Title: How to Draw Comics: From Script to Screen
Publisher: TwoMorrows Publishing
Featuring: Mike Manley, Danny Fingeroth
Running Length: 120 minutes
Extra Features: The script, layouts, pencils, inks and colors of the first seven pages of a comic, plus character designs.
Mike Manley (DarkHawk, Batman, Barb Wire) and Danny Fingeroth (former Spider-Man Group Editor) sit down and show us how a new character is created, from initial idea, to script, to drawn, colored and printed first story. This DVD documents the brainstorming process between Mike and Danny as they come up with their new characters and concepts step-by-step. Danny discusses the scripting, and Mike walks us through character design, layouts, penciling, inking, coloring, and lettering.
This is a very informative instructional DVD. However, it is not geared towards the novice artist, as it does not go into anatomy, perspective, or other beginning drawing skills. What is shown is how the Artist approaches a comic page and the elements in designing it. One nice feature is not even on the DVD, it is the ability to view excerpts from the DVD at the Publisher’s website to decide whether to purchase it or not.
There are six chapters on the DVD:
Overall: I was genuinely impressed with the title. It did what it set out to do and I learned some things in the process. As with all special intrest programs, if one is not interested in the subject matter, they would be bored really fast, so keep that in mind if you plan to watch it with your significant other.
- Plot and Layout – Since this DVD is more geared towards the artist’s mindset and not towards the writer’s one, we do not get a sense of the creation of the character or plot mechanics from the writer’s point of view. We get to see the decision making that Mike does when looking at the plot for page one, and he comments on why he opts for one approach over the other. One of the more important things in the first chapter that is demonstrated is not a drawing or writing skill at all, but that of constant communication between the artist and writer and how critical it can be in the design and layout process.
- Tools – A quick chapter briefly describing the tools Mike uses. Examples shown of each tool’s use would be great, however as the rest of the DVD goes on they do come into play, so it is not that big of a problem, but I did wish he showcased the paper type used. He does state that humidity can affect how your pencils and inks react to the paper, which I did not know about though I should since I live in Hawaii where it can be very humid at times.
- Penciling – This is the bread and butter of the DVD. This chapter details the penciling of the page, using the different tools for penciling, and discussing a basic concept of the page mechanics such as tight and loose pencils and light and dark values. It is a very informative chapter as we see the page take a definite shape.
- Inking – Like with the chapter before, he describes the process of inking and gives us more insight of the role of light and shadow in a panel. The use of the different tools is neat to watch as we can see how they each behave differently on the paper. We also get a chance to see what happens when an inking error occurs and how Mike deals with it.
- Coloring – This was a different take to coloring process than what I use, but it was interesting nonetheless. Although he did not mention how what setting to use for scanning the image for coloring, if you look at his screen closely you can see the settings are set for 600dpi at 100% size. This chapter was not as informative as the previous chapters and like the drawing aspects it requires that you know basic Adobe PhotoShop functions.
- Lettering- This chapter is a very quick foray into Adobe Illustrator as to the creation of the lettering. Again knowledge of the program is mandatory for this portion as well. Two things would have made this chapter a bit more informative. 1.) the reasons why Danny chooses the areas used for the word balloons, and 2.) why use Illustrator for letters instead of PhotoShop or hand lettering.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Twinkies.
Techincal Issues: I would have preferred a background soundtrack, unobtrusive and complimentary to the content, instead of quick music cues for the beginning of a chapter. Also, while not the DVD's fault, on my older 17" LCD certain parts during the layout and penciling stages were 'washed out' by the LCDs low tolerance of light values. Looked great on my TV and my cousin's new Dell 2005FPW 20.1" LCD Monitor.
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