THREE TIPS FOR DRAWING CARSYou know that green ellipse tool that you bought in art school? Do you know how to use it for something other than oval shapes? Do you know what those "cross-hair" marks are for? And do you know how to use it for technically correct perspective drawings?
TOO many comics artists don't, and it's driving me crazy. So instead of starting a blog that starts showing examples and naming names, I figured it was better to make a quick tutorial. And this isn't just for cars but also for guns, fire hydrants, and millions of other machined objects found in comics.
If you go through this and you're still stuck, please don't write to me. I'm happy to show you at a convention to make it clearer, but within a blog this is the best I can do. Check out "Perspective for Comic Artists by David Chelsea" for more.
Cars are a whole lot easier to draw if you know how to properly use perspective and ellipses. The more familiar you are with the math, the more fun it is to draw cars. Once I figured out th
5 Art Selling TipsWhile I used to see "art sales" simply as bonus money coming in on the side, over the past few years it's become enough of an asset that it justifies an art dealer, record keeping, insurance, and taxes at the end of each year. It's currently 25% of my total income, and that has a lot of impact over my work. And just like storytelling, design and page flow--abstract principles that keep my career afloat daily--art sales also deserve to be studied, theorized, and understood.5 Art Selling Tips2 years ago in Personal More Like This
These are guidelines, not rules. And while most of them usually work for me, they might not all work for you, so keep in mind that my market might be different than yours. Because not only do we not draw the same, we probably have different sorts of buyers.
1. Don't stay on a book for too long
I find that doing mini series of 4-12 issues is optimal for selling art. If you spend a year doing one-shots or 2-3 issue minis, you'll be hard for buyers to keep track of because it's too infrequent. And it's hard to make an i
5 Reasons to WriteI wrote a blog once that urged comic artists to try writing their own books. I held back a bit on what I said--Punk Rock Jesus hadn't come out yet, so I didn't feel like I had the proper authority to really speak up.5 Reasons to Write3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Since then, there's been a lot more discussion about the etiquette of publishers toward their freelancers, the recent rise of creator owned books, and the effects of Hollywood moving into comics (or vice versa). And as friend of mine at Newsarama pointed out recently, I'm one of a few guys who's found a middle ground--not only because I'm writing and drawing my own book, but because my OGN is partially owned by DC Comics.
Certain events of the last year have created new concerns within our industry. Do you still need to work for big publishers if you want to "make it"? Do they deliver a better product than creator owned books? Are the Big Two treating creators as fairly as they've always been? Between the rise of digital comics and comic-based movies, are creators getting
4 Kinds of StorytellingHere's an old journal from 2010 about storytelling. Because I have a lot more readers these days, I think I'm going to start reposting some of my earlier posts for my newer audience. So for you old timers, feel free to skip.4 Kinds of Storytelling2 years ago in Personal More Like This
In full disclosure, I slightly edited this journal to make it a little more balanced (while also fixing a ton of typos).
I feel like the word "storytelling" gets thrown around a lot in our industry. Yet when I look out there at some comics, I don't always see a lot of evidence for it.
It feels like people in comics pros--myself included--often use the word only because we feel like we're supposed to. Over the years enough professionals have been accused of being poor storytellers to the degree that everyone is now afraid of being a pinup artist as opposed to a bona fide storyteller. But it's not enough just to claim you're a storyteller.
Most people reading this probably h
Why are we slower?About a month ago I finally got to meet an art hero of mine, Klaus Janson, a well known pro who's been in the industry for over 30 years. A mutual friend introduced us, and we hit it off right away. The group of us went through the Village hitting pub after pub, and soon I was drunk enough to ask Klaus something that had been bugging me.Why are we slower?3 years ago in Personal More Like This
I asked him if modern comic artists are, on average, slower than we used to be. He said yes, and I agreed.
From the Golden Age until the 80s, pencillers were generally expected to turn in at least two pages a day, while an inker was expected to turn in around 3-4. There were a handful of exceptions, I'm sure, but most of the artists could pump out pages like human printing presses. In the current comic industry, it's completely reversed: while a handful of artists can still hit this speed, the vast majority can't. Pencillers today struggle to produce a page-per-day, while inkers (those who still ink with ink) are hitting around 2.
So what happened? I'v
The Detrimental AweThanks for the ideas everyone! Here's the post many of you requested...The Detrimental Awe3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here's a sample of responses I've heard from some editors over the years when I've raised practical business concerns regarding comic book publishing:
"No, we don't know exactly what books you'll be doing, but we're (insert name of big publisher) Comics, so sign exclusive with us and not (insert name of competing publisher who has titles ready for you)!"
"This is a (insert name of big writer) book! I know he's late, but just think of how many people would love to be in your shoes!"
"The page rate isn't good, but at least you'll be getting to work with (name of big superhero whom you're supposed to be a fan of)!"
