Theodore's crotch saying, "Coming." You may want to re-position the tail so that it doesn't appear that his p***s is talking.
How to save your future pages:
-> Avoid tangents towards the crotch in the future. Page five has Theodore's crotch saying, "Coming." You may want to reposition the tail so that it doesn't appear that his p***s is talking.
-> Use a suitable typeface and appropriate speech balloons.
Comics are a balancing act of your various communication skills, and if one sector is poor (your handle on lighting and anatomy for instance), you need to rock on other sectors (the formal factors of your comic's presentation: the lettering and how to present it properly on the page is more subjective, but not entirely subjective, than paneling, lighting, and other visual communication).
Instead, Use something that is suited for comics by sheer fact of it being used everywhere alone, or use something that is deliberately chosen to compliment your style. Do not go smaller than 12 point. Try:
UPPERCASE ONLY: Anime Ace 2.0 Crimefighter BB Manga Master
And draw word balloons properly, with the proper padding, and with the tails going to the mouths wherever possible and being of consistent width. That alone will improve your comic incredibly.
-> Consider light source when you color.
Lighting is an opportunity to introduce a lot of drama into a scene, and also to communicate form. Pick a light source in a scene and stick to it. You do not appear to pay attention to light source, either because you actually did not pay attention to it, or because you do not know how. Which is the case? I may point you to some tutorials.
-> Sketch your pages rather than finishing them, then let others edit it so you can build a consciousness of how well or not-well you are communicating.
Post your in-progress pages here and I'm sure you will be assisted.
-> Sketch and measure before you ink and learn how to communicate volume.
It appears you start finishing before you are finished. Your proportions are often off in a way that is not excusable by style. You NEED to check your proportions while you sketch, deliberately. Even six years from now when you've got a stellar education in your trade, you will need to check your proportions. If you purposefully pay attention to the proportions of the body, you can improve your art dramatically. If you think in 3D and sculpt through sketching, you will also improve your art dramatically. Do both at the same time. Here:
-> Go trace photographs. I am completely god damned serious. Print them out and draw on top of them or import a screenshot into your digital art software, and forget people who will freak out because you dared to trace because you're not going to make it into a artpiece or attempt to hide that you traced. You're going to do this:
-> Pinstripe the person. Draw lines on the person from the top down as if someone had literally painted their skin in vertical pinstripes, like tehy're wearing a pinstripe zentai suit (SFW link).
-> Do the same thing horizontally, like this (SFW link).
-> Do it again, horizontally and vertically.
-> Do it again, but now instead of controlled lines tracing the imagined contours of the body to communicate a 3D form, draw lines wrapping the figure as if you are making a wrapped wire sculpture out of a single, infinite piece of wire. Try not to lift your pencil unless you have to. Do it slowly, then do it again more quickly, then do it again as fast as you can.
Do this as many times as you need to until it clicks. I'd recommend sitting down for an hour and doing it deliberately for an hour, leaving and doing something else for an hour or so, then coming back and doing it again and see what you've sort of 'absorbed' from having done it.