Part 5: Creating Your Graphic Fiction

Exercise: Reviewing Your Own Work


Most of the work you have created so far has been the result of specific exercises with clear objectives defining the outcome. However, every drawing, every panel, every word and speech balloon you produce has a potential value beyond the satisfying of a brief of exercise.

Go through the artwork you’ve created throughout the course. Review your sketchbooks, working drawings and scripts as well as the more ‘resolved’ or finished sequences and comics pages. Try to step back from each work’s original narrative, and its success as measured against your original intentions and aims, and make your selection based on whether you enjoy the panel or page aesthetically or conceptually.

Photocopy or scan a selection from these exercises to make a ‘sample’ page of pictures, fragments of illustrations and drawings. This doesn’t need to make narrative sense, but function as more of a showcase for your different visual approaches and styles. Think of it as ‘a portfolio on a page’. You could create a 6 or 9 or 10 panel ‘grid’, or have a more random page arrangement.

I spent some time looking back through all the work I had created so far for this unit. I then selected those pieces I felt most met the requirements of this brief, i.e. ones that I enjoyed the most aesthetically/conceptually.

After transferring these into Illustrator, I narrowed my selection down further and arranged them on an extended A3 artboard.

I could not think of anyway to effectively linking the artwork narratively, but I did decide to start with pencil/draft work at the top of the page that gradually progressed to black ink artwork, before moving onto some examples of more finished, coloured pieces.

It was quite interesting look back at the range of work completed so far, reflecting on it in this way, as when I was in the process of creating the pieces I was so involved and extremely critical. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find many examples that I was actually fairly proud of and seeing how my analogue drawing skills have improved during this unit, which, as a result, are having a positive impact on my digital efforts. It was also quite apparent that I like working in black and white, using ink, and that I am drawn to the colour red.

The final selection for the portfolio page can be seen below.

‘Portfolio on a page’ (click on image for larger version, opens in new tab).

Reflections After Tutor Feedback

My tutor suggested that I expanded on my commentary regarding certain aspects of my selection above. I think it is quite evident that my use of line has definitely improved during this unit. Although my rough sketches are mostly repetitive scrawls of pencil that are not particularly appealing, by the time I have moved onto the ink versions (or digital), there seems to be more confidence than previously. I also feel I am slowly becoming more experimental with mark-marking, trying to make considered choices that reflect the intended style/texture of the drawing, for example whether it be a scratchy or smooth line. Additionally, I have become less wary of attempting to add detail to create more complex illustrations.

In relation to my tutor’s comment about my approach to character design and body language, looking over the selection again, I actually think that I have so far managed to convey the appropriate body language for most of the characters I have created. I am usually able to mentally visualise my design for a character along with a story about him/her, but it is often my lack of drawing ability that holds me back. However, I was generally pleased with most of those I created in the latter stages of this unit. I believe this was mainly due to the consistent, repetitive approach I developed when planning and drafting each character (repeatedly drawing and then checking the balance/positioning).

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