Void characters and how best to make them.

Void characters and how best to make them.

Void characters and how best to make them.
« on: Jan 02, 2014, 06:55 AM »
Now I would actually want to start a topic here since I figure it would do the most damage. On the other hand, I should disclaim right here that the advice I'm about to offer is based on [9] years of an informed opinion.

To those who don't know me, I entered void around 2005 with an Amnesiac Assassin inspired by noir movies, Memento and 10 years of anime named Agent Black. In this article I'll talk at length about my work with him simply because I feel that I've accomplished more with this single character [and made more mistakes with him] and also because I have the most authority to talk about my own stuff.  Now what I will say next should offend everyone, and frankly, maybe it should otherwise you're not going to give your own approach and way of working a serious look.


Void is in a unique position , similar to Marvel or DC in of that it has the potential to house many characters  within the same universe, but at the same time allow them to tell their own story. However unlike marvel , OR DC, Void is a little more tight knit than that. In a given comic series you have a HERO,  with a supporting character or cast and then you have antagonists by the boatload that contest this HERO  everyday. Every once in a while they'll interact with other HEROES or VIGILANTES or even ANTIHEROES in another canon but this is rare and takes place after considerable volume of stuff has been told about said character - allowing them to develop and grow.

But Void ? Void isn't like that. As soon as a character is born with what little pages you're offered to let them be themselves, they will be thrown to the crossover meatgrinder like a faceless redshirt for someone's personal glory. Do you draw well ? Can you pump out 20 page battles ? Do you have STYLE ?  Then you might actually have a chance. Everyone else will have to look into a different model of working one that isn't as a resource intensive or as exclusive as a Marvel Canon. In fact, let me suggest something that is far more similar to the situation your fight comix will adopt:

Why does this shit work ? Couple reasons.
 Because void fighters are better suited at fitting into a tapestry of characters and realizing the bigger picture. 
As of today, there are now more Edgy-Anti Hero-Protagonists and than there are Basic Heroes, or standard bad guys, or hell, even off the cuff supporting character types.  If I had to use Void lingo, it means that there are probably way more people vying to be Crazy Sams than there are Heimie the Fishboys. And Heimie the Fishboys are only balancing out the equation by the sheer merit that HEIMIE HAS DONE 20 FUCKING CHARACTERS. Second to the crazy sams are the Angies, which you will realize- only two people in my whole recollection of void has ever succeeded in pulling off: Angie herself, and whoever managed to finish their character's story with any measure of a satisfying conclusion after doing 20 or so fights. So your first challenge would be to figure out what kind of role your character would fill, even if it means realizing that a "main" character exists out there that isn't yours. But I'll give you a hint , you can't NOT be a main character of your own story so no matter what you do, people will always read about you --if you do it right.

Secondly, we are in a comic battle site. Comic battles may take on more intricate and complex forms nowadays but I find the lot of them wholly unentertaining and missing the point. Mainly because there's no conflict, no dynamic that is worth noting when two characters come together.  There is a reason why Speed Death Tournament is so fucking good. It's quite literally because its the only FIGHT COMICS I see on a COMIC BATTLING SITE. You can't NOT have conflict in a story that will have two different MAIN characters. And you can't NOT antagonize them in some way because at the core of how we're interacting with each other, WE ARE THROWN IN A RING TO HAVE OUR PUNCH COMIX PUNCH HARDER THAN THE OTHER PUNCH COMIC. It is dumb as shit but don't deny that it is FUN. I'm not saying that you should stop doing slice of life comics. I'm not saying that your proof of concept period piece is trash either but like I suggested earlier, looking around and fitting the right kind of comic in a sea of This Comix and That Comix and having a keen understanding of the basics will basically let you get away with anything.

Going back to wrestling, there are normally two types of wrestlers that enter a ring. A Face, which is someone like Hulk Hogan, Macho Man, or StoneCold Steve Austin - and a HEEL - basically everyone else. The villains, the sideshows, the dudes with a gimmick that play dirty and makes the audience physically want to spit at the television set. Have you not swore in front of your parents while watching wrestling ? Then you did not enjoy wrestling correctly. Even though it's two sweaty guys mangrabbing each other around in a big cushy bed, people will not get tired of it because the build up and the background conflict paints much of the fakeymangrabbing and the transparent gimmicks and cheap thrills that WWF offered.   I will tell you right now that if you stop reading this and make a villain for void then you are already fixing problems. 

Villains. Are. Interesting.They celebrate faults and demons that we are bed buddies with and deep down they write themselves because we have a skeleton in our closet that we want to write or express. I feel that there are a lot of people that write about someone's good traits or their character overcoming great challenges but have only done so after fabricating a canned Satan to fuck up their shit for almost no reason than to drive their plot.  Who does this benefit ? Your opponnent ? Your opponnent probably in their standard good guy response probably helped out your character and got a couple good pages in of them fighting. But is someone else pick up your shiny villains to use? No. Your opponnent ? God no. Am I guilty of this ? YES!  But I also played Villain, Supporting Character, and at times an underdog hero because I actually had people tell me they wanted Black to get on with it. Villains can't exactly stay the bad guy forever, sometimes they have to win to move forward too, and sometimes they get their day and maybe even DEVELOP.

  Which brings me to supporting characters- Supporting characters may not necessarily develop - but when have you not seen a comic where the VCPD doesn't get used, or Veronica Nightingale's flying city show up in the background, or hell if you've been here that long- Estrella De Muerte showing up in someone's deathmatch to collect someone's soul. Usually the starts of a supporting character is entrenched in the idea that the character you're going to make has a job or a place in this city and then realizing that you're the only ______ after a few fights in. It's not terribly hard to fill this role and to take advantage of it. But a lot of problems start to occur when your supposed community character is caught up in an in-group's vastly intermeshed storylines that only your own clique would be able to understand fully. When this happens it's better to plan for episodical stories that are self contained. Don't worry about continuation because someone who finds your one Restaurant Owner interesting will track down all the major events on void through your Restaurant Battles.