"We won't fly you out or put you into a hotel, but you should come so you can sign at the booth for us! Who doesn't love signing autographs?"
What do these statements have in common? They're emotional arguments made to sidestep yo
5 Ways to Avoid Being DiminishedThere's a discussion brewing in comics about artists being more diminished as of late--that readers, reviewers, and publishers are focusing too much on writers rather than the artists who draw the book. I agree it's happening, but I'm not sure it's worth sounding an alarm over. I never felt diminished, but maybe I'm part of the exception. Maybe it's because I'm an artist and a writer.5 Ways to Avoid Being Diminished1 year ago in Personal More Like This
Either way, I do have a few thoughts on what artists can do to pull themselves out from under the rug.
1. DON'T DRAW LIKE A COG.
If you conform to a "house style", then you're at higher risk of being treated like an interchangeable cog in the comics machine. Yes, you're more likely to get consistent work, but you won't stand out as much. Therefor you'll be sought after less by big name writers, you're less likely to make a lasting impression on reviewers and readers, and you'll have a harder time getting raises (12 others draw like you and for less money).
I also suggests inking yourself if it helps. Penc
Types of Artist blues, what helped, what didn'tThere are several artist blues I know of, since I have experienced practically all of them during the past few months since 2011. I will write about how I got them, how I overcome them. What helped, what didn't.Types of Artist blues, what helped, what didn't2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Some of these blues are professional freelance blues, happens to those who are making their own series/productions and when there's money and risk involved.
Some of these blues are shared by all artists.
Before the production even starts, the fear of it failing caused me to think about failing instead of success. It makes me hesitate about actually working on the project before I even produce anything.
What helped- Refocus on what I am making the project for, what's the true message I try to convey with the project, make that shine, and try to choose a cheap launch platform that makes it cost-effective.
What didn't help- trying to level up on art skill. It helped with my overall art as work for hire, it didn't help with
5 Career Killers“Whatever happened to that guy? The guy that drew that thing?5 Career Killers5 months ago in Personal More Like This
Comic careers are like any other career in entertainment: if you don't stay relevant and adapt to a trend, you'll eventually peak and then bottom out. But there are more things that can help end a career. Here's a list of 5 that I've been thinking about lately.
1. SOCIAL MEDIA TAKE-DOWN
The creator does something that somehow goes viral, turning his (or her) readers against him. Bad behavior at a convention, sexual harassment online, or a semi-racist Tweet made worse by bumbling attempts to correct it. Or maybe the creator gets blamed for something innocent: innocent comments taken out of context, or involvement in a controversial project that he had no say over. Whatever the case, “social media take-downs” can harm careers, leaving a permanent black mark on your career.
I imagine this one is the most common: no matter how hard you work—and no matter how much a
5 LevelsI've spoken as guest speaker a number of times over the years (come visit me at SCAD Atlanta in January). While I'm not the best or most patient teacher, I think my strength is my pragmatic and blunt approach to the business side of comics. In order to help the students think of a "5 YEAR PLAN" (more on that in an upcoming post), I'll often break down the different page rate levels of comic book artists as a way to help analyze the playing field of our industry. If there's a ladder to success, what's wrong with defining each rung? I imagine such a breakdown helpful for moving up in most any industry, not just comics.5 Levels3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Here are the 5 LEVELS of comic artists as I see them--NOT based on talent but on page rates, popularity, and the prestige of the titles the artist works on. You might define them differently or have more than just 5, but I find that less-is-more when it comes to people being able to retain information.
What you can do if a big company stole your art An indy artist's work being used by Disney without permission: http://katiewoodger.tumblr.com/post/47454350768/disney-have-stolen-my-artwork-i-dont-know-whatWhat you can do if a big company stole your art2 years ago in Personal More Like This
My tumblr reply: http://mayshing.tumblr.com/post/47627305546/katiewoodger-disney-have-stolen-my-artwork-i
PS: this one is on the verge being settled, Disney already started working on it, she's being helped.
Seeing posts like this, I just thought I should share some knowledge I have, I personally already have met 3 different artists who doesn't know what to do when:
Record company ripped them off
Publisher ripped them off
Big corporation used their artwork without permission (that's usually by accident because of an outsource company broke the rule etc)
USA people: Go
Improving and The Magic NibFrom time to time I'll hear questions from other artists concerning artistic pathways.Improving and The Magic Nib2 years ago in Personal More Like This
It probably stems from seeing my work over the years. Early in my career I was given a tremendous opportunity to draw the first Prophet book for Image Comics. I had years of inking experience behind me but I had never drawn a full comic book prior to that experience. The first issue sold nearly a half million copies. My first foray into penciling/inking was quite a spectacle... Looking back, it's one of the most cringe-worthy books from the 90's. That was a little over 20 years ago. When I returned to the comic book field I was a different artist thankfully. Obviously 20 years is a long time for a growth curve.
