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schmeddyhead's avatar

Eloquent Hunter

Hey all, just a quick question here.

The characters in my comic come from a variety of racial backgrounds, and during my character studies I've come across the challenge of indicating a range of skin tones in purely black and white art (some minimal hatching, no screen toning.) I recognize there's some inherent limitations to such a medium.

I've observed approaches to characters in published comics, such as Cloak and Dagger, but there seems to be (to the extent of my knowledge) a lack of comparable examples for "medium" toned characters, and since light/dark balance is already a concept that is a little elusive to me (though I'm striving to learn!) I think it would be helpful to observe a spectrum if that is the route I'm going to take.

I've also considered facial indicators, but since the races in my universe are different from Earth races (and I won't have the opportunity to always show certain characters among their own ethnic group, as some are immigrants) I feel like relying solely on facial indicators would be too much of a leap to ask of my audience.

Any advice, help, examples, personal experiences would help.

I will upload some of my studies if I get feedback that this would be helpful, but I have to go down to my school to scan them, so forgive me if it takes a little time.
You may want to consider looking at how various newspaper strips handle this issue in their non-Sunday strips.

Some examples are:
The Boondocks
Herb and Jamaal
Franklin from Peanuts
Doonesbury includes some African American and Asian American characters
I wish I could think of some more sad

You could also look at comics in historical black newspapers, like those by Jackie Ormes. When looking at historical comics, I would stick to ones written and drawn by African Americans.
schmeddyhead's avatar

Eloquent Hunter

Thanks for the examples!

Unfortunately, all of those except the Peanuts and Herb and Jamaal strips do use screentones (not sure if this is the correct word?) for midtones, and I am looking for examples with stark B&W art only. However, I do appreciate you taking the time to respond. smile
ronnie92's avatar

Familiar Phantom

I feel that as long as the artist is able to conceive ethnic differences in visuals, you should have no problem, even in black and white. The audience IS able to see the racial indicators and interpret them if they are executed in an understandable level.

If you feel uncomfortable with your skill (for example, people not seeing the racial indicators) or feel the racials are particularly important regarding the story, I suggest reconsidering toning.
Tenko72's avatar

Benevolent Genius

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My favorite way of doing this is to make people look differently based on facial features or how their bodies look. Like seriously, there is a reason why white people in blackface and black people in whiteface don't look like black people or white people, respectively. So, I'd say relying of different physical features would work for the audience. You can also have full color covers and such.
megrar's avatar

Unbeatable Prophet

i go with facial features. i hate relying on tones--you then end up shading a page entirely based on where the darker-skinned characters are. besides, when you rely on facial features instead, you get a wider variety of appearances, which makes for a more visually interesting cast.
schmeddyhead's avatar

Eloquent Hunter

All right, looks like facial indicators is likely the way to go.

Thanks everyone for their advice.
You could experiment with halftone patterns (various sizes and spacing of dots to create the illusion of shading ). Not sure how it would look in stark b&w, but worth playing with?

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