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How to Cut Corners to Meet Deadlines

xmung wrote:
it really depends on the amount of detail in a page (notably, the number of different characters i gotta draw) - but usually it can take 4-5 hours for a drawn/ fully coloured/ web ready page. and that's if i'm lucky. these days i try to include at least one panel per page that has a close-up of a character's face cos that helps cut down on the drawing time overall.
This was mentioned in a different thread and I thought it'd make a good topic on it's own. What do you do to shave off drawing time when the hour's getting late and you need to get that comic rolled out on time? Talking head's is a classic, yet effective trick. Some folks are pretty good at recycling their old art (copy/paste?). My biggest cheat trick is to spot fill areas with black. I'm constantly bringing the camera in to avoid perspective and background details. Sillouettes work well, too. And it never hurts to fill up space with word balloons. You can always have the character tell you what's happening, instead of drawing it. For example, draw a shocked expression as the character says, "Dude, you really didn't need to smash that poor mook's skull in like that, and how'm I suppose to get that stain out of the carpet? Now I'll never get my deposit back."

Brad Hawkins's picture

My most common corner-cutting measures are:

- The old "establishing shot - closeup" technique. In the first panel, I show a background, but zoom the camera in a little so I don't have to draw it again. That way, there's still a sense of place, but I don't have to draw the background again.

- I'm experimenting with resuable backgrounds, but that hasn't made it into my strip yet.

- Copy and paste! Like in my most recent strip. If the characters aren't going to be moving or doing much, then why not reuse the same drawing?

- Worst-case scenario: Stripcreator.com. I have been known to use this resource in dire emergencies. :oops:

Joe Zabel's picture

My sympathies are very much with Eric M. on this issue. But there is this to be said. It seems there are two kinds of successful cartoonists on the internet.

1) Artists who produce quality work that people are just wild about, and will follow enthusiastically no matter what the update schedule is. Derek Kirk Kim is a good example of this kind of artist. Kazu Kibuishi is another (though his monthly schedule is fairly reliable.)

2) Artists whose appeal is tied pretty closely with their update schedule. They tend to have looser drawing and writing styles. Their work might not be canon-quality, but their fans have enormous enthusiasm for it. If their fans perceive that the artist is cutting corners, they love them even more!

It's no use expecting artists from one group to cross over to the other group. They probably can't. And as much as I wish there were more artists in the first group, the fact is, it takes rare talent and rare perseverence to enter their august company.

In any case, having both kinds of artists, and many in between, is what makes the internet such a rich and varied source of comics.

LGraf's picture

Bleh...I've tried cutting corners but it's so very hard for me to do that. Lately, I've been trying to go without backgrounds or with minimal ones. It's helped, but I still feel guilty for it. :roll:

I'm hopeless. :D

--L.G.Twilight Agency: my frustration, my insanity... http://twilightagency.com

That's the second time I've seen this term.... what's with "tracing"? Is this a term that people use because of something like, say, a Wacom? Or are some people actually tracing?

Or is saying "drawing" or "penciling" just not cool anymore?

Fenris wrote:
That's the second time I've seen this term.... what's with "tracing"? Is this a term that people use because of something like, say, a Wacom? Or are some people actually tracing? Or is saying "drawing" or "penciling" just not cool anymore?
Ghastly wrote:
"Tracing" is a joke from the Kevin Smith movie "Chasing Amy" where an inker is confronted by a fan of the comic he works on and is called out for being a "tracer".
No, I know the Smith joke. But there's no mention of penciling at all in this context, and you can't really "trace" (ink) without the pencil. Thus my wondering if this has become some sort of tablet term.

Katie Sekelsky's picture

If I worked on my comics until I was fully happy with them, I would never post anything. Deadlines are my way of telling myself when to stop picking out things that could be made better and post the damn thing. (actually, that's not totally true, as I'm trying to work a week ahead of schedule, but there's still imaginary deadlines i set for myself hidden in there)

EricMillikin's picture

GregC wrote:
There are two sides to this webcomic coin: entertainment and art.
That sounds wrong to me . Art and entertainment are practically the same thing, not polar opposities.

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Fetus-X is the greatest comic in the world.

EricMillikin's picture

Dave Sim wrote:
First you get good. Then you get fast. Then you get good and fast.
Ghastly wrote:
It's like the exact opposite of sex.
This probably doesn't need to be said, but if there are any kids reading this, please don't take sex advice from Dave Sim.

