3D Art in Comics

yonseo · January 11, 2018 · Uncategorized · 0 comments

3D Art has been used in comics and manga before, but 3D art in comics is’nt well presented when someone who doesn’t use 3D as their main content creation tool attemps to use this medium.

For one thing, comic artists may not be familiar with rendering, lighting or setting up a scene. To be able to extract good 3D line art is’nt enough. There’s texture work or screentone as used in manga (Japanese Comics).

The traditional look of human touch can’t be seen either. It’s a great tool for architechture but for an everyday artist like myself we need these tools to blend in to our work.

Often times I see comic artwork that uses 3D in their work and the 3D aspect speaks more than the hand drawn stuff. To be able to use this medium in comics we need to find a good balance between 2D and 3D.

3D in Manga

3d work has been used before in manga work such as Gantz a Japanese manga series written and illustrated by Hiroya Oku. The story lends itself well in 3D computer graphics, but how was it being made before making the film screen?

Image taken from Gantz volume 1.

As you can see, a rough draft is drawn, the idea makes it on paper. Then off to 3D we go. The artist or artists will then draw the final page which means the page is still drawn by hand. The 3D models are there to help but theres not much detail. It is enough however to get the idea across. What if the models were much more detailed? I mean to the point where we didnt have to draw the face or each character over and over again.

Is creating Comics in 3D better than 2D?

When compared to a traditional medium it is much faster to produce work. You might think that it’s even cheating because of how easy and effortless it becomes. The reality is it is NOT as easy as it looks to be.

While some areas of 3D such as backgrounds in architechture can be a breeze, creating the models takes work. Similarly, if it took you 1 hour to draw that background it will take you one hour as well to create the same background in 3D.

The difference is the 3D background is’nt drawn yet, it hasn’t made it on paper. Not to mention the texture work, those small lines we make when sketching don’t appear in our 3D work.. It does come with advantages though.

You can apply texture to any surface in 3D as well as render in any angle. That is where 3D comes ahead. It’s reusability. Another area 3D excels at is establishing a world. With enough work you will have a scene full with characters and backgrounds.

At this point you can focus more on storytelling, shots, and angles. With a final render your image will look clean and crisp to perfection, it will however lack that traditional touch.


3D lineart

Image taken from Genjira’s Backpack.

Would you be able to tell if this comic was made in 3D? With digital tablets available today it’s impossible to really know. This same image could’ve easily been done in a digital drawing application without the help of 3D.

So why use 3D?. Simply because of production. It is much faster to tell a story by using this medium. We can tell bigger stories than before. Artists dont need to be able to draw perspective. 3D takes care of all that for you.

This image was rendered in Modo. I spent quite alot of time just to create this model, the time spent on this could’ve been used to create comic pages. On large projects this is ideal but for smaller projects you’re better off drawing by hand.


What I found to be useful in 3D 

When telling a story you want to present it in the best medium possible. That medium can be anything. Having many tools today is great,we get to pick what we want to use and for every tool there’s an alternative.

The delivery of the story is key. Using 3D for animation is great but being able to use the same tool to make comics is even better. And if that comic story needed a film, you’re not that far off.



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