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Journal Entry: Wed Jan 25, 2012, 8:43 AM
Inspired by this: Best Advice Tutorial by fox-orian

I know a few people who, like me, want to make their own comics and put them out there. They practice constantly, always working hard to improve their skills so they can get ready to put their best foot forward. They don't want to start doing it until they feel they're "ready".

This, I feel, is a mistake.

Yes, we all need to practice, we all need to get better, but if you spend most of your time practicing random elements, drawing pinups just to try new software out, drawing fan art to improve your skills or for whatever reason, then after weeks, months, years pass and you're still "practicing", you need to start seriously asking yourself if you really care about making comics, or if you're just saying it.

I know I'm talking pretty big for someone who just started a webcomic and only has four pages online (for the record, I've got many more I haven't shown yet), but one thing I learned after so many years of being indecisive and wondering if I was good enough is this: I can honestly tell you there's no way you'll ever be "ready" to draw your comic. Readiness is a myth. You can't get "ready" for something you've never done. You have to do it. You have to drop everything else that isn't moving you toward your goal and just do it.

I'm not saying don't study up, but you can study anatomy until the cows come home and that won't prepare you for the real demands of making a comic. I thought I would be able to produce pages faster because I'm foregoing color, but my pages still take a while. Why? Backgrounds. Perspective. Referencing. Proper lighting and shadow. Designing my pages so the storytelling is readable, the art looks good and dynamic and there's still room for word balloons, narration boxes and sound effects. And a lot more, on top of proper figure drawing, anatomy, proportions, dynamic posing, expressions and everything else. The only way you'll learn what you need to learn about making comics is by doing it and seeing what you do right and what you do wrong.

But let me tell you, there's nothing more rewarding than resolving those issues, knowing you're moving forward, realizing that when it's just you and the story within you that you're dying to tell, and you start putting it out there, all the doubts and fears vanish away. The only way you will know whether or not you're good enough to make comics is to make comics and put them out there. THEN and only then will you learn what you really need to work on, because you're going to want to make your passion project as good as it can be, and you'll shun anything that doesn't support that goal.

I feel my comics are pretty decent, but they could be a lot better. And they will get a lot better as I keep going. I know this because over the course of the pages I've done so far, I've seen improvement in my work. I don't need to stop and "practice" perspective, figure drawing, or other things to improve my comic. I practice BY working on my comic. The goal is to make my comic the best it can be, but also to get it DONE, so why hinder that goal by practicing things outside of said comic? "Real artists ship." --Steve Jobs.

Trust me, there's nothing more invigorating than knowing you're going forward. So go ahead, write a script, draw some thumbnails, make those thumbnails into comic pages, spend the hours, days, even weeks if needed making that one page as good as it can be and show it to the world. Then learn from it and move onto page two (which will inevitably take less time to produce). It will feel better than you've ever felt about your work before, if it's really your passion.

  • Reading: Understanding Comics - Scott McCloud
  • Watching: Elfen Lied
  • Playing: Final Fantasy IV Complete Collection
  • Eating: Pretzels
  • Drinking: Coffee
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:iconcdmalcolm:
cdmalcolm Featured By Owner Jan 27, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
My problem is too many jobs to do. writing, penciling, inking, lettering, editing, coloring...Marketing? yes Marketing too. it's several full time jobs. it requires a team to just do what I want. Pin ups are just to get others here to start watching you and see what else you are going to come out with...However, one must also do as your article says. Almost like adding another job. So what I decided to do is help out another artist by become part of their team. help make their dreams come true with your name attached. when you believe in them they will in turn believe in you. I realize that no one cares about my story or characters in them. I will not spend years developing a comic. I follow what is needed to make a comic book. Try and find the right medium to show case my type of work. Ipad, web-comics, and/or in print? I don't have time for revisions. I jump right in to tell the story. if I make a mistake, so be it. I won't do it again. I have a story to tell and don't have time to argue with myself about what i should have done. If push come to shove, I'll reboot.

these are my hang ups for not coming out with my comic. I work on it at least once a week. Mass appeal is very hard to do when you are by yourself. Coloring with FX is one major key to grabbing others. since my skills in coloring are not where I like it to be, I cannot yet put out my book. the pin ups help craft my coloring. once I see it and know how to execute it, My book will come out. for the most part, My book is done with Ink and letters on the page. it's the coloring holding me back. I need help to do my comics. you can ask others here but the dedication is below average if you're asking for free or paying an artist pennies for their A+ material. Im broke :0


What the hell am I babbling about anyway? I guess what I'm saying is team up. find followers or just pay someone to do it. ((((easier said than done Malcolm))))
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
As I said, only when you start, only when you do things will you really learn what you need to learn. Whatever you decide, try it before you knock it. After all, some great webcomics are done with teams, and are arguably better for it. Of course, teaming up is definitely not my strong suit; I have problems with relying on others and I'm unfortunately just a bit too self centered when it comes to my own ideas. I don't doubt that there are people out there who can, and probably even want to draw my story better than I can, but what happens when they're enticed by someone or something else? I can't afford to hire someone with steady pay. That's why in the end you at least have to start it alone.

