Archive for the 'Art' Category

Jan 20 2010

What do you think about these pencils?

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

I provide advice about how to write novels, comic books and graphic novels. Most of my content applies to fiction-writing in general, but I also provide articles specifically about superhero stories.

Below the fold, I have uploaded Rebecca’s pencils for the five sample pages I’ll be submitting with my comic book script.  I really like how they’ve turned out!  What do you think?  (If you’d like to see the script for these pages, please see this comment).

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12 responses so far

Jan 17 2010

Here are my thumbnail sketches… what do you think?

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

I’ve uploaded the thumbnail sketches for my five sample pages on Flickr.  If you hold your mouse over a panel, you can read the panel description from the script. What do you think?

9 responses so far

Jan 10 2010

I submit within a month…

Published by under Comic Book Art

I sent out my script to Rebecca for thumbnails tonight.  I’ll submit as soon as the five sample pages are fully inked, colored and lettered (preferably within 2-4 weeks).  Below, I’ve included the script for the five pages, 27-31.

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16 responses so far

Jan 04 2010

Popular Themes in Comic Book Covers

Characters doing a usual activity in a way or setting that is unexpected.

  • For example, someone would look pretty mundane smoking a cigar, but what if he were smoking right next to a corpse?  Probably much more interesting.
  • Holding an iPod is boring, but Thor holding an iPod raises an interesting contrast between tradition and modernity.
  • Many badass detectives and criminals carry guns, but it’s distinctly more disturbing if it’s a kid holding a massive sniper rifle… with a Kennedy campaign button.
  • A guy holding a briefcase is the epitome of dullness.  But a guy handcuffed to a briefcase or a mutant alligator holding a briefcase is more striking.

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One response so far

Dec 30 2009

Header Change

Published by under Art

I decided to swap out the US flag for a background more recognizable as a writer’s background. Also, I swapped out the red-to-blue title gradient for just blue. I think it’s easier to read. What do you think?



I think that Lash (the black guy) sticks out much more smoothly than he did before.  And the new SUPERHERO NATION title text is significantly cleaner and easier to read.   (My grasp of Photoshop has gotten a bit better; can you see that the new version’s title text is a bit more three-dimensional than the original version?)  However, I think that Gary (the white guy) sticks out less.  Aside from that, I think that the new background is an improvement because it indicates this is a writing website more effectively than the US flag did.

11 responses so far

Nov 30 2009

Prospective Colorer #2: C.H. Sinn

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

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7 responses so far

Nov 18 2009

Prospective Colorist #1: Emily

Published by under Art,Making Art

Emily is the first of three prospective colorers that I’m evaluating for my comic book series. What do you think about this page?  (Note: if it’s cut off, just right click it and hit “View Image”). 

Below, I’ve included the script for the page.
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23 responses so far

Oct 27 2009

Sketch your pages to make sure you’re not screwing your artist

After you’ve written the script for a comic book page, I would recommend doing a rough sketch of the page before you give the script to your artist for pencils.  That will help you identify staging problems early.  Here are a few examples.

1.  Will the panels have enough space to comfortably fit the content? As a rule of thumb, I think it’s especially important to check this if if the page has 7+ low-action panels or 4+ action panels.  (Low-action panels, like most dialogue, usually require less space because they don’t need to show as many things happening.  For example, a dialogue panel might just have a person’s head, whereas an action shot of two boxers going at it will probably include at least the upper bodies of two men).

2.  Will the panel’s perspective portray everything you want to show? For example, if two characters are facing each other, it can be quite tricky to show their expressions, particularly if you’re trying to focus on one.  90 degree side-shots get boring fast and have trouble emphasizing either subject.

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No responses yet

Oct 26 2009

A few notes for SN’s prospective colorers

If you’re here because you’d like to color the comic book I’m working on, please keep reading. If not, you’ll probably find this pretty boring.

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2 responses so far

Oct 26 2009

UPDATED: Please Help Me Pick a Colorer! (New Candidates!)

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

Page 20, panel 1 inked and colored/shaded by Rebecca

I’m a few days away from completing my first issue’s script and I’m gearing up to complete the art sample for publishers.  This is the sort of style I’m going for– realistic with mild stylization.  Phoenix Wright is another example of that. 

