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Tips & Tweets

Tips & Tweets: CB Cebulski's Art Advice (11/19/09)

Marvel Talent Scout C.B. Cebulski's advice for aspiring artists, originally posted on Twitter. The topic: backgrounds.

By Ryan Penagos and Kevin Pearl

C.B. Cebulski's Twitter Icon
C.B. Cebulski has worn numerous hats in the comic book industry. As writer, Cebulski has scripted LONERS, numerous Marvel Mangaverse books, several Fairy Tales series, X-INFERNUS and many more. As editor, he's worked on ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, NYX and RUNAWAYS, among other titles. He's even done translation work, bringing SPIDER-MAN: THE MANGA to the U.S. Now, as Talent Scout for Marvel Comics, the bespectacled foodie and devout Marvel fan, works dilligently to discover, develop and elevate Marvel's vast and ever-growing talent pool.

With thousands of followers on Twitter and numerous questions about breaking into the comic industry arriving all the time, C.B. often provides free advice and tips to artists eager to make theirs Marvel. Look for more recaps of C.B.'s invaluable advice, along with tips from other pros, here on Marvel.com.

"As Marvel talent scout," Cebulski says, "I review about 20 artist portfolios each and every day as they arrive at my Marvel address or inbox. I often see many of these up-and-coming pencilers making the same mistakes and always wanted an easy way to communicate the same advice to all the artists out there en masse, rather than individually. And then Twitter came along to help make my job that much easier. :) These 'breaking in blasts' usually come once a week when I identify a common problem many new pencilers are having and feel the need to comment on it and try and help people making the same mistakes. This week, it just happened to be...Backgrounds. "

Subject: Backgrounds
Originally posted on Twitter*, November 19, 2009

@CBCebulski: Back to some overdue comic advice... today's topic: backgrounds. Lots of new artists' samples I've reviewed recently have shown... (cont.)

@CBCebulski: either a severe lack or gross overabundance of backgrounds. "You need to draw backgrounds." is probably the piece of advice I give most.

@CBCebulski: Be it lack of technical skill or laziness, you'd be surprised how many up-n-coming artists just leave their backgrounds blank.

A spread from SECRET INVASION #7 by Leinil Francis Yu, an example of strong foreground/background composition
@CBCebulski: Backgrounds are not just window dressing. They help give the characters, and thereby the reader, a sense of place in the scene and on the page.

@CBCebulski: Sometimes overdrawing your backgrounds, adding in too much detail, can be just as distracting. You can lose the characters in the panels.

@CBCebulski: You need to find a balance by separating the foreground & background elements to place your characters clearly and naturally in each panel.

@CBCebulski: I'd love it if all you pro artists out there chime in on this. Always fun when the folks actually drawing comics talk add their tricks/tips.

RT** @skottieyoung: "backgrounds are not just filler, they can be complete characters in a story. Treat them like your characters."

RT @MykeNorten: : "Not drawing backgrounds is like admitting you can't draw anything but people. Acting in front of a greenscreen."

RT @PiaGuerra: "The Wizard How to Draw books have a few chapters on setting (one, done by yours truly). They're good resources."

Follow C.B. Cebulski, Marvel and many other industry professionals on Twitter right now, and look for more Tips & Tweets features on Marvel.com in the future.

*If you're unfamiliar with Twitter, messages are limited to 140 characters. Sentences and thoughts may be broken out across several updates. We've reproduced them in chronological order.

**RT refers to a "retweet," or a message posted by one user and then "retweeted" by another. In this case, C.B. has retweeted messages from artists Skottie Young, Myke Norton and Pia Guerra.


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Slightly frustrating that the only bit of advise here was just "add backgrounds" without any mention of how to use backgrounds effectively or what art books are good for studying.