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If it's your first time in an OCT, the audition process can be a bit daunting - it's quite a bit of work, and there's a chance that you might not get into the first round by the end of it. The key thing to remember is that this process is the same for almost every OCT, and every experience will help.

Reference Sheet
This is a snapshot of your character that shows details so that your opponent can accurately portray them and any objects/side characters associated with them. Some OCTs may provide templates which you should follow to a T, and some may ask for more information than others. Beyond following instructions, these tips should hold out:

:bulletred: KEEP IT SIMPLE, STUPID (otherwise known as the KISS that doesn't come with black and white make up).

:bulletorange: Your reference sheet should SHOW as much as possible with only a few words to back it up. Don't feel the need to cover it in text. Only write about what you are showing when the image might not be clear.

:bulletyellow: Make sure that your image is in full colour so that artists who choose to do colour entries can know how to portray your character.

:bulletgreen: If something needs extra explanation put it in your artist's description. Keep this short too - no one wants to read a War and Peace length background of your character, just enough to give people a sense of how to portray the details that make you character who they are. If you're doing long paragraphs (more than four sentences), you're probably doing too much. If you have more than five - even short - paragraphs, you're probably doing too much.

:bulletpink: Make sure that you're not relying on your reference sheet to tell people about your character - it's a reference for your opponent to portray them accurately, or for the judges to see how your opponent is handling their portrayal. People should be able to read your comics without having to refer to it. Don't pull powers out of the blue and expect people to know what is happening, you have to show it properly rather than relying on people coming back to this sheet.

Here's an example of some details you might include in text, either on the sheet or in the artist description:
  • Name: Important, if only for how the judges can refer to them. eg.
    Princess Min
  • Age: If they're older or younger than they look, include that too. eg.
    Older than the hills, but maintains the appearance of a twentysomething
  • Height: For side-by-side reference. eg.
    18cm
  • Background: Where does your character come from? What has happened in their life that led to where they are today? Most times you should only need a few sentences explaining where they came from. You can develop the rest in your comics. eg.
    Princess Min is from the Tooth Fairy royal family, who for the past millennia have been keeping truce with humans by eating their children's teeth rather than their children's bones.
    Princess Min thinks the old ways are best.
    On reference sheet: 'Tooth fairy!' (Referring to crown, which is shaped like a tooth)
  • Personality: How do they act when meeting new people? Are they competitive? What drives them? What makes it change? Again, one short thing is all you need and you can develop anything else in your comics. Focus on what is core to them. eg.
    A little bit spoiled and self-confident, but follows through where it counts (on the violence).
  • Powers/Special Attacks/Special Weapons: Mostly these should be visually represented on your reference sheet. If it takes extra explanation, you need to think about how you will be able to portray it in a comic with minimal text so people know what is going on without having to come to this sheet. Again this should be short, and may just be an explanation of how they work eg.
    She lures children (...And sometimes Princesses) with her hipster-keytar covers of 50s classics, and then she and her drones rip them up and eat their bones for breakfast. Mmm Mmm, just like mamma used to make back in 100CE.
    On reference sheet: 'Totes hypnotic!', 'Keys made of teeth!', 'loves to play 50s tunes' (referring to keytar & its music), 'long fingers hidden by magic gloves', 'eyes and mouth closed when luring prey' (referring to alternate appearance of character) 'Drones: Loyal, obedient, vicious!' (Referring to image of a drone)


:bulletblue: Unless there is a specific template, information you put into your artist's description is usually optional, dependent on how well you think you can show things in your reference sheet and audition comic. After all, a couple of well thought out poses can give readers everything they need to know about your character's personality.

:bulletpurple: Don't be afraid to leave things open to interpretation, and don't worry about covering absolutely every base. Let your opponent come to you with questions or surprise you with their own spin on your character. Who knows, they might come up with something you'd like to incorporate into your own comics.

