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Comic Book Illustration: Boarork Pencils 4

Creating Context & Immersion With Backgrounds

In the final chapter of Boarork’s four part, comic book demonstration series we tackle the background.

If you haven’t seen the previous drawing demonstrations in this series, you can check them out below:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3


Backgrounds aren’t always necessary when characters are the main focus of the piece, so most people are tempted to leave them out altogether. A captivating backdrop can help set the mood however, and ground your characters in a world of their very own.

A great background also makes for a more immersive illustration all round. It pulls the audience into the page and makes them feel like they’re a part of the character’s world. Our aim in any illustration is to create an engaging experience for our viewers, and implementing a background is the perfect way to take that engagement to the next level.

By doing this, background sets actually enhance the story that’s being told on the page by providing additional context for the characters. There’s an added sense of when and where the scene is taking place.

Best of all though, backgrounds often compliment the characters compositionally. They’re used to frame the actors, as the viewer’s eye is lead throughout the illustration, toward key areas of focus.

What’s brilliant about natural background environments, such as the terrain featured in Boarork’s illustration, is that the mountains and cliffs can be sculpted out in such a way that paths are formed for the eye to follow. The same applies to framing the characters themselves. You can strategically surround the characters with those environmental assets to achieve an enhanced presentation.

On the technical side there’s really not a whole lot to it! Natural environments don’t need too much precision, and can be somewhat made up, if not loosely based on reference material. As a result, we’re focused less on ruling in neat, straight lines, and more on capturing the right kind of materials and textures for the background elements in our scene.

So it’s important to ask yourself what materials you’re going to be dealing with. Does your background feature bare cliffs made of rock? Or are they covered in moss and foliage?

Maybe instead we’re looking at a grandiose mountain range, and if so, will they be capped with snow or cloaked in dense forest? What about the foreground elements, such as trees, plants, and rocks? What kind of textures should we see across them?

Once all of these things have been considered the next step is to figure out a way to render each material and texture so that it’s accurately portrait in a comic book art style. This is the hard part! But the most important thing to remember is your values, form, subforms and to ensure each one of those textures looks distinct from the other.

We’ll be going over all of that and more in this demonstration, so that you can see how it’s done and hopefully put some of what you learn into action so that you can create your own captivating backdrops.

I hope you enjoy this demonstration and learn more than a few techniques and methods to enhance your approach to drawing comics. Thanks for watching, and until next time – keep on creating and keep on practicing!



Software Used: Manga Studio/Clip Studio Paint


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