Unfortunately, the artist that did the coloring here (Rebecca) isn’t actually available to color the comic because it would take too much time and she’s already doing the comic’s inks.  So, barring some significant advancements in the field of cloning, I need to take on a colorer.  I posted on a few boards have gotten about 60 responses. 

In particular, I’m looking for…

  • Quality– is the portfolio consistently clean and competent?
  • Stylistic compatibility
  • Non-creepiness–the publisher may invite my colorer to promotional events, so I need someone that will reflect well on us.  Relatedly, here’s a professional tip to the two artists that included Sonic fan-art in their portfolios: Don’t. 

I narrowed it down to seven applicants so far.  Here’s a sample work from each.  What do you think?

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11 responses so far

Oct 15 2009

Colorists Needed

Published by under Art,Comic Book Art

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2 responses so far

Sep 22 2009

Mix Up Your Comic Book Panels: Removed Narration

In most cases, a comic book writer will have the text describe what is visually shown in the panels.   For example, if two characters are speaking, usually the panel will show the characters as they speak.  But there are some great reasons you might want to consider using removed narration, where the speakers are out of the panel. 

For example, Gotham Central includes a scene where an officer is describing a raid to Internal Affairs off-panel.  On-panel, we see the raid happen in a totally different way.  That’s effective storytelling because (short-answer) it shows us that the cop is lying about what happened.  If we only saw the cop as he talked, it wouldn’t be as clear or as striking as seeing the truth. 

Here are some reasons you might want to consider removed narration. 

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5 responses so far

Aug 26 2009

How to Design Outstanding Superhero Costumes

Many first-time comic book writers mistakenly think that it’s okay to give their character bland costumes and let other factors make up for it. While other aspects contribute to the overall success of a superhero, the costume is critical because it’s the first thing a reader sees. Don’t blow your only chance at a first impression by making your hero look like a bum. Here are some tips to design effective and stylish costumes.

1. Keep it functional. When a costume doesn’t feel practical, it will probably make the character seem less realistic and/or competent. For example, if your hero wears a large cape, it’d be hard to believe that he never gets caught on anything. And if it doesn’t, the character may come off as a Mary Sue.

2. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to let your creativity flow when designing a costume. If you have a idea for something that could be interesting try to work it into the costume without compromising functionality. Personally, I prefer to start with an outrageous costume then take away until I find balance. Play with colors, patterns, styles, layers, and accessories until you find the perfect costume exhibiting style and functionality, but…

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93 responses so far

Aug 08 2009

I wish I had come up with this myself…

In Green Lantern #9, Batman gets a GL ring.

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62 responses so far

Jul 23 2009

Some tips for comic book artists interested in portfolio reviews

Published by under Comic Book Art

Randy Stradley, one of Dark Horse’s editors, has some portfolio review tips here.

I’d like to add a few of my own.

1.  Include a good mix of regular people, cities, cars, and trees/plants/landscapes. Many artists focus on closeups of superheroes and, frankly, that’s only one part of the art that goes into a superhero comic book.

2.  Show that you have a well-rounded grasp of human anatomy. In particular, a lot of artists have trouble with legs and feet.  If an artist’s portfolio didn’t include any shots that showed at least a bit of human anatomy from the waist down, I’d assume that the artist wasn’t ready yet.  Backshots are also sometimes a problem.

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No responses yet

Jul 15 2009

Writing Contest: What the Hell!?!

Joe Jusko did his best with a rather strange comic book cover.  Please describe what you think is happening in the issue.   Take as much space as you need.

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7 responses so far

Jun 29 2009

Disco, leisure suits, dancing monkeys and other 1970s abominations


Atlas Issue #7, Variant Cover


8 responses so far

Jun 24 2009

Comic Book Tip of the Day: Use Motion in Your Covers

Published by under Art,Book Covers,Comic Books

In visual media, motion usually makes a scene more interesting.  It’s particularly important in a cover because you have to catch the reader’s eye.

For example, let’s say we have two covers that use the world as a soccer ball. (The issue’s title is Americans Don’t Play Soccer, and the issue is about Darfurian genocide and other things very far removed from the typical American’s life.  For ideological balance, we might add a thinly veiled Obama vis-a-vis the Iranian democracy movement).

