Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Concept to Comic: How do YOU do it?
LegalxDrug at 7:11PM, April 15, 2009
posts: 8
joined: 4-4-2009

I'm new on the webcomics scene, and i'm working on my first comic. I'm not going to go into details about the comic yet, (that would be a bit like advertising) but instead cut straight to the point of this topic. Seeing as i've never done this before, i'm looking for a “Small-step Plan” for getting my ideas onto paper, into the computer, and on the web. (this is a little similiar to “What do you make comics with?” But it's more focusing on the thought process behind the comic.)

This is what my guess is so far, cutting out obscure steps (I.E. coming up with ideas) and focusing on getting it to.. well, here.

1: Map out the framework for the story line. (to help keep things organized and goal oriented throughout the comic)
2: Draw up the frame layout you're thinking about using to portray your story, with stick figures or something else to mark what's happening. (kinda like story boards)
3: Draw each frame at full size, lay it out on a large area to make sure you like your layout. (I draw each individual frame in full size, because i'm not the best artist, and I find it easier to fit in greater detail. I understand that this is the UBER time consuming strategy. That's okay, that's part of why I like it.)
4: Scan work into computer. Digitally ink it, or other steps you might do at the digital phase. (Things like speech bubbles and such. You understand. If you ink things by hand, all the more power to you, i'm just not very good at it…)
5: Arrange the finished frames in the frame layout as you like.
6: Upload page. (I don't think this step needs to be here, but just in case you think i've forgotten.. :P)

If you have any tips for this process, or simply want to state your own, please do. I definantly want to take some lessons out of this.
Oh… My… God….
I found my mind!
It was in my hand the entire time!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:34PM
Aurora Borealis at 7:52PM, April 15, 2009
posts: 1,289
joined: 3-2-2008
I have my own way that I'm slowly building up. This is the current mode:

1. Write down the basic idea, everything that pops into your brain: names, bits of plot, interesting dialogue, character motivations, goals, themes of the story, whatever. If you think you have enough data, go to step two. If not, let the ideas cook for a bit and return to it adding new elements at some point.

2. Sort that and outline everything, write down full plot (can be with bits of dialogue/panel ideas but they're not necessary yet)

3. optional step: split the story into chapters/issues/volumes/scenes/whatever (only if uniform lenght of chapters is required, if not, I can skip it and go “raw” from there).

4. write the script. In my case it's loose script, that is it contains raw dialogue, very loose or not so loose panel descriptions (“character A looking at character B in an angry fashion” or “character c picking up an object from the ground, reaching towards camera”) and just split that between pages (so that any surprises end up after a page turn).

5. Do the page layouts. Sketch them out lightly in small boxes drawn in a squared notebook, often with additional notes.

6. Draw pages. Either pencil alone or pencil and ink. Then I do a weird thing, I write down the dialogues with a pencil on the reverse side of artwork. Meaning that even if I'd lose the original script, I still have all the text available.

7. Scan pages, paste them into a page template, edit them, add panel borders, letter everything revising the dialogue again.

8. Send it all to a friend who's good at english for proofreading.

9. Corrections. make a “web” sized copy out of every page.

10. Upload :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM
Speck at 9:16PM, April 15, 2009
posts: 39
joined: 10-15-2006
1 - The outline. I usually write an outline of what I want to have happen in the comic. This is usually the time that I come up with an ending to the comic. I tend to procrastinate more on the ideas that I don't have endings for yet, simply because I don't want to start drawing a comic if I don't know how it ends. (I made that mistake with Timothy Green, at first. It resulted in over a year long hiatus for me.) If I decide to organize the comic by chapters, I break it up in the outline as I'm writing it.

2 - Writing the script. I write my comics page-by-page, panel-by-panel. If I have a particular color scheme, or panel layout in mind, I jot that down before writing what's in each panel. I also limit myself to a maximum number of panel, too, just to make sure that the page doesn't look too crowded. In addition, I make note of where characters are in each panel, what's in the background, and anything else of importance.