:bulletpink: Make sure to get your reference sheet out of the way early in an OCT's audition phase: Intro comics can sometimes still get through unfinished... Reference sheets not so much.

Here are just a few examples of a good reference sheet:
Jimmy Boom Reference Sheet by RetroDash Lt. Angus Backadder by underwoodwriter Gossamer Swan Design Sheet by JBarnzi88 Tarts Waller 2011 by RoflQu The Angel Tabris by SirThresher DeCarlo Drumstick by johnnybuddahfist Quirl ref sheet by LilayM AATR season 2 : NORMAN by wansworld

Audition Comic
Your audition is the first chance for judges to see what you've got, so put all your effort into it!

:bulletred: Remember that you will likely have less time to make comics during rounds. Start early and give yourself an early deadline (one that you can miss by a day or two and still be in time for the real one). This will give you an idea of how much you can do, and prevent you from missing the real deadline. Afterwards, you can adjust a page count in your head for rounds based on how well you did with your self imposed deadline.

:bulletorange: Don't hand in a 40 page audition just because you can. A long story is not necessarily a good one. If you can show the core aspects of your character in just three pages, then that should be all you need. If you need more and can do more, by all means make your comic as long as you want, but any OCT judge worth their salt should be looking for quality over quantity. I recommend a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 15, with a golden number somewhere between 5-10 pages.

:bulletyellow: If you're not sure what you can do or have had problems with time management in the past, see if you can produce a 3-6 page audition comic in just a week. You might be surprised by the results, and then you will have a complete entry that you can polish up (even add to if you feel the need) over the rest of the audition period.

:bulletgreen: If you are really cutting it close, submit pages as you complete them and make sure you get your reference sheet in early - this means that if you don't finish before the deadline passes, there is at least something for judges to give feedback on. If your entry is strong enough, even without a conclusion, it might just get through to the first round (though don't rely on that). Better yet, submit pages as you complete them anyway to stop your judges stressing about people entering the OCT.

:bulletblue: Most good OCTs won't accept anything submitted to them after their deadline passes, and it's likely that they will lock the audition folder to prevent you from trying to slip stuff in. The earlier you submit work the better. DeviantART is prone to errors and could cost you your entry if you leave it too late.

:bulletpurple: Creativity is key. No judge wants 20 pages of talking heads following the prompt in the first way that came to their head. Think outside the box, try something interesting and challenging, and find a way to make yourself stick out from the crowd.

:bulletpink: Black and white, coloured, shaded, flat colours, photographs, textless, strangely formatted, digital, traditional... As long as it fulfils the prompt, most OCTs will accept it. Take this as an opportunity! If you feel like you don't have time to colour your comic, experiment with some heavy black lines and shadows. If you feel like your story is a little flat, see if you can spice it up with an interesting comic format. Most judges love it when people push themselves to try new things, and even if it's not perfect, your best efforts will be looked on much more favourably than trudging out something rushed and ordinary.

Here are some great audition/intro comics:
deviantdead.0.1 by gravitationaltim Eden Audition 1-2 by Mr-Haitch ENTERVOID:Wizzie's intro by MyHatsEatPeople :thumb343082204: Mimi's Escape Part one by kozispoon Sakura DA-BR Intro Page by Majikura

That's it! Go forth and win a ton of OCTs
  • Listening to: You
  • Reading: You
  • Watching: You
  • Playing: You
  • Eating: You
  • Drinking: You
Sometimes we all need a little help. In this post, we collect worthwhile references for your artwork, tutorials for comic creation, and other helpful tidbits. Feel free to suggest your own in the comments below.