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Fetus-X is the greatest comic in the world.

EricMillikin's picture

I'm all for efficiency -- finding ways to reach your artistic vision faster -- but why would you be "cutting corners"? Quality beats quantity everytime. If the shit's not right, just wave good-bye at your self-imposed deadline and get the shit right.

It's not like we're Indian filmmakers who feel compelled to attempt suicide if the release of their movie is delayed, are we?

I mean, this is webcomics, what are they going to do to us if we miss a deadline -- fire us from webcomics? I've been trying to get fired from webcomics for years, and it's not that easy.

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Fetus-X is the greatest comic in the world.

EricMillikin's picture

Fabricari wrote:
There was a time when I completely agreed with [Eric that quality beats quantity every time]. It took me a year to draw a 22 page comic book. And no one read it. I've completely changed my stance on the matter, and therfore, couldn't disagree more. (Respectfully, of course.) Quantity beats quality. Hands down.
Obviously, I haven't read your 22-page comic (since no one has), so don't take this personally, but I'd suspect the reason no one read it had to do with its quality, not with the fact that its quantity was only 22 pages. If you'd padded it out to 144 pages by "cutting corners," I don't think you would have increased your audience at all. Or maybe that would have attracted a thousand times more readers, but only because 1000 x 0 = 0
Fabricari wrote:
What are they going to do? The worse thing that could happen to a webcomic creator, they leave. I've watched my stats roller-coaster in the last year, and it's always directly related to the times that I miss a deadline.
That's the worst that could happen? I thought it might be readers actually following through on their death threats. But dude, fuck the stats. I check my stats like once every six months when something like this conversation reminds me that "Hey, I have site stats!" I could go check my stats right now and find out that nobody has visited my site in the last year and I don't think that would have any effect on the comics I make. I make the comics I want to make, when I want to make them, and if people want to read them that's awesome, and if not, fuck 'em. You can scream "Freebird!" all you want, but I don't take requests. This is my fucking show, and if I want to take like 3 hours to get the shading right on a girl's lip before I ask her to the dance, I'll do it. If she then ditches me at the dance, THAT'S HER LOSS BITCHES. That said, I can also say this from personal experience: A while back I went from making a 5-day-a-week comic to a weekly comic so that I could focus on quality and not quantity. And you know what? My visitors continued to *increase* at the same rate they'd been increasing at. Sure, I had about one-fifth of the hits and page views since I was updating one-fifth as often, but my actual visitors continued to grow consistently. So, no, I don't buy the "Readers would rather have a constant stream of shit rather than a single diamond" theory. "Supply and demand" does not suggest that things are more valuable the greater the supply is. I'm a firm believer that leaving readers wanting more is better than leaving them wanting less.
Fabricari wrote:
And there's something to be said about focusing on speed: in time you'll get better at drawing faster.
OK, but I'd rather focus on quality, because then, in time, you'll get better at drawing *better.* Obviously I don't read every daily web or print comic, but my experience with daily comics is that they are almost completely stagnant. How much artistic growth and honest self-criticism is being done by artists that are constantly just "cutting corners" in order to meet their next deadline? Take Sinfest, for example. Go read the latest strip, and then go read the first. There's been virtually no artistic growth in that comic for five years, other than Ishida figured out how to make his blacks 100% at some point. That's it? That's all the artistic growth and experimentation that could be done in five years? Maybe that's fine if you start out strong ike Ishida, I suppose, but the idea that the best way an artist can get beyond crappy artwork is to just keep cranking out crappy corner-cutting artwork every day for years on end just seems like the worst advice you could give an artist. I feel like I'm making constant leaps and bounds as an artist, and that's because I'm spending time constantly taking the time to examine what I've done and what I'm going to do next rather than just "HOLY FUCK I'VE GOT TO CRAP OUT ANOTHER COMIC TODAY." Not that I'm saying anyone's comics on this thread are crappy, except for maybe Willie G's, because he can take a joke.

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Fetus-X is the greatest comic in the world.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

The most popular way to cut corners. No inks, no colours, and if you don't make a deadline you just get some guy to draw stick figures with MS Paint.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Fabricari wrote:
NO YOU DI'INT!! LOL Or, I don't know, you could cast an ensemble of ASCII bunnies - add a few vox bubbles. Know what I'm sayin'? Heh heh.
You could even sink to the use of sprites.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

TWG wrote:
I guess it depends if your goals are immediate or long term. (or it you see yourself as a busker or a creator)
Hey! Don't knock busking. I made over $100 an hour busking in front of the Farmer's Market here in Hamilton and over $60 an hour busking on Queen Street in Toronto. A talented lad can make a nice little fortune busking.

