Comic books are only as good as the artwork within them. Characters are the lifeblood of a story, but in order for their story to be told in comic form, the artist creating them must be able to translate who each character is into visual art. Comic book artists have a unique role in that they must illustrate the characters and provide depth to small bits of text.
Here are just a few of the most important aspects of comic book artistry.
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In most comics, artists always have characters running in the same direction–forward. If a character is running in the same direction in which the story is being read, the story gains more momentum. The characters appear to be running from panel to panel, from one page to the next. This is especially important in comics such as Geiger, written by Gary Frank and Geoff Johns, creator of Stargirl.
One main area of focus when creating characters is using the silhouette to determine how the characters will look on the page. This gives artists a better idea of how a character will look when their shadow looms behind them. A detail such as that can be crucial when creating a villain.
A challenge many artists face when illustrating comics is that they usually do the illustrations before text is added. Unfortunately, this means an artist has to leave space open for the text that will be added by the author at a later time. Although it may sound simple enough, if an artist is attempting to draw a complex scene with many elements or actions, needing to leave that space can become a hindrance.
The color of images and certain aspects of a comic has a specific purpose. Not only does it help tell the story, but it also can impact the reader. For example, a villain with a bright red background might seem simple, but ultimately, the red, combined with the villain’s image, will convey just as much about that character as a detailed background. In fact, it could convey more.
Comics are a form of visual art that, combined with the written word, tells a story. The art can run the gamut from simple line drawings to detailed artistic features. Whichever form comic art comes in, the most important aspect is that each form is unique. No two artists are the same, which is what makes comic art such a fascinating thing.