Advice on Backgrounds

Welcome to another “Ask an Artist” edition, where the artists and writers of Comic Indie field questions and post their answers for the others to benefit from their sage advice.

Today’s question is:

I’d like advice on drawing backgrounds. I hate drawing them. What are good ways to cheat?


First off, my rule of thumb is to draw at least one background for every change in location (an establishing shot) so readers know where the action is taking place in the story. After the reader knows the environment, you can cheat by focusing more on the foreground action/characters until the next scene change.

I sometimes will look up reference pictures to inspire me with my backgrounds and take interesting elements to compose something original.

Action usually takes place with the characters in the foreground. Draw background elements are usually drawn with smaller, thinner lines compared to foreground objects which would have thicker, darker lines. It is common for background elements to be displayed in more saturated colors. Both of these are done so the background does not draw too much attention away from the action taking place in the foreground. Sometimes I color all of the background elements in one color which saves time and again doesn’t draw attention from the foreground elements.

One thing I’ve mentioned before in a past post, is I place the dialogue down on the page first, so I don’t waste too much time drawing background elements the audience will not see because it will get covered up with speech balloons.”

~Submitted by JP

“I use 3D sketch up models extensively. Using a 3D model allows me to quickly visualize and change out a background scene without drawing a single line. Plus I can customize the model by adding or removing characters, cars, or buildings. Once I have my background finalized, I save out a flat jpeg image and trace over it. “

~Submitted by Billy


If you have any helpful advice on this subject or a question you’d like to ask, please leave them in the comment section.

Alex A. Ayala Written by:

Writer, artist and Founder for Comic Indie, with a passion for the art of storytelling, art, and entertainment. By day he works as a Systems Engineer, and by night flying through the universe of Indie Comics.

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