Friday, April 16, 2010

Professional Comic Book Artist provides hints to students

Bob McLeod (right), a comic book artist who has worked for Marvel and DC Comics, has done work on many series such as The Incredible Hulk, Conan the Barbarian, The Legion of Super Heroes, Detective Comics, Wonder Woman, Star Wars and The New Titans.

McLeod created the characters and penciled the graphic novel and the first three issues of New Mutants and created a funny and charming children's book, Superhero ABC (left).

In addition to continuing his work on comic books and children's books, McLeod has also begun teaching sequential art, figure drawing, comic art and scientific illustration at the university level.

McLeod encourages students to avoid beginning a figure drawing with contour lines because it is essential to sketch in the basic structure of the figure before getting too detailed. In the comic book world these rough sketchy layouts are called "break downs". These are then filled in more completely with backgrounds and figure renderings by artists referred to as "pencilers". The completed pencil sketches are inked (usually by a different artist), and then sent to still another artist who ads color (today done by computer). Penciling and inking are still done by hand.

The intense schedule for the production of a comic book requires that the work be shared among several artists. Comics are 22 pages long with about six panels to a page. It takes about a day to pencil each page and the same time for inking. To produce a monthly comic book, the writing, penciling, inking, coloring, lettering, production, printing, and distribution has to be accomplished quickly and efficiently.

The artists do not work from models because there is not enough time so they have an encyclopedic knowledge in their heads of the anatomy and structure of the figure as well as the background buildings, cars, animals, etc. that go into each panel.

The artists who work on comic books are incredibly skilled and McLeod, despite his skill and experience, says he can still be intimidated trying to compete with the speed and talent of artists like Jerry Ordway.

Click on the heading above to go to Bob McLeod's website.

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