So in Short:

-Easy to identify with.
-Comes out on top.
- Normally very appealing if done right.
-Must ultimately grow and be affected by their oponnent's canon
- May change drastically in ways you did not comprehend.
- Is usually blank or bland because they usually start out "undeveloped"
- May end up being an "average" fighter

- Has an easy time fighting other heroes
- Is normally at an advantage when fighting in their own game
- Does not have to adhere to standard plot, and can develop humanistically
-  Extremely popular in fights
- Must explore various storytelling styles to keep fresh
- May not necessarily follow the Hero's journey.
- May have to have a sad ending - or develop into a hero themselves.

- Can be fully formed , fully realized characters from the get go
- Does not have to be relatable, does not need a reason to fight. They are fixed points
- Interacts well with both Villains and heroes,
- Can get away with having the same gimmick for fights
- Can even explore many KINDS of stories
- Best kind of character to be a brooding, anti-hero, badass lancer type.
- Will probably stick to episodical fights
- Their history is hard to trace as they are intertwined in other canons
- Will not get the limelight all the time

 But if you still insist that you have a story to tell, and that everyone should jump in and be your friend and have your OCs drink milkshakes in a restaurant while your brood your dark pasts together, then you need more help. AND I FUCKING LOVE HELPING.

« Last Edit: Feb 21, 2019, 10:44 PM by Monday »

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #1 on: Jan 02, 2014, 07:22 AM »
2. Long or Short, Cooperative or Insular ?

Now, realize that you are in void. And that you are doing crossover battles with other people and that the only two and a half ways you'll ever develop your story how you want is by:

-Winning Battles
-Doing Beyond Battles
Or Fuck having a storyline I'd rather just do gag comics forever and that's okay because I'm not getting paid enough to do this.

There are some in-betweens but I've also seen people disregard the winner's canon to pursue their own story or straight up shut down after realizing that their opponnent swept their leg and they stopped caring. Or worse, went on with their storyline unimpeded without really figuring in their opponnent's participation into account. Really, Unless you planned on having James show up in chapter 1 to introduce your character to void, and then fight the VCPD in chapter 2 all the while being chased down by random-assassin-gunman hired by your Organization 13 expies in chapter 3 to drop the big reveal and hopefully do all this within the month before finals week only then will you have the slightest chance of progressing your character's story to the point of possibly finishing it ! But honestly, dont count on it. If you can't even advance your storyline in 3 pages then what chance do you have in doing it in 3 chapters ?

In the perfect world, anyone should be able to read any of your battles, in any order starting from any fight they see and it should- by merit of one battle being good, get them pumped enough to read the next one or the one before. Or just read one and be completely satisfied with the story within, only to find that the next installment actually BUILDS on top of that perfectly good story you read earlier. Genius !
But as it is not many people are able to pull off 20 pagers or even 10. Normally your epic perfect idea is just an idea until you eke out a miracle and get even half of that in execution and inks.  Plan for failure, plot in bite-sized pieces and always take the direct route. You will be surprised what you are forced to do if your opponent actually hands you a better line, or how far you can stretch a very simple concept.

If your character is falling back on the promise that there will be 10-20 comics about their story that are 10 -20 pages each then get the fuck out right now and prove it in 5 years because thats how long you'll have to stay angry just to get all that done to prove me wrong.

 Giving your character a continuity naturally only happens when they have succeeded in building their world in respect to what their opponents have done for them in terms of development. At this point it will take multiple battles to see and appreciate how all of these tales of wonder has shaped or tramautized your hero/villain/supporting bystander which is why it makes sense to go serial here. Another upshot to having an army of comics string and work together is the hope that all of them together will form a bigger story on top of the little ones no matter how one offish those feel. It's also a practice in looking at the bigger picture and trying different approaches as the situation dictates it.
Every new chapter must respond and reiterate every important contribution your character and your opponent has made to the canon. If you had simply wanted to make a 10 chapter story with your own cast of characters and your Hero winning all the time always then we are wasting your time.

Now I know you're wondering: What does thinking about the length of my comics have anything to do with making the character? He isn't even MADE YET You psychotic asshole ! To which I will say:

 When a voider makes a character, they gotta make a choice. They gotta design whether or not this character o theirs will be doing one off period pieces, or violent comedic gunbattles, or drawn out noir stories that take years to finish and will always end with a woman dying. But enough about your mother,
what I'm saying here is that each comic has to be consistent, and when you're designing your character, it's always good to have playbook ready for how you will handle everyone you will [kill]. And for those who favor consistent and formulaic approaches or are just starting out, doing episodical stories will be right up your alley. When doing self contained stories, its far easier to appreciate the read and the best part is that villains and supporting characters are much more adept at this approach than the Serial Hero.
Violent Kei will always make embarass her enemies violently, Crazy sam will always kill lots of people for no real reason  and told through the lens of his opponnents, and Agent Black will never make sense.


The fact that this approach works vastly better than serial acknowledges an unwritten fact about void:
That serial continuity if allowed to go on forever, will NEVER amount to anything. In fact it will be doomed the longer it goes on. A big problem I've seen go on is that virtually no one has ever achieved an ending for their character's mega-shounen-story-quest-of-infinite-battling, and thus no real satisfaction in reading any installment because it will be build up after build up and then the new years rolls around and we are back in the same place we started. So I will say this, do not opt to taking the serialized approach unless you have an endgame in mind. And if you don't- you should really consider coming up with an ending penned out and immediately make every effort to get there. I promise that when you do, capping off one arc only to realize that you can start another will punch your card for the next decade.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #2 on: Jan 02, 2014, 08:56 AM »

Now that you have put yourself through 12 minutes of my ranting, I can now get to the good part.

