If it's your first time in an OCT, the audition process can be a bit daunting - it's quite a bit of work, and there's a chance that you might not get into the first round by the end of it. The key thing to remember is that this process is the same for almost every OCT, and every experience will help. Reference Sheet
This is a snapshot of your character that shows details so that your opponent can accurately portray them and any objects/side characters associated with them. Some OCTs may provide templates which you should follow to a T, and some may ask for more information than others. Beyond following instructions, these tips should hold out:
KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID (otherwise known as the KISS that doesn't come with black and white make up).
Your reference sheet should SHOW as much as possible with only a few words to back it up. Don't feel the need to cover it in text. Only write about what you are showing when the image might not be clear.
Make sure that your image is in full colour so that artists who choose to do colour entries can know how to portray your character.
If something needs extra explanation put it in your artist's description. Keep this short too - no one wants to read a War and Peace
length background of your character, just enough to give people a sense of how to portray the details that make you character who they are. If you're doing long paragraphs (more than four sentences), you're probably doing too much. If you have more than five - even short - paragraphs, you're probably doing too much.
Make sure that you're not relying on your reference sheet to tell people about your character - it's a reference for your opponent to portray them accurately, or for the judges to see how your opponent is handling their portrayal. People should be able to read your comics without having to refer to it. Don't pull powers out of the blue and expect people to know what is happening, you have to show it properly rather than relying on people coming back to this sheet.
Here's an example of some details you might
include in text, either on the sheet or in the artist description:
- Name: Important, if only for how the judges can refer to them. eg.
- Age: If they're older or younger than they look, include that too. eg.
Older than the hills, but maintains the appearance of a twentysomething
- Height: For side-by-side reference. eg.
- Background: Where does your character come from? What has happened in their life that led to where they are today? Most times you should only need a few sentences explaining where they came from. You can develop the rest in your comics. eg.
Princess Min is from the Tooth Fairy royal family, who for the past millennia have been keeping truce with humans by eating their children's teeth rather than their children's bones.
Princess Min thinks the old ways are best.
On reference sheet: 'Tooth fairy!' (Referring to crown, which is shaped like a tooth)
- Personality: How do they act when meeting new people? Are they competitive? What drives them? What makes it change? Again, one short thing is all you need and you can develop anything else in your comics. Focus on what is core to them. eg.
A little bit spoiled and self-confident, but follows through where it counts (on the violence).
- Powers/Special Attacks/Special Weapons: Mostly these should be visually represented on your reference sheet. If it takes extra explanation, you need to think about how you will be able to portray it in a comic with minimal text so people know what is going on without having to come to this sheet. Again this should be short, and may just be an explanation of how they work eg.
She lures children (...And sometimes Princesses) with her hipster-keytar covers of 50s classics, and then she and her drones rip them up and eat their bones for breakfast. Mmm Mmm, just like mamma used to make back in 100CE.
On reference sheet: 'Totes hypnotic!', 'Keys made of teeth!', 'loves to play 50s tunes' (referring to keytar & its music), 'long fingers hidden by magic gloves', 'eyes and mouth closed when luring prey' (referring to alternate appearance of character) 'Drones: Loyal, obedient, vicious!' (Referring to image of a drone)
Unless there is a specific template, information you put into your artist's description is usually optional, dependent on how well you think you can show things in your reference sheet and audition comic. After all, a couple of well thought out poses can give readers everything they need to know about your character's personality.
Don't be afraid to leave things open to interpretation, and don't worry about covering absolutely every base. Let your opponent come to you with questions or surprise you with their own spin on your character. Who knows, they might come up with something you'd like to incorporate into your own comics.
Make sure to get your reference sheet out of the way early in an OCT's audition phase: Intro comics can sometimes still get through unfinished... Reference sheets not so much.
Here are just a few examples of a good reference sheet:
Your audition is the first chance for judges to see what you've got, so put all your effort into it!
Remember that you will likely have less time to make comics during rounds. Start early and give yourself an early deadline (one that you can miss by a day or two and still be in time for the real one). This will give you an idea of how much you can do, and prevent you from missing the real deadline. Afterwards, you can adjust a page count in your head for rounds based on how well you did with your self imposed deadline.
Don't hand in a 40 page audition just because you can. A long story is not necessarily a good one. If you can show the core aspects of your character in just three pages, then that should be all you need. If you need more and can do more, by all means make your comic as long as you want, but any OCT judge worth their salt should be looking for quality over quantity. I recommend a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 15, with a golden number somewhere between 5-10 pages.
If you're not sure what you can do or have had problems with time management in the past, see if you can produce a 3-6 page audition comic in just a week. You might be surprised by the results, and then you will have a complete entry that you can polish up (even add to if you feel the need) over the rest of the audition period.
If you are really cutting it close, submit pages as you complete them and make sure you get your reference sheet in early - this means that if you don't finish before the deadline passes, there is at least something for judges to give feedback on. If your entry is strong enough, even without a conclusion, it might just get through to the first round (though don't rely on that). Better yet, submit pages as you complete them anyway to stop your judges stressing about people entering the OCT.
Most good OCTs won't accept anything
submitted to them after their deadline passes, and it's likely that they will lock the audition folder to prevent you from trying to slip stuff in. The earlier you submit work the better. DeviantART is prone to errors and could cost you your entry if you leave it too late.
Creativity is key. No judge wants 20 pages of talking heads following the prompt in the first way that came to their head. Think outside the box, try something interesting and challenging, and find a way to make yourself stick out from the crowd.
Black and white, coloured, shaded, flat colours, photographs, textless, strangely formatted, digital, traditional... As long as it fulfils the prompt, most OCTs will accept it. Take this as an opportunity! If you feel like you don't have time to colour your comic, experiment with some heavy black lines and shadows. If you feel like your story is a little flat, see if you can spice it up with an interesting comic format. Most judges love it when people push themselves to try new things, and even if it's not perfect, your best efforts will be looked on much more favourably than trudging out something rushed and ordinary.
Here are some great audition/intro comics:
That's it! Go forth and win a ton of OCTs