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A Quick Critique of the Person Above's Comic
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Spencey



Joined: 16 May 2008
Posts: 640
Location: Scotland

PostPosted: Tue Apr 02, 2013 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This is fun. I'm going again...

The Chronicles of Crosarth

First Impression:

Visiting your comic for the first time (and being presented with the current comic "Whining"), I wasn't immediately sure whether the first panel ("That ship is getting pretty close, etc") was part of the page or not. This was due to the transparent background of the page not clearly defining what was comic and what was website.

This page uses the exact same image four times on the same page with not even a minor change in facial expression or the way the character's hair falls. It put 'sprite comic' into my head as the first impression. It looks, frankly, lazy.


Art:

While there are certainly more good points than bad with your artwork, some aspects would stop me reading:

The characters blank white eyes and often-neutral facial expressions have a soulless quality that makes it difficult to warm to them. As a stylistic choice it takes away from the story rather than adding to it.

The frequent re-use of the same images is boring to look at. If I was returning to a comic week on week and kept seeing the same images each time I would stop visiting pretty quickly. The tragedy of it is that when you do draw something new, you clearly put some effort into it. I would enjoy seeing something new each time.

When you resize images, the thickness of the lines shrinks or grows, creating an inconsistency that makes your panels look like composite images rather than co-ordinated pieces of art. It's a little like clip art has been brought together. This is made all the more apparent through the combination of photographs with the comic.


Writing:

From what I read, your writing is pretty good. In particular I think you judge the amount of text to include per page well. The dialogue is well-written and feels natural.


Layout:

The frequent changes to the page layouts is a great thing to see. I like that you have put some thought into the flow of the comic.


Overall:

I felt that this is a good, entertaining comic frustrated by choices that have been made for the convenience of the artist rather than for the benefit of the reader. If you invested the time in making each page completely unique, I think the comic could reach its full potential.


---

I wonder if the next reviewer could give me some feedback specifically on the website layout rather than the comic. I've been wanting to make some changes and I wondered what was working and what what wasn't.
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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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woohooligan



Joined: 21 Jun 2013
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sat Jun 22, 2013 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Submarines & Sea Monsters

Okay, here are my first thoughts:

1) You need to activate your project wonderful ad space. You may not get an ad right away, but the empty "your ad here" sends a subliminal message to readers that "this site isn't very popular, otherwise there'd be ads here"

2) I'm not a fan of a splash page as a home page instead of the comic -- it's an extra step before I can get to reading your stuff.

3) It's got an interesting "indy" look to the art... the newer pages are definitely better than the earliest pages. I went back and checked the first page and there were definitely some spots where it looked lazy to me, like the beard. But the newer pages are pretty nice. Some nice uses of perspective.

4) The hand-lettering in several places is a challenge for me to read. The top of 2/12 as an example.

5) Is 2/9 supposed to look out of place because the character is dreaming?

6) I really liked page 2/14 Very Happy

Is that 250 words? I'm not certain... Confused

Mine is a gag-a-day comic called Woohooligan.
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egypturnash



Joined: 12 May 2012
Posts: 24

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 4:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Woohooligan's "Woohooligan":

First, a note on the site design. The strip's name is the least important thing on the entire page; it's completely overwhelmed by the banner ad at the top, and the type in the Project Wonderful skyscraper ad beneath it. You don't want a giant header that takes over everything, but this is kinda ridiculous.

Your lines are a little too light. I'd suggest doubling the weight, in general.

All of your ladies seem to have the same figure. You're doing a good job of drawing different body types for guys; mix it up for the gals too. And maybe even put tops on 'em that cover the cleavage sometimes.

The "Fetish Forum" sequence has some color issues - the background is terribly close to the honky flesh color you use on most of the characters, and they kinda vanish into it. One way to watch for this is to throw a desaturation layer on top. If everything comes out at almost the same value, it'll be hard to look at no matter what color combinations you use. Have a look at the last Fetish Forum page in grey:



You can clearly think about color in a more nuanced way than this, given the reasonably decent contrasts on the "Security Blanket" page that's at the front of the site right now. Have a look:



There's a decent separation of foreground and background going on here. That said, the final panel would be a LOT stronger if you had the shadows on the captive guy in black! The spotlight is the only source of light on him, use strong stark shadows to sell it.

Most of the comics that say "see an alternate ending below" seem to just kinda… trail off. You might want to think a bit more about the ending and really nail the gag. I know you're using the alternate ending as a vote incentive, but I think you'd do better to pick one ending and put a little more love into it.

You've got the basics down; this is a generally competent comic. But now maybe it's time to try and hone everything a little sharper.

Hope that gives you some stuff to chew on!

----

My comic is Decrypting Rita, a continuing narrative with multiple realities running at once.
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hipopotamo



Joined: 27 Nov 2011
Posts: 192

PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2013 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Decrypting Rita by Egypt Urnash:

Site design:
I would recommend changing the text color and maybe font size for easier reading. The dark background (which is integral to the nature of the art) makes it difficult to read the comments and menus.
I don't know if an horizontal menu below the tittle could be advisable, particularly because new readers might benefit from finding the "about" section soon!
I also think the navigation buttons should be more prominent. Again, colors might be the issue. And I would put the navigation buttons below the comic page, and then the info on updating, rss, etc., immediately below. Either that or move that info below the title.
The title of the page is not showing up.

The comic:
Naturally, this is a challenging, original idea, and pretty cleverly played.
The level of detail on each panel is inebriating, though the story moves a little bit too slow (specially in the last pages), which might be a problem in web comic medium. Of course, your mileage might vary, since we are gonna be attracted to this comic by the gorgeous art and the juxtaposed story line.

In general I like the comic because of originality and art. Hope this is helpful

--

My comic is M9 Girls, let's see how it fares =)

The Hippo
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DirtyDinoRock



Joined: 01 Jul 2013
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Fri Jul 05, 2013 5:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi there!

A couple things jumped out at me when i first opened your comic. some of the panel layouts feel chaotic and the sense of what's happening when in the story is getting confusing. With some of your panel layers it seems as if everything is happening simultaneously in the story.

I'd also suggest finding a free font site with licensing rights to use for your comic. Some of the fonts, particularly that art deco font, just don't really work for the type of story you're telling. I understand that you're trying to have a different font for every character but instead maybe look to something like Calvin and Hobbes for inspiration. Not sure if you remember, but his bully was the only character that spoke in lowercase which set him apart from the other characters. It was the same style of lettering, but differentiated enough. maybe instead of using a couple different fonts, use a font with a lot of formatting options.

I like the crisp lines but I think there could be more anatomical accuracy.

I liked the Rebirth page a lot, if you could bring your other pages to this level I think your comic will look great!

Hopefully some of that advice will help!

my comic is located at http://www.dirtydinorock.com It's a series of short stories, if you want to read from the beginning of one story or start another one, there's an archive directory.

Thanks
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