Let's assume that you have decided that your character will be a Hero, A villain, or a Magical Supporting Girl. Each archetype offers sensible ways to go about conflict and there are definitely a lot of ways to make a punchcomic do punchy things. But for this lesson, let's consider the basics:

The Setup, The Conflict, The Resolution.

Every void battle worth noting will have these. If not, it operates on a different set of rules:

Theme, Message, Takeaway.

The former focuses on a plot with conflict, but the latter has merit onto itself for being able to use literary device to CONVEY A MESSAGE. When doing a comic you will either fall on one or the other, but never both.

In the conflict plot, the situation and characters are introduced as well as the problem. The problem will then write itself to its most logical entertaining conclusion, and then end. 

In the literary plot, the "theme" is usually the topic of conversation, the message is just that told through the many intricate ways comix can offer, and finally the takeaway is what your readers are able to take with them after putting down your story. This is usually done by harmonizing the conflicts that the message goes through to get across, much like this thread.

In void, you are given a vast armory of things to use but it is also dictated by your opponent and how you will go about treating them. Villainous types will always have an easy reason to fight, normally because they start them. Heroes will wish that more villains and threshold guardians are mucking about just so they have a good yarn to spin when fighting them. Often times, two good guys will exhaustively write a reason to come to cuffs if that- this isn't bad but it happens quite a lot because of article #1. Other-times the story will forego conflict and switch to a literary plot of sorts. These are usually hit or miss, or the two characters will devolve into simply interacting with each other and then parting ways without incident. I have issues with that but I won't say that it's bad but it's not gonna make a strong read either. In fact I could argue that you just wasted your time.

~~Fighting Style~~
Designing your character around how they fight has a wrong way and a correct way. The wrong way is simply solving HOW they fight but doing nothing to let it address the rest of the character or just as bad, having the style define the character wholesale.

Agent Black fucking loves guns. There is never a fight where he doesn't use guns or does something illegal. But Agent Black's way of being , his character and is drive can be a metaphor for a gun: He is neither a malicious or benevolent force but like an object he is used and thrown away. The underlying message here is that he leads a sad and bleak existence and often times gets drawn shooting people for fun. His interactions with people are literally short lived, as his short term memory loss never allows him to form bonds with anyone. And those that do are similarly cursed with tragedy and loss, and those that fought him will feel the most alive at the border of life and death and know him even better than himself. There was no good ending for this character, he was used and then thrown away. In the last moments where he gained a life, he threw it away and got killed as if to reify that none of that was going to change how he is. But now he has died, instead of being thrown away.

Fuudasha's Crazy Sam likes to kill people. Like the joker, he engages in artful violence as if to mix nihilism and sophistry with a sword. No voider alive can actually capture writing crazy sam accurately in their comics except for maybe Heimie who converts everyone into exaggerated parodies of themselves in the Heimie-verse and thus can never fail in this regard.

Angela Rudell will always deal with shit, every battle literally draws blood from her whether its win or lose. Her mounting crisis with the masked men and the shaky foundations of her love life will force anyone who challenges her read through almost all her comics in order to get a handle on how best to contribute to her continuing saga.

The VCPD is easy to write but their pervasive nature and their open interpretation has allowed other to write them out to be far more powerful than they originally were. And the best part is that they seem to write themselves when anyone does anything in void.

Vivian Rivers will always tackle slice of life scenarios but actively give characters goals and conflict to toy around with as well enrich the void canon with [his] own touch. Vivian rivers will make readers FEEL like they're  reading about Void.

Red's Totally LameBot is totally lame and has been laming it up with its lameness for like half a decade now omg stop now thats dedication. But seriously if you lost to TLbot you should feel bad but at the same time Brittney gets mad ups for literally being an underdog all the time always.

These are all prime examples of how to battle. Each fight offers something that only the author can offer and every character is hardwired to operate in exactly that specific way because it works well for them. Notice that fighting style isn't exactly what you read about on someone's bio but apparent in multiple successful comics. Heimie is to gag battles and satire as Agent Black is to Transgressive Violence (tm). Scarlet will always have sexy hotblooded action. You will never see Heimie trying to be anime badass unless Mamoru drew him in as a cameo saying some kind of witty oneliner. And you will never see Agent black to do standup because all his routines end in dead people (but you are still welcome to laugh about it)

Instead of going into absurd detail about the combat modifiers of a fighting style or the special anime rules that go on to make your characters "condition" more interesting you should instead tackle the biggest swathes of your design with broad strokes. And by broad strokes I mean no names. Don't use special terminology, reduce your character in one sentence and see if they still make sense. Watch:

An amnesiac assassin that either kills or forgets his targets.
A catgirl weapons experiment that's running away from her past.
A crazy samurai.
A Doctor who can't cure himself.
A time traveling highschool student prepares for a war.
An immortal who wants to die.
A void college student finds everything normal.
A gamer sees everything as a video-game.

Was that hard ? Do all of them seem even remotely interesting ? How much do you want to bet that if you write your character right now it will turn to this:

An aristocrat.
A Necromancer.
A Scientist.
A Russian stereotype.
A Hipster.
A guy with a gun.

While robust and flexible these may seem characters that are malleable and middling will seem "common" and one note no matter how much complexity you put in their backstory or technical specs. You want characters that stick to an opinion, that has come from a place that not many can relate but few can WHOLLY identify with. The problem with average blank characters is that it will take 10 fights to make them stand out by any measure.

