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Rivkah רִבְקָה

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A bit on tutorials [Aug. 9th, 2006|02:52 pm]
Rivkah רִבְקָה
There's a bit of an interesting discussion starting up over at Love Manga over the little tutorials I've been writing up lately and which I thought some of you might like to join in. It's basically about the purpose and use of writing "how-to" lessons and both the good and the damage they can cause. Here's my own response:

I agree that every artist has their own way of getting to point B, but that it never hurts to see how others do it. I’m posting these out of an attempt to help people who have difficulty grasping certain, more difficult concepts on their own, and to give them the tools to take it further.

No matter how we look at it, we are trained by culture and repetition to approach written material a certain way. When it comes to purely textural material, we’re trained to read left to right, following the same pattern to the end of the book (the egyptians on the other hand, went left-right, right-left, and back again so that the end of a series of hyroglyphs would jump up a line, on the same side of the page as you’d previously ended, therefore following a path instead of a pattern). When it comes to ads, newspapers, and magazines–which integrate a lot of art), we are trained to look at what’s deemed the most important or “eye catching” information first–art and headlines–and to read into the details afterwards (the articles themselves). Comics, however, blends the two, and therefore there’s a lot to be learned from studying them in order to more effectively tell the story, such as using larger images and text to make the eye linger and draw the reader in or using left-right format to prevent confusion.

I think, if your goal is to tell a better story in order to more easily and accurately communicate an idea with the reader, studying convention can be an extremely useful tool. But, if your purpose is to explore the medium itself, then only breaking boundaries will do that. You may alienate a lot of people or perhaps your methods become so radical that the purpose and idea behind the story is completely lost, but in the process your reinventing the idea of communication itself. They’re two very different approaches, and I tend to favor the former, being more of a storyteller than an artist. But in the end, everyone will take prefence their own way. :)

From: anderson_t
2006-08-09 09:56 pm (UTC)
No the article isn’t aimed for me, but I think as an example to aspiring talent these sort of postings are like gold to read. In actual fact after talking to a friend about this very article last night it gave me a much better appreciation for it, from a creators perspective.

I was the person he was talking to. I liked the tutorial and thought it made sense from a creator stand-point. Writers ask me all the time how I do it, and I always say this isn't how you should do it, it's just how I do it.

The discussion turned, in comments, to issues Dave, David, and others had been talking of recently in terms of publisher indigenous How-To materials being printed with their house artists, and titled homogenously. This was a discussion that pre-dated your tutorial post. When you commented, none of us were quite certain if you felt attacked in some way. No on saying your tutorials were unnecessary and I'm sorry if you felt this way. Obviously one of your LJ watchers, Dan, thinks just that, LOL! which is why I commented here. I don't think any of us at Love Manga right now thinks your tutorials are useless in any way, yet I was the one called out for thinking just that.

I just want you to know this is NOT the case.
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[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2006-08-09 11:04 pm (UTC)
<--see what I said to zsukasa

I wasn't offended in the least nor felt attacked in any way. I thought ya'll brought up perfectly valid points that I felt the urge to respond to. The best discussions present both sides of the story. :)

However, you should know me by now; it takes takes a LOT more than a difference in perspective and/or opinion or playing the devil's advocate to offend me.
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[User Picture]From: tentopet
2006-08-10 02:33 pm (UTC)
Rivkah took no offense, but I think if it were me, I would've initially. It's just the fact that the subject was Rivkah's tutorials, and so you assume that when someone posts, it's in immediate relation to that. It's like if someone said, "Look, I got an A on my paper!" and someone else says, "I hate when people think they're better than others." You connect the two. So I totally believe you that you weren't specifically referring to Rivkah's tutorials, but I'm confused that you feel unfairly misinterpreted. Yes, you were misinterpreted, but not without reason. I don't think people were *looking* to be offended by you. So I don't think there's any reason for you to avoid being attacked by not commenting on things at Love Manga! And think of all the tears David would shed ;)
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From: anderson_t
2006-08-10 02:53 pm (UTC)

I was responding to this:
It’s fascinating the broad range of theories there are behind comic-making but how few people ever actually agree (and how few actual books there are on this particular topic).

Because we'd been talking about it all week, but in regard to publisher exclusivity of style and how-to ism.

Again, I still people coming to the defense of someone who was never attacked in the first place. No one said creator tutorials were bad, why people must keep reassuring 'those of us at LoveManga' of this in their comments is beyond me. 0_0
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[User Picture]From: tentopet
2006-08-10 05:31 pm (UTC)
"I was responding to this:
It’s fascinating the broad range of theories there are behind comic-making but how few people ever actually agree (and how few actual books there are on this particular topic)."

Ahhhh, I see :)
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From: zsukasa
2006-08-09 10:06 pm (UTC)
There's always interesting discussion over at LM ^.^

Rivkah I get the idea you feel the comments are directed at you. Please believe me when I say they are not. They are rather, directed at the concept of "how-to" books and the idea that they can quickly become the de-rigour of that particular topic. It's something that's been discussed a long time before your tutorials, so please don't worry.

