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A Quick Critique of the Person Above's Comic
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Lo (Aquapunk)



Joined: 09 Oct 2009
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Sat Mar 23, 2013 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My first impression is that your pages are really, and I mean really claustrophobic. The enormous gutters and word balloons that don't stay inside the panel borders really accentuate this. I feel like every panel is choked, and while I truly do appreciate your efforts to put backgrounds in every panel, doing this isn't helping you here because they're cluttering up your already tiny-looking panels.

Your pages are apparently only 500x~700px. Your comic is on the heavier side of the dialogue spectrum for how much space you have to work with, and I think that size is ideally suited to 4 or fewer panels. You appear to regularly divvy that up in to 5, 6, 7 panels... and those are the ones where I almost feel like I have to squint to see what's going on. I feel like you're designing your comic and page display with 800x600 monitors in mind still. I can safely say that those are, as far as anyone is concerned, obsolete. According to W3 Schools, 90% of internet users are viewing web content with screen resolutions higher than 1024x768. On my screen, your comic page takes up only 2/3rds of my browser window height. In other words-- you have nothing to lose by going bigger.

The other thing that struck me when I was flipping through your pages is the fact that everyone's face is drawn from 3/4 perspective and looking straight at the viewer, no matter the scene. This is... really creepy. They feel like cardboard cutouts, or like they're actors in a bad sitcom and are always having to face the camera. If it's just because you have trouble drawing faces from other perspectives, then take this opportunity to start practicing. Another personal quibble, but is, to my chagrin, a stylistic choice sometimes, is the fact that your characters suffer from sameface-- I can only tell them apart by their hair and clothes.

All in all, a solid style though, and you do make monochromatic toning look good. I can easily tell characters from their backgrounds, and from each other, even with the high density of details.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 756

PostPosted: Mon Mar 25, 2013 8:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lo (Aquapunk)

Negatives:

* Your navigation is not very touch-screen friendly. Please make your buttons larger and easier to see, and if possible, make it so a person can visit the next page by clicking on the comic page(s).
* This is my personal preference, but you may want to keep this in mind because of the increasing number of mobile visitors. With metered smartphone internet access and/or low-quality rural/urban municipal broadband, having multiple large pages can be a huge pain in the butt, that could potentially end up being very expensive and time-consuming for your visitors. Plus, it's kind of overwhelming to keep track of several pages one a single section is multitasking and just peeking at comics between tasks. This may not seem like a big deal, until you consider that people may be reading your webcomic at work.
* Could you have a separate section for non-commentary blog posts?
* If it's under construction with no content, or if the page has missing content, it should not be linked to your site until it is ready.
* Make your CBRs a paid premium, so you can take my damn money! Lazy people like me with craptacular broadband love downloadable eComics and will gladly pay for them. Very Happy

Positives:
* Solid comic with interesting story.
* Fascinating art
* Distinctive character designd that makes it easy to differentiate them for your readers.
* Readable lettering.
* Nice clean site design.
* Easy to navigate

My webcomic is NSFW and it needs feedback: Rasputin Barxotka
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Lo (Aquapunk)



Joined: 09 Oct 2009
Posts: 45

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

- No, it's seriously not. I've been meaning to talk to the plugin dev about this before giving it a go myself. As for clicking the comic page, I actually do have that (and that's a big reason why it's a pain to view on my phone; scrolling down has me clicking on the page and takes me to the next set). Not sure why it's not working for you... works to a fault for me. Razz

- I could find out, but I don't see the point if they're already all at the bottom of the page and easily skippable?

- I actually have to disagree here! :B

- I have no CBRs available currently...? Unless you mean the short stories; but those were never meant to be pay-fer material anyway.

Thanks for the review! Gotta get to work getting the site in shape~
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smbhax.com
No! Don't post it there!


Joined: 10 Apr 2009
Posts: 3022
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Tue Mar 26, 2013 7:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lo (Aquapunk) wrote:
According to W3 Schools, 90% of internet users are viewing web content with screen resolutions higher than 1024x768. On my screen, your comic page takes up only 2/3rds of my browser window height. In other words-- you have nothing to lose by going bigger.


