Saturday, January 7, 2017

Saturday Revue January 7: Tangled River

Blast Off Into The Future With 

Worlds away and millennia hence, a young girl is trying to become a woman. It isn't easy for Tanya either. Technology brought from Earth is breaking down. School is boring, boyfriends on the settlement are rare, and her best friend may be dating AN ALIEN. And to top it all off, this settlement's last link with Earth has just been cut off. What a way to grow up!
Tangled River is the creation of the entity known as Snowshadow, and can be found at this link. 

The Rating

Looks like the educator gave you a B minus, Tanya. Not bad, but we've got some work to do.

The Raves

It was the writing that first captured my attention in Tangled River. This is one of those comics that truly captures the voice and thought processes of a young teen. Too many writers write either college students passed off as teens or impossible dolts, but Snowshadow has written young characters that are both relatable and believable. Tanya, the dutiful girl trying to be brave, is well balanced by her best friend Licorice, the wild girl who needs to learn some introspection. 
and they live in a well built and immersive landscape that is described through the actions of the characters. Pulling off a truly immersive world experience isn't easy, but Snowshadow gets very close to achieving it.

Both art and writing riff on the Golden Age Comics, with simple, classic storylines and an almost clinical approach to anatomy and color. Everything is direct, supremely clear and distinctive, with an interesting use of color. If the creator was going for nostalgia they've nailed it; you can practically feel the foolscap paper between your fingers.

 The Razzes

Unfortunately, if it hadn't been for excellent writing, I might well have gotten bored and wandered off. Why? Because the art had very little visual draw. It was well done, it was accurate...and that's all it was.

The Comic Color Is As Flat As The Paper

To a degree, color is a stylistic and subjective choice. But there are things to consider, and one of them is whether your color draws the eye.
There was a time when all comic color was flat, back in the Golden Age, but this wasn't intentional. According to Scott Beatty, "Printing before the advent of computers used two processes for separating colors into CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black). One process was to shoot separations from the photograph or artwork with a stat camera, ending up with four pieces of film that could be stripped together onto a larger project. The other process, used by comic book companies to color their black line drawings, was to use overlays.
The technique was to use three pieces of acetate lined up on top of each other over the artwork page, each representing C, M or Y. Usually this acetate was rubylith, a product still used in screen printing today (to print on material and other substrates). Where the reddish film was cut away from the acetate ink would not print. Where the film was left ON the acetate, the camera negative would leave a blank spot, and ink would print."
This created good solid color, but it wasn't all that good at shadows. So, you ended up with work like this classic Batman (mis?)print. Hence the 'classic' look. Now, it's all well and good to go for the nostalgia of the style, but we're digital these days. We can do more than our forbears could, and if we want to catch a reader's eye, we have to. Right now the color palette of Tangled River is so muted and the shadows so pale that the eye wanders.
For example, this firelight scene.
It's fine. That's all you can really say; not anatomically incorrect, right angles, everything is...fine.
But let's do better than fine. Here's what can be done by simply upping the contrast a bit.

already, the eye is more attracted to the image. Now try adding some shadow. Shadow is how the human brain understands something is 'there' in the world, and shadows in art add weight and reality to objects. Without it, a deep part of your brain whispers 'that isn't really there, is it?' and this unspoken instinct colors your ability to be interested.
I timed myself for 5 minutes adding some very quick and dirty shadows with the Dodge/Burn tool to this image in Gimp, and got these results:

Five minutes shading and upping contrast to go from visually fine to visually fascinating. It's time worth spending.

The Reader Is An Observer, Not A Participant. Camera Angles And Focused Eyes Can Help! 

I had the same problem reading this comic that I used to have reading superhero works: the camera angles left me cold. Now, establishing shots are important, don't get me wrong. A good artist makes sure there are establishing shots to ground the reader in the world. 

But when every shot seems to be taken at one remove, a sense of distance grows up in the reader like a weed. We don't feel involved in even the most interesting scenes. This isn't helped by the fact that even the characters seem disinterested; often, their eyes aren't really focused on one another.  When drawing eyes, focus on focus! NImportant gives us a good example: the eye really should focus on the object it's viewing.

2)Less Perfection, More Emotion. Nobody Wants To Read About Mannequins

Thanks to Melaredblu for help on this infographic
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Try this.

These are issues that crop up again and again, and are behind the sense that the art is good but not great. The characters seem more like posed mannequins than people. For more help in this area:
Anybody know who did this lovely tutorial?
  • read up on lines of action in animation
  • do some life drawing. It can be as simple as sketching in a coffee house
  • push your poses. Exaggerate things! 

The Revue

Not a bad first try at all. I look forward to seeing where it goes!

No comments :

Post a Comment

Drop us a line!