Color isn't necessary (look at Empowered and Sin City) and Will Eisner stated in Comics and Sequential Art that it's preferable that the artist and writer be the same person. Of course, that only means these ideas work for the artists in question. Doesn't mean you won't need a team, but it doesn't guarantee you can't succeed without one either.
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:icon47ness:
47ness Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
A bold call to action. :nod: Thanks for sharing that.


Though, I wanted to get your thoughts on the topic of "Greatness". You know what I mean ~ to create a comic that achieves mass appeal. A comic that truly touches on the social zeitgeist and can turn a nobody into a somebody in very little time.

I imagine many creative people have this ambition and, frankly, I'm one of them. I know Greatness is something that must be fought for and earned, but it's also something of a menace; like, it's not enough for my next couple pages to just *look* good on a technical level. There has to be something profound being explored in these pages; at the very least, it should be something that's never been done before (otherwise, we're just wasting everyone's time with regurgitated content)

It's not so much that I'm stuck doing studies and practice; rather I'm forever doing revisions (per chapter, per page, per panel). ^~;
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I think we as creators put far too much pressure on ourselves to be "great". There's something about "greatness" that must be understood, and that is that no one achieves greatness just because they want to. What I mean is that achieving "greatness" cannot be the goal in and of itself. It just happens as the outcome of taking decisive action. No one knows when or where the next phenomenon will come from, especially not the person or people who will create it.

I relate this quote that I ran across a while back that has really empowered me: "Success comes from good judgement. Good judgement comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgement." In other words, you have to keep creating, keep making mistakes, keep putting out imperfect work (hint: your work will never be "perfect") and keep learning from it. Because while you're worrying about being original and changing the world and constantly refining your work to achieve "greatness", other creators who are perfectly satisfied with not being 100% original or world-changing are making and publishing work, some becoming quite successful.

Think about it. Remember back in the day when the iPod had a monochrome screen and no touch screen? Remember there was once no iPhone, no iPad. These things came from Apple constantly improving upon their products. They didn't just wait and wait and wait until the perfect time to produce the iPad--it came because of what was introduced before. And now the iPhone/iPad are seen as "world-changing greatness".

Think about video games. Just because Call of Duty outsells everything doesn't stop other companies from producing first-person shooters. Other companies make RPGs in the face of Final Fantasy and Dragon Quest. Fighting games don't stop being made just because Street Fighter is successful.

DC made super heroes and Marvel made their own super heroes, then Image, Dark Horse, etc. Who's stuff is greater? That debate can go on endlessly.

And in books, J.K. Rowling just wanted to publish a story that she had a lot of passion for; she couldn't have known or planned that she would become one of the world's most successful, influential writers with Potter (and she was turned down by numerous agents and publishers before someone said yes). Imagine if she stopped because she wanted to keep making sure the book was as good as possible, kept editing and editing and never tried to publish it.

It's not likely that any of the people responsible for creating these phenomenons did it for the sole purpose of being "great" or changing the world. They just followed their dreams and it just happened to touch a lot of hearts. The problem with a lot of young creators is that they want to be the "next big thing" but instead of focusing on putting their product out there and building on it, improving their skills by producing work rather than just studying, they expect to make a hit the first time and won't publish until they're sure it will be a hit. The chances of that working are incredibly slim.

So I say all that to say this: keep the desire to achieve greatness in the back of your mind, but don't let that alone be your driving force. That reeks of perfectionism and you'll do anything but achieve greatness...or anything at all, really...with that attitude. Focus on producing the best work you can, as much work as possible, and putting it out there in front of as many eyes as you can.