(Just wanted to say that you may want to use that statistic with some caution--a resolution higher than 1024x768 doesn't necessarily mean much more vertical resolution; for instance I use a 1080p screen, with minimal browser UI at the top, and his pages with nav buttons fit just about perfectly within that screen height.)
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 756

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lo (Aquapunk)

- That's weird. Clicking on the comic does not take me anywhere. If it helps, I am using Chrome.

- I used to have the same attitude about non-commentary blog entries under my comics until I learned that it does interrupt reading flow for a lot of people who feel obligated to read them. Also, a lot of people get very uncomfortable or annoyed when it comes to reading stuff unrelated to the comic page that they are on. I sadly learned that this tended to be the majority of readers for me. Just for your own edification, ask your readers about this. Maybe they are different, but it's worth checking.

- You may disagree with me on linking to non-existent content, but the reason I bring it up is because Google has a tendency to smack sites with link rot, plus it can be extremely disappointing for readers looking for specific content. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Link_rot

- I was talking about the theoretical CBRs that you mention here: http://aquapunk.co/comic/146-150-2
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 6:22 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Lo (Aquapunk) - I attempted to read your comic, but every time I tried to on my iPad, it would start loading another page on your site.

Also, your design isn't very tablet friendly -- even when it wasn't reloading, I had to keep swiping/scrolling the page left and right even on maximum zoom out.
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vaslittlecrow



Joined: 01 Aug 2005
Posts: 756

PostPosted: Wed Mar 27, 2013 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fair enough.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Sat Mar 30, 2013 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

vaslittlecrow - since I'm new to webcomics my review might not be the most helpful, but I'll give it a shot anyway.

Negatives:
* Your site seems really cluttered. There's a lot going on around the sides that, as a new visitor, I don't really care about. While they may be more useful for visitors more familiar with your site, all the text and images crammed onto the page are really uninviting to me. If there's some of that you could rearrange or ship off to a separate page, I think that would really help.
* The lineart bothers me a bit. There are times when it's both really thick and uneven, and I think it could be cleaned up a bit better. I'm mostly reffering to panels that are zoomed out, because it also makes it more difficult to see what's going on. For the most part it doesn't look that bad; it's mostly just those zoomed shots.
* I'm not a fan of mixing photos with illustration. I really like the backgrounds that are drawn in (like on the page where he comes out of the shower and finds the kids in a food fight) much more than the ones with photos. Drawing them in keeps the style consistent, and in my case, if I notice something is a photo I get very distracted.

Positives:
* The panels and dialogue are wonderful. I never had a problem following the frames to what I was supposed to read next even though some of the panels take unique shapes (which is a problem I see a lot in other comics). Every panel is interesting and earns its place: it's not just a shot of a guy's face talking, there's lots of change in expression, position, and angle.
* Lots of variety in the character design. I really love how some of the characters look. Very Happy
* The story's interesting and I think the pace is good.
* I really like the font choice.

All-in-all, I thought it was interesting and I'll have to check it out again when it's not 4AM here, haha.


Here's my comic: Gambit Tactics. I guess it's NSFW, but mostly for language at this point.
I'm really interested in hearing from someone who uses a smart phone or a tablet. I don't own any so I have no idea how my site comes up on those. But I'm happy to hear from anyone who wants to look at it.
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narwhalknight



Joined: 29 Mar 2013
Posts: 42

PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 1:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I read the first chapter on a tablet, as requested. It looked and worked great, so I don't think you will have any issues there.



When I began reading this I was trying to think of ways to tell you gently that I didn't like the artwork very much. But! As I continued to read my opinion changed. I can't say it's my favorite kind of artwork, but I feel like it does have it own unique style, and the characters are very expressive (and that's something I'm a little jealous over). Some of the glaring things I don't like is that I find the colors very bright and basic. Maybe try some more subtle shades? And the backgrounds, while some are detailed, others are really plain. Please don't take these artwork criticisms the wrong way though. It isn't my favorite style, but I'm warming up to it.

