One of this year’s biggest draws to the Long Beach Comic Expo was comic book writer and editor Barbara Randall Kesel. She has worked for Marvel Comics, DC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Crossgen and Image Comics, making her an expert on what these companies are looking for in artists and writers.
Kesel participated in several panels as well as hosting portfolio reviews at the Expo. Even through the portfolio reviews had a set time and location, Kesel was willing to review someone’s portfolio pretty much anywhere in the convention.
At least once, she sat on a couch after leaving a panel and started reviewing someone’s work. She would give a balance of positive and negative feedback, making sure to let the reviewee what works and what doesn’t.
Kesel explained that when people are first learning how to draw perspective, it could be very helpful to tape figurines to a table at different depths, take a photo of the figurines straight on, print the photo and trace the figurines. This will help the artist’s brain to work in a way that adds depth to the two-dimensional image.
She also explained that when you are drawing a perspective of looking up at a building, the building loses detail the higher up everything is from the ground. This is important to know so the artist doesn’t spend a lot of time adding details at the top, which makes the image seem less real.
Besides explaining where the artists could lose detail, Kesel would point out where the artists could add detail, especially the details in the face of the character. To help illustrate her point she would politely ask someone walking by to help her by having the passerby look from left to right, so the artist could see how the details change depending on the angle.
Lastly, Kesel gave the artist tips on making the pages seem more print ready. For example, instead of shading in a shadow that an inker would have to erase in order to do their job, simply putting a few X’s in that area is more professional and saves the artist time.
Barbara Randall Kesel’s portfolio reviews are an excellent tool for any comic artist wanting advice on their work. If she hosts portfolio reviews at any convention, she will continue to be an amazing person that wants to help the next generation of comic book artists.