Dan Lawlis's Posts (11)

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Storytelling Panel Rule

Here's a simple but important rule in story telling. Never stack panels on the left. Doing that will leave the reader confused on which way to go while reading. Anything that creates confusion is a no-no in storytelling. Always make reading your comic easy to follow and a smoothly flowing narrative. www.ORANGEPEEL3.com3448611108?profile=original

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Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain by Betty Edwards

I got this book years ago and it was an immense help. The exercises in it will help you switch into the drawing mode of seeing and measuring with your eye. When you start to see things  like the contour of a line, or negative white space, you start to understand the process of doing accurate drawings and how to reliably repeat that process.

You can buy it on Amazon. I see one in the "used" section for 14 cents. You can't afford not to have it for that price!


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Doing God's Will in Comics

Doing God's Will in Comics

"Do as thou whilst, be the whole of the law." This is, of course, the only commandment of satanism, and goes against all we value and hold dear. So, how do we do God's will when creating comics and not our own will, which is wicked by nature? The answer is, we must have the Holy Spirit acting through us. Easier said than done (at least for me), but I'm determined to do my best.

When Stan Lee created Spiderman, it was a reaction from the cookie cutter stories he had been writing. He wanted to express the troubles of his audience (teenagers) by creating a character that they could identify with. Because Stan Lee was a decent and honorable man, his Spiderman stories expressed the sensitivity that he wanted by being that voice for young people. 

Of course the rest is history. He created something that touched the hearts of others, and we all responded to the Peter Parker within us. Peter Parker was everyone of us, because he was good and decent, and so was what was within us all.

Even though Stan did what he wanted, because he was in contact with something good, his creation was something good. 

The challenge is then, to let the Holy Spirit purify our hearts, and when we create it will be something good that flows through us doing God's will.

God has a way of frustrating the devils plans. The devil wants us to give into whatever creative whim we want, and the result will be disastrous. But to the degree we can purify our hearts, that creativity can become something amazing, fantastic, incredible, mighty, and invincible! Just believe it can!




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I get a little annoyed when I see young artist starting out, and they show a drawing that they copied of an artist they like to someone else, and the person says, "Oh, you copied it". This can be discouraging, but don't let it. This is how you learn to draw.

No one ever sits down at a piano and starts playing original Mozart quality music. You have to first learn how to play by playing someone else's music, unless you are some kind of phenomenal genius (I'm not). It's no different with drawing. First you should copy someone else's art (Don't trace). What you're learning to do is measuring with your eye, understanding shape, lines, form. In short, you are absorbing and training your mind to think visually.

It seems to me there are two basic plans--Plan A. Be a genius. (That plan didn't work out so well for me) --Plan B. Work hard, study, copy, practice, learn, think, get frustrated, consider an alternative career, try again, get better. (this is the current plan I use. I'm not aware of any others).

As an artist starting out, I heard this advice from a very successful graphic designer named Milton Glaser. He said copy what you like when you are starting out. Your own style will eventually emerge from there. 

It's true, most artists start out by learning from copying, so don't be afraid if it. (Just don't copy it for sale. That's plagiarism). Copy to learn. Where would Bill Sienkiewicz be without copying Neal Adams? Where would Moebius be if he didn't copy Winsor McCay and Herge? Most everybody that does great art, passionately liked, and copied someone else's art first.

The advice given to me that I'm passing on to you--copy, copy, copy, copy, copy what you like. Your own style will emerge from that.



Milton Glaser


Neal Adams


Bill Sienkiewicz


Winsor McCay






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Dynamic Covers

Once, years ago, I decided to try to figure out what sort of cover made the most compelling cover on the shelf. So, I spread out a bunch of comic books all over the floor until I had a huge floor covering.

What I noticed was very interesting. The covers my eye was drawn to, were covers in which the figures were rather large on the cover. I noticed something else, the logos on those same comics were larger and simple bold lettered graphics.

And can you guess which of those comics had the largest figures? Jim Lee's covers, the most popular artist of the time. And can you guess what logos where the most bold and simple graphics? Of course, it was the X-Men logos, the most popular comics of all time.


What does that tell us? It says, pay attention to what are the biggest selling  comics and artists because there is probably some very good reasons they are selling well. "If it ain't broke, don't fix it."" If you can't beat 'em join 'em." What I'm saying here is, pay attention to what sells. If bold graphics are on the best selling comics, make your logo bold and simple. If larger figures are on the best selling comics, then try making your figures larger and more striking.


Rebel against the atheism of our pop culture, but don't rebel against the best art and design. 

