Adding “Rest Pages” To Your Comic

2017-artwork-rest-pages-article-sketch

Well, since I’m still busy preparing this year’s Halloween comic at the time of writing, I thought that I’d talk briefly about something that can make longer comics projects slightly easier.

As regular readers probably know, I tend to have something of a short creative attention span. It is, for example, why I release my occasional webcomics in mini series of 6-17 daily comic updates (well, more like 6-12 updates these days).

So, making a full-colour A4-size Halloween comic that will be 12 pages in length (including the cover) is something of a stretch for me. But, as I’m learning, it’s certainly possible. So, I thought that I’d talk about one of the techniques that I’m using to reduce the amount of effort that this project requires, in case it’s useful to you.

This technique is simply to include the occasional low-effort page within my comic. If this is done well, then it can be barely noticeable to the audience, whilst still giving you a chance to rest slightly at the same time.

For example, here’s a reduced-size preview of page three of my Halloween comic (which I made the day before writing this article):

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 23rd October.

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 23rd October.

This is an example of a low-effort comic page. One of the first things that you might notice is that it only contains six panels (page one contains seven panels and page two contains eight).

Likewise, as I discussed in yesterday’s article, many of the backgrounds are simple interior locations that contain a minimum of detail. There’s just enough detail to make the backgrounds look like convincing locations but, the overall detail level is still fairly low.

In addition to this, the dramatic-looking lighting in the third panel helps to distract from the low levels of detail in most of the artwork. This is further disguised by the fact that the comic features multiple background locations, which adds some visual variety to the page without using too much effort in the process.

Finally, there’s also the fact that it is – for the most part – a “talking head” comic. This is a comic update where the characters just stand around and talk to each other. If this isn’t done right, then it can look lazy or boring. But, I’ve disguised it somewhat by adding a couple of simple action-based panels to the comic (eg: the two panels showing the television screen) and by showing a close-up of a video player in the third panel.

So, although it might not look like it at first glance, this page was a lazy “rest page” that I created in order to conserve effort for other parts of the comic. If you’re making a longer comic and you tend to have a fairly short creative attention span, then learning how to do this kind of thing can be extremely useful.

There are lots of other ways to do something like this, and I don’t currently have time to list them all here, but hopefully this article will have at least pointed you in the right direction.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope it was useful 🙂

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Two Sneaky Tips For Making Longer Comics Look More Detailed

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As regular readers of this site probably know, I’m busy preparing this year’s Halloween comic at the time of writing. So, I thought that I’d talk briefly about detail levels in webcomics today.

This was mostly because, when I tried to make the failed mini series that was posted here recently , I went for more of a ‘back to basics’ approach with the art. In other words, I tried to reduce the level of visual detail to the minimum that I could get away with. This was an interesting experiment, but it sucked some of the “life” out of my comics.

On the other hand, in the mini series that will appear here in early October, I did the exact opposite. I made larger comics that contained slightly more visual detail than many of the ‘detailed’ comics I’d posted earlier this year. This was a lot of fun, but it also meant that the comic-making process was a lot slower. Of course, whilst this was perfect for a short six-comic mini series, it wouldn’t be practical for the longer narrative comic I’d planned for Halloween. So, what did I do?

1) Mix high and low detail backgrounds: This is one of the oldest tricks in the book (I’ve mentioned it before, but recently learnt how to use it in a slightly better way) and it can be barely noticeable if done well.

For example, the pages of my upcoming Halloween comic contain a few detailed interior and exterior locations. But, these often appear for only one or two panels. Most of the time, the backgrounds are slightly less detailed – but this is disguised in a few clever ways.

For example, here’s a preview of one of the less detailed backgrounds in page one of my Halloween comic:

The full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

The full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

If this had been a scene from my failed “back to basics” comic project, then I’d have just used a plain purple background. However, although most of the background is solid purple, I’ve also added the corner of an old computer monitor and an undetailed poster to it.

Although both of these small details were fairly quick to draw, they give the impression that the scene is taking place within an actual room. So, a couple of tiny and quick details can make an undetailed background look like a detailed one.

Another good trick to use is to draw a few detailed “establishing shots” of a new location and then to add less precision and less detail to most of the other drawings of this location. Since your audience will have seen the more detailed drawings first, they’re probably just going to “fill in the gaps” when they see the less detailed drawings of the same location a little while later.

2) Clever recycling: First of all, I’m not talking about directly re-using backgrounds. Although, if you’re making your comic entirely digitally (and are skilled with using layers), then you can obviously do this. But, I’ll be talking about something far more subtle and much less noticeable than that.

This technique works best if you also do regular art practice, have a good visual memory and/or have made lots of comics before. But, all you have to do is to use something that you are familiar with drawing for your background. Not only does this save you thinking/planning time, but it means that you’ll be able to add a lot of detail more quickly for the simple reason that you already know what to do.

For example, the first page of my upcoming Halloween comic features a detailed outdoor location. Since the comic’s location is loosely-based on Aberystwyth, I already had plenty of pre-made ideas for outdoor locations. On top of this, I’d previously made a sci-fi painting (which will be posted here on the 10th October) which was based on this old photo of Aberystwyth high street that I took in 2009.

One interesting feature of the photo was that the bank in the background had been undergoing renovations at the time and was covered in scaffolding. Likewise, the top of the building next to it looked a little bit like something from “Blade Runner“.

