Tuesday, October 25, 2011

[Question] Do you think every captioner... should keep changing?

Never be a slave to style

Seeing how you are exploring your own style... Do you think every captioner or at least the ones who want to improve their style. Should keep changing it once in a while?

This question comes in from the wonderful Alectra of Alectra's Playground.  The very shortest way I can answer this is this:


I have never met an artist that is truly happy with their current style.  The common thinking is that there is always a way to improve upon what you are doing.  And if they've met the edge of their current style, then they feel they are using a style that is old and worn, and in need of a replacement. 

Now Alectra qualifies this with artists that 'want to improve their style'.  I would throw that qualifier right out, and just list it that every captioner should keep changing their style.  

Now this isn't meant to point fingers at anyone.  Not everyone is visually creative, and not everyone is creative with storytelling.  And even those that are, will come upon a wall of their own experience and skill.  There are planty of ways that I would like to improve, but I don't have the experience or skill to do it.  For instance I love the people that can draw.  I mean putting pen to paper and drawing out what they picture in their head.  If I had that ability, I would never search out a photo again.  

But... I don't have that ability. I am so bad that when I draw stick figures, I can still confuse people.  Its bad.  Its ugly.  And no, I won't show you. 

But I still strive to improve my style.  Consider these examples as a timeline:

Oh No! 11/15/2009

This was my first cap ever.  Picture to one side, text to the other.  A single color background, and a border that goes around it.  This is where I started.

Click Click Click 11/23/2009

I worked fast when I started, but I was trying many things.  Once I made this, I had my basic style down for a few months.  Image with an effect (in this case a border, but I would also use shadows, and glows), a title with a similar effect, and something behind the text (in this case an image, but I would also use gradations).

Come to Momma 03/13/2010 

After a few months, I came upon the idea of tiling the image.  Not a huge task to do, but it became one of my hallmark styles to this day. 

This is the next major change I did... adding a title bar, as opposed to having the title just float with the rest of the text.  Again, this stayed as a major hallmark of my style. 

The Hard Part 09/25/2011 and Cum Diet 10/13/2011

And now we come to my current exploration of style.  I'm playing with a lot of different things, both story wise and graphics wise.  Now my 'career' as a caption artists isn't even 2 years old, and yet I would say I've gone through at least two major shifts, and am entering my third.  The reason is that I want to be good.  And I don't believe that being 'good' is a static thing.  The very first cap was probably good... but I doubt it would hold up to today's caps.  Or a better way to think of it... A Model T was amazing in its day, but wouldn't even be considered street legal now.  

I honestly believe that my constant striving to be better than my last cap... to change things up and add in new 'features' to my caps, has kept me from getting stale.  And I'm not the only one that does this... I've seem most of the caption artists I respect go through the same desire for a 'better' cap.   


  1. Thanks Caitlyn ^-^

    So basically I've been improving as you said but not just for being up to date as you said at the end. When I started to feel that the cap I was receiving where of a considerable quality... I tried to keep advancing and changing, improving, polishing my skills. Whether at writing or visual style.

    I noticed that people that keep trying to give caps with something different (above the usual comic life or paint... and not trying to say anything bad about it ^-^) Tends not only to get more comments or be more well received but also appreciated.

    A cap done in comic life with my level takes me around 30 min or less... now with said level and done in Quark or Paint Shop Pro the times duplicates or triplicates in effort.

    Part of this has gave a good reason to keep improving. You began with a solid style and more or less you were set to try to reach a point on where your caps would start to differentiate from the rest.

    Well in my case it was totally different. If we take the part of having to read and write in a different language... (not only at the start but now trying to get more... lets say intricated phrases and a good wordsmith "giggle") the part of the visual department needed to be improve.

    I think that the writing style is easily recognizable after reading a bunch of caps from said person. In my case you know I tend to be cheery but also a bit frisky and naugthy (I think sometimes leaves me in a position of the latexed childish gal "giggle") and so my writing has that kind of life!.

    Now where to set that mood in a visual style. Its really difficult nonetheless but I try and while I cannot advance as fast as I would like I'll try next year to come up with a different one. My achievement at that moment will be not to "rot my writing soul" in order to get better at the visual. Difficult but as long as you are true to your intentions it shouldn't be a problem.

    And after all the huge rambling! "giggle"

    In short: I try to be "professional" but at the same time I try to leave a hint of simplicity...

    I don't know if I can relocate this into this world but when I sing my teacher taught me that as long as you keep the movements and the overall as a a simple act, no matter how difficult it could be, It will be better received ^-^

    Hugs and Kisses Alectra

  2. @Alectra

    Thanks for the great comment! I think you hit the nail on the head, that when we as artists progress our style, we are often rewarded with more comments.

    And when I said "I've seen most of the caption artists I respect go through the same desire for a 'better' cap", I did mentally include you. Not that you started off bad, but I've seen both your stories and your caps improve over time.