Arcagen Journal Entry #4: You don’t have to go all out on every page

General / 31 August 2021

(This is a repost from my old blog)

Managing resources is something we comic artists must do. And from all the existing resources out there, time becomes more and more important with each passing year. How to balance the quality vs time spent? It is really worth it to work two or five extra hours on details only a few will notice? When should you stop drawing this element before passing to the next? It’s easy to become obsessed on making your art look nice, especially when there’s so much good art out there. More than once, thoughts like these have appeared on my brain: “How can I be relevant if my art isn’t remarkable?” and “How can my art be relevant if I don’t spend huge amounts of time on it?”… really dangerous thoughts… 

Spoiler maybe? This is one of my favorite sequences so far. Here, I started experimenting with the new watercolor brushes from Clip Studio Paint. I liked the result, but it probably added an extra hour or two of experimentation. I decided to leave these textured effects for illustrations, covers or key panels in the story. Otherwise, the story would never advance at the expected pace.

As I mentioned on my latest blog, you must remember you are making a comic, not a painting nor illustration. Your art is an important part of it, no doubt, but it’s only one factor. Sometimes, putting the best of your ability means knowing where’s your limit, when to stop, when to let go. Forget about grinding for hours until you have the “perfect page”, or else you could never move to the next one. This is about mileage, not about showing-off a single page on the internet, just to feel as relevant as your favorite artist, for just a moment. Also, be mindful about which parts of the story will need an extra effort. And don’t bring the “all parts need extra effort” because that’s working hard for the sake of it. You have a limited lifespan on this Earth, so use your brain to prioritize, just like you do in your everyday life. Read the script and determine which parts will need need spectacular backgrounds, over the top action, or super detailed figures. Deliver those key panels with full force, and for the rest, keep a consistent quality, without going overboard with detail or effects.

When I started Arcagen, I told myself I would do it in black and white, with some grayscales here and there. But with every page, I started trying different things. And don’t get me wrong, a personal project is supposed to allow this kind of liberty, but now I see I went overboard with it. In my obsession to make a remarkable product, I thought that adding more and more effects could be a clear benefit: “Let’s add these occlusion shadows here” “Let’s try there gradients there” “How about we add some color here?” “This wall  needs texture!” “I can make this look like watercolor!”… All these new effects, while effective on certain panels, where just dragging my progress on the overall story. And I’m writing this when i’m only on page 14! Not to mention, I already put a lot of effort and details during the inking phase, so all these effects could be a detriment to the lineart itself. 

You know what? I’m happy to have written this blog. I started it wanting to write about backgrounds and atmospheric perspective, but then, it allowed me to have more revealing insights about my current process. Writing your ideas is good. So yes, I’m going to limit myself on how many effects I will use on most panels. For now, after applying inks, I will use grayscale and some gradients here and there. Colors, effects and texture will be reserved for key moments only.

To be continued…

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