EricMillikin's picture

Fabricari wrote:
(Didn't you just say fuck the stats?)
Yeah, I did, the point being I would have made them same artistic decisions regardless of whether my artistic decisions had driven away every single reader.
Fabricari wrote:
Cutting back to once every 2 weeks or once a month doesn't work.
Right, the only reason anyone has ever read webcomics by David Gaddis, Justine Shaw or Kazu Kibuishi is because of their slavish devotion to a daily or weekly update schedule. Or to use a print example, the success of Charles Burns' "Black Hole" can be directly attributed to its consistent 22-page per month schedule, right?
Fabricari wrote:
"jerk off on bristol, call it art, and call it a day."
Why the disrespect for masturbation? I think you're seriously out of touch with the leisure time activities of the average comic reader. Other than that I don't use bristol, I think you just described 99% of my comics.
Fabricari wrote:
If you were doing work-for-hire, and your customer gave you a deadline because that art had to go to print the next morning, are you going to tell him he's wrong? No.
Actually, Yes. Why wouldn't I? They don't fucking own me. I've told editors that their deadlines are unreasonable and they either need to A) change the deadline, B) give me a lot more money if they expect me to drop everything and draw their project on short notice, or C) find another artist. They generally choose A or B; most of the times I can think of where I told them they had to choose C they couldn't find any artist who would work under their deadline and abandoned the project. But that's just my experience coming mostly from daily and weekly newspapers. Maybe in the world of direct market print comic books nobody ever turns down a job because they can't make less than embarassing artwork on the deadline, nobody places artistry over being a hack, and no successful book ever comes out late because some artists (including writers) wanted to make the best comics they could. In closing, I believe that anyone who values consistency of updates over quality of comics is making a big mistake. Such a value system presupposes that 1) making webcomics is a popularity contest and 2) consistent updates are the key to popularity. Both presumptions are wrong. Rather than cutting corners, just be honest with your readers and tell them that you're working on something that takes time and they'll have to wait. If you can give a progress report like Gianna above, great. if you need to take a vacation, go ahead, this isn't some non-union webcomics sweatshop. If you're doing something worth waiting for, readers will actually wait for it.

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Fetus-X is the greatest comic in the world.

Aleph's picture

I don't think you were attacking anybody. I can't make a deadline, it's not within my power because there are factors beyond my control. I realize that people say, update regularly or die, but with the spread of RSS it just isn't as much of a problem as it used to be. I used to try to cut every corner possible to make a brutal deadline, and it killed the art so dead I can barely look at it-- so I just left that behind a long time ago.

Certain readers will always demand a deadline and get unhappy if you can't give them one. If they're your audience, then yeah, that's important. There's nothing wrong with discussing methods and aims to cut those corners in smart ways to avoid burning yourself out trying to meet your schedule. Thumbs up to that, because it's a lot better than cutting those corners with no triage that takes care of what's really important.

Aleph's picture

Absolutely! My readership could never exist without RSS, I love it to death. The number of people who check every day is just never going to be that high, and checking every day and being disappointed most of the time just sucks.

RSS is teh rock. Gives us freedom to try all kinds of styles, and it makes us more viable in a world where there are more and more webcomics per reader too. It's so much easier to just pop up in their RSS list when ready than try to capture their attention and beg them to remember us when they're browsing the web at large.

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Dave Sim wrote:
First you get good. Then you get fast. Then you get good and fast.
It's like the exact opposite of sex.

Re: How to cut corners to meet our deadlines.

J-Sun's picture

CHANGE the deadline.

;)

###

Hey Gianna - I definitely like the "Status Bar" Approch
8)

[url=http://www.cybertropolis.com/comics/index.html][img]http://www.cybertropolis.com/downloads/banners/cyber366x50.gif[/img][/url]

Tim  Demeter's picture

EricMillikin wrote:
You can scream "Freebird!" all you want, but I don't take requests.
Best analogy ever.

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

Heh, I used to be real bad at the extreme-close-up-cop-out back in the Krakow 2.0 days, I like to think I've improved some since then :)

I've made a point of stopping myself from re-using panels.

To save time, I only draw backgrounds in about half the panels of a page. The other ones I fill in with a gradiant.