Needless to say, both things were a part of my sci-fi painting. But, since I’d already worked out how to draw them when making that painting, they were surprisingly quick to re-draw when I wanted to add a detailed outdoor location to my Halloween comic:

 Again, the full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

Again, the full comic update will be posted here on the 21st October.

This outdoor location isn’t exactly the same as either the photo or my sci-fi painting but, since I was drawing buildings that I’d practiced drawing recently, I was able to add a lot more detail to that panel a lot more quickly.

So, if you find some way to draw what you know, then it’ll be easier to add detailed backgrounds far more quickly.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

The Complete “Work In Progress” Line Art For My “Damania Relaxation” Webcomic Mini Series

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Well, since my “Damania Relaxation” webcomic mini series finished recently, I thought that I’d do my usual thing of showing of all of the ‘work in progress’ line art that I scanned whilst making it.

Unlike some of my previous mini series, there weren’t really that many (if any) significant dialogue or art changes between the line art and the finished comics. The most noticeable is probably the extra speech bubble that was added to the final panel of the third comic (but is missing in the line art).

Likewise, thanks to a foolish decision to go ‘back to basics’ with this mini series, the line art sometimes looks a lot more… spartan …than usual.

You can click on each piece of line art to see a larger version of it.

"Damania Relaxation - Peak Performance (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Peak Performance (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Timeline (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Timeline (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Word (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Word (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - 1990s Survival Horror Games (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – 1990s Survival Horror Games (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Reactions (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Reactions (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Bloatware (Line Art)" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Bloatware (Line Art)” By C. A. Brown

The Complete “Damania Relaxation” – All Six Episodes Of The New Webcomic Mini Series By C. A. Brown

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Well, in case you missed any of it, I thought that I’d collect all six episodes of my recent webcomic mini series into one easy-to-read post. If you want to check out lots of (better) comics featuring these characters, then links to them can be found here.

This mini series was, to be honest, an abject failure. Basically, after finishing the last mini series, I didn’t make any comics for a little over a month (and just made my usual daily paintings instead). Since I was worried about comic burnout, I thought that I should make something.

So, I thought that I’d try to make an ‘old-school’ mini series that didn’t have a story or anything like that. Just self-contained comics, with the kind of simpler art that I used in 2016. I thought that it would be relaxing but, as you can probably tell from the emotional tone of the comics, it actually ended up being more of a stress than anything else.

Still, it wasn’t a total waste of time. I learnt what happens if I try to make comics when I’m uninspired. Likewise, I’m also quite happy that I can still switch back to the type of art that I used in 2016’s comics if I need to.

Whilst the first comic in this mini series (“Peak Performance”) is NOT released under any kind of creative commons licence. Comics 2-6 in this mini series ARE released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

Likewise, you can see a larger version of each comic update by clicking on it.

"Damania Relaxation - Peak Performance (With apologies to David Lynch)" By C. A. Brown [Note: This comic is NOT released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind].

“Damania Relaxation – Peak Performance (With apologies to David Lynch)” By C. A. Brown [Note: This comic is NOT released under a Creative Commons licence of any kind].

"Damania Relaxation - Timeline" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Timeline” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Word" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Word” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - 1990s Survival Horror Games" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – 1990s Survival Horror Games” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Reactions" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Reactions” By C. A. Brown

"Damania Relaxation - Bloatware" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Relaxation – Bloatware” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art ( 8th September 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the sixth (and final) comic in my ‘back to basics’ “Damania Relaxation” webcomic mini series. Stay tuned for a full retrospective later tonight.

If you want to catch up on other old-style mini series, or check out some of the more recent story-based ones, links to them all can be found here. You can also check out previous comics in this mini series here: One, Two, Three, Four, Five

And, yes, this ended up being a fairly ‘opinionated’ comic. Because, seriously, one of the cool things about the modern trend for old-school indie games is that they’ll actually run on older computers. Well, some of them do anyway. On the other hand, I’ve seen cool-looking 1990s-style 2D games that require a dual-core processor, or have downloads in excess of a gigabyte in size! There’s really no excuse for this sort of thing!

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Relaxation - Bloatware" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Relaxation – Bloatware” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art (7th September 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fifth (and penultimate) comic in my ‘back to basics’ “Damania Relaxation” webcomic mini series. If you missed the ‘old-school’ mini series (where every comic was self-contained), then you’re in luck!

If you want to catch up on other old-style mini series, or check out some of the more recent story-based ones, links to them all can be found here. You can also check out previous comics in this mini series here: One, Two, Three, Four

And, yes, this satire about the vampire genre is probably at least 6-8 years out of date. But, well, it seemed like a funny idea, so I decided to go with it.

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Relaxation - Reactions" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Relaxation – Reactions” By C. A. Brown

Today’s Art ( 6th September 2017)

Woo hoo! I am very proud to present the fourth comic in my ‘back to basics’ “Damania Relaxation” webcomic mini series. If you missed the ‘old-school’ mini series (where every comic was self-contained), then you’re in luck!

If you want to catch up on other old-style mini series, or check out some of the more recent story-based ones, links to them all can be found here. You can also check out previous comics in this mini series here: One, Two, Three

And, yes, old survival horror games are awesome… until you get stuck on one of the puzzles!

As usual, this comic update is released under a Creative Commons BY-NC-ND licence.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Relaxation - 1990s Survival Horror Games" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Relaxation – 1990s Survival Horror Games” By C. A. Brown