Graphic designers and comic book artists don’t often see eye to eye. However, there’s a great deal that can be learned from comic books to improve your design techniques. After all, digital comics especially often have an overlap with graphic design.
To become a comic book artist, students often study illustration. This will give them an eye for drawing characters in the comic book. A graphic designer, on the other hand, will be more concerned about how a design’s overall look on the page. It should be symmetrical and in order, two things that a comic book artist would never treat as a priority.
Even the most high profile comic book artists have admitted that they draw inspiration for their work from graphic design. Mark Chiarello compares his work to being a graphic designer that just happens to do comics. In his eyes, the line between design and illustration often blur and combine themselves. One of his favorite techniques is the use of the “implied line”.
This art technique works well on the edges of comics and can also be utilized in graphic design. Rather than drawing or creating a line, there is an implication of a line that the eye of the viewer creates themselves.
The work of Alex Toth is one of the most striking examples of this technique. Using it requires a sharp eye for space and how it works. Using movement in your frame, or the direction of a figure’s eyes are two popular methods of showing a line.
Unlike the popular graphic design rules, comic book pages don’t rely solely on the grid layout. They use different sized and shaped panels in order to draw interest. Oftentimes there’s a large central panel where the real action is happening. You can use this same technique in graphic design. Change the layout to draw a viewer’s eye to a particular design element.
Even if you use different shapes and sizes, you can still be cohesive. All it takes is using the same color scheme among your elements. If there is text in the design, always use the same font. This makes for a harmonious look while maintaining visual interest.
A panel’s size can determine the feeling or emotion associated with it. The use of empty space can add weight to a story or design. Or it can serve to emphasize the presence of a figure in a panel. Think of the empty space as an open landscape.
Lines and figures that represent movement can draw a viewer’s eye around the screen or page. Without being obvious, there can be a message hidden in the background elements or icons. This will take the eye to what you the designer thinks is important.
The next you need some inspiration or just want to improve your design skills, pick up a comic book. These techniques will add extra artistic flair to your work. Not to mention that the use of these tips set you apart from other designers.