Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

How many steps?
thoththegrey at 3:51AM, Nov. 13, 2008
posts: 53
joined: 2-6-2008
How many/what steps does it take to write a page/strip of your comic?

Here's mine:

1. Conceptualize.
2. Storyboard.
3. Pencil.
4. Scan.
5. Ink Pencils in Illustrator.
6. Layout Inks in Illustrator.
7. Write Text.
8. Layout Text in Illustrator.
9. Color in Photoshop.
10. Add Special Effects in Photoshop.
11. Downsample to 72 DPI.
12. Post!

That'll be my new slogan. “Read 2nd Shift. Its a 12 step program…”
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:29PM
Tacster002 at 8:16AM, Nov. 13, 2008
posts: 67
joined: 7-24-2007
(optional): come up with idea and write down for later reference (but a lot of the times I come up with stuff spontaneously thanks to the nature of my comic)
1. draw the outline for each panel
2. put all the panels together, make borders
3. color
4. resize
5. texture
6. add footer & post!

I'm really simple and do everything digitally…xD;
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:06PM
JustNoPoint at 8:56AM, Nov. 13, 2008
posts: 1,321
joined: 3-16-2007
I consider the scripting/story forming part and the actual making of the comic 2 separate entities.

When story brainstorming I am just shuffling all kinds of story ideas, cause-effect variables, and character personality variables.

I have to segment the stories in chunks that I can handle. The whole 7 issue Prologue I am currently working on is just one chunk of story. I sat down and laid out the whole story then had to divide it again into issue chunks, from there I have to divide it into “A” stories, “B” stories and write down what I need to accomplish for each issue and how to set up the story flow to accomplish that.

After that is over I still have to come up with the story chunk each page will give the reader… how that page will tell that story. The visual/emotional theme of the page and how fast the page is to be read by the reader IE the flow of the page.

I also need to have a general idea of the direction stories will take throughout the rest of the future issues. So I can set up things properly without regretting what I have already established. I don't want to have to recon anything unless I already know ahead of time I am giving a “false” explanation. Not just because I thought of a better way to do something I had already done.


After that mind boggling process is over I can actually start drawing the page working off my script and storyboard/page drafts.

I then put in one last brainstorm session on the page making sure I define what I wanted to do. On many occasions after I finally get to a page I had scripted earlier I need to reformulate the flow, lines, and emotions a bit.

THEN I can finally start drawing from then I can tell you in simple steps.

0. Open Manga Studio
1.I either make the panel layout 1st or I sketch 1st depending on the kind of page I need. If a page has a lot of flowing action I just sketch everything as 1 splash page keeping the thought in my head that I will be adding panels.

1b. Sketching has layers as well. Foreground, Background, and midground… more as necessary

2. After all layers are sketched I Ink on separate layers.

3. All special effects, blood, etc are inked in pure black on separate layers.

4. I had a general idea where all word balloons go. Remember that they are a part of the image and they help dictate the flow and speed at which the page is read. Words are now added and ballooned if necessary.

5. Export image to Photoshop

6. Start with flats… work from top layer to bottom layer

7. Add shading and final touches. I work from the bottom layer up applying special fx colors highlights etc as I make my way up the layers list.

8. Flatten image

9. Resize to 990 wide and adjust saturation and darkness save image

10. resize again to 800 wide with jpeg compression set to 8 save and upload
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:12PM
mattchee at 2:48PM, Nov. 13, 2008
posts: 347
joined: 1-18-2008
I too feel that the scripting is a separate deal.

I have a larger story to tell, so i figure out what what needs to happen in each chapter. Then I break the chapter down into pages and figure out what needs to happen on what pages to get everything into the chapter that i need to. Then i take those page descriptions and begin my actual pagework/scripting… here's the steps:

1. Layout/script page (typically rough) on paper
2. Find/create reference material if needed (various sources)
3. “Pencil” page in photoshop, get everything more or less where it needs to be.
4. “Ink” page in photoshop.
5. Letter the page in Illustrator.
6. Composite the whole thing in Photoshop and save in formats for various uses (I usually have one “full” file with all the components… pencils… everything, a bitmap TIFF for print, and a reduced res version for the web).

Lather, rinse, repeat.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
Skullbie at 4:34PM, Nov. 13, 2008
posts: 4,709
joined: 12-9-2007
1. on paper script the page
2. Make panels in photoshop, large canvass
3. arrange them in a cool way
4. from script roughly draw the poses, looks shitty like spaghetti noodles and constantly use the transform tools and eraser.
5. ink over, refine, ink more
6. color. very mixed process in no order.
7. put in text bubbles, i have made-up dialog throughout the page making.
8. add sfx and dialog
9. Refine, refine, refine
10. resize.

lately i have been incorporating corel painter. Very interesting effects i never see in other comics :P
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:46PM
katfeete at 5:06PM, Nov. 14, 2008
posts: 13
joined: 7-27-2008
My process differs somewhat from other folks' here, seeing as I don't actually, er, draw. I use a 3D program called DazStudio to generate strips. Annoyingly restrictive, but it seems to work….