The benefits to defining key- even divisive- elements about your character ? Easier fights. Easier writing. Someone who feels X about this issue and Y about another will always be interesting to read about and far more interesting to write about. And ironically, harder to fight against because your handling of your own character will be the best version of it unless your opponent straight up WRITES better than you and has arrived at his own version of your character that they can tackle.

Have your visual style fit the theme, have your writing work with the character's motivations and struggles, and have your conflict center around your opponent otherwise you are wasting their time. And always ALWAYS have the ending move the plot forward.
« Last Edit: Jan 02, 2014, 09:11 AM by Monday »

Re: Void characters and how best to make and use them.
« Reply #3 on: Jan 02, 2014, 11:23 AM »
4. Two in Harmony Surpasses one in Perfection

This section deals with knowing your opponent or battle buddy or imaginary friend. Often times, voiders collide with characters [again mostly protagonists] that sometimes should not co exist. A cyborg and a Furry DJ. A clown and a weapons experiment. A pirate and a supermodel. One of these may seem viable but the rest are wholly disastrous even to a veteran. While I would question the mentality that made you want to battle this guy, I am going to assume that you got in this situation from random TOurnament pairings. Or for some unfathomable reason, you found something in this opponent that made you click. You either liked this guy and wish-battled them in which case my only advice is prepare to be creamed utterly or worse be defaulted upon.

Your opponent, much like your character must be taken into account completely and utterly. Their theme, their role and even their battle history. While its not possible to incorporate all these elements, it's good to be armed with all the right things so that you're able to map out a plot that will similarly benefit your fighter.  HAving known your own character in the same way its only logical to treat your opponent's fighter is if it was your own. And when this happens you have two choices:

Write them faithfully to your opponent's wishes

only these two extremes exist and theres no shame in doing one or the other. But the two approaches definitely have their ups and downs. Writing them faithfully means that you've accepted the cooperative nature of a crossover battle and like bestestfriends you get together and spend 5 hours RPing each other to script out the sto-NEIN! STOP ! What are you doing !? That's 5 hours of content that you can't ever put into comic form now cause IT ONLY FUCKING WORKS IN TEXT !
 " Oh don't worry , this is just a preface to the real thing"
WHAT REAL THING ? You haven't drawn shit ! In fact- just the fact that this won't be drawn will pretty much ensure that it will NEVER exist. Remember this kids, if its not drawn, written, or said , it did not happen, it does not exist. Not even a lengthy explanation in the bio will quell that.  Cooperative writing with your opponent can only go so far but rarely do both sides actually adhere to the events 100% otherwise it makes both battles a mirror match of each other and it becomes and technical art battle which is less fun than it actually sounds.

Option 2 is to appropriate.
And Appropriate good. Anyone who goes into battle will be tickled at how their opponent tackles their OC. This is not wrong in fact this desire functions off of mutual altruism and so you shouldn't feel bad when you take someone's character and with your own lobster-destroying-man-hands, mold their character to best fit your canon or make an idealized version of them. While the objective is clear, it is wrought with SO MANY HURDLES. One of which is constantly keeping in touch with your opponent and scrying information out of them about their character. Most times they will answer your questions mainly because like you, they want their character written well even if they're not doing it. Now- there are exceptions to this usually and when the artist is not available to be contacted your best and most reliable source will be their fight history. Your assumption from their character will be on par with everyone else's expectations of that character so if Suzy Q was powering up for 3 comics straight and in your side of the battle she summons a spirit bomb, then no one will be surprised now will they ?  You can call this hijacking but I call it good fucking writing. If someone set themselves up to be written predictably then that is just another weakness in their design. WRiters take note, this is how you can kill a veteran colorist with stick figure comics.

Now I bet you're wondering, Uncle Monday I haven't even /started/ fighting other people yet why am I reading this and where did you lock my parents?

Well, Francis. Having a playbook with how you're going to interact with other characters can be determined pre emptively before you even fight them. This goes back to fighting style in which your character's genre, theme, and background can dictate a lot of things. For example, will you be fighting your oponnents in void city ? or in the medieval ages ?   If that becomes your MO then you better get your study glasses checked because you will be doing "Appropriating like you stole it"  89.9 percent of the time unless your opponent manages to counter your approach with say, a time traveller. Or god forbid, a period piece-appropriate character for once.

As an example, Agent Black would be able to fight anyone even if they were borne of a comedic genre. Why ? Because Agent Black is in fact a deconstruction of the action genre- and comedy by nature is also a deconstruction. AB also has short term memory loss and this could be spun as a tragic thing or as a hillarious thing but it also means that I don't have to hold myself consequent to my previous fights. But Agent Black will always interact with his opponents as targets or even indirect enemies through proxy of a rival syndicate because being in "the business" also means that some shadowy corporation is sending girl scouts to visit you with an uzi one day.  If he fights a comedy character , black is seen as an overly serious parody of himself. If he fights an action character black will find little trouble triggering into action and somehow tie this fight with his own problems. If he fights a slice of life character, black will attempt to kill them and fail if it isn't a deathmatch, further progressing his eventual decline.

If he fought Angela Rudell, Black would either befriend her to help her escape the chains of her masked oppressors, or through a rude goldberg device of tragedies will be caught doing something nice for once and get punished for it.  But I doubt highly that angie would easily let me destroy that plot point after a tower has been built around it from time eternal, so she'll probably get the one off tragedy that he supplies. Alternatively they could als just meet in a coffee shop, talk for 7 pages about being in a syndicate and NOTHING WOULD HAPPEN.

And if Angie fought me ? I can already tell that Black will be used as some one off mercenary that will develop feelings long enough for her to cut him down. It would also be an action comic because there hasn't been one for a while and it would involve probably one of characters dying in the process. WHY ? Because she can DO that and YOU WILL BUY IT.  And the fight will be SO CLOSE.