If I'm stuck colouring the comic the night before it's due, I might get a little lazy with the shading.

Large areas of black and smaller panel counts are the basics, I think. A large area of black is about the same leaving the space empty as far as time goes, but the image looks more complete and the pages come out balanced.

I don't use computers for any of my art, so I don't get to cut and paste, but anyways, a smaller panel count is similar to that. Whatever detail level you work with, the less panels on a page, the better, for the most part. A large panel focusing only on a character or action(ie: no/ or a simple BG) can always be done quickly and fit in with the rest of the pages.

My main thing is to keep my pencils simple. Whether I'm drawing a detailed page or a really simple page, I try not to spend more than 20 minutes on the pencils and do all of the real drawing when I ink. For simple stuff it doesn't matter, but for the detailed stuff it cuts a few hours out of each page.

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

Quote:

There was a time when I completely agreed with you. It took me a year to draw a 22 page comic book. And no one read it.

I've completely changed my stance on the matter, and therfore, couldn't disagree more. (Respectfully, of course.) Quantity beats quality. Hands down.

You can find yourself getting obsessed with perfection, and you'll never finish a page.

"Not cutting corners" is not synonymous with "being obsessed with perfection in your art." Deciding to work with a simpler style is not the same as cutting corners.

also:

Quote:

Obviously, I haven't read your 22-page comic (since no one has), so don't take this personally, but I'd suspect the reason no one read it had to do with its quality, not with the fact that its quantity was only 22 pages.

People read crappy 22 page comics all of the time - some just to look at the pictures. If he spent a year on it and actually worked about 30-40 hours on each page I don't see why he'd be unable to get plenty of people to stop by just to say "oh, pretty" with just a little pushing.

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

TWG wrote:
I think creators should work to the best of their ability, and design a schedule around that. Because, when it comes right down to it, Mr. Frequently tends not to leave much of a legacy worth noting (Johnny Hart, anyone?), however, Mr. Kicks Out The Jams always does (Windsor McCay).
Mckay was a Mr. Frequently too. He just didn't devote his efforts to one single work at a time, so it may not appear that way to some people, I don't know. Ignoring the fact that comic strips are by and large dominated by Mr. Frequentlys, It highlights a greater point really. He could have focused on a single work and made it as kickass as possible, but apparently, he didn't need to. The quality of the work is far more important than someone's work ethic -the hitch being that most people need to work really hard to even hope for high quality work of course, but someone who is very talented will be able to make work much better than most people's best without even trying. And the public will love it, and other creators will look up to it,and deservedly so, because it will be awesome.

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

The problem is that work ethic was confused with quality in this topic. Copper isn't a month's worth of work. It could probably be much better if the comic made full use of the time between updates as well. Some things can only be done with a lot of time devoted to them. However, as a comic that is updated once a month it is good enough to maintain a following. Not because of a vague broad concept of "doing your best!" , but because of the capabilities of the artist. There are people that try harder for longer times and aren't capable of making what he does. And there are those that are capable of doing it casually.

On the other hand, if he stepped back from other obligations and worked on Copper more often and say... made one each week, he would probably have a larger following with no real reason for there to be a loss in quality other than him having trouble coming up with 4 ideas for it in a month instead of 1... and I have trouble seeing that being a problem. The benefits of updating often aren't lost just because he doesn't need to do it. Likewise, its hard to say that a strip that has a huge following would have no one reading it if they updated less often. The fact that people appreciate their strip has already been proven. The degree to which people appreciate the strips as well. It's hard to imagine why those people would think less of the strip's quality should it simply update at a slower rate(and perhaps be a bit better because of it?).But I don't think its fair to say their appeal is tied closely to their update schedule. We want the strips we like to update more often, but we like them for being good strips.

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

Fabricari's picture

Ghastly wrote:
The most popular way to cut corners. No inks, no colours, and if you don't make a deadline you just get some guy to draw stick figures with MS Paint.
NO YOU DI'INT!! LOL Or, I don't know, you could cast an ensemble of ASCII bunnies - add a few vox bubbles. Know what I'm sayin'? Heh heh.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

rezo wrote:
"Not cutting corners" is not synonymous with "being obsessed with perfection in your art." Deciding to work with a simpler style is not the same as cutting corners.
True. Also, Cutting corners is not synonymous with making crap comics. It's about doing what you can to give your readers the best comic you can in the limited amount of time you have in a day. That's what I meant to say.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