The writing is the comics greatest attribute. While at first I wasn't too interested, and it was a bit of a slow burn, after reading 5-6 pages I was pretty engrossed. I really liked the Dad character (spoiler: sad to see him go), and I thought the beginning dialogue with the mother and taxi driver was interesting, as she seems like a bad guy, but that conversation is kind of humanizing.

So lets break it down:
-While basic, the art style is very expressive and has it's own charm
-Good writing
-Works well on a Tablet, navigates great
-Interesting characters
-I like the first chapter cover.
-Font style and text balloons make it easy to read

I'm not great at reviews, so pls don't hate me Smile I will be reading on, I'm interested to see where it goes.

As for my comic, it can be found at http://narwhalknight.com/
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fluffy
is not a fish.


Joined: 22 Jul 2008
Posts: 109
Location: Seattle

PostPosted: Mon Apr 01, 2013 6:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sure, why not.

re: Narwhal Knight:

I like your line-art style. Some of your body constructions don't feel quite natural but I think that stylistically it works out pretty well. It has a sort of "underground comix" feel to it which is a bit quaint but somewhat nicely done. Sometimes your shading is a bit inconsistent and odd-looking, though. Try not outlining the cross-hatched sections, and try avoiding a fully solid fill where it's darker (instead, try overlaying additional cross-hatching at a different angle).

Also, since you're using line-art cross-hatching shading, avoid gray fills like the plague! They stand out like a sore thumb.

That dialog doesn't look very appropriate for the line style, however. Is that Anime Ace? I think something like Blambot's Digital Strip would work well. Your dialog layout is pretty good in places, but sometimes it seems like you're not paying much attention to the placement of the words with respect to the bubble shapes (for example, in the bottom panel on page 10). Also, learn where to use apostrophes (page 7 - "wont" should be "won't"), and use an em-dash instead of two hyphens; it looks better. On a Mac, you can type an em-dash by pressing alt-dash. I have no idea how you do it on Windows.

The limited use of color in your dialog is an interesting choice. It definitely makes that speaker stand out.

Site layout wise, try centering the comic in its container, rather than having it flush left. Right now it all feels off-balance.

And now people can rake my comic over the coals, at http://beesbuzz.biz/d/ (please skip the recent sketchbook filler pages, as I only posted those because real life was in the way of updating and my hacked-together CMS requires an image post to make a news post work right).
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Traegorn



Joined: 16 Feb 2010
Posts: 157

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re: Busybee comics

Positives:
Your site is easy to navigate. That should be something I can say about any comic - but it's not. So good on you.

Your characters are visually distinct, which is good. I've got no problem telling them apart.

While your style isn't normally one I'm into, your characters are quite expressive, and communicate the emotion of the scene well.

Negatives:
I am not a big fan of the speech balloons you use - the translucent backgrounds with drop shadows just kind of irks me. Your panels can be a little crowded too with them -- to much information in that little space makes it easy to skip over.

Your use of bright, colorful backgrounds makes it so your characters never "pop" - which makes it harder to distinguish foreground from background.

Honestly, what I'd do is enlargen your canvas -- don't lock into the strip format if you don't have to. If you want that much text in a comic, make the strip/page bigger. Muting the colors in the backgrounds and thickening the lines around the characters would make a significant difference to the art too -- making the comic significantly more visually attractive and easier to read.


The comic of mine I'll toss onto the fire is The Chronicles of Crosarth http://www.crosarth.com/
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jimbeorni



Joined: 20 Nov 2012
Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed Apr 03, 2013 1:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Alright, I'll jump in and do your website layout.
I don't know about tablet friendly because I'm just using a laptop. Someone else might be able to do that for you.

Lets start with the bad.
1. The home page is set up like a blog, and noticing you use comic press it should be easy to alter that. (some people may like that layout but it bugs me a little)
2. The comments right below your comic are slightly annoying as well. I would suggest setting up a forum for communication to keep the focus of new readers on the comments, not what other people thing of it.
3. I don't know how much I like the add in the header even though it is a popular place to put it. It looks like it is eating your comics header.

And here is some good.
1. I love that you have a "story so far page". I never really have the time to start a new comic from the beginning and this is helpful.
2. Your site is easy to navigate. That is always important
3. The black background is simple and makes your comic easy to read.

