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A comic book is a printed narrative in which the story is told through a combination of words and pictures. The words of a comic book story are primarily dialogue, with little narration, and it often features a cast of characters who have ongoing adventures. Some of the main characters of comic books are superheroes, and some of the licensed characters have had their stories told by more than one team of comic book creators. To become a comic book illustrator involves being someone who contributes to the images of a comic book.
Comic books can be made in a variety of ways. One person can originate all of the material within the comic book, including both text and images. On the other hand, the work can be divided in a variety of ways. For example, different comic book illustrators can be responsible for the three stages of drawing: penciling, inking, and coloring. In addition, while comic books can be created by artists using paper, pencils, eraser, pens, ink, and brushes, alternatively, comics can be created with digital illustrations. All of these specifics can have a bearing on the skills and experience necessary to become a comic book illustrator.
If you wish to become a comic book illustrator, you can gain your training in at least two ways. Some people become a comic book illustrator through self-tuition and long hours of independent practice, while others choose to attend an art school so that they can present credentials, as well as a portfolio. Another choice includes the choice of medium. Some comic book artists stick to paper, while others use a variety of graphic design programs—some specially designed for making comics and some adapted to comic use because they happen to work well. Whichever approach you take, you need to build up a portfolio that shows your best work, while at the same time, developing a personal style that you can apply at will plus — if required for the type of comic book you want to create — the ability to imitate other styles.
As you build your portfolio, you can use it to show both your skills with the movement and expression needed for characters as well as landscape details and mastery of panel layout. You can also put yourself a step ahead by keeping a current copy of your résumé on hand for easy access when work opportunities arise. When you’re ready to think about applying for jobs, make sure you have a good understanding of the world of each comic book publisher that you would like to work for. Attending Comic Con International and other major industry trade shows is often an important step if you want to become a comic book illustrator because it will put you in the same room with the companies that hire comic book illustrators, Some of them review portfolios in those settings, so show up prepared.
I have a good friend who is very much into writing comics. He is an art student for that very reason. He has a unique approach as a starting comic artist and illustrator that I think will set him aside when he truly begins his career. When he completes a comic, he screen prints the pages onto very nice paper himself. He saves money on distribution and printing costs by simply doing that work himself. And the results are nothing to scoff at either. When it comes time for him to show his work in pursuit of a job, he will have a near-professional quality print of whatever comics he shows.
Learning to screen print is a relatively simple
process, and allows for the artist to have the very highest quality copies of their work without having to spend a huge amount of money on printing. I would recommend learning this skill for anyone who is considering going into the field of comics.
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