I'm working on a story with a lot of action and fighting and the action scenes are EXCRUCIATING and I've already confused a couple beta readers and had to redo a couple pages just so they made some kind of sense..(╥﹏╥)
Does anyone have any tips/resources/tutorials/classes for drawing action scenes, fighting and otherwise?
It's not so much anatomy or stiff actions and soforth, I just can't seem to make the scene clear and readable...it ends up looking like a jumbled mess with characters in weird poses and you can't tell what's going on.
I thought about sketching cage matches and stuff and I found a couple books on the subject but they focused more on anatomy and other basic art subjects more than making a clear readable action scene and fight scenes that don't look like bodybuilding stage posing ( ≧Д≦)
Yeah action, especially fight scenes, can be quite tricky. I sometimes struggle with them (in fact, I'm currently struggling with one), especially the ones that actually go on for a while I don't end immediately with the other side winning.
One major tip I would give is to make sure each panel leads to the next clearly. I'll try using my own comic as an example.
See, in panel 4 Huldric grabs a sword from its sheat, in panel 5 we see him ride to the ghouls and raise the sword high in the air, and in panel 6 we see the strike from the sword.
You mentioned cage fights, so for example in one panel show one character throwing a punch with their opponent dodging or blocking, and in the next panel show the opponent counterattacking.
Also, detailing a fight in advance from start to finish before starting to actually draw also helps.
That's the best advice I can give. Hope that helps.
(I'll be using the DBZ manga as visual reference as it has some of the finest drawn fighting scenes ever)
The way I go about laying out my fight scenes is I think to myself "Okay we got a fight...based on personality, weapons, environment, etc. what would happen? who would make the first move?" then from there, an attack is made and the second character responds. Maybe a punch is thrown and it's blocked. Then how does that character respond? Another punch? Or maybe that character would kick? Maybe not a physical attack at all, maybe a spit in the face or even a taunt? Maybe they'd sweep the legs? Or reach behind for an object as an impromptu weapon? BUT is that in line with their personality? I don't want a fight that's just punches back and fourth (maybe if it's something like a boxing match I guess) so I picture every possible move before committing to drawing them, things need to be interesting. The worst thing is for a reader to get bored and skip past a fight especially in an action focused work.
So when you have your moves and stuff planned out, now you need to figure out how to make it readable. Readability is king in any action scene, be it games, movies, comics, etc. Be careful of violating the 180 rule when going from panel to panel. If you have character A on the left throwing a punch at character B on the right in panel 1, its generally a bad idea to flip them around 180 degrees in panel 2, that confuses people even if their designs are super unique. This is a rule I'm always trying to keep in mind and sometimes mess up myself. Second, to keep things interesting it's always good to vary up the camera angles and the panel layout in the scene depending on what's happening, BUT don't do it just to be fancy, make sure there's reason behind it, see below:
Here, Vegeta uses a ki attack to explode Cui, killing him. (One of my personal favorite moments.) The first panel showing Vegeta is totally vertical, because the ACTION he makes is UPWARD towards Cui, who is above Vegeta in the sky, his hand being the major focal point of the panel, because his hand is performing the major action in that panel. The shape of the panel emphasizes the ACTION Vegeta made and also guides the reader's eye to the next panel of Cui exploding. The third panel shows the moment after Cui's demise. The use of speed lines on Vegeta's arm and behind him and Cui also convey the power of the attack.
I've highlighted the path your eye takes through this page. Akira Toriyama exceled at guiding the reader through his fluid action scenes, from each major focal point of his character's poses and actions to the next all in chronological order, you can picture the sequence of events in your head:
1.Vegeta grunts and prepares his attack (Human eyes always naturally shoot to faces first)
2.Vegeta raises his hand and performs his attack
3.Cui screams and explodes
4.Cui's smoldering remains rain from the sky
5.Vegeta admires his work
I've re-read and studied DBZ endlessly as inspiration because of this.
This whole sequence right here is one of the best in the entire manga IMO:
Now that was crazy!!! Vegeta flew all around and beat the hell out of Reccoome, threw him over the horizon and then nuked him! But you never got lost, it was clear as day. Once again the shape of the panels, horizontal for horizontal actions, vertical for vertical ones, (the panel where Vegeta punches Reccoome is horizontal because that can just be shot from straight on, with them both side to side, but the panel where Vegeta flies in from above and DUNKS Reccoome into the ground is Vertical.) Another cool thing is the use of Vegeta's power aura being used to guide the reader's eye around the page.