rezo wrote:
"Not cutting corners" is not synonymous with "being obsessed with perfection in your art." Deciding to work with a simpler style is not the same as cutting corners.
Fabricari wrote:
True. Also, Cutting corners is not synonymous with making crap comics. It's about doing what you can to give your readers the best comic you can in the limited amount of time you have in a day. That's what I meant to say.
Just to extend the point you're making, most(if not all) comic artists do not do their absolute best work when making comics. Their isn't time for it.Give someone a week to make a cover illustration for a book and if they use their time wisely in most cases it should come out a ways better than the contents of the book. Arguing the question of slacking on art or putting everything you possibly can into it is kind of meaningless. Professionals put out 20+ pages every month that dwarf the art in the majority of webcomics. Some put out 60+. Obviously, those people would be putting out much better work if they just doubled the amount of time they spent on a single page, but the amount of time they spend isn't what matters. It's about their goals for the comics. A comic doesn't have to look "the very best you can make it." It has to look good enough to do what you want to do with it. The standard of quality you want should exist independent of your abilities, and whatever amount of time it takes for you to reach it should be the amount of time you spend on that comic. Whether its 30 minutes per page or 10 hours. If someone realizes they can be satisfied telling the story they want to tell without putting those 10 hours into each page, then that's fine. When someone thinks their comic needs an average of 10 hours per page based on their skill level, but in a rush to meet a deadline spend 2 hours on 5 pages, then you have a problem. I set basic time limits for every comic I make, because I know what my capabilities are and have a good idea of how long it will take me to do something. Sometimes I go over on a page. That's expected. When planning the pages I can even tell where I'm going to go over, and along those lines there are places in the comic where I can safely go under. A splash page(I only use them for covers), an action scene, etc. There's nothing wrong with doing those pages quickly since they don't need time to look right(not that I couldn't make them super kickass by spending more time). I'd wager that the disagreement that popped up in this topic has more to do with poor word choice than any serious disagreement in philosophy? "Quantity over quality", "cutting corners", etc... used to describe practices that are just a normal part of comic making(hell, someone called "establish background in one shot and then zoom in so that you don't have to redraw it" as a "time-saving technique" when it's like a part of "normal comic direction 101") but invoke ideas of someone shovelling out crap and hoping no one will notice. -ok, maybe the sudden ascii comic days or Megatokyo "crap drawing" days count as throwing the crap out there, but when people do that they're actually saying "it's taking me a bit longer to properly finish the real content, but since you're here look at this crap and the good stuff will be up later" fabricari: those linked comics don't look markedly better than what you have on your webcomic. I'm guessing it's a case of them being older, so it took you much longer to do things which you can do more casually now?
EricMilliken wrote:
Take Sinfest, for example. Go read the latest strip, and then go read the first. There's been virtually no artistic growth in that comic for five years, other than Ishida figured out how to make his blacks 100% at some point. That's it?
I'm not sure of what you mean. Sinfest is a simple cartoony comic strip. I don't believe Ishida had any trouble drawing it mostly the way he wanted to from the very beginning. His actual artistic growth has little reason to show in that comic in any meaningful way. Go read the early Peanuts and see how little things changed over 5 years. Or Calvin & Hobbes. At the same time, it's obvious that the people working on the comics could make images that were far better than the strips whenever they liked - with Watterson occasionally teasing us in dream sequences. But they were working on simple comic strips. From the very beginning they had very little to worry about other than slightly refining the simple look they started with.

<a xhref="http://www.kiwisbybeat.com" target=blank>Kiwis by beat!</a>

Fabricari's picture

Hunh. And all this time I thought we make comics so people will read them. Presumptuous me.

Dave Sim wrote:
First you get good. Then you get fast. Then you get good and fast.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

adamwhitenoise wrote:
Hey, speaking of schedules... how's that next strip coming, Fabs? Don't we update today? No pressure or anything...heh.
Just posted it. But I had to cut a few corners to get it finished on time. Hope you don't mind. :twisted:

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

Aleph wrote:
but with the spread of RSS it just isn't as much of a problem as it used to be.
Seriously, isn't this the coolest thing since anchor tags? RSS has created an entirely different playing field for webcomic.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Halley's picture

Everytime i do a talking heads strip or use the same artwork in more then one panal I just feel so bad about myself... >_<
I really shouldn't... but I con't help it :oops:

_________________

Halley'c Comic

The William G's picture

This is all true. And we'll always have the gag strips giving us the latest memes to fill in the gaps anyway, so no worries. The public is well served.