3 - Layout/thumbnails. I generally lay out four pages at a time on one page of my sketchbook. I try not to get into too much detail when I'm blocking out characters in the panels, since I'm just going to be drawing it later on. Unless the background plays a very important role, I leave it out of the thumbnail. Laying out the page beforehand saves a lot of time for me in the long run, since I occasionally I draw a layout that doesn't help the story flow.

4 - Penciling and inking. Before I start drawing any of the characters, or even any of the background, I ink the panel borders with a felt-tipped pen. Once that's done, I do some rough pencils (in non-photo blue pencil) by drawing the basic shapes of characters, where they're looking, how they're posing, etc. I rough out the background as well, but usually in less detail. If I have a background with buildings, I put down some basic lines for perspective. When the rough pencils are done, I go into more detail with a slightly darker blue pencil. Pretty much everything gets fleshed out at this point.
Inks are done with a brush and ink, as well as a G-nib for smaller details. I also go into the page after all the ink has dried to correct any glaring mistakes.

5 - Scanning and cleaning. Not much to say here. I scan my images in at 300 dpi and save the original image as such. Then I take away the blue pencil from underneath the inks, and adjust the brightness and contrast of the blacks. Once I'm down to just black and white, I fix any mistakes that I may have missed before, and adjust or redraw some of the characters.

6 - Coloring. Before I start shading any of my comics, I lay down the flat colors for everything, and add all the dialogue and speech balloons. When I get into shading and highlighting, I duplicate the flat layers for the characters, adjust the light, saturation, and hue, and use mask layers to add and subtract the darker layer. Lather, rinse, repeat for any additional layer I think I need. The background is typically all colored and shaded on the same layer.

7 - Corrections/tweaking. I look over the page to double check that I haven't missed anything, and make sure that the page reads all right as a whole. If everything is in order, I flatten the image, shrink it to a width of 600 pixels, and save it at web resolution (72 dpi). Every once in a while, I notice something awry after I've saved it for the web, and go back to the original image to edit it.

8 - Finally, I upload the comic. I like to keep ahead, so I upload ahead of the schedule. I love the fact that DD allows you to set the live date for each page long before it actually goes live. It takes some stress off of me, and uploads the comic at a consistent time. (12 AM, Central Standard Time)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:53PM
Ryuthehedgewolf at 4:56PM, April 16, 2009
posts: 1,340
joined: 9-2-2007
1.) Well, first of all, I like to write a general overview (outline) of what the whole plot of that chapter or whatever is going to be. This can be in class, or wherever, not necessarily at my drawing desk where everything is at. I basically really generally write what I want to happen in the chapter, and put bullet points by it too! :)

2.) Then, I of course, start to put in all the details, and dialogue. Which is also known as, scripting. This is a pretty fun part, considering this is where all my ideas come to life…well…kinda. I just use printer paper, and this felt-tip papermate pen I got at like, Meijer for 2 dollars or something. After I have all the pages written out, I generally staple it in one corner (the right top corner)

3.) After that, I sketch all the unknown parts of the comic out in a sketchbook. Like characters, places, blah blah blah. Pretty much anything I'm not sure about, I sketch it.

4.) Now, this is the fun part! Penciling. Generally, I use a twist-erase .05 mechanical pencil. It's great because it has the twist eraser, which is nice. I also use a clik-eraser, and a Staedtler Mars Plastic eraser. I use printer/copy paper, and go through with a ruler and draw a big box around the paper. It's around the outline, but I make sure the bottom part has a little more space. After this is done, I draw a little bubble in the corner (more like a half-bubble) and write the page number in there. I look at the script, and lay out my panels. After my panels are laid out, I start actually drawing. Then…

5.) I can start the inking! Woo! First I ink the word bubbles, words, panels, and the page number bubble thing. I do that all with that same Papermate felt-tip pen that I script with. I use a Pilot Precise V5 (used to use Pentel Pocket Brush pen, until I realized how much ink cartridges are) to do the general inking, which is basically outlining everything. Anyway, I then go through with my sharpies and fill in ALL of the black areas. Panels, character's clothes, blah blah blah. And the final step of inking is detailing, which I go in with a .005 Micron and put little lines or crosshatching on all the shadowed spots.

