So previously on Things I Could Have Done Better I talked about the importance of thinking everything out before you put your pencil to the page, and today I'd like to talk about a related subject, namely how and when to create focus through spotting blacks.
THIS IS HOW YOU CREATE FOCUS THROUGH ROCKIN' OUT!
No not that kind of...ugh... anyway. When I was prepping Dead Meat to be put on sale through Graphicly.com (available here, plug plug), I found myself looking at the pages for the zillionth time, and as I scrolled through issue 2, there were a number of panels that felt kind of kind of off to me. Take a look for yourself at a couple:
|Dead Meat #2 Page 4, Panel 2|
|Dead Meat #2 Page 23, Panel 2|
Spotting blacks is the practice of filling in areas of your image with black ink in an attempt to push the reader's eye to where you want it to go. It's a compositional tool, and a very important one that can be easily overlooked. When creating a comics panel, you have to do 3 things:
1. Create a dynamic composition and camera angle
2. Make sure you the reader sees what the script requires them to
3. Leave room enough for lettering.
But sometimes number two is more difficult that it should be (try more fiber, maybe?) because your panel, though dynamically composed and plenty wide open for lettering and containing all the information you need is not FOCUSED. You can draw all the pretty lines in the world, but if the reader doesn't know where to look, then you're not doing your job. This is where dropping some sweet, sweet black can focus up your panel.
In the first panel, even though the text clearly shows where the action is happening, I still felt that it was unfocused, so I went back and dropped some black in some choice areas like so:
As you can see, taking the wall of that building and blacking it out instantly focuses the action to the right side of the panel where all the fun stuff is taking place. You can see the same in the changes I made to the next panel:
Here, dropping some black into the ceiling instantly stops your eye from veering right out through the top of the page, and reinforces the main point of the image, Walker looking back and spotting Cordy and Galdos.
Being relatively new to inking, concepts like these, though obvious to others, didn't come naturally to me, and I have plenty left to learn as far as this stuff goes, but that's what this is about, right? Learning and continuing to get better at this crazy thing called comics!
If you'd like to learn some more about applying copious amounts of black to a page, please watch these video demos from one of the best comic artists working today, Sean Gordon Murphy. His work is fantastic, and watching him work is definitely watching a master. I could watch this video every day, and probably should