- First off, there's a lot of great stuff that gets posted to Tumblr. Art-help is a good aggregate for tutorials on a variety of art topics. Ktshy and Kalidraws both post and reblog lots of relevent art advice and are worth following.
- This photo shoot of Olympic Athlete body diversity by Howard Schatz and Beverly Ornstein is one of the best pieces of reference and inspiration I have ever seen. I love it as a reminder that "strong" bodies come in all shapes and sizes, not just your male and female superhero molds.
- If you want to improve your human anatomy, Michael Hampton's Figure Drawing: Design and Invention is the best book I have EVER seen for that. He color codes muscle groups and breaks down complex body shapes into simple ones. It's very helpful.
- Though it may feel like pulling teeth, drawing from life is really the best thing you can do to improve. It's painful because it forces you to confront things that you are not good at yet, but that's the best way to improve! Sit in a cafe or on a park bench with a small sketchbook and draw people who walk by, the scenery, etc. Go to figure drawing sessions in your city if possible. If you're too embarrassed to draw in public at first, start by picking up a clothing catalog and drawing the people and settings inside.
- I owe a lot to the series of books How to Draw Anime and Game Characters (vol 1, 2, 3), as well as the How to Draw Manga books (there are TONS, but here's an example).
- Post your work somewhere you can get feedback. I recommend setting up a Deviant Art account and a Tumblr, and letting people know that you are open to critiques. If you have access to arts educators or professionals, ask them to look at your portfolio every few months and listen to what they have to say.
How can I “break into” comics?That is a huge topic, and it depends a lot on which artistic task/s you want to do (writing, penciling, everything, etc.) and in which sector of comics you hope to work (monthly superhero titles, creator-owned graphic novels, monetarily successful webcomics, etc.). You can find a lot of good advice with some basic searching around the internet. With the accessibility of webcomics and blogs, it’s pretty easy to get your work out there.
My advice to anyone who looks at my art and wants to create similar work for a living is this:
1. Draw every day, no matter what. Professionals make it happen even when they don’t feel like it or they’re busy.
2. Set goals. If you are doing a webcomic, set an update schedule that challenges you but is accomplishable. This could be anything–five updates per week or one update per month. The important part is to MEET YOUR GOALS. If you cannot stick to your own deadlines, it’s unlikely you will be able to stick to professional deadlines.
3. While you are trying to break in, my strong advice is to NOT put your effort into long comics, but to make 16-40 page comics that tell complete stories. That way, an editor can look at a comic you’ve done, read it in 10 minutes, and see how you tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end. The best part about this is that while you are in a stage of your development where you are improving rapidly, you can continually shed your skin. You can leave your last story behind and start fresh with your new skills more frequently than if you are shackled to a 400-page saga.
4. Practice other forms of art, especially figure drawing. A classical art education and an understanding of light, form, and composition will help your comics immensely. Even if you are uninterested in drawing realistically, trust me: you want to know how to. Good cartooning is built on top of a good understanding of realism.
5. If your only influences are comic books, you run the risk of developing a derivative style (read: not original, not special). Bring other influences to your work and try to cultivate a way of storytelling unlike anyone else. Watch movies, read books, paint, go to concerts and plays, learn languages, play sports, practice hobbies, travel, meet lots of people, and keep your mind open to new ways of telling stories.
6. Post your work to the internet. This could start as a free DeviantArt gallery, Tumblr, blog, or anything. Eventually, though, when someone does an internet search for your name, the top result should be one easy place where they can find samples of your work, your availability for work, and your contact information.
7. Seek out informed critiques for your work. Go to conventions and approach editors and artists (they will usually advertise if they are doing portfolio reviews and have a specific time and place for them. Please don’t ambush people with your portfolio). If you are in school, explain to a teacher what you hope to do with your art and ask for his or her honest feedback on your portfolio. Thank anyone who takes the time to review your work. Do not argue with them or make excuses. Write down what they say, take it home, read it several times, really inspect your work, and look for ways that you can improve. Repeat.
8. Do what you love. If you truly love making comics, chances are good that you’ll “break in” sooner or later. Even if you don’t make a living at it, you’ll be doing what you love and that is extremely rewarding.