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[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2006-08-09 10:58 pm (UTC)
Eek. I wasn't offended or feeling defensive in the least. I just thought it was an interesting point to bring up. ^_^; You guys are intelligent people who always bring up both sides of the discussion. Gynocrat is right that I didn't know ya'll were also referencing to earlier discussions. I'll reword the intro at the front of this post so it isn't so misleading. :)
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[User Picture]From: whune
2006-08-09 11:11 pm (UTC)

I'm fond of you adn your work, and what I percieve to be your intentions, and heart for the artform in general

and I'm a little overprotective

my apologies for starting crap in your journal.
shall I delete my comment?
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[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2006-08-09 11:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and I know you were just trying to protect me. I assure you, however, that were I to be offended in some way or another, you'd never see it on this journal. My belief is that if I feel someone were to be attacking me directly, I'd much rather ignore them than respond.

I do it all the time. XD
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[User Picture]From: whune
2006-08-09 11:39 pm (UTC)


and besides: it's not my place

I have a bad habit of letting my zeal inspire me to leap right over into someone else's business

I'm glad you delt with the whole thing in such a level-headed manner
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[User Picture]From: violetjimjams
2006-08-09 11:47 pm (UTC)
Reading through the comments left on Love Manga, I have to agree with the person who said that books written in THIS IS HOW IT MUST BE DONE format are indeed scary. Actually, they tend to irritate me. Like when they say magical girls MUST have a sailor-suit-themed outfit, or heroes MUST be this or that. Makes me want to throw the book onto the sidewalk and watch it simotaniously burst into flames and melt.
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[User Picture]From: lilrivkah
2006-08-10 12:00 am (UTC)
I agree, though I don't think there are actually very many how-to books that do that. In writing tutorials, you do have to be somewhat authoritative so that people realize you know what you're talking about. A writer can't say "but there are other ways to do this" every other sentence, even when they know there are other ways to the method of appraoch. That there are alternatives and methods yet unexplored should be assumed in all tutorials.

I actually considered writing a similar disclaimer before posting these, because I know I'm leaving a lot of those alternative methods out, but . . . I think that might have started things off on the wrong foot. Sometimes it's best to just state what you know to best of your abilities and let people figure out the rest on their own--especially when time or page space is limited. And I think this goes for all artists and writers, including the ones who do those "how to" books, even the ones that come off sounding snobbish.
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[User Picture]From: dock
2006-08-10 11:03 am (UTC)
It's a shame that the market has been flooded with 'how-to' books, and that so many people believe they are presented as the definative method of production. It's given a lot of people a very sour outlook on manga tutorials in general and it's a big shame.

Most of the comments thrown about regarding manga tutorials seem based on entirely ficticious content. Yes there are a lot of really shit books out there, but many are decent enough and it's always nice to hear techniques from other artists, irrespective of how it is packaged.

As far as I'm concerned, the more information you have on a topic, and the more methods you can choose from, the better.

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[User Picture]From: gregusa
2006-08-10 02:47 pm (UTC)
Fortunately most "how-to" books and articles are written as "here's my opinion of how-to" or flat out "here's how I do it - your mileage will vary". Same as you, I've only found only a few that take a definite "must-do" tone. And that's usually because they are taking certain manga conventions way too seriously. Taking a authoritative tone doesn't stir up the rebel in me in most cases. There is no wrong or right way to do art, just different ways, so I know it's only someones opinion no matter how seriously the authors take themselves.

Almost all of the beginner books (and there are a TON of them now) are just alike and the books that are advanced tend to not go into much detail into why. They just show one way of doing things. That's why articles like yours that go deep into how why specific things work FOR YOU are so useful. I'm looking forward to more of your articles. I can't wait for Scott McCloud's new book to come out. I just found out about the Mangaka America book, which looks very interesting. I appreciate anything that makes me examine what I do and how I do it to see if I can improve.
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[User Picture]From: owen_the_og
2006-08-10 03:43 pm (UTC)
It seems like one of the major issues with these how-to books involves the authorial voice.

In academic papers you're (for the most part) not supposed to say things like "I think" or "in my opinion" because they display a lack of conviction. It is understood that a paper written by Owen Gannon (me) contains things that he has thought or formed opinions on (based on the evidence of course).

Similarly Rivkah's, and anyone else's, tutorials are obviously how she/they do things. Therefore I think a disclaimer is unnecessary.

Personally when it comes to things like pacing and panel layout I read all the tutorials I can get my hands on, just to see how different people do things.

As for publisher-specific how-to books; if you're making something commercial it might be good to take a look at them, authoritative voice and all, since you might want to publish something with them someday. Also they become more fun as time passes. I still have my copy of How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way on my art shelf.
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From: (Anonymous)
2008-08-15 01:57 am (UTC)
hey this has absolutely nothing to do with this but i love your hebrew name. mine is bruchah havah (i dont have the ability to type hebrew on my keyboard ^^;) so yeah just really wanted to say that. xD love your tutorials, they really helped me a LOT a LOT a LOOOOTTTT thanks
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