I notice a lot of flimsy logos out there. If you want to seriously compete with the top selling comics you have to be as good as they are.

When it comes to sales alone, we Christians are being defeated by the secular art community, and that needs to change. Christians used to be the leaders in communication through art, and we can be so again. It just takes some good ole' determination, thinking, study, and hard work.



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The Secret to Doing Clear Storytelling

The Secret to Doing Clear Storytelling

I learned this from another comic book artist named Rick Buckler, and never forgot it. It's something called the "action axis", and they use it in movies all the time, but it also applies to comic book storytelling too.

The basic idea is this, never cross the action axis, and your storytelling will be much clearer. The best way to think of of it is, as a stage in a theatre. You can move your camera anywhere you want in the audience , but never behind the stage. So an actor on stage who appears (from the audience point of view), to be on the left of the stage, will always be in the left of the stage no matter where you move the camera. 

If you have two people talking from frame to frame, and suddenly you move that camera to behind the stage, they will have appeared to have magically switched positions. This will disorient and confuse the reader. (a no-no to clear storytelling). 

Move in for extreme close ups, pull back for long wide shots, but stay in the audience section, somewhere. Never go behind the stage and actors.

Follow this rule and you will see your storytelling flow from panel to panel with a fluidity that is clear and easy to follow.

Here's some links that will explain it further.

Beyond that, there are some general rules, like, an airplane flying from east to west will move from right to left in the panel. Or a wagon train going out west, will appear to be moving right to left. But an airplane flying to Europe will appear in the panel as moving left to right in the panel.

You can see what I'm getting at here, things appear and make sense in a certain way, and understanding that can make your storytelling all the more easy to follow. 

Don't give your readers problems and obstacles that aren't necessary. The challenge should be in the Christian message you are trying to get across, not in the communication of those Christian ideas.



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Can Your Art Pass the Mirror Test?

Try Mirror Testing Your Art

If you really want to see the flaws in your drawing, try holding it up to a mirror (or if in Photoshop, flip the image horizontally) and check out the reverse image. You'll instantly see flaws you couldn't see before. I don't know why this works, but man, does it ever!

You can find this experience shocking and even disheartening, but if we want to get better, we have to see our mistakes. Sometimes I almost dread doing this, because after laboring on something for a long while, you see how way off it is, and that you may have to totally redraw a something.

Think of the mirror as just one more tool at your disposal. A vital one at that!




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The Pitfalls of Computer Coloring.

Now that comics are colored on the computer, you can use unlimited array of colors.  However, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. With computer coloring there's a strong temptation to over render your comics, and therefore mute your colors. 

This is why the comics in general look so much darker and more somber looking than comic books of the past. Now, if this is your intension that's fine, but if not, here's a few rules that will help you keep your colors popping off the page.

1. Adding white or black to a color instantly grey's it down. When sculpting a face with color, try using a color (like orange), instead of black. When looking for a highlight, try a warm yellow instead of white. 

2. Know your color wheel and it's complimentary colors. Keep in mind when you add two complimentary colors they neutralize each other and you get grey. So if you are sculpting a yellow object, you should try to use orange-yellow or yellow green. It's OK to use the complimentary color for the shadows, but on the lighted side using the complimentary color with mute your color.


3. Think color into your character ahead of time. If your character is going to be set in a cool colored environment, you might want to give them a warm colored costume (this was the case with my Orange Peel 3 character), to contrast it against the backgrounds. If your character exists in a warm colored place like a desert. you could choose a cool colored costume. Of course you may not want the character to contrast against the background. The point is, think about what you want the color to do beforehand.

Here's two examples of effects that show what I'm talkng about in these rules.

First is a typical modern computer colored comic. Squint your eyes at this and it looks like a mishmash of confusion. I didn't even notice the Loki right away. Everything is muted and blends together. It's hard to make out the Goblin's features from the character behind him. Spider-man is still visible because he's a warm red against the cool background colors. Although this piece is skillfully rendered, it would disappear on the shelf with all the other muted comics. Although there is some warm and cool color separation, there's still too much white and black added to the colors and it grey's them.


Here's another example of coloring using an old comic book. Try squinting at this one. You'll see the figures are still plainly visible. There is no white or black added to the colors, so they scream off the page.


This doesn't necessarily mean one comic is colored better than the other, it's just knowing what you want your comic to do on the shelf, and how to handle the colors to get your desired effect. Do you want to have your colors pop or not, or do you want something in-between?  

Remember there's a ton of comics out their and you have to do something that will get yours noticed. The best plan is to go to a comic book shop or convention, and see what catches your eye, analyze why it does, and then incorporate those elements into your own art.



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