Monday, 18 October 2010

BICS 2010

This year, I was pretty unprepared and not that confident about my portfolio, perverse then, that I was the most relaxed I have been at any of the three BICS I have attended.

It was really good to see old friends and make new ones, so, thanks to everyone for a great weekend!

The highlights for me, amongst many fabulous chats with too many cool people to mention here (for fear of missing anyone out) were:

1. I got to see a copy of Sci-Fi Art Now which I have the above illustration featured in, alongside some heavyweights of the genre. John Freeman has put together a cracking coffee table book, the kind I would have poured over as a child. The book is currently only £13.99 so please go buy a copy!

2. The slightly awe inspiring incident when I decided to ask Dave Gibbons whether he'd mind looking at my portfolio.
He really liked my work and felt that on the whole it was nice stuff particularly facial expressions, it was just there were a few small things letting me down, one of which I had done repeatedly.

So, what is a tangent with respect to comic art and why is this bad?

It's a situation where a line in your panel creates a tangent to the border or another feature or line in your panel as with this example here.

The problem is that it can flatten a panel because you lose depth when a line runs into another that should look like it is in another plane of the image.

Forget for a moment that the arm is a little anatomically dodgy, the major factor spoiling the composition of the panel is at the shoulder where the inked line meets the border.

The slightly frustrating thing is, they are pretty easy to avoid in this instance by simply having the panel border crop the figure or alternatively allow enough space away from the panel edge.

It's pretty clear to see the massive improvement not only in how the eye is not drawn to the panel border, but in the composition also.

Honestly, it's just a little careless. It was discussed elsewhere but is relevant here, as an artist, you instinctively know when something is wrong, you can see it even if you don't quite know what it is.

More often than not, it takes someone else to point it out, in my case Dave Gibbons pointed it out repeatedly within my portfolio, much to my embarrassment, but as he wisely said, "You'll never do it again, will you?" and I certainly hope not to.

Tangents can occur within the panel too, and it's a little tricky to describe in words, hopefully the quick sketches that Dave did for me to illustrate the concept will help any interested party to understand the potential pitfall.

There are a long and tough set of concepts that need to be bore in mind when laying out a page of sequential art, and it is easy to forget something you know, or should be proficient at.

Something as simple as the breaking down a panel into three planes.

My panel here is suffering from more than that but the fix is simple if we look at the quick sketch Dave did to remind me how I could have avoided most of the problems.

Black placement and line weight become much easier to decide upon when the panel is broken down in this way.

It's simple, logical and creates greater depth within the panel. Irritatingly it's something I've fallen foul of before, again, I hope to never make the same mistake again.

Finally Dave gave me a tip on how to hold my brush, there's no need for puerile or childish jokes, this is a serious matter and will give you greater control over your line for fine detail. very simply put, hold your brush upright.

It's a Chinese technique and the name Dave told me for it escapes me for the moment, as does the name of a classic EC cartoonist my work reminded Dave of.

Encouraged that Dave Gibbons, that's Dave Gibbons folks, liked my work I approached another couple of editors on the Sunday, one of whom told me that my portfolio was the best he'd seen all weekend. Humbled, chuffed etc. I left Birmingham far more confident, happy and inspired than when I arrived.


matthew mclaughlin said...

Very informational - bet you I'll be watching for tangents in comics from here on out! Glad you had such a great time, Kev.

Jim Campbell said...

Heh. If it makes you feel any better about the tangents thing, Kev, the first page of lettering I posted to the Blambot forums was absolutely decimated by Nate Piekos for the same reason…!

Pleasure to catch up with you again. :-)



matt dawson said...

Fascinating post Kev, and well done on all the constructive and (importantly) very positive portfolio feedback! Look up that Disney comic strip artist guide I sent you a while back (I can send it on again no problem...if I can find it :). It has sage words about tangents and fore/mid/back ground. Bloomin' well done on "Sci-Fi Now"... cannot wait to see your cool sky battle between covers! Call you for a debrief chat this week!

james corcoran said...

Great post Kev and a great tip about the brush, I read an interview with Steve Rude where he talks about holding the pencil higher up for better control, which of course I always forget. You should check out some of the EC collections think you would find some of the stuff a real inspiration

Bruce said...

i remember reading about that in something posted on the 2k board a while back- it was a tutorial using Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters (can't remember much else about it thoug). If it's any consolation, I know about it and still forget from time to time! It's hard to juggle everything. I suppose these kind of basics will become like riding a bike. Sometime!

Emperor said...

Some excellent advice and cracking feedback - seems it is only a matter of time before you are famous.

Philip Morgan said...

Cool! I'm very pleased it went well for you. And thanks for the art lessons.

Big Ape said...

Hi great post, I'm a big fan of all your stuff, I especially like your coloured work.
How do you present your portfolio is it all quality printouts kept in a big art type folder?

Gibson Quarter said...

Ah yes, gotta watch out for them's crazy how much they will sneak in there unless you stay on guard for them, which you now will.