As you can tell from this picture, my weak spots are most definitely backgrounds. A lot of artists have areas they particularly dread drawing. Some are hand-phobes, other face-phobes, I am a background-phobe. Filling backgrounds with people and objects and *shudder* perspective never ceases to paralyze me. As you can tell from these next few shots, the beginning of Gods & Undergrads was chock full of poorly planned, horribly executed backgrounds that I really gave a crap about and boy does the sloppiness show ...
Everything I drew seemed like it's own little lesson in What Not To Do as an artist. If there was a comic equivalent of Stacey & Clinton, they would haul me off to New York and give me an illustration renovation STAT. Actually . . . who would the comic makeover king and queen of the comics world be? I already have a list going of the hottest comickers. But the ones with the ability to makeover others? Hmm. I smell an industry need, waiting to be filled ...
Anyway. So why am I showing you multiple examples of horrible drawing in my own book? Because when you create any comic, or webcomic, or story, or art, or what have you, it's important to face your fears. Sure, I did a lot of terrible backgrounds (and still do sometimes), but like with the writing, I kept doing them until they gradually got better. Look, at the end of the first book the backgrounds had already improved:
And by the second book? LIGHTYEARS better.
I'm not saying I don't still have loads of work ahead of me in the Backgrounds Arena. But once I realized that backgrounds were just as much an important part of the story as the facial expressions, the color, the dialogue, the outfits, etc. the comic started to evolve just from being an amateur mish-mash into an actual evolving style. One I didn't plan on, but one that was slowly becoming more cohesive.
Last year, when I started illustrating my first graphic novel for a publisher, my editor gave me some notes on how all of my panel compositions were starting to look the same - headshots, waist up shots, ALL people, all the time. My old nemesis was creeping up on me and not only making me steer clear from drawing backgrounds, but skewing the page layouts of the book too. So was I going to take that shit from backgrounds? Oh hell no. Sure, perspective still boggles my mind and dressing a scene can cause me to break out into cold sweats, but with a little patience, a lot of stress coffee drinking, and this book:
it's gotten MUCH better.