But don't take my word for it; I'm not exactly successful. Here's one article that inspired my newfound focus on productivity: [link]
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:icon47ness:
47ness Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Nice article; really cuts to the point at hand (practice what you preach eh?) I'll probably come back to it (and the overall site) regularly. :meow:

It's kinda nutty, trying to chart our own career paths, while we see other people zoom past us (no thanks to the 24-hour media hype machine : ) It's a fine, fine balance of seeing what's going on in the world / keeping a decent social network on one hand, and being laser-focused on our goals in the other (and definitely _not_ becoming bitter and jealous of successful people......) :D
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:iconmtc101:
MTC101 Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012
You got that right. Vending is the same way. The only way to know if you're "ready" is to get that business license & set up somewhere. I did that in late '08. It hasn't worked out, but I do not regret my decision. Will still keep at it until I land something better.
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:iconjericawinters:
JericaWinters Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I agree and disagree about some of it. I don't think one needs to be a world class pro-level artist to make a good comic but it helps if it has a certain level of look and feel to it. Whether we like it or not, some people, maybe a lot of people, might automatically assume that the story is bad if the art is bad.

There was a definite time where I suddenly felt I was ready. I felt ready to make a comic only after reading this book twice "Shoujo Manga Techniques; Writing Stories." Up until that point I would feel overwhelmed about starting a comic. I had solid drawing skills such as drawing hands, feet, basic anatomy and facial expressions. Backgrounds have improved over the course of my comic. I had learned all the software that I needed to but I had no idea how to write a story in panels and I had no idea that there were all kinds of rules like how to position things depending on if the page was on the left or right, there are ways of keeping the readers eye from falling off a page. I read the book and some Eisner books that I borrowed from a friend and every changed.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Plus this isn't really directed at someone like you, who is already kicking butt and taking names with amazing comic work. ;)
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:iconjericawinters:
JericaWinters Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Kicking butt? Thanks :iconblush--plz:

I was once very much like the procrastinators you describe so I can relate to it.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I don't want anyone to get me wrong, I'm not saying don't ever study. In fact, whenever I draw my pages, I have Eisner books, Marvel Way, How to Draw Noir Comics, several anatomy and figure drawing books within arm's reach and my tablet is always on hand so I can Google up a nice large reference image for whatever I might need on the spot. I also have books on storytelling that aren't related to comics (like Syd Field's Screenplay) that I refer to often.

All I'm saying is you should gather what you need to study from to suit the specific goal, rather than filling sketch book after sketchbook with practices for months, years at a time while telling yourself (generally) that you're not ready to draw comics yet. You don't know what you need to succeed until you step out and walk the path. "Ready, Fire, Aim", as a blog I read once put it. By drawing the actual comics, then and only then will you find out where your deficiencies lie. You may not have felt you were ready to draw comics before you read that book, but you knew that you wanted to draw comics and you took the steps you needed to take.

Some folks say they want to make comics, but do everything but.
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:iconjericawinters:
JericaWinters Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
That sounds like a lot of good reference. I never got into the noir stuff but I've heard that many of them won prizes. I don't know where I'd be without google.

I used to fill sketch books when I just needed a little knowledge about writing for comics. :giggle: I'm glad that I tried a comic but I should have kept it shorter...yet I the story would be better as a longer one so I'm kind of stuck.

It seems people's main problem with comic making is they don't have a page layout program to make speech bubbles with so they post a comic book that isn't finished and has a low readership because there's nothing to read. It took me a while to figure out the pathfinder tool in Indesign to combine the pointer with the bubble.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
InDesign...I just realized I have that program! The name sounded vaguely familiar so I typed it into my search box on my start menu and lo and behold it popped up. :duh: When I was in school, I was provided a copy of the whole Adobe CS4 Suite (legit); all I ever use from it is Photoshop and Flash and the occasional Acrobat. I use the custom shapes in Photoshop and a quick little action I recorded to make speech bubbles.

You're right; I've posted quite a few comics in the past with no text on them and they did feel like they were lacking something. Only recently did I realize that a comic page is not really complete...not worth uploading without the text--if there is any. (Quite a few of my Beloved Weapon pages don't have any dialogue or sound effects).
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:iconjericawinters:
JericaWinters Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
There's only a few things you need to know about InDesign.
1. Pathfinder (for merging a speech bubble with the pointer part, or for merging several ovals to make a thought bubble)
2. fill and stroke functions
3. Style sheets
4. Object style sheets
5. Layers (for putting all the art for every page on a layer and locking it while the text sits on a layer above it)
6. Master sheets (this is how I get the page numbers and title on every page.)
7. There is a tool for putting text on a curved path but it's very fininky to use.
8. Export to EPS (an eps file can be opened in photoshop with text and everything and then saved as jpg)
9. I'm not sure there's a palette. I made all my individual swatches for colors like red and brown.
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:icon47ness:
47ness Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Seconded on this tutorial idea. :>