Haaah but it will never happen.

So give your character definition and shape. Weaknesses as much as strength. Humanity as well as superhumantiy. Goals and fears. And most of all the courage to surrender them to the worst of fates because those pages have to get done !

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #4 on: Jan 02, 2014, 11:28 AM »

Now that we covered
-the basic character types of void
- the pros and cons of short and long storytelling styles
- the dynamic of void battling
- and the role your opponnent will play

And generally all the things that are a bad idea to do, we can finally cover the omega of character creation;
Visual Conception. 

On Style..
In plainest terms, style is the consistent method by which an artist chooses to render their work. Whether they use traditional means or a tablet or both. Furthermore style can range from the symbolic and abstract to the naturalistic and immersively real.  The former is easy is execute, but difficult to master. Meanwhile, drawing things realistically and technically is HARD to execute but has a clear direction of progress. However those who develop naturalistic styles tend to veer off into a stylistic approach after a certain point because they soon realize that drawing things "realistically" can only go so far before everything starts to look the same. No approach is "better" than the other but each approach is the "best" at something, simply because styles can't be described as GOOD or BAD but rather, Warm or Cold, or Old or New, sweet or salty, simplistic or complicated.

Some styles are cobbled together by research,
others by years and years and years of illustrating

whatever it may be, it's good to break down the pros and cons of what you're doing.
To simply say " it's just my style" is like saying " I draw necks disturbingly wrong because it's part of me "
It's irresponsible to your work and immature as an artist to leave it at that. Whether or not you change is your choice, but not noticing what you're doing will not even empower you with that choice.

Style will determine if your lines are meant for action, or if your faces are better suited for girly highschool drama. If you're stuck with pretty boy faces and you want to make action comics then perhaps consider a period piece, or a dark and suspenseful genre. Do you draw bubbly cute animal people ? Then do comedy, slice of life, or extremely kiddy hero quests. Or perhaps, mix it up, make cute animal people that are psychotic villains !  Western drawing styles would be great for gritty and realistic stories, but perhaps taking on a comedic approach against new age characters would be breath of fresh air ! (Looking at you, Underwood)
If you draw attractive anime characters and obsess about making them anatomically correct ? Do Hentai.  Do you like making drawing machismo male fantasies where your dude is super 'roided up like a football player and all the women fighters are objectified and want to ride your fighter's dick ? Get the fuck out.

 Style is literally the genetics of your work. But where can one even begin to take on that massive undertaking you ask ?

Step 0. Origin Idea

Much like how anime is an appropriation of Disney animations, or how manga's visual style was a borrowing of french comics, or how Final Fantasy's Yoshitaka Amano was originally inspired by the works of Mobieus and Happosai prints, your idea will have its starts somewhere. And to claim that there is no one outside source is true, however to also say that this all came up in your head is either

1. Complete fucking bullshit
2. Doomed to fail like everyone else.

Realizing which ideas drive your work is important, as it will also allow you to conciously dictate whether or not the works you are drawing from will fit what you are doing or what is needed right now.

Source materials when looked into deeper will provide much more needed insight to enforce the themes you were looking for, or better yet, surprise you with something not many people have seen before. Regardless everyone will be happier that you put in the work to research this stuff. And in the end, this step will inform what kind of style to use in order to maximize the effectiveness of your character.

However the core of your idea - that unchangeable bit that you can actually call your own and got you to make this character in the first place- can never change.

1. The Core

It's strange that the core idea is introduced before the origin source. But if you are like me, you likely saw a couple of things you liked and even though you can't really explain to yourself why the thing you like is cool, you go ahead and take it anyway.

Every anime/marvel comic/videogame/movie  you've seen followed followed a classic story. Harry Potter is a retelling of King Arthur. Every Videogame is retelling of Beowulf.  Dragonball is a retelling of the Journey to the West. And the Hunger games is retelling of Battle Royale, which is a retelling of Lord of the Flies.  And for all these stories and all their heroes and variants, they all followed The Hero's Journey.

The core of your idea should further distill all these parts into its basic components. The simpler the bits and pieces, the easier they are to work with. And the fewer the parts, the more difficult it is for it to fail.

This core idea should be the fixed point that should drive your character, and get YOU excited to continuously make comics for, and should right away get you excited. And if some parts don't work together ? Change them out. Nix them. Edit, rearrange, extrapolate and edit again. You may come up with a better idea than your original source if not something completely different. 

In one sentence, Agent Black started out as " An assassin" , a two word description that just about 4 people on void could be described as at the time. The idea could have easily been trashed to do " A mechanical engineer" or " A big sword", whoever it was was going to adopt an amateur anime style and I was going to be completely convinced that it was going to be badass because drawing anime makes you good, right?


 that was until I watched Memento, played Killer 7, and read an issue of Violence Man and thought to myself that if I did an assassin with mental problems, done in the style of 90s noir anime that would be amazing. I was also 17 and extremely easy to impress, and so I did the rookie thing and included a few dozen ideas too many.
[Half of them never saw the light of day, either]

So now, the  one-sentence idea became: An assassin, with short term memory loss that's stuck in the 90s. Slightly better. At least now theres a style and once the idea can no longer be developed on words alone, it's time to break out the pencils.

1. Silhouette

Now that you have your magical perfectly informed idea in your head, it's time draw your characters.

What , did you think you were gonna get this right the first time ? Characters. More than one, in fact 50.

In concept art, a popular method of character creation isn't to write  a 10 page prose  and magically imagined the perfect visual design from their gut without any references or external mechanics. Instead, they put words in a hat and picked three of them. And you know what they did next ? Drew a million fucking versions of that same idea.

