Friday, September 6, 2013

Comics Resources for the Starving Artist

Last month in the Cartooning Club, I handed out a sheet full of freebies on the internet to help an aspiring comic artist get equipped (better) for the 21st century. I am always keeping an eye out for things, seeing what professionals and hobbyists in the industry are trying out or recommending, and then giving these things a try myself. Below, you will find plenty of things to look for. Just type the name into a search bar and you will find it easily. I promise.
 You can go out and spend hundreds of dollars on software, scanners, Wacom pads, tablets, drafting desks and on and on. And of course many of these things are the industry standards, meaning they are used by the overwhelming majority of the pencilers, inkers, letters, colorists, editors and writers out there. But if your bank account looks like a picture of a doughnut (I'll give you slower people a moment to let that one come to you....) there are options to fit your budget out there!
 First, start at blog! It's free here on BLOGSPOT (just click that orange square looking thing at the top to get started). Why? You might want to let people know you are here, what you like and don't like about comics, animation, actions films, video games and crunchy jelly (again, I'll give the slower members of the audience a few seconds to catch that one....). You may want to review older comics, do spotlights on favorite artists or characters, or even showcase your own work as a daily sketch blog. This will hopefully lead to people who want to share their input with you, and when it is someone who is or was involved in the business ALWAYS listen to what they have to offer. This is free information that other people pay money for in books, courses or private lessons but this person is impressed enough with you to share this information.
 Another way to get input on your work and interests is to put your work up on an art gallery. Some of the best ones I have found that involve zero cost are:
Fine Art America. Here everything you put into your gallery can be turned into a picture of varying sizes and textures, greeting cards, mouse pads, etc.
Deviant Art. This is maybe the world's largest art community, similar in many ways to Facebook with the favorites and comments on people's submissions. Being the biggest is a good thing and a bad thing. The bad: EVERYTHING that could be called art is out there. EVERYTHING!!!! The good: there is a lot of good, quality artwork and tutorials there to look at and use. There is also plenty of free stock images to help with your art, and you can filter your settings to avoid unsuitable content. Plus, many professional artists are there and they are accessible to answering questions. People like Jeremy Dale, Liam Sharp, Tim Townsend, Nei Ruffino and Robert Atkins just to name a few. I have asked questions and gotten responses and feedback that is insightful and helpful from every one of them.
TalentHouse. I just found this one recently, and I like the layout of the pages and downloading artwork to the site is easier than anywhere else. A bigger part of the program is that as artists generate more support and "likes" for their art work, the attention could potentially lead to money for the artist. I'm not clear on how that works, but I'm all for it at this point!
The rest of the best-
Art-3000. Not quite as much "community" to it as Deviant Art, but you can still put a ton of pictures on your gallery.
ComicArtCommissions and ComicArtFans. Both of these sites have lots of professional artists on them. The free sites are very limited in what they provide, but you can always go back and re-edit your page to keep it fresh. The benefit is you gain contact with a bunch of people who do this for a living every day!
Instagram/ Facebook. Everyone knows these!

Of course, you need to have some artwork to show and that means getting the tools you need. Assuming you have a computer you can do art on, there is plenty of freeware and other tools to put on your computer. It may not be Photoshop or Manga Studio, but it is free and it is a great starting point!
 The best software, in my opinion, is GIMP. It is free, and it is open-source, meaning that programers continue to add to, update and refine the software, so I check back periodically for updates. There are also forums and tutorials on the internet to help you learn how to use GIMP. Gimp is great for painting or coloring scanned art and word balloons and lighting effects can be added. Like Photoshop, it uses layers, burn and dodge, magic lasso and other features. It works in Windows and Mac (and maybe Linux, too).
 For 3-D rendering, help with drawing in any perspective you will need, and for creating consistent layouts of places you will draw over and over again, Sketchup Make is here to save the day. Billed as the easiest to use 3-D model program, without instructions I managed to build a house and a modest castle. Think Minecraft, but much more high tech and with curves.
 PrintablePaper carries a wide variety of ready-made templates for comic pages, manga and newspaper strips.
 Another great template site for helping you design, plan and organize your work is ComicBookGraphicDesign, which includes word balloons, sketchcard sheets, videos on how-to, and a glossary of comics and art terms.
 Finally, you'll probably want some top-tier looking fonts for your comics instead of something that looks cute on an office memo. Head over to Blambot. There are lots of free fonts for speaking, sound effects and creating a title or logo. Check back at least once a month as some free fonts move into storage or go to the pay side, and other new fonts are rolled out.

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