Uncle Ghastly's picture

Actually, my brother-in-law back in India (actually my wife's cousin but by their kinship traditions 1st cousins are considered siblings) is an Indian filmmaker. I don't think he'd commit suicide if one of his films was delayed. They don't pussy around with films in India. He's probably made more films than I have comic strips. :lol:

Uncle Ghastly's picture

Fenris wrote:
That's the second time I've seen this term.... what's with "tracing"? Is this a term that people use because of something like, say, a Wacom? Or are some people actually tracing? Or is saying "drawing" or "penciling" just not cool anymore?
"Tracing" is a joke from the Kevin Smith movie "Chasing Amy" where an inker is confronted by a fan of the comic he works on and is called out for being a "tracer".

Gianna's picture

My updates take very different amounts of time to draw, some have 4 panels, some have 8, some have very detailed background and others just a couple of guys talking in a room, and so on.

My solution (since I have no backlog and no time) is to use a status bar (I'll try to link it below):

It doesn't make readers inordinately happy, but at least it means that they always have a fair idea of where I am with drawing the next episode. I complement it with blog comments on the work in progress and such.
Trying to keep a fixed schedule was really hard because of time constraints, I was about to get burnout (imagine coming home on a Thursday after a long week, 8 hours at work, 2 hours at the gym and thinking, "oh damn, I have to finish the update for tomorrow, I'll have to stay up until 3am again" - it kept happening to me all the time and I felt that my hobby was becoming my enemy).

--------
Gianna Masetti
thenoobcomic.com

The William G's picture

Fabricari wrote:
I've mentioned this before - I have had a much greater response from my fast, crappy art than I ever did from the pages I toiled over for weeks at a time.
My comments are all about my current comic... and one I havent drawn in almost a year... :?


The William G's picture

rezo wrote:
Mckay was a Mr. Frequently too. He just didn't devote his efforts to one single work at a time, so it may not appear that way to some people, I don't know. ... He could have focused on a single work and made it as kickass as possible, but apparently, he didn't need to.
Looking at some Nemo now... he half-assed that? Jesus... what a freak!


Gianna's picture

Fenris wrote:
That's the second time I've seen this term.... what's with "tracing"? Is this a term that people use because of something like, say, a Wacom? Or are some people actually tracing? Or is saying "drawing" or "penciling" just not cool anymore?
Ghastly wrote:
"Tracing" is a joke from the Kevin Smith movie "Chasing Amy" where an inker is confronted by a fan of the comic he works on and is called out for being a "tracer".
Fenris wrote:
No, I know the Smith joke. But there's no mention of penciling at all in this context, and you can't really "trace" (ink) without the pencil. Thus my wondering if this has become some sort of tablet term.
Oh, sorry! English isn't my first language, and since I draw my comic entirely on a Wacom, I always thought of the drawing part of it as "tracing" (even if I draw straight to screen rather than trace a pencil draft) just because the wacom seems to be made for it. I didn't even know that it was a joke from a movie but now I can pretend that it's why I called it tracing all along :wink:------------ Gianna thenoobcomic.com

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Gianna Masetti
thenoobcomic.com

Greg Carter's picture

There are two sides to this webcomic coin: entertainment and art. Some people lean more one way than the other and if you'd rather have a bigger audience than better art that's a valid choice. It's all a matter of what your goal is for your comic.

I trade off going back and doing endless revisions for finishing a page and posting it. Because I have a teeny tiny audience and am growing it regular updating is very important, but so is putting out the best page I can. It has to be a certain level before I will let go of it. I haven't missed an update in a long time, and there are only a very few pages that have a bit of art that bugs me. And I'll fix them before I do a big print collection. They're not so bad that it's hurting the comic I don't think - it's that perfectionist trade-off thing. Everyone draws the line, so to speak, at a different spot.

Edited to add: I also try to work a couple of weeks in advance so I can spend extra time on a page here and there if it needs it. That makes a BIG difference.