But that's not what you'll be doing. You already have your "3 words" If not, go buy a hat and do it how those gents did. Instead, you will first work out the visual broadstrokes of your character using silhouettes and do 20 of them in a single hour. Why the time constraint ? Because if I was allowed to give you more time, you will waste it prettying up the first 2 until they are nigh un-drawible (sp?).  This is comix ! Characters must be drawn fa

Characters that are recognizable in silhouettes are iconic and convey their character to the reader even if you have never met them before. Their ease of execution, but lack of details will force you to pick and choose which details you should prioritize. It will also force you not to just think about wardrobe and face, but also body type, demeanor, and overall shape. Even though most anime samefaces and have similar body types, the wild protrusions in hair, the ridiculous armor designs all add up to making the characters distinct from each other.  In the example I posted, you can easily tell characters apart, you can also divine what one "group" is known for and what the other "group" is capable of.

Now let's begin.

" The Skillful Huntsman" was a community project in which artists also tackled the similar three word concept: The Skillful Huntsman. Countless artists had their version , and their own version was picked out from a countless pool of 50 or more silhouettes while they were crunching ideas. Do you know which one this artist picked ? More importantly, what can you decipher from this character's setting and backstory on visual cues alone ?

Don't answer that question. Draw those silhouettes.

2. Paring Down.

Once you have achieved those silhouettes picking out one that is striking and effective is hard, for one, it's possible that you may like the weapon of one incarnation and the body type of another. In which case you are on the right track. Instead of silhouettes, you should draw a handful of "sketches". This step should focus on mixing and matching what worked in the silhouettes and further refining some concepts you discovered. And once again should not take more than an hour, and each new idea should be considerably different from the previous one while sticking to the core idea.

Boggart Variants by Taylor Fischer, Master Queen of the Universe. Aka BeastySakura on Deviantart

Note that each variant runs off consistent visual cues involving hay and traditional black magic they also come off as impish. I may not know the backstory behind these sketches but I can guess where they came from.

Finding the best version of your piece will be up to you, but community feedback, the setting you are drawing for and the kind of narrative you want to convey should be factors that weigh your decision. A perfect idea in your head will face the complications of execution and will suck twice as hard if it was allowed to run free. And if a resident voider isn't super convinced of your idea the last thing you should do is argue and explain it but instead listen and communicate through the art. You are always free to disregard everyone. But if you've read this far I don't see a reason why you should.

3. Warming Up

Magically finishing one drawing isn't the end. In fact it is really only parts of a beginning. Once your design is set in your head, take time to do studies, cut loose. Get excited, because you'll be drawing this character or this style 40,000 times anyway.

And  when people come up with a style, they not only draw the character but the set pieces and the NPCS too. ANd no I'm not expecting you to fill up 12 pages of paper. But if you do I'd really be interested in seeing them.

5. Rendering

After you've EXPERIENCED your character to be, and has exposed it to your peers, you can now get your paintbrushes and your photoshops and your painter Sais and your strippers paid models together and just /flesh it out/ And I mean EVERYTHING out. You got all your style details down but now it's time for turn arounds, technical specs. It's all extremely dry so I'll just pull up picture examples to best explain it.

Again, Credits to Taylor Fischer for being a badass.

Note the material call outs and the turnaround angles. And the choices in details that are telling of what setting and what concept the character is playing at.
Consciously crafting every small piece towards a greater whole should also reflect in coloring a piece. Note the common color themes, the metallic and cold blue of the second image and the earthy and vibrant plant tones of the Botanist. Don't get lost in piddly details that add nothing to the character and especially don't put in anything that you're not even going to draw yourself in virtually every comic.

Somethings should be left open for other artists to interpret but physiological and matter-of-fact details can't ever be detailed enough !

Now I'm sure you noticed, but no two styles here are the same. Everyone renders their concepts differently depending on the medium. So whether its naturalistic or stylistic is vastly determined by the needs of the medium and the preferences of the artist. In this case, Taylor Fischer and Kazuma Kaneko normally has in mind that their assets will be going in as assets in videogame companies.

For us, it's comics. So perhaps gearing your characters towards being drawn consistently and moving in still frames would be much more helpful than picking out steel textures or 600 dpi rockfaces. Color palettes and period references would help those that put that kind of bang in their work, and silhouettes and technical details will help those who dabble in intensive linework.

After this it's all about putting your character to life in comic strips. And well, we talked about that and there's the whole rest of this site that is willing to help on that subject.

And don't worry about feeling like you'll end up in the background. Anyone who's worked hard will always get noticed and the people you've fought will always remember how you tackled their character, or made their storyline go sideways with your battle.
« Last Edit: Jan 03, 2014, 11:50 PM by Monday »

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #5 on: Jan 02, 2014, 12:03 PM »
Good stuff! Thanks for making this Monday, a lot of this stuff is stuff people don't think of. I think I agree with most of it. Here's my big ass lengthy response.

I don't think that all comics on Void have to be fight comics. There's so many genres of comics out there that it's important that people experiment with them now while there are no repercussions. You won't be allowed to experiment with different comic types when you're potentially doing art as a career. (unless you're a badass like Becky Cloonan or Faith Erin Hicks who despite working on other people's stories, still do their own shit because comics are their life force) A comic doesn't need action or fighting to be entertaining, unless that's the only genre you yourself prefer.

But! A comic still needs purpose and structure. Even the most slice of life comics should have some sort of purpose in the story beyond "we're just loafin'!". Even a comic with the characters being best friends for life needs to play a part in the actual story. I think the problem with a lot of comics on Void (I'm sure mine have this issue too in some of my comics) is each comic is treated as though it's in the middle of a story.

