Probably Unreliable Guides: speed lines

(lets see if i can word this right haha) for the smaller speedlines that show fast movement of a certain limb/weapon/etc (not background speedlines) do you have any tips on knowing where to place them or ways to draw them to show the movement?

I’ll be using panels from my manga Carciphona to explain what I do. Like all tutorials or guides from me, please use with caution!! Everything I know is based on personal observation and some vague memory of things I’ve learned, so they are educated guesses at best and I am sorry if any of this is wrong to the point that makes people cringe. It’s unfortunate I get asked to give tips because I have no education to back it up but I hope this is more helpful than deceitful……….

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To start: speed line is pretty much motion blur, that blur you see in photos of moving things. In line art such as b/w comics, the blurring is achieved through lines too, and that’s where all the speed lines come from, it replaces the sharpness of hard shapes/edges (ie blocks of shadows and fine line) with less defined shapes that are achieved by lines. the slower the movement, the shorter the speed lines, the faster the longer/more dense the speed lines.

1. speed lines over outlines

I’ll use this panel as an example even though the speed lines here depict more of an impact tremour or whatever than motion.

1a. Light speed lines: I think it’s ok sometimes to just slap on speed lines after you draw a static figure but maybe it’s just my lazy standards…in this picture there is some of that, like on the tree trunks that are not really moving. I put very small speed lines in various parts of the line so that there is sort of a uneven but still balanced speed line texture on all of the trees:
I erased little gaps at some parts of the outlines to make it not look so ridiculously lazy, and at parts that are farther away (eg at the letter A) the lines disappear altogether in favour of simply speed lines because I think that place would be farther away/more obscured and therefore should not be well defined enough to even have a crisp lined edge.

1b. Heavier speed lines: Sometimes speed lines over line art looks pretty bad, even if the width of the motion blur is small. It can be a quick movement, or it can be a not so solid object (clouds, dust, fabric, etc). In those cases, I replace the outlines entirely with speed lines:

The arcs in these parts are sort of explosive waves that radiate outwards from the explosion. It’s not really anything with a definite shape, so the blurring of the edges should be heavier than the previous case.

Common mistake: mind the direction of movement. It is easy, especially when drawing background effects, to draw the long arcs, and then instinctively want to make the speed lines along those outlines. Despite the shape of the arcs, the movement is perpendicular to its shape, so the direction of the speed lines should reflect that, even if it takes you 10x as long to draw nicely.

2. Speed lines in shadows/blacks

I’ll use this panel as an example. the camera is zooming in, and the legs of the super close up foreground is in motion while being completely in shadow:

Blacks and shadowed areas are great places to lay speed lines. It’s like shading except with lines! It gives you lots of control over how the resulting shape will look like and lots of opportunities for texture.

2a. Shape distortion: the blur results from multiple images of a single thing being captured in the same frame, and the merge of those images sometimes result a distorted figure which most people perceive as movement. while it can be done with line drawings too, it’s a lot easier to do with shadowed shapes because you’d be thinking about the form rather than skipping straight to the contour of the distorted figure. In the picture above, because Kasga is running forward, I start the speed lines well inside the outlines of his legs because the light surround it bleeds into the figure of his legs. Similarly the speed lines extend beyond the outlines behind him.

For distortion over line drawing, pretty much picture if I had traced the shape of the shadow above and used that instead for Kaska’s legs. This sort of effect should be scarcely used and reserve for extremities of a figure or vast amount of movement, otherwise whatever you’re drawing is going to end up looking like jelly.

2b. Texture: while sometimes it is desirable to have perfectly parallel lines or lines that do not cross each other for speed lines, I feel like it’s situational and sometimes times that clean texture makes the comic look rigid and computed, or amateur (I don’t know why, it’s probably just a personal preference). While I do use a ruler to draw speed lines, I like to use it only to draw some guidelines so that I know the general direction at each given corner of the panel, and then freehand the rest. The result is texture at places where some freehand speed lines meet or cross:
You can tell which lines are done using a ruler and which ones are done freehand.

extra: You can express depth by varying the amount of blur each object has. The closer to the camera obviously the larger the amount of movement, but also in the case of moving body parts, the farther away from a joint, the more movement that part of the limb is going to go through:

Combined examples of both uses of speed lines:
It’s easier to draw dashed lines by drawing a line then erasing parts of it, and the same logic applies to drawing gapped outlines in speed line situations. It’s easier to use white and draw some white lines on of the black outlines AFTER you’re done, than to try to achieve everything in one shot in your initial line drawing (In letter B)

imagesometimes the speed line effect can be done on screentones as well in combination with inking.

imagelol this is terrible BUT YEAH you get the point!

hope this was helpful! ;;

(Source: okolnir)

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Posted on Wednesday, 17 April
Tagged as: tutorial   tay-bee   ask   manga   speed lines   comic   webcomic   guide   okolnir   shilin   carciphona  
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