1) Script – I really prefer to have the scripts written out beforehand, though lately I've been working more from scribbled notes. Boo disorganization.

2) Do any setup work that hasn't been done – build new settings, create new characters, etc.

3) Pose and render each panel. This takes up the majority of my time for any given strip – usually around an hour per panel.

4) Postwork each panel – layers, clothing fixes, adding background crowds, and so on.

5) Import the art into ComicLife and add all the text balloons.

6) Export the panel back into my graphics program to resize and add the page number/url stuff.

7) Upload, rest, and repeat.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:14PM
cartoonprofessor at 3:54AM, Nov. 15, 2008
posts: 396
joined: 9-2-2007
1, scribble up some very rough scripts, this allows me to create a dynamic ‘flow’ of speech bubbles and action.
2, In PS type out the script and create the bubbles, often repositioning them several times.
3, Manipulate my 3D scenes (basic shapes mostly) in Carrara into the correct arrangement for the first panel.
4, render
5, import into ps and position, resize, etc.
6, back in Carrara, set up and render the next panel to suit the preceding one
7, step 5 again.
8, repeat 6 and 7 until I am happy with all panels and story flow.
9, Using my Cintiq, I bring the panels to life by hand-drawing the characters, using the 3D shapes as templates.
10, correct and recolour/tonal adjust, whatever needs doing for the final page.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:36AM
ozoneocean at 8:42AM, Nov. 15, 2008
posts: 24,789
joined: 1-2-2006
1. Write the story.
2. Decide what action should go on a page and how it should be drawn, in how many panels etc.
3. Scribble it all down, arrange into panels… Rearrange… get it right.
4. Draw over it an another layer. Flip it. Draw over that in another layer… repeat until it looks fine.
5. Colour the background.
6. Put the details into the background.
7. Do the figures.
8. SFX.
9. Letter in Illustrator.
10. Resize in Photoshop. Done.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:32PM
Naughtelos at 5:26PM, Nov. 15, 2008
posts: 218
joined: 12-2-2007
My comics are quite complex:
1) Openoffice Writer: Before I sit down to work on the comic, I do scripting, (Main plot points only, I typically develop the humor of the page and the lesser details of the dialogue on the spot, if I try to “force” humor, it ends up sounding synthetic, and well, forced.)
2) World of Warcraft:(Until I get new software) Screenshot the environments I designated in my scripting.
3) Photoshop: Paste Environment into photoshop, and crop down to panel size. Apply a single Blur More Filter to provide illusion of focus.
4) WoW Model Viewer: Equip/Load Characters needed in the panel I'm working on.
5) WoW Model Viewer: Set Background color in WoW MV to 0/375/0, (Pure Green)
6) WoW Model Viewer: Set the stance of character to whatever I happen to need. (Attack, Run, Stand, Talk, Dance Etc.), at whatever angle I need him/her/it at.
7) WoW Model Viewer: Press ALT+Print Screen to screenshot the character
8) Photoshop: Paste in Photoshop, crop off the menus, and duplicate the layer to the background.
9) Photoshop: Remove the green screen from the character, typically with the Magic Wand tool at various tolerances.
10) Photoshop: Resize the character.
11) Photoshop:Repeat steps 4-10 until I have populated the panel with whatever characters I need.
12) Photoshop:Special Effects/Advanced Manipulation, this includes spells, blood, facial expressions, lighting, etc.
13) Photoshop:Flatten Image, Crop it down in case I have any stray pixels lurking off panel, and duplicate it onto a template I use for my pages. Here I typically title the layer, all layers before this are usually labled Layer 1, Layer 1 copy, Layer 1 copy copy, Layer 2, etc.
14) Photoshop: Resize panel as needed.
15) Photoshop:Add a pure white, 50% opacity border, and a stock shadow to the panel.

16) Photoshop:Add speech bubbles:
16a) Designate Character Fonts/Colors, so as to better illustrate who is talking.
16b) Type text.
16c) Make an Elipsis to fit the aforementioned text.
16d) Draw tail using line tool, or any connectors between speech bubbles.
16e) Merge elipsis and tail layers.
16d) Fill tail layer.
16e) Select the whole bubble, and feather 2 pixels.
16f) Link the Text and Bubble Layers.
16g) Add Stock Shadow to the bubble.

17) Photoshop: Name the comic, typically some witty pun, or a single word. I tend to use similar names among story arcs. I punch this name in on the title bar on the top of my comic.
18) Photoshop: Check for holes in dialogue or typos.
19) Photoshop: Ask someone near my computer (Friend, Family Member etc.) to read the comic, and check for plot holes, typos, and make sure the dialogue reads properly, as I do miss mistakes quite often.
20) Drunk Duck.Com: Upload to Drunk Duck.
21) Gasp for breath and relax, provided I make my deadline, which I almost always make, barring the occasional cataclysm (My computer asploding, Software X borking out, Looting all the faithful's stuff from the rapture)
22) Photoshop: Bask in my awesomeness as I check occasionally for comments, and respond personally to them.
I do this twice a week, every week. Ah, but it's a labor of wuv.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:09PM
Koshou at 8:18PM, Nov. 15, 2008
posts: 198
joined: 1-19-2008
1. rough outline for the story in general
2. outline for an individual chapter
3. script for an individual chapter
4. editing, revising, etc.
5. drawing
6. shading
7. scan, resize and clean
8. add tones