ESSAYS, TUTORIALS AND DISCUSSIONS

Panelling and Composition
Show vs. Tell: Why "Visual" is Not Optional: On visual storytelling through panelling, composition and reading direction.
Paneling, Pacing, and Layout in Comics and Manga #1 : The second part is linked from the article. Talks about writing to pace your panels, and how to draw the eye down the page with panels.
Flat is Funny, Depth is Dramatic: How staging a composition can effect the tone of an artwork
Advanced Layouts: Paneling Outside the Box
Simple Ways to Improve Any Picture
Creative Illustration: Composition
The 180 Rule and When to Break It: A filmmaking term that is just as important to a lot of comics!
Perspective + Composition Part 1: (Part 2 is linked)
Know your Basics - Composition
Know Your Basics - Perspective
Perspective Tutorial
Theory of Relative Perspective Part 1: Video - draw along!
Theory of Relative Perspective Part 2: Follows on directly from part one
Perspective Tutorial

Environments/Backgrounds
Environments are People Too: How some artists use environments/backgrounds as extra characters to tell a story
Less vs. More: How simple objects and styles can give a sense of place - a counter to 'Environments are People Too'.
Tips on Drawing Backgrounds
Tips On Drawing Clutter

Character Design and Figure Drawing
What Is A Gesture Drawing? How to gesture draw, and  why it's so important to learn this. People having trouble with drawing from life, please take note.
A Pose is Worth a Thousand Bio Pages: How character's body language is useful for visual storytelling and giving information on characters
Figures: They Speak for Themselves: How character design, body language and motion can tell your character's story and personality quicker than words.
Costumes: The Wearable Dialogue: Using clothing in a character design to give information about the character, place or story.
Drawing Hands: Augmenting and Idea: Using hands as another facet of character expression
Proportions Guide
Notes on Expressions (of the face-type kind)
Construction Drawing: Tutorial on how to build up a character from basic shapes to a completed figure.
Drawing Hands
Unique Character Design Tips
Drawing the Hands - Scribbles with Jonathan: Youtube Video
Arms: A slightly different approach to arms than the usual balls-and-cylinder method.
Trying to Disguise shapes in a Character's Sillhouette
How to Draw Mouths
How to Draw Boobs
Manga To Realistic: Has many parts linked from the initial post. Goes through how realism aids your style rather than hampering it.
Understanding Anatomy: In several parts as above
The Face in Profile
Facial Diversity
Anatomy: Covers animal anatomy also
Draw the Head from Any Angle: Follows the Andrew Loomis construction technique for heads, really easy to follow. You can look at the rest of this guy's channel for techniques on building facial features too.

Digital Techniques
How to basic screentone on PTS: Tutorial on screentoning in Photoshop
How I color my Comics on Photoshop
Coloring in Photoshop
Toning in Photoshop

Traditional/Mixed Media Techniques
Everything You've Always Wanted to Know About Nibs, But Were Afraid to Ask
Clean and Pretty Inking with Technical Pens
How to scan large pages
Inking Tutorial
Pencils to Press: Using Photoshop to boost your pencil work
Traditional Screentoning

Color Theory
Just a demonstration of how the flow of an artwork...: How colour values can override your composition (what not to do).
Know Your Basics: Color Theory
The Exciting World of Colour: A colour tutorial that does away with the colour wheel and encourages experimentation.
Color Tutorial

Word Balloons & Text
Text Triage Unit: On fonts, leading, etc.
Text Triage Unit No. 2 The illustrated safety manual
Dialogue Balloons: a User's Guide
Text and Balloons: 6 Advanced Techniques
Comics Lettering Tutorial
Comics Lettering Theory Part 2
How to Letter Comics the Comicraft Way: Focus on SFX

Writing
Show Don't Tell
Effective Brevity
Things to Consider - Don't Lose Character Through the Gimmick: More pertinent to how you write a character than how you design them.
The Quentin Tarantino Guide to Creating Killer Content
How to Write Comics and Graphic Novels by Dennis O'Neil #6 - Whoever Knows Fear...
#27: Re-Write Part III - Killing Your Babies: How to recognise and get rid of those troublesome parts that you really love but aren't doing your comic any favours
Why Writer's Block is Your Secret Weapon
Beat It: Pacing for Comics.
Comics Dialogue Part 1
Comics Dialogue Part 2
Story Structuring: Aimed towards short stories, perfect for this OCT.