Like for example, Bob is in the middle of a fight, we don't know how this fight occurred, some punches happen, then Bob is like *shrug* "that sucked" and the comic ends. Why should I care about the comic that didn't have any sort of beginning or end? If there's no build up, there's no investment in the story. I feel like this is something that happens a lot now, I'm not going to pull up specific comics that do this, but you'll know them when you see them. (keep in mind, build up doesn't mean 10 pages) You can still have a definite beginning/middle/end in a 3-5 page comic, this isn't an issue of length. Even fight comics can be boring as hell if you just throw the audience into the middle of some random shit happening and give them no pay off.

I definitely agree that ongoing serial should be discouraged unless you're a fucking masochist. Even though I was used as an example of someone that's pulled it off, I can tell you it's a fucking bitch and I don't recommend it unless you are completely crazy dedicated. Most of my battles were discussed and planned months in advance with the people involved. Sometimes things happened that put these battles off even more since life happens. So that's months and months of just dying to do this specific plot point because you need the stars and planets to align in a specific way for both me and my opponent's schedules to align in a way that allows the comic to happen. So because this specific plot point has to happen next chronologically, I couldn't do anymore battles until it happened. (and it fucking sucked, I'd probably have like 50 battles if I hadn't taken this route)

I eventually went to BB only and now to the web comic format(thank you, Bobo!) just because it was just too much hassle to always set things up exactly how I wanted with someone else. Honestly this really isn't how the site should work. Collabs are okay, but when you can't just do what you want when you want, what's the point? Don't do it, guys! Just make the comics! If you want an ongoing story that's fine, but let your battle at hand influence what happens instead of X and Y must happen therefore I must battle this one specific person.

And yes for god's sake, your entire character back story and the shenanigans that happen with your character and someone else characters 100% totally don't matter on the site if we don't see it in your comics! I've seen so many people get caught up in "well, my character has this really cool story and these are his parents and he is BFFs with these other Void characters" and not actually fucking draw any of it, it's maddening. If you're an RPer that's fine, do what makes you happy. But you have to remember that if all this cool stuff happened either in discussion or through actual RP or through jams or random tumblr drawings and these events impact your comics at all, your reader is going to be lost because they weren't there for all the RPing.

If it's important, show it in your comics. If you want to RP with your character outside of Void that's fine, just what happens in your RP needs to stay out of your comics. What happened between Character 1 and Character 2 does not matter to the reader if it did not happen in the comic. Spend less time with "what ifs" and more time with "I'm gonna make this shit actually happen in this motherfucking comic". Overplanning is the death of creativity on Void, don't do it. Too many things don't happen on the site because people get hung up on what ifs.

I think Monday pretty much covered everything else, so that's all I'm gonna say! haha
« Last Edit: Jan 02, 2014, 12:08 PM by Angie »
Kittens wearins mittens

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #6 on: Jan 02, 2014, 01:04 PM »
thank you for saying what ive been trying to say (and have been ignored) ever since I got back.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #7 on: Jan 02, 2014, 02:00 PM »
wow, informative! I'm gonna need a minute to soak all this up, haha. Thank you for taking the time to type all this. From reading this I somehow get the feeling I'm doing Gray right and Lilyfeather wrong. So I have a question, if I have a character with a backstory- not a long, complex one but one with a couple moving pieces- would it be better to get that out of the way with a BB or slowly reveal it in parts through battles? I was angling for the latter but now I wonder if I'm going to be having an interaction with this other character and then suddenly stop and go "and now its time for Baggage". I'm not a.... particularly strong writer ^^;
I'm gonna come back and read this again in a few hours just to make sure I soak up all the lessons.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #8 on: Jan 02, 2014, 02:13 PM »
I guess it really depends! It can give the audience good pay off if you build it up through battles, but depending on what it is, it could also make it hard to shoehorn it into the battles. For something of huge significance I recommend BBs so the comic doesn't feel as though the person you were battling was just there on the sidelines while you get all your plot stuff out of the way. This way you have more freedom in your battles vs others and aren't forced to battle specific people to make the plot move forward.
Kittens wearins mittens

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #9 on: Jan 02, 2014, 03:43 PM »
This ain't bad, but honestly this coulda been broken down and summed up as:

  • Know how to write a story that moves and achieves something at the end, regardless if it's an action comic or if it's slice of life. Something has to happen.
  • Don't draw cliches, make your character at least interesting in some way by letting the reader see the world they live in, how they see it, and how they interact with it.
  • This is a competitive website that champions community feedback, but you won't get paid for making stuff. Get shit done and do better than your opponent by making their character play in your character's world.
  • Technical stuff. don't forget to focus on that.
  • your mom.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #10 on: Jan 02, 2014, 07:23 PM »
Damn Tofu, thanks !

But for Francis' benefit I had to make him find the secret locker combination to the basement of the slaughterhouse.

I'm rootin' fer ya Francis.

I'm waiting fer ya Francis.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #11 on: Jan 02, 2014, 07:46 PM »
This was a pretty good read, I do like Tofu's summary since it hits the points pretty much on the nose in a straightforward manner. But I did like reading the insight too for how you go about things/interpret things - always good to get a different point of view.

I love tournament characters too, and they generally are the only instance where I come up with a story arc and can see it through to the resolution if I make it far enough. I only plan out enough content for a tournament's worth of stuff - which is both a problem and a good thing. On one hand I got to end a story arc (Luna the only successful one I've done this with), even if said story arc isn't really all that deep. On the other hand it provides a basis of "what the hell do I do next" which ruined the character for me post tourney.