ANOTHER thing you'll notice is these panels are BIG and BEEFY, THICC BOYS. There's only like 3 per page! When I first started to draw action in my comics I made a big mistake of trying to cram WAY TOO MANY panels in my pages. If you want cool shit to happen in your fights you gotta give your characters room to move, room to breathe, room to beat the shit out of each other. Which leads me to...
REALLY BIG HITS
(can you tell who my favorite character is?)
If you REALLY wanna sell the impact of a REALLY POWERFUL attack don't be afraid to dedicate a gigantic panel or even a whole PAGE to that mofo. Make your readers go DAAAMMMNNNN! And really soak it in.
These are all just my personal thoughts... I don't really have professional training (bet you couldn't tell!) I'm just a dude who LOVES action, seriously, every bit of media I consume, movies, games, comics, all revolves around kick ass fights. Without seeing your pages I cant say much more.
I'd recommend as an exercise, maybe watch some action movies (John wick is a favorite of mine, Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee movies, too.) and take a fight sequence that piques your interest and try to story board it out. Identify the key moments in the scene, what makes it work, what makes it ACTION. If you have trouble making it readable just copy what you see on screen, and ask yourself, "why did they shoot it from this angle? Why was this moment chosen to be in this shot?" I've done that exact thing before to help myself understand. Physical acting to me is just as fascinating as spoken and greatly underappreciated.
This is old, and we've got a lot of new(er) people here, so I think there's gonna be more good advice to add, buuuuuuut, I am also going to link to this thread from a couple years ago that may give additional help (I keep it book marked, because I, too struggle with action!!)
Hope it's helpful.
(Again, I think there's fresh faces here that may add some new perspectives :3)
Did you ever play sports? Coz I don't watch them either haha video games like smash bros should use the same logic.
The fights/races/sports that take a bit of struggle and stragety are usually the more rewarding
But basically you want to break the whole fight into a series of turns.
Team/person A gets a shot and team/person b get a shot.
Turns dont have to be in order, you can give people two turns or more but you want to keep the match fairly even. Even if you know who is going to win you don't want it to be too obvious (Unless you want it to feel like someone doesn't stand a chance)
((And with all things, you can make it too even. There's a reason they call it stalemate))
-use your surroundings
-show thought process
(Example: Person a sees electric fence then throws dude into it)
-think about your character's style
(Are they strong and slow? Are they light and energetic? Are they angry and aggressive?)
-dont be afraid to let your dudes get hurt. Doesnt have to be gory just an expression is enough.
Okay, the absolute most important thing in an action scene is geography. The audience must understand where everyone is in relation to each other, exactly how far away they are, and what are the details of the area the scene is happening in. So first, you have to figure all that out.
Then, the scene has to have a rhythm to it. There's a certain push and pull, whether it's a fight scene or a chase scene or a heist scene or a battle with a big weird monster, there needs to be a rise and fall to the tension. You can't have it full blast tense all the way through, because that ironically becomes boring. In a fight scene, both fighters have to get hits in, there should be moments where either side seems to have the upper hand. In a heist scene, you should have sections where everything goes smoothly, and then have a close call or two, etc. etc. etc.
Then the last and hardest part is figuring out a way to communicate all of this information to the audience in a way that's exciting. There are no rules here necessarily, but think about the way the eye will be drawn around the page, think about which moments need to have the most impact and then figure out how to build up to those moments. Y'know, composition stuff. Personally I try to have big moments happen at the end of a page, because that makes sense to me and seems to work, but that's not a law or anything, it'll still work if you build the page around the "big moment".
But really I think when it comes to this kind of stuff the best thing you can do is go and analyze some other stuff, stuff you like, and really put a lot of thought into why that stuff works for you. So I guess my real advice is to go watch some action movies or anime or read some comics or something, ones you think are really good, and try and break down why the action scenes in those things work well, and like, how each individual shot or panel makes you feel, and how they connect to each other.
Some people will like, literally take notes but I just find that distracting.
I found that the panel layout alone does wonders at depicting action scenes. I'm using very standard grid layout for anything else, but when the action scene starts the layout becomes more dynamic.
Blurring or fading out the backgrounds to focus on acting characters helps too. Diagonal/angular composition helps too, but that depends on how dynamic the scene in question is supposed to be.
In my comics more so when i started (motion comic) i just had a bunch fo fighting for so long people used to ask me if certain characters were still there or where this was happening.
I think it is important to show a wide shot every once in a while so you ca see where all the characters are and see the background again.
With setting try to remember the setting (in general not just for fighting) is a character itself. The spooky woods are a character they have a personality. Or same with a city a city itself is a being its own character. If this can be reflected also in fight scenes it can increase immersion and dont forget about enviromental hazarss like using improvised weapons from the surroundinga of smashing someone into a wall/tree.