General Tutorials/Essays on Art/Writing/Comics
Draftsmanship: Increasing Your Visual Vocabulary: Encouraging article going on the benefits of pushing yourself and branching out to drawing new things.
General Art and Writing Tips: Includes a lot of common sense tips that are too easily forgotten - a great refresher.
What Makes a Good Audition: A guide to creating auditions for OCTs
OCT Realizations: A quick guide to making comics in general for an OCT
Things to Avoid When Making Comics
Discussing the OCT Deadline Flood (Why You Are Making the Judges Cry): On time Management and submission timing
Blood and Posture: An examination of using motion lines vs. Posing your characters, adding blood, etc.
The Comic Strip Artist's Kit (Redux): ESSENTIAL READING. Goes through composition, balloons, posing, a ton of other things that are vital to think about when making a comic.
Krash Course: On tumblr, you may have to open images in a new tab to see them properly.
Art Analysis 14 Strangers in Paradise Terry Moore: Pulling apart a single artwork piece by piece to see how it tells a story simply and quickly (as well as some analysis of general art techniques!)
Art Tools: What do you use and why?: Forum thread - many links in the second post are broken, but the thread is worth a read.

EXAMPLES OF PROCESSES
The Art of Thumbnailing: A set of thumbnails from professional Disney artists that show how they plan compositions for completed animations - easily applicable to comics.
Expanding Your Comfort Zone: An artist's self analysis on her efforts to expand her comfort zone
Step-By-Step Process by Kazu Kibuishi
Building a comic, panel by panel: From Michael Jasper, writer of 'In Maps & Legends'
Making a pretty pink picture: Cartoonist Pat Grant's process for an editorial image, from research to the completed project. Very detailed, easily applicable to comics
AatR2 Commentary with Phi and Chau: Involves a bit on animation, but still very relevant to making comics for an OCT (talks about understanding other people's characters, etc.).
Jackanthe Castle: A comic page from go to wo.

REFERENCE IMAGES AND OTHER RESOURCES

Stock Images and Pose References
Please use with caution - photos and images on a screen are 2D representations, not an actual thing (and drawn references are just interpretations). The best art references can be found in the real, breathing world around you.
Posemaniacs: Various poses of people that show muscle formations. Handy as you can rotate the poses.
SenshiStock
Pose Emporium
Hand Poses
Fighting Poses
Feature and Body Types
Facial Expressions
Skull Reference
The Book of Bones: Series of anatomical studies

Perspective Grids & Composition References
DELICIOUS PERSPECTIVE GRIDS
DELICIOUS PERSPECTIVE GRIDS 2
Wally Wood's 22 Panels That Always Work

Fonts
Blambot
Fontalicious
Press Gang studios

Books - Further Reading
We highly recommend the following titles:

Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud
Comics and Sequential Art by Will Eisner
Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative by Will Eisner
The Animator's Survival Kit by Richard Williams
The Illusion of Life by Ollie Johnston and Frank Thomas

:bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletpink::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple:

Auditions

Premise || Rules & Processes || Schedule || Q & A || Entry Tips || Judges || Prizes || Tutorials & Resources

:bulletred::bulletorange::bulletyellow::bulletpink::bulletgreen::bulletblue::bulletpurple:

  • Listening to: You
  • Reading: You
  • Watching: You
  • Playing: You
  • Eating: You
  • Drinking: You

deviantID

JetsterJay
Laura Renfrew
Artist | Student | Varied
Australia
I am Jetster, and of all the people to visit this page, you might just be one of them. You should check.
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tenshichild Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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bekuki Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
Happy birthday, Jetty!
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Mokoni Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Professional Artist
Happy Birthday!!
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kozispoon Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Student General Artist
:wave:
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JetsterJay Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2013  Student General Artist
Woo! :)
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