And something quick about the comic. The manga style speech bubbles are interesting. Its like you were planning for print when you started, because it would read really well in a book. I know some people don't like it but it is a stylistic choice and I think it fits with your characters.



Here's mine for anyone who wants.
www.wisdomcookie.net
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Marscaleb



Joined: 28 Aug 2012
Posts: 258

PostPosted: Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

@jimbeorni (Wise Guys)

The first and most apparent thing that comes to my attention is your art style; your decision to use these characters that (I'm not trying to be insulting) look like Little People or other toddler toys with Rayman-esque floating hands. Because this is a choice of style, I don't really want to critique it; it is what it is and people will accept it or not.
But as I continued to read I found that this style has some direct problems that need to be addressed. Because the characters have no limbs, the hands are hard to notice, and sometimes they are needed to properly convey emotion and/or humor. Body language is a critical aspect of communication, and the limbless style has an uphill battle to properly convey that level communication. A character can give a quip remark and have an annoyed expression, but having his hands in the air versus have his hand in an open gesture will mark the difference being him being furious or sarcastic.
Again, this doesn't mean going limbless is bad, you just need to know how to work with it. I would personally suggest that enlarge the hands and put more detail in them. The tiny circles which are only identifiable as hand when there is no background just doesn't work. Also it would be helpful if you could make the hands look distinct so that we don't get confused who's hand is who's. If you can manage to color your comic that would help solve that problem.

Another problem you need to work on is identifying a clear read-order for quote bubbles. Take for example the page where Finnegan checks into the hotel (which also is duplicated on the page "plane rides take two" BTW) The third panel has poorly identified read order. The reader want's to read Finnegan's first line before the Clerk's because it is closer to the top-left corner, even if the clerk's line is nearest the top. There is also simply too much space between the two groups of bubbles, a problem you have on other pages too. It is a common practice in comics to have long quotes divided into several bubbles to make it easier to read and more aesthetically pleasing; this leads readers to be trained to follow bubbles broken into sections as one single thread. Because of this, if there is too much space between two bubbles that are exchanging between each other, the reader won't realize that until they read enough lines to reveal that they are missing part of the dialogue.
The best practice for an exchange is to make sure that the next statement is (at least partially) directly beneath the first. If it is to the right of the first, it might be missed.
For the example I gave earlier, it would work better if the quote bubbles actually covered up the guy with the goatee. We saw him in earlier panels so we know he's there, so it doesn't hurt to obscure his view. If it were a situation where the background elements DO need to be visible, it would be more acceptable to have the bubbles pushed to one side and one group has a long tail. It's better to have one tacky detail than to force the reader to stop and analyze the panel just to make sense of it.

Some positive things to say: You did very well to chose a vertical layout; this is the optimal way to distribute panels for a webcomic since it minimizes the reader seeing a panel before they read it. Overall your site design is good; you have clear navigation and use of space. Although you might want to have a little more padding on the right sidebar, and IMO a calendar navigation is unnecessary when you don't update more than one per week.
Having the recommended reading in the sidebar is odd; I can't say it's actually bad but it is odd. It makes me want to say that you need more content in your sidebars, but I can't actually justify that somehow.
(BTW if you are looking to put ads on your page, Project Wonderful says you need to have so many pages, but they really want three months, so you could apply for them now.)

One last bit of advice is to tread carefully with your Father Flannigan character, especially with revering him as a pope. A wrong joke could lose you a lot of readers. Just declaring him to be the pope will convince many people that you're likely to use jokes they'd find offensive. You can get away with him just being a crude priest, or even a crude priest who reveres himself as the pope, but be aware there is a difference between depicting a single character and depicting an entire group of people or their leadership.
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MindChimera



Joined: 03 Feb 2013
Posts: 317

PostPosted: Sat Apr 13, 2013 9:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was going to let someone else review yours since I already got a review, but since it's been a while, I'll go again.

The layout for each page looks pretty good. I like the interesting perspectives, like the overhead shots, and the unique panel shapes. Every page is entertaining and the jokes are just up my alley. I'm enjoying the story so far. I'm going to keep reading since I'd like to see what happens next.