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

Greg Carter's picture

GregC wrote:
There are two sides to this webcomic coin: entertainment and art.
EricMillikin wrote:
That sounds wrong to me . Art and entertainment are practically the same thing, not polar opposities.
They are the same thing, but tend to be perceived differently. Not by everyone, of course. But many people try to make a distinction between what is entertainment and "art for art's sake". No matter how you look at it it's still a coin.
Fabricari wrote:
And all this time I thought we make comics so people will read them.
Everyone's priority is different. I'm not doing a comic as a reason to get visitors to my site, I'm trying to tell a story the best I can. Do I want people to read it? hell yes. Is getting a larger audience important enough for me to put quantity over quality? No. I designed my update scedule to fit how I work, not the other way around. I update as often as I can because I want to hurry and tell the story because I want the whole thing out. This story has an ending and I have others to tell. The site numbers are something I look at as a gauge of what's going on as far as reaching people but they don't really mean anything. When I get an email, or a forum post, or someone at a con says they like my comic - THAT means something. And I'm happy with that. Writing it is fun. Drawing it is fun. Making the website is fun. Promoting the site isn't always exactly fun, but it's interesting to try things and see what works. I do the best comic I can and the rest follows from that.

Greg Carter - Abandon: First Vampire - Online Graphic Novel

it all depends on what level of quality you are happy with, and what level of quality your fans will be happy with. And given that most artists are their own worst critics, the fans will usually be satisfied with a product of lower quality than the artist themself.
That said, there are times I've reshot entire issues a dozen times over to get it right. And there are times I've had to put up a blurry image to meet a deadline (Curse my shaky camera hands)
And when I'm doing photoshop details, I can sometimes bang my head on my desk for days and still not achieve my desired result.

Tim  Demeter's picture

I've shaved a lot of time out lately by just sketching my backgrounds instead of doing tight renderings. I scan the sketches and them up in illustrator. Far from the most inventive thing ever, but I pencil/ink my characters and this removes the inking step from the equations for backgrounds so it helps. I also save any backgrounds or elements done in Illustrator that will be reoccurring or I think I made use again down the line and keep them in kind of stock library, so when I need it again, I just pop open the AI file and adjust it to fit the new panel.

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

Tim  Demeter's picture

It' a fine line, this.

There's definitely a difference between increasing efficiency by way of trickery, and actually cutting corners, which is not a term I really like.

At the end of the day, I tend to agree with Eric, when it's right it's done. Realizing when it's right, or as right as it's going to get, is the real trick though. Otherwise you can end up working on a single strip/page forever, and you really don't want that either, because, for me at least, I find when I over-work a single project it gets really stiff, and all the problems I tried to fix get replaced by worse, more subtle ones.

Tim Demeter
does a bunch of neato stuff.
Clickwheel
GraphicSmash
Bustout Odds

spargs's picture

It's all a balance.

More updates means more people come back to your site, which makes you happy, but means you have to sometimes compromise your work, which makes you unhappy.

Not compromising your work makes you happy, but means you sometimes have to miss updates, which means less people will come back to your site, which makes you unhappy.

So, basically, you can't win - unless you give up webcomics entirely, but that will make you REALLY unhappy.

The best idea is to figure out the optimum number of comics you can realistically crank out a week at a quality you are happy with and stick to that schedule. VGCats is only once a week, but does very well for itself. Copper is once a month.

[url=http://www.digi-comic.com][img]http://www.digi-comic.com/images/dcLilLink.gif[/img][/url]

Fabricari's picture

EricMillikin wrote:
I'm all for efficiency -- finding ways to reach your artistic vision faster -- but why would you be "cutting corners"? Quality beats quantity everytime. If the shit's not right, just wave good-bye at your self-imposed deadline and get the shit right.
There was a time when I completely agreed with you. It took me a year to draw a 22 page comic book. And no one read it. I've completely changed my stance on the matter, and therfore, couldn't disagree more. (Respectfully, of course.) Quantity beats quality. Hands down. You can find yourself getting obsessed with perfection, and you'll never finish a page.
EricMillikin wrote:
I mean, this is webcomics, what are they going to do to us if we miss a deadline -- fire us from webcomics? I've been trying to get fired from webcomics for years, and it's not that easy.
What are they going to do? The worse thing that could happen to a webcomic creator, they leave. I've watched my stats roller-coaster in the last year, and it's always directly related to the times that I miss a deadline. Also, what you may think is crap, your readers will usually still like. With webcomics, they want to see the story progress. They want to know that on Monday morning when they visit your site, you have a new strip as promised. And there's something to be said about focusing on speed: in time you'll get better at drawing faster. I've mentioned this before - I have had a much greater response from my fast, crappy art than I ever did from the pages I toiled over for weeks at a time.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

Who couldn't resist responding to such a passionate post...

