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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Ask an Artist on the 11th! - A3on11 - How to draw talking heads in an engaging way?



This month's question comes from a local artist who is at the beginning of his career. He asked me: "When drawing comics, how do you make talking heads less boring?"

In the beginning I struggled with this(and still do!)but its very critical to learn. As much as I wish it wasn't so, writers will write scenes where people ACTUALLY TALK to each other, and not just fight,shoot guns or do other cool action stuff.

Comic writers have a lot of nerve.

Anyways, I have 5 major techniques that I use to help the talking heads scene that work well for me, and other major comic pros...as we'll see below.

In no particular order:

1-Extreme Emotional close up.
Use this one only when it's needed to deliver a character's emotion. Use it too much and you lessen its effectiveness.

2-Angle the panel.
Don't be afraid to 'tip' the characters in the panel to the left or right. Movie makers do this a fair bit and it keeps some visual variety and interest - too many straight up and down shots can get boring after a while.

3- Vary the head size.
This can be done with perspective and characters standing a distance apart in the same panel, or by switching the size of the heads from one panel to the next.

4- Move the Camera view around.
Don't just use straight shots and side views! You can go 3/4 views, go for an over the shoulder, overhead views, worms eye views...etc.

5- Pull in and out to show the WHOLE figure.
Just because heads are talking doesn't mean we have to see their lips move! I'd suggest pulling way out and showing the whole figure and space they occupy from time to time. Re-establish where they are in space often to remind your reader whats up.

So...that's some of what works for me and other artists. Look for these 5 techniques in your favorite comics.

In the new issue of HOLMES INC. that I'm drawing up, you can see me putting 4 of the 5 to use for this 'talking heads' page...

Here I've used #1, #3, #4 and #5 from above.

Now in this ARTHUR ADAMS page he incorporates #1, #3, #4 and #5

Over in Body Bags, JASON PEARSON uses #2, #3, #4 and #5

Lastly, in this Battlechasers page JOE MADUREIRA uses all 5, check it out!


Previous month's 'ask an artist' articles can be found over here : A3on11
Remember, I’ll be answering any questions you ask on the 11th of every month right here. Questions can range from very basic ones about general art creation and processes, to very technical comic creation ones. To shoot me a question, just email me (address on the right side on this blog), ask me on Facebook, or throw it in the comments section here. What I talk about just depends on what gets asked! Thanks for the question. Keep 'em coming. See you next month.

1 comment:

  1. Those are all great suggestions Gibson. I found that when I am drawing scenes that are full of dialogue the characters always appear to be in a really small space. Which is why I love how your pages show the grandness of the environment but also don't lose the drama of the conversation. It must be all those extreme close ups and interesting angles! This list will really come in handy from now on when approach these kinds of scenes. Thanks for the awesome answer!

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