I really love the detail you put into your backgrounds. I saw you say in another thread that you have experience in drafting and it really shows through in your comic. I don't know anything about drafting, so I don't know if you're using a program to render your backgrounds or if you're hand-drawing them, but either way, they look great.

The characters aren't getting the same kind of attention your backgrounds are, however. They're a bit flat which is really noticable up against your backgrounds, I kind of feel like they're being overshadowed. I think if you keep practice drawing people, you should be able to get your characters to look like they match their environment, and your comic can look really great.

Something that really bothers me is using different fonts between the characters. I see you're trying to give everyone their own unique font-face which could be nice for identifying someone's dialogue if they were off-panel, but I think it's really distracting. I would suggest limiting that; I could see doing that for the aliens since they may actually speak with a really unique voice, but I think it's a bit overkill to do it for everyone.

But otherwise the lettering is good. It's easy to figure out who's talking, what to read next, and the panels aren't overloaded with too much text.

Oh, and this isn't part of the critique, just a comment: I noticed Debra has a lot of leeway in the house for someone who apparently doesn't live there. I think that if one of my friends tried to do anything to "improve" my toaster when it's working well already, they'd be out, haha. I like the tolerance they have for her inventions, but I'm also kind of curious on how they can just let her change stuff in their house.

Edit: Oh, I guess I should leave a link to my comic.
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Aglari



Joined: 04 Apr 2013
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Sun Apr 14, 2013 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

MindChimera's Gambit Tactics:

The top title's gradient fades into the background, especially when viewing the monitor at anything less than directly in front. Might consider a white outline to make the darker halves still stand out. Its a minor thing anyhow.

The site is very straightforward, clutter-free, easy to navigate, and loads fast. A good reading experience.

I'm a bad choice to critique writing, but I'll say this: The early pages didn't hook me into the plot much, but the later pages definitely made me pretty curious about the events leading up to it.


All that out of the way, lets talk about art!


Lines and layouts:

Throughout the comic I've noticed some suspect anatomy, particularly with heads and how they attach to necks, and their proportions relative to the body. Also some skewing when heads are drawn at an angle. In regards to the last 5 pages though, there's not nearly as much to complain about, there's definitely improvement there. Still, I'd suggest some practice drawing skull and fleshing them out -- makes it a lot easier to see where the neck goes in my opinion.

An overall suggestion I'll give is that we as humans don't hold our neck perfectly vertical very often, and we can pretty easily find our chins lower than shoulder level.

Here's a rough visual explanation of what I'm saying:


Use a mirror, it makes it very easy to see when you're doing something wrong when you try to copy a pose and it's either unnatural or impossible. Drawing skeletons under your figures helps too.

On page 19 you have the perspective backwards on the bed, the part closest to the camera should be biggest, not smallest.


Colors and tones:

Bluntly, its flat. But you're using flat colors so you already knew this :)

The first panel of page 20 is a treat, its the most vibrant panel of the whole comic. I'm sure it took a lot longer than the rest but if you're willing to maintain that kind of color modification for shadows I encourage it, the visual payoff is worth it.

If not, there's other ways to add depth but its not necessarily easier. I see you've been using hatching for that purpose but its not really working as it is now. To make it work you have to be pretty aggressive, meticulous, and consistent with it. I tried it for a while to save myself some trouble but my ultimate conclusion was that it can certainly look very good but doing it well isn't any easier (probably harder actually) than adding depth through other methods.

I know just saying that the hatching isn't working isn't very constructive, but I haven't figured it out enough to really know the fix. As a guess I'm going to offer using tighter hatches, and choosing the angle of your hatches to specifically follow or counter the curvature of the surface it shades, rather than arbitrarily choosing a diagonal.

The hatching on the room itself on the last panel of page 20 for example, I do like. I suspect because the angles are chosen well. Experiment with it some, maybe try going overboard on the amount of hatching a few times. When hatching irregular surfaces, try lightly drawing outlines of what you can see needs to be shaded, then hatching within that.

That's about all I have. Visually, I hope you don't take this as too critical -- I do like how it looks and especially where its going. Skimming through there's clear improvement, but always room for more :D

(my comic is here, be vicious!)
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