EricMillikin wrote:
Obviously, I haven't read your 22-page comic (since no one has), so don't take this personally, but I'd suspect the reason no one read it had to do with its quality, not with the fact that its quantity was only 22 pages. If you'd padded it out to 144 pages by "cutting corners," I don't think you would have increased your audience at all. Or maybe that would have attracted a thousand times more readers, but only because 1000 x 0 = 0
OK, I'll be more specific, because my generalization didn't seem to be enough. I printed 3 books in 99. Diamond carried 'em, and about 500 people got their grubby little mits on the set after all the work promoting and distributing. I didn't have the money to continue printing and build an audiance. I banked on producing the best comic I could. But it still wasn't as strong as the response I've had since I put quantity over quality. Later I switched over and applied the same formula to making web comic. I took for-fucking-ever drawing them and they're a lot better than anything I draw now. But aside from the few dozen people who followed up - no one cared. My updates were too infrequent to effectively troll the forums or to justify advertising. The few readers I had were always bitching that I didn't update enough. (Read 'em here and here, and tell me if quality was the reason people didn't read.) Again, it still wasn't as strong as the response I've had since I put quantity over quality. Since then, I've learned that good art doesn't equal good comic. Good story does. And when you draw more, you get to tell more story. I cut back on the quality in favor of quantity. Since then, I've had more response with my webcomic than I've ever had before. Exponentially more.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

Fabricari's picture

You know, I told myself I wouldn't post again in this thread, but the point I was making completely got missed.

I'm NOT saying that cutting corners and reducing your art to crap is right for everyone, or even right at all.

This thread was started with the premise that you have a deadline - what do you do to meet that deadline? This was NOT a thread about how to make the best webcomic you can.

I used general terms such as "quality" and "quantity" because there is a direct corrolation. If you spend half the time on a page, there's a very good chance that the art will be rougher or elements left out. Hey, maybe you're the exception that proves the rule - your rougher art is more appealing than the stuff you took days to toil over. I saw that in William G's daily panel project recently.

Just as Copper is an exception to the rule. If I took a month for a page, I still wouldn't be able to create something as beautiful, nor would it be popular. I'm just not that talented. Nor lucky.

It just so happens that for the past year I've worked on a project where I've set a goal to finish a graphic novel in as short a time as possible. It's something I'm enthusiastic about, and I've noticed a spike in readership that I hadn't seen before. This is an experiment, and these are simply observations of it.

Next year I'll probably go back to focusing more on slow, steady, quality pages - who knows. To be honest, there are several days that I look back on a rushed page with disdain, because it stands out like a sore thumb. But I also look back on the quantity of pages with a small feeling of accomplishment.

I realize this is an unpopular stance, but it's not an attack on how you make your comic. It's just something I've been experimenting with for my own. And I'm sharing.

Steve "Fabricari" Harrison

The William G's picture

EricMillikin wrote:
Not that I'm saying anyone's comics on this thread are crappy, except for maybe Willie G's, because he can take a joke.
At least he coulda supplied a link... I think creators should work to the best of their ability, and design a schedule around that. Because, when it comes right down to it, Mr. Frequently tends not to leave much of a legacy worth noting (Johnny Hart, anyone?), however, Mr. Kicks Out The Jams always does (Windsor McCay). I guess it depends if your goals are immediate or long term. (or it you see yourself as a busker or a creator) But if certain cartoonists have found a rut they're comfortable in, then by all means let them keep it. Habit mixed with a satisfied ego is a powerful glue that we shouldn't ignore:
Quote:
jerk off on bristol, call it art, and call it a day.
That's what webcomics is all about.


The William G's picture

Quote:
1) making webcomics is a popularity contest and 2) consistent updates are the key to popularity. Both presumptions are wrong.

My friend, you're totally ignoring the highschool-like nature of webcomics.

Much like how having a car is the key to getting laid in highschool, having your gradient-fill-for-backgrounds masterpiece out daily will get you any highschool girl at the con you want.

Ho ho ho ho... I joke of course.

Girls don't go to cons.

HA! Zing #2!

I kid, I kid. Cuz I love you all.


Re: How to cut corners to meet our deadlines.

rabbitpie's picture

Fabricari wrote:
For example, draw a shocked expression as the character says, "Dude, you really didn't need to smash that poor mook's skull in like that, and how'm I suppose to get that stain out of the carpet? Now I'll never get my deposit back."
You know, there are entire comics that are nothing but that and works marvelously, like Triangle and Robert or Death to the Extremist, but they are rare.