Check out some of my Journals here on DA. I delve into getting into the business and what pushed me, etc. Mostly it's just focusing on weaknesses and addressing them. Fixing what's broke or doesn't perform as well as I feel it should. Whic
Top 5 Mistakes (I've made over the years)To many people in comics, I only arrived a few years ago with Joe the Barbarian. Then came Hellblazer (completed in 2008 before I began working on Joe), American Vampire: SOTF, and finally Punk Rock Jesus. Once in a while someone will mention Off Road (an OGN I did with Oni back in 2004), but for the most part it seems like I've been published only these last few years when in fact I've been published professionally for a decade now.Top 5 Mistakes (I've made over the years)2 years ago in Personal More Like This
This isn't a plea to have everyone go back through my previous work--in fact, I'm glad that a lot of the books I've done over the years aren't on readers' radars. I'm proud of it all, but the books above are a nice, tight group of titles to be associated with. They're all in a similar brand, they're all recent, they all have good creators/publishers associated with them, and the artwork is mostly consistent. Go back further than that, and you'll see artwork that looks nothing like the stuff I'm doing these days. (Although Off Road still holds up to some de
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 3And now for the dramatic conclusion to the epic trilogy. Heroes will rise, bad habits will fall, in this last chapter we'll discuss how to focus your efforts and learn the most and improve quickly with your studies. If you missed them, click these links for Part One and Part Two. And now for...Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 32 years ago in Personal More Like This
WISDOM NUMBER THREE!!! Work smart and leave your comfort zone. This part is my qualifier for art school, tutorials, and educational resources in general, because they can be good, but only if you make them good. Once you've gotten in to the habit of drawing consistently, it's important to start being mindful of what you're drawing, how you're drawing it, and why you're drawing it. A key ingredient of success is hard work, but if that work isn't purposeful it might not move you
5 Year Plan*Because I'll be teaching in about a week at SCAD, I've been thinking a lot about what to tell the students. And I wrote it out so that I could solidify it in my head. This stuff is for younger artists mostly, so feel free to skip.5 Year Plan3 years ago in Personal More Like This
When I spend time with another comic artist, sometimes I'll ask, "What's your 5 year plan?" In other words, what steps is he taking in order to gain control over his career in order to move up the ladder? Usually I don't get much of an answer.
The reason I think many comic artists aren't forward-thinking has to do with the way our industry is set up. Whether by conscious design or through the neglect of its participants, younger freelancers get into a habit of complacency while hoping for a chance to suckle from the teet of a major publisher. Waiting around for a career doesn't promote the idea of freelancers taking active control of their OWN careers.
If I had to sum up the 5 Year Plan
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 2Here's the continuation of yesterday's journal discussing the importance of hard work. If you missed it, click here!Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 22 years ago in Personal More Like This
In part two I'm gonna talk about one of the biggest roadblocks I hear from artists who are having difficulty getting in to good study habits, so without further ado...
WISDOM NUMBER TWO!! Don't wait for perfect weather and stop making excuses. So often I hear things like "I don't want to waste paper" or "I don't know what to draw" or "I haven't found a good tutorial" or "I don't want to study perspective" or any number of things along those lines. I'll be blunt and just put the answer out there now: get over it. If you want to be an artist, you have to do the work, end of story. And with all the time you've spent thinking, wondering, being uncertain, and searching for that magical art secret of power, you could have filled 10 pages in your sketchbook today and inc
Stop the perfectionismOn my Tumblr site someone asked me for some general advice for an aspiring comic creator. This is what was on my mind. Thought I'd share it here on Deviantart as well.Stop the perfectionism3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Right now all I can think of is something I've been thinking about lately. And that is the depression some of us artists get about our art. Like our expectations aren't just "My drawings need to be good!", they are "My art needs to be PERFECT."
So I would suggest always try to improve, gain confidence, but expect good/average output. Don't expect perfect art, ever. By doing this only causes you to be frustrated, which in turn causes mistakes, which pisses you off more, then you're stuck in a lame spiraling circle downward to the pathetic whiny artist. Which in turn kills your deadline. Giving yourself freedom from perfection makes drawing much easier and better art is produced and on time.
I'm currently working on this piece where it started out difficult, I had high expectations for it, I was in a bad mood, nothing was
the importance of failingsOften times i see many artists on all levels expressing their expectations from their current progress and seeing it as they fail. They feel this way because the type of level that is set is not only high but its constantly changing to grow higher even as they are progressing passed levels of artistic skills.the importance of failings2 years ago in Personal More Like This
Imagine a horse rider holding a fishing pole with sugar(your artistic level you want to reach) by the end of the string. And you the artist is the horse pursuing it.You are progressing forward but your goal is also being set higher as you progress.