Cover #1:  On a soccer field, the villain is standing next to a globe.  In the background, the hero is the only thing between him and the net. The villain’s pose would probably look lifeless, like these.


Cover #2:  On a soccer field, the villain is doing an insane flip as he punts the world at the hero.  The cover would probably look a lot more energetic and stylish.  This is particularly important because the cover will probably show the villain from the back.  It’s quite hard to strike an immobile pose from behind.


It would probably also help if the hero/goalie had some action. Bracing himself for impact is a little bit banal, so I’d like something that’s striking and makes it clear that this comic isn’t really about soccer. So let’s say the hero is bracing himself behind a transparent SWAT shield.

No responses yet

May 23 2009

A delightfully cheesy book trailer

Published by under Art,Comedy

I found this dangerously amusing. “Ah, excellent. Simmering sexual tension is my specialty.” Please look past the awful production values; they’re part of the humor.

3 responses so far

Apr 03 2009

We have a favicon now…

Now we have a tiny favicon to help you keep track of which browser tab belongs to Superhero Nation. Favicons are only 16 pixels by 16 pixels, so they’re very hard to read. Here’s the 64 by 64 version.


I was mulling over a few alternatives, but they were fairly uninspired or unworkable: a book, a cape, something with a pen, etc. I’ll let you know if this significantly affects user-retention rates.

What do you think?

12 responses so far

Apr 02 2009

What do you think about this novel cover?

Published by under Art,Book Covers

(Picture taken courtesy of The Baltimore Sun; you can read their review here).

This novel has been published by Harper-Collins, so I’m sort of surprised by how unappealing the cover is.  It looks like it’s been slapped together for a self-published novel.  There’s a typo on the cover. (“a terrific send-up not only superheroes in general” is missing the word “of”).

What do you think?  What worked and what didn’t?  What would you have changed?

UPDATE: The author of this book has contacted us, saying that the cover is an “uncorrected draft.”  Erm, the book has been out for two months.  Isn’t it well past time to correct it?  Moreover, what were the circumstances that led a publisher to rush out a book that didn’t have a good cover ready?

25 responses so far

Mar 21 2009

Visual Design Question: the “I Beat B. Mac” t-shirt

I’m planning for the contingency that someone beats me in our proofreading contest next month.   So I need to design the t-shirt that I might give out.  My original plan was to just give out a generic Superhero Nation t-shirt, but I’d like to design a separate “I Beat B. Mac” t-shirt.

On the front, I think it will have something like a Che Guevara-esque drawing of me with the caption “I Beat a Professional Proofreader And and All I Got was This Lousy T-Shirt.”  That’s kind of cliche, so hopefully one of you can suggest something more stylish.

There will be text on the back.  For example, something like “What are you waiting for?  Beat B. Mac and win this shirt on  SUPERHERONATION.COM”

5 responses so far

Mar 16 2009

Cover Comparison for Savior 28

Check out these alternate covers for Savior 28. I’d like to know what you think.

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4 responses so far

Feb 25 2009

Comic Book Writing Tip of the Day: Sell the Next Issue

I’m very fond of Spiderman Loves Mary Jane, particularly the way it ends its issues. The last page of each issue wraps up the plot of that issue and foreshadows the next issue.  The cliffhangers are usually pretty strong and make the reader want to keep going.  For example, check out these sample concluding pages.

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30 responses so far

Feb 24 2009

Would you like to give me some stylistic feedback?

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16 responses so far

Feb 17 2009

Advertising Tip of the Day

Published by under Art

Suggestion:  if you’re going to advertise a bodycare product, please tell your model to do a pose other than “grimacing in pain.” It looks like she’s taking an acid bath.

2 responses so far

Feb 17 2009

I’d appreciate your design input… yet again

When we last left off, we were working on a cover for the first issue of Superhero Nation.

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4 responses so far

Feb 14 2009

I’d appreciate your design input… again

When we last left off, we were working on two main items…

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10 responses so far

Feb 07 2009

My Favorite Panel of the Day

Published by under Art,Comedy,Comic Book Art

From Ultimate Spiderman #10.

No responses yet

Feb 06 2009

Agent Orange Eye Samples

Published by under Art,Character Design

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10 responses so far

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