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So, Drawing: DC Comics Guides

So, as I've said, I've been reading a lot of books on drawing, cartooning, comics, and so forth (interlibrary loan iis my friend). Am still reading them. Did a BI tonight, where when I was showing them the ILL system, I still had another four or five books listed in my request queue. When I asked the traditional "Any questions?", one guy asked what my comic book was going to be about. Feel free to guess what I told him!

And now, my (brief) opinions on some of these drawing books:

DC Comics has actually published a whole series of books on how to create comics the DC way (it's a bit ironic, actually, releasing this how-to series, since they won't accept slush submissions. Although they do have that whole online Zuda Comics competition thing going on).

Technically, the first book in the comic creation series is the DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics. But since it's dealing with them, whaddyacall'em, words, I'm not going to get into it here. I will say I've read it and it's pretty good.

DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics by Klaus Janson covers how to draw comics. It's not a drawing book for beginners; there's a lot of focus on the work of superhero comics (i.e., muscles). Things like drawing faces, not so much. There's also a lot of practical advice on how to layout a page to best tell the story, as well as other sequential art story issues: borders, cover art, splash pages, and so forth. If you're already drawing reasonably well, it's worth a look.

DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics, also by Klaus Janson, gets into the whole how to ink the comics. Like the previous book, this one has practical advice on the kinds of tools to use, and how to go about doing the work. Lots of people think that just because you're not doing the work of creating the scene, you're really just tracing. The problem with that is, the way a drawing is inked can change how it looks pretty dramatically (yes, there are examples).

DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein handles the last two jobs in comics work: coloring it in and putting in the words (it's all so incredibly specialized, isn't it?). These are two jobs that have definitely changed the most from the old days. There are still artists out there who draw with pen and ink, but this book covers how to color with Photoshop. For example, a basic Caucasian skin color is #FCD2C1 (20% yellow, 20% magenta). African americans, #9B7365 (65% yellow, 60% magenta, 45% cyan). And from there on it gets into shading and lighting and suchnot.

The lettering part of the book has it both ways, by hand and computer. By hand is exactly what it sounds like. By computer means using Illustrator rather than Photoshop. I can understand why (Illustrator's better for manipulating text), but those Adobe programs aren't cheap. There's also comic-specific topics like sound effects, logos, placing the logos to help the reader, and what was most interesting of all to me, how to make your own fonts.

If the previous books were old-school, DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics by Freddie E. Williams is how to go about creating comics on your computer. In other words, with a Wacomb drawing tablet and Photoshop. This book more or less replaces the Drawing & Inking books. The digital way includes doing the work by working with multiple layers, creating wireframes, and such not. It also has my favorite new dirty-sounding phrase, "stroking the path." It doesn't get into coloring & lettering as such, because that's what Chiarello & Klein's book is for. It's a pretty cool way of doing things, but it does require all that fancy software & hardware. It does also require you to already be able to draw.

The DC Comics Guide Series:

Expect more of these because, well, y'know. Because.