(I'm going to lose my sanity if I have to keep crafting every single speech bubble's shape in Photoshop, especially now that I know you can just use InDesign...) :O
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:iconjericawinters:
JericaWinters Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I might try my hand at a tutorial (a series of them) after I finish part 5 but a beginner may get completely lost. It might be easier for people to just buy a book about it and do all its exercises from beginning to end.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Sounds like I've really been shooting myself in the foot by not using that software. And to think I've had it for over a year. the pathfinder, fill and stroke functions and master sheets sound especially useful. Maybe you should make a tutorial for using InDesign for comics...it might be a hit and I'd definitely fave it and use it. ;)
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:iconjericawinters:
JericaWinters Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I might try my hand at a tutorial after I finish part 5 but I think I take my skill at it for granted and a beginner may get completely lost. It might be easier for people to just buy a book about it and do all its exercises from beginning to end. That's the way I do things.

The object style function is useful too. If I want to try a different line weight on a speech bubble, I can set the stroke in the styles palette to a different line weight, and when I click ok then the style will be applied to all speech bubbles that I've applied "style a" to. If I want to lighten or darken the yellow of a caption box then I go to one place and change it once and it mass changes every caption box's background.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
I looked over InDesign's interface...it seems a lot like Illustrator. I was never really good with that either. I'm going to have to do as you suggested and get a book if I'm to ever make heads or tails with the software because it's just a tad confusing.
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(1 Reply)
:iconhulkdaddyg:
hulkdaddyg Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
Ha. I know I know. The saddest part for me is not even the art. It's the writing!! I don't even practice it. I have the ideas in my head, start writing then either feel what I've done is drivel and contrived or hit a block and never return to it. I do intend on getting some stuff with my characters showcased this year. I've got a bunch of bits and pieces, but I need to competently connect the dots.
It's also a bit of a put off that the sequential stuff I did for the AFL got no love.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Yep, you're one of the folks I'm talking to. :D Since you know your obstacle, how do you plan to solve it? It won't solve itself...I learned that from my many past attempts at making my comics, thinking if I made them up as I went along, it would be a treadmill of inspiration. And the longer you wait, the harder it gets. I would suggest making a small scenario, something simple...it doesn't have to be Garth Ennis-level comic book writing; just something that allows you to showcase your character(s) in action. You don't even need to introduce the whole team right away.

Or maybe...you're going about your concept completely the wrong way? If it's really, really hard to come up with a plan, it could very well be that the story you have in mind isn't working for you anymore and you're resistant of the idea of redefining what you want G7 to be because you've worked so hard on what you've built up in the past. What if G7 would work better as regular guys in street clothes? Or Final Fantasy-esque adventurers in an anachronistic sci-fi/fantasy setting?

I've had similar issues. The Nia Black that my watchers all know and love(?) is hardly the original version of the character. There was a time when she was an assassin (now she tries to avoid killing), a time when she didn't have guns at all, a time when she wore a mask and had 'Miss' as a super hero codename (meant to be a misnomer since she...never misses...). I modified her completely until I got where I wanted to be with the character.

WEAPON Combat League started out as a story about a bunch of people around the world who wielded magical swords (the title was 100 Swords because it was going to be all about someone collecting them). Dualmask used to have super powers ("light" and "dark" energies) that came out of his fists before he became a Deathstroke-esque vigilante. And I've abandoned countless other characters from my past that, at the time, I thought were the bees' knees, but eventually accepted that I wanted to do something different...something that suited me in the here and now.

Maybe your AFL pages didn't wow others because your heart wasn't totally into it. Either way, I would take those pages (if you consider them your best comic work) and learn from them.
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:iconhulkdaddyg:
hulkdaddyg Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
I hear you. I really like the ideas I've come up with but, the truth is I just love when I learned something after I read a comic. I get stuck on technical things, like giving names to planets, races and other things. My new idea involves mythological gods, demons and titans as well as angelic hierarchy and I just don't have the information I need yet. It's also hard to get the macro view I need to position everything correctly. I keep sizing down the scope of what I'm doing and adjusting everything, but I keep seeing something new. It's funny that you say maybe I need a change, but maybe you forgot that the concept used to be Elohim Rapha and Gilead was a police officer. That story was Christian based, but I've backed away from that idea. Christians notoriously hate on stuff more than regular people, so I'm out on that. Gilead is still a Christian and God based though but I'm telling a half superhero half sci fi story.
All that to say, I agree with your sentiment. I'll be putting something out soon. :nod:
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Oh, and one more thing...even if it's not as good, as well developed, as nice looking as you want it to be, do something anyway. In fact, make it as simple and as bad as possible. Worst case, you put out something lousy, it'll fail, and you'll have nowhere to go from there but up.