And of course you will never ever reach the level that is constantly changing and i think this is an idea that every eager and striving artist should be comfortable with. To be comfortable with failing.This is not to say that you wont reach new levels , because you will.The levels you set up when you started out are much lower then the levels you set in your current phase.
The tough part is of course to stay on trac
The Secret Drawing IngredientIf you're an artist of any kind it's extremely important to hone your craft and technical abilities. After all, the better you draw and the better you are at mastering the drawing tools you use - the easier it is to convey your unique message for public consumption.The Secret Drawing Ingredient1 year ago in Personal More Like This
But how important is technical ability, really? Obviously, it's very important. Understanding anatomy, light and shadow and perspective are key to solid drawing. It's important to always be improving in those departments. It's also very important to master the tools you use to draw with. Learning to render or color professionally can only increase your appeal to both fans and other professionals.
But what about developing artistic appeal on a much deeper level?
It's not just about finding a pleasing style. Anyone can do that with enough practice. You can always choose a popular artist and emulate his or her style. The blueprint is right there. But why d
Tip of the Day: CuriosityKeep learning. Stay curious. Always give it your all and great things will happen. Make it part of your lifestyle to constantly keep learning, studying, practicing. The world is changing faster then ever. It's important to change with it if you don't want to be left behind. Be a 'student' of life and stay curious.Tip of the Day: Curiosity3 years ago in Personal More Like This
Sending positive vibes to you all!
MotivationMotivation to achieve your goals in life comes in many forms. I decided to take a look at some of mine throughout my life. Keep reading if you care to learn my deep dark secrets [ ultimately you can use them against me later in life when I'm weak and defenseless. ]Motivation2 years ago in Personal More Like This
When I was a kid I wanted to be just like my father. He passed away when I was 28 but man he left a mark! By the time I was a teenager I was a lot to handle - so we hardly ever saw eye to eye. He was a tough and talented man. To me he was like a super hero. He had a very black and white philosophy about life. He defined right and wrong very distinctly - there was no grey in his world. As a kid, a philosophy like that makes complete sense even if it isn't very realistic. He was a former pro boxer turned commercial artist. Eventually he ran his own ad agency. He could play guitar and piano by ear and played baseball as often as he could. He also loved comi
Digital painting tips for beginners.I'm not the best person to give advice about art, once I do not consider myself an artist (yes, it's true lol). But I've always been very curious and interested with the theme "digital painting", and I spent (and still spend) hours and hours watching videos 2 hours long on Youtube lol livestreams, etc.. I think I'm the only person who has the patience for it, hahahaha, but it was what helped me to evolve and learn all the techniques I know now to perform my work. I asked the help of many artists that I admire, and some even helped me, but most of them do not care how much you want to learn. Thinking about it, I decided to make this journal to pass them what little I know, and I hope that this is helpful for someone. Are simple tips and a little obvious, but unknown for some people who just started in this world full of possibilities. I only ask, first of all, for you dont give up. The difficulties were made to be overcome.Digital painting tips for beginners.2 years ago in Art Features More Like This
This is the central theme of the
Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 1So this has been on my mind a bit lately and I was just struck with the sudden urge to write about it. It's a bit long so I've broken it in to three parts, but if you're a beginning artist I would recommend reading through it, it might just get you aimed in the right direction.Advice for Aspiring Artists Pt. 12 years ago in Personal More Like This
This started a couple days ago when I was trolling facebook and someone had posted some artwork, and one of the comments was something along the lines of "Nice! What tutorial did you use for this?" which prompted an immediate and violent facedesk on my part. I hear things like this all the time and would like to help dispel some myths about learning art; so after 9 years of drawing and 3 years of hardcore education and study, here's what I've learned about how to get better at art:
WISDOM NUMBER ONE! Getting better demands consistent, hard work. That's it. That's the magical secret that great artists never seem to get to in their tutorials; it's that one pivotal thing that makes the difference between
Background TipsHey all! I've gotten a few people asking me about advice for drawing backgrounds. So instead of being a true gentleman and writing each person back separately, I figure it's easier to tackle this with an nice, impersonal journal post! Maybe one day I'll shoot a tutorial or something to actually demonstrate what I'm talking about, but for now a quick list will have to do.Background Tips4 years ago in Personal More Like This
*Before I start, a quick disclaimerby no means do I have "it" figured out. My opinions on backgrounds and how to tackle them are always changing. And a lot of what I think is based on the artists on whose shoulders I stand upon. Feel free to disagree with any of this.
Remember those point-and-click adventure games from the 90s? I loved those games! Indiana Jones and the Fate of Atlantis, Flashback, Full Throttle, Space Quest, Hero Questadventure games blew me away by how beautiful, imaginative and expansi