Three Random Artistic Tricks That Can Improve Your Webcomic

2017-artwork-webcomic-art-tricks

Well, at the time of writing, I’m busy making a webcomic mini series that will be posted here in early October. Here’s another “work in progress” preview of part of the comic update I was making at the time that I wrote the first draft of this article:

There's still quite a way to go, but the finished [Almost A4-sized] comic update should appear here on the 5th October.

There’s still quite a way to go, but the finished [Almost A4-sized] comic update should appear here on the 5th October.

Since this mini series will be a return to the detailed artwork that I’ve used in more recent comics (but won’t use in the failed comic project that will appear here in September), I thought that I’d talk about a few tricks that you can use to improve the art in your webcomic.

1) Have a palette: One way to make the art in your webcomic look a bit more distinctive is to use a similar colour palette for all or most of your webcomic updates. Since I use watercolour pencils (and image editing software) when adding colour to my artwork, my palette consists of a red pencil, a blue pencil, a yellow pencil, a light green pencil, a purple pencil, a black pencil, a peach pencil (although I usually add skin tones digitally these days) and a grey pencil.

Here are comics from two of my webcomic mini series from earlier this year (this one and this one):

"Damania Regenerated - Killjoys" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Killjoys” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Recovery - Process" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Recovery – Process” By C. A. Brown

Despite the fact that they are set in completely different locations, these comics all instantly look like part of the same series for the simple reason that they use a similar colour palette to each other.

So, if you can find a palette that you like (mine was inspired by these “Doom II” levels), then you can make the art in your webcomic stand out a lot more. A good place to start if you don’t know how to create a good palette is to experiment with using a couple of pairs of complementary colours.

2) Detail and variety: Highly-detailed backgrounds can really make your webcomic stand out from the crowd. But, one problem with highly-detailed backgrounds is that they’re prone to continuity errors if they are repeated.

After all, if you’ve got to draw the same highly-detailed background again and again, then you’re probably going to start cutting corners and making mistakes after a while.

So, the trick here is to find ways to make the background at least slightly different in each panel, without confusing the audience. The simplest way to do this is to show one or more characters walking through a detailed outdoor location.

The changing backgrounds in each panel also help to give the comic a sense of movement, like in this comic from the mini series that finished in late July:

"Damania Replicated - Chips" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Replicated – Chips” By C. A. Brown

Another more subtle way to change the background in each panel is to change the “camera angle” a few times during a static scene. Yes, doing this too often can confuse the audience and look visually jarring. But, once you’ve seen a few examples of it done well (eg: in traditional comics), it can be a very easy way to include similar detailed backgrounds with fewer noticeable continuity errors.

3) Lighting: One of the simplest ways to make your webcomic’s artwork stand out a lot more is to learn how to paint realistic lighting. Look at tutorials in books and online, study photographs, look at other paintings/drawings/comic panels and try to work out the “rules” that the artist has followed etc…

Even the most basic and primitive types of realistic lighting will make your artwork look less “flat” and more “3D”. Plus, lighting can also be used in all sorts of other creative ways too. Like in this comic update of mine that was inspired by old sci-fi horror games and movies:

"Damania Regenerated - Death Maze" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Death Maze” By C. A. Brown

In my opinion, creative lighting in webcomics tends to work best if (like me) you tend to use a very high-contrast style. My general rule with a lot of my artwork is that at least 30-50% of the surface area of each painting, comic update etc… should consist of black paint. By adding a lot of gloom, shadows and darkness to a piece of art, you also make any light sources in that picture stand out a lot more too.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

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