In fact, many successful entrepreneurs apparently say failure is the best thing that ever happened to them when they were first starting out.
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:iconhulkdaddyg:
hulkdaddyg Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional General Artist
I have(believe it or not) sketched out a short story. I'll have it up next month.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Yeah, it sounds like you're trying to do too much too soon. Sometimes you have to allow a concept to grow on its own. Unless the first chapter has scenes that take place on every planet and involves every race you have in mind, they can wait. Just start with the basics. You'll be stuck in analysis paralysis for the rest of your life if you don't do something soon.
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:iconedgpatterson:
EdGPatterson Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012
I finally did start one of my webcomics after years and years and years of tweaking. My art is not very good but I hired someone to do the art for me and did the writing and coloring. When I was in college and bounced the idea of doing a webcomic to my teacher she asked if I would be comfortable having someone else do the artwork and being the creative force behind the project. After thinking about it for awhile it made sense and enabled me to get to the point I am at today.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
That's what's up. By trying it yourself you learned what you needed to do in order to see your passion become reality, even if it meant getting out of your own way and getting someone else to do the art for you.

I myself have tussled with the idea of prioritizing writing over drawing, having written novels, but...I love drawing too much. ;)
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:iconedgpatterson:
EdGPatterson Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012
It helps to know your limits and take measures to get things done. 'belle is a veteran comic artist and a pleasure to work with!
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:iconmosobot64:
mosobot64 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Student General Artist
YES.

I've gotten so tired of people saying that if you're not a perfect pin-up artist, you can't do comics. Since when are we living in a world where no one has heard of Jack Kirby, or Gil Kane, or all the great who, while not amazing at making pin-ups, could actually tell a story with pictures, because THAT's what they did from the time they were teens?

All the kids want these days is style without substance. Why is it, you think, that people will go for the glitz of some digital character with shiny eyes and no personality, over a character, that, while not perfect looking, actually represents a personality?

I submit to you, this: [link]

The art world has gotten incredibly, INCREDIBLY shallow. All anyone wants is polish. Nobody seems to want an idea or a story anymore.

And the only way to get rid of that impression is to push forward, full speed ahead.
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:icondualmask:
Dualmask Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Your mistake was submitting your work to this person's "rating" in the first place, honestly. But do not forget, I am not saying we don't need to improve. I'm simply saying you have to know why you're improving and you (in general) should focus on the goal, not merely on practicing for its own sake.

One SHOULD get better as they go along, but if that's not happening, if one isn't getting any more attention/positive feedback for their work then they were six months or a year ago, you have to realistically assess yourself and consider that your work might be the problem. Then you have to really address those problems. Look at the works of those who are publishing their comics. What are they doing that you aren't?

I do agree that characters need more than just good looks, but consider this: "They say never to judge a book by the cover, but isn't it the cover's job to sell the book?"

Don't settle for mediocrity. Even if your characters are well-written and have the deepest personalities imaginable, no one will care to find that out if you're not creating art that people WANT to look at. Comics are a visual medium. Your ability to create appealing visual design is equally important to your ability to give your characters engaging personalities, and in some cases, more so.

This doesn't mean you have to make work like :iconadamhughes: but it does mean finding a style that works for you and appeals to others. Too many artists want to be islands without accepting the reality that we create art for ourselves but we publish it online to entertain others. That means making work that appeals to others.

I submit to you, this [link] it's a long read but I found it incredibly insightful.
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:iconmosobot64:
mosobot64 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2012  Student General Artist
Nice! Thankyou very much.

On one hand, you can't settle for mediocrity, but on the other, in order to get anything done, you have to work at a certain pace. This goes double if you're engaged in work or studies. Ergo, I kinda have a time limit on any given thing I do, and as I keep going, I either make the work better over the same period of time or am able to do more than one with the limit. Usually, I focus on improved quality.

I think it shows in the more recent pages of the webcomic. Compared especially to the first pages, and even to the portrait I submitted (Which, admittedly, is about a year old, and thusly in need of an update), I think the rule of steady improvement applies.

That said, I may redo some of the early pages of Clink City after I'm done the rest. Some of those old pages are driving me nuts. :/
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