6.) So here's where I start toning. I have 4 different gray Copic markers. C1, C3, C5, and C7. I basically go through, and ‘color’ all the areas I feel need to be colored. Pretty fun, and makes the page come to life!

7.) Here's where I scan it, and open up Photoshop CS2. I darken the inks/toning (to about 70 or 80), and then clean it up a little bit. I erase the words I wrote, and put text in that LOOKS like handwriting. And after ALL that, I finally save it as a PSD file, and then re-size it down, and Save for Web.

That's it. That's what I do for EVERY page (excluding steps 1-3). It takes a while, but it's oh so worth it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:16PM
acadia at 11:56PM, April 16, 2009
posts: 374
joined: 12-18-2006
1) Draw a comic.

2) Post it online.

last edited on July 14, 2011 10:45AM
Anubis at 12:25AM, April 17, 2009
posts: 101
joined: 12-29-2006
Mine is a bit different
I have a very vague idea for a arc storyline though the main storyline I have a definite plan.
Each page is not written out until I start making the art for it
sometimes the art will present something into the story that I had not though of before and I will adjust the story for that new bit of information.
Sometimes an entire arc has been altered because of that
do the setups layouts post and bask in my glory.
last edited on July 14, 2011 10:54AM
The Derkomai at 1:38AM, April 17, 2009
posts: 32
joined: 9-1-2008
I F*cked up a lot trying everything, to make sure I knew what I was doing.

There's a lot of f*cking up to go, however.

Cheers to a good life of f*cking up and actually not being a hack in later years, mate!
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:14PM
Gillespie at 7:59PM, April 17, 2009
posts: 194
joined: 2-23-2009
Nowadays, if I think of an idea for a strip, I write it down in one of my journals that are close by.

I draw/colour my comics on the computer, draw out the basic idea, and add whatever else comes to mind that fits. I pretty much plan point A and wing it to point B sometimes.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:36PM
Mirre at 7:12AM, April 18, 2009
posts: 48
joined: 2-13-2006
1. Story/Plot
a comic without a plot becomes boring and uninteresting no matter how good it's drawn imho. a comic is build up pretty similar to how they build up a plot for movies. One important thing is to know how the comic will end, because it's just a pain to draw and draw on the same comic without end (and the plot often gets pointless after time), tho this may not affect comics like strip-comics which have a “temporary” plot in four simple frames.

2. Storyboard
Every time I start with a chapter I make a storyboard for it, so I won't loose track on the story. No need to be picky with the images, stick-figures will be fine. Plan out the page layout, how many pages a certain scene will contain etc.

4. Page-layout.
After the storyboard, I work on 4-5 pages at a time. Mostly on the same scene, I scetch out the layout and makes sure they makes the pages fit together, then I scetch out where speech-bubbles will be. What angle/background and maybe what screentones I will use.

5. draw the pages for real
To make the story short; I scetch, ink, erase scetch, fill in black, add tones, fix errors. And then scan it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:02PM
LegalxDrug at 7:29PM, April 18, 2009
posts: 8
joined: 4-4-2009
Wow! Quiet the turn out for a first topic! Thanks for all the ideas and such. The best part is that long before I started working on my comic, I was mostly enjoying y'alls comics! So it's pretty cool to get such a friendly response! I'm hoping I can produce work of equal quality some day, (tho maybe not artwise) but story wise.
Oh… My… God….
I found my mind!
It was in my hand the entire time!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:34PM
Ryuthehedgewolf at 8:36PM, April 18, 2009
posts: 1,340
joined: 9-2-2007
Wow! Quiet the turn out for a first topic! Thanks for all the ideas and such. The best part is that long before I started working on my comic, I was mostly enjoying y'alls comics! So it's pretty cool to get such a friendly response! I'm hoping I can produce work of equal quality some day, (tho maybe not artwise) but story wise.

Dude, I'm sure you can do it!

It just takes a LOT of practice, motivation, and good work ethic, and dedication and or determination.

I have faith in you, brah.
Just keep at it :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:16PM

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