I fall into the trap of wanting to write an ongoing story with my characters that is bigger than what I have been able to pump out within the confines of VOID and its conventional fighting system (Wonderland currently falling prey to this). Although I certainly could do it if my work ethic concerning VOID was better - I know this one for a fact because I've already done it once in week long battles. But alas I'm not good with going after VOID - I do want to try it again some more this year possibly if the day job thing works out comfortably enough that I can afford the time.

I will SORT OF contest against the point Tofu made of not drawing cliches because I do agree to an extent - but cliches and common tropes can be really fun and exciting if they are pulled off well! A lot of the best characters on this site I feel have been done before in some capacity, but because they were done so well they actually have managed to stand out. Not every good work is groundbreaking and on a site where we are learning to hone the craft of making a comic I think worrying about cliche's is one of the less important things. I do think its great to be able to strive to make something that tries to be original but I have found on many occasions things that try too hard to break the mold end up coming across more disappointing to me when done improperly than those that don't. Not saying not to try - but have fun with it. Learning the actual art of crafting comics is far more important to me concerning VOID than whether or not an idea has been done already.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #12 on: Jan 02, 2014, 08:18 PM »
Stereotypes are fine.

Look at the VCPD. They're not even TRYING to fight the awful cop stereotypes. They are COPS.

Feeding off of people's expectations has a plus side and a down.
One is that feeding them the line makes them feel smart. And makes your work seem fleshed out. Bricks need to be square. Water needs to be clear. Things need to function and work on a basic level in order to drive your talking points across clearer. Using symbols are very efficient to create bigger meanings.

The downside is that you're probably totally using it as a crutch and offering nothing more to the discourse than " Oh it's some ________ stereotype" you know how this goes. Then really all that means is that you used some canned writing and can't make anything for yourself. It also means that you probably don't know how to handle basic molds either or you have one way of writing.

But if it works with the basics use it. Basics will always win out. But winning battles means going above and beyond basics too.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #13 on: Jan 02, 2014, 08:23 PM »
Oh yeah, I agree with that for sure. My point was more or less along the lines of don't go out of your way to avoid them because they aren't inherently evil. I agree with going above and beyond basics makes for a fun read and really elevates a work from being bad or "just okay" to being great and memorable.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #14 on: Jan 02, 2014, 08:36 PM »
Oh wow someone finally compiled, analysed and posted an excellent critique of the status of recent void battles. Great work Monday.

On that note I'm taking an adaptive approach to comics on this site. Any win or loss will just set a course for stuff to happen on my character's side. Everything may or may not foreshadow something I'll cook up as soon as I have spare time and a working computer back.
« Last Edit: Jan 02, 2014, 08:45 PM by Jiisuri »

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #15 on: Jan 02, 2014, 10:19 PM »
this thread.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #16 on: Jan 03, 2014, 01:24 AM »
I also agree with Monday and Jax's contestion that sterotypes can work for you if you make them work for  them! Actually, put that down as another short succinct way to sum up this whole shebang.

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #17 on: Jan 03, 2014, 02:19 AM »
Superduper informative!

If this isn't stickied yet, stick this shit to the top and force it down any new voider's face.
If I dream of impossible, should I forget it?

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #18 on: Jan 03, 2014, 11:52 PM »
Visual section added ! It's not as angry as the preview posts though :(

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #19 on: Jan 04, 2014, 08:29 AM »

Great stuff. When Voiders make overly detailed characters they need to remember that Japanese comic artists have assistants, American comic artists tend to work in teams, and so on. It's just not feasible to have an insanely detailed character on Void.
Kittens wearins mittens

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #20 on: Jan 04, 2014, 10:51 AM »
"It's just not feasible to have an insanely detailed character on Void."


is also why my tournament characters (miller, loafmuffin) have simple designs

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #21 on: Jan 04, 2014, 11:27 AM »
Yeah like I'll see a character design like this for Void

(this design is from Final Fantasy, but a good example of pain in the ass design)

and surely the person drawing it wasn't like "yes, this is absolutely the perfect design. This won't cause problems at all." According to some random thing I read on the internet that may or may not be true, supposedly the animators of the cut scenes in the game tried to avoid showing Lulu from the waist down to kind of boycott the complicated part of the design. (I wouldn't know how valid this is since I haven't played said game)
Kittens wearins mittens

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #22 on: Jan 04, 2014, 11:31 AM »
Yes, I am so very offended by your opinions that differ slightly from my own, mostly due to your preference for action and a bit more absolutes than I'd care for.

So much rage.
"I knew when I sighned up for Void years ago, Someday I'm going to prison for this site"  - Mister Kent, words to live by

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #23 on: Jan 04, 2014, 12:02 PM »
regarding backstory building, I talk about it with other people, but I never use any of the information until it's been mentioned in a comic. So mostly I have an idea, but I just go with the flow, because hey sometimes someone just has a way cooler concept and you have to break everything you thought would be awesome because you want it like theirs now.

And as for cliches, I love how a lot of void characters poke fun at it, and are aware they're there. Love the comedy that pops out from using it. But for everything, what makes a good story or character design is that it works.
just browsing here and there

Re: Void characters and how best to make them.
« Reply #24 on: Jan 05, 2014, 01:57 PM »

Great stuff. When Voiders make overly detailed characters they need to remember that Japanese comic artists have assistants, American comic artists tend to work in teams, and so on. It's just not feasible to have an insanely detailed character on Void.

I'm going to disagree with this because there are some characters WHO ARE A PAIN IN THE ASS TO DRAW (somadis im looking at you) and still manage to do just fine. Making complicated ass designs is up to the artist, and it is the artist's responsibility to go through with it or not.  It's your character, you can do whatever you want with it.

It should be a recommendation to utilize simpler design sense, not a law.

...but having a conflicting design/costume with your character's personality is completely different matter that i have other strong opinions on.


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