:D; yeah. pretty simple…

I'm thinking of switching to color soon, though.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:21PM
BffSatan at 10:01PM, Nov. 15, 2008
posts: 1,478
joined: 3-2-2008
1. Open flash, yes i do mine in flash.
2. Draw up panels layer second from top.
3. Sketch out comic.
4. Draw charecters and objects in frame with brush and bucket tools.
5.Insert background, if more then one panel uses the same background i copypaste.
copypaste is one word now
6. Insert effects with photo impact, but only sometimes.
7. Type text up on word and spell check (I need it), then I copy it into flash on the top layer.
8. Put bubbles around the text.
9. Select everything and copy it into a new document. (I draw all my comics in one file)
10. Resize canvas to make it fit comic and export image as a jpeg.

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM
bravo1102 at 12:50PM, Nov. 16, 2008
posts: 3,224
joined: 1-21-2008
1. Idea
a. Outline idea's story and let it stew.
b. Bits and pieces of story line will come together
c. Stir
2. Write script beginning to end
3. Design and cast characters during script writing process
a. Need to see who I am writing about as this aids in my characterization
1. This usually results in a cast list once all parts are cast
b. Do customization of figures as needed
c. Design accessories and sets
d. Collect and create backgrounds in Photoshop
4. Write a shooting schedule based on the script
a. Who is in each scene
b. Sets and props needed
c. Costume changes
5. Do “screen tests” of characters, sets and various scenes to work out mechanics of layout and special effects shots

6. Start shooting pictures of each scene/diorama of figures following script and shooting schedule.
a. Some of the pictures will be done out of story order so I don't have to build any set twice.
b. Keep running tab of which pictures go in what scene and file accordingly.
Always do alternate photos; angles, positions, lighting. Almost never shoot anything just once.
7. When several scenes are completed to break up the monotony of shooting start photo editing.
a. View each and every picture and weed out the crap. It's as much as 5 to 1 crap to keepers
b. Match kept pictures to script and label script.
8. Edit pictures in Photoshop
a. Remove blue-screening as necessary
b. Joint blending
c. Composite shoots on different layers
d. Backgrounds added
e. Facial expressions
9. Put the panels and speech balloons together in Comic book creator
10. Of course there are re-writes of the script during every step above.
11. Ask myself why am I doing this as least once during each of the above steps.
12. Save everything because I never know when I will need it or can use it again.

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:33AM
thoththegrey at 5:01AM, Nov. 17, 2008
posts: 53
joined: 2-6-2008
Heh. Let anyone who thinks doing photocomics is easier because you don't have to draw chew on that!!!

Seriously, all, thanks for the replies. It is very interesting to see everyone's creative process.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:29PM
Metruis at 2:46AM, Nov. 19, 2008
posts: 60
joined: 11-17-2008
Part One: THE WORDS.
1) Look at the script on my computer labled Dreshae.rtf and see if where I am in the comic suits any of the script, because Between Places actually does have a script written almost to the end until I got lazy and outlined the rest.
2) Chances are, determine that where I am is not suited to the dialogue already written. Currently the scene I am doing is not in the script. It exists as a series of point by point notes as well as some rough panelling instructions. Chances are if I'm in the middle of a storyline I'm aware that I'm either going to my script or these notes, however. So, go to the scripts or the notes for that arc. (When I started my comic, I was not doing arcs, I was trying to follow my script. Which didn't work. My script sucks.) Chances are, I'll be going to my notes…
3) The notes! Notes are taken randomly on paper everywhere and hopefully, when I'm smarter, put on the computer in my handy dandy note file.


No script or notes suit the arc I'm planning.


1) Write said notes for the arc or go over to my script because it's already done.

So, step one: attain notes/dialogue/panelling instructions for the page. As a general rule, I outline any arc now before I do it. Which consists of the only two ‘good’ bits of the story. (cough) And will continue to do in the future.

Step two: Pencils. Pencilling consists of scribbling thumbnaily speedy sketches of figures on paper, using printer paper. IF I like it… then move on to step 3…
If I don't like it, rinse and repeat or erase stuff until I do.

Step three: Polish said pencils. Scrawl dialogue bubbles on it, and possibly add eyes and expressions. Said pencils are incoherent to anyone but me. Nevertheless, once the dialogue from the notes is on it, we move on…

Step four: Scan as grayscale, 300dpi, into Photoshop CS2.

Step five: Convert to RBG. Set pencils as a multiply layer, change the background to some flat color. Right now it's a light blue gray, because the scene is in the snow. Put panel borders up.

Step six: Look at previous pages. If page is in the middle of arc, canibalize previous pages for backgrounds uneffected by characters if on the same angle. Open small versions of other pages for reference.

Step seven: In the event that no backgrounds can be had from previous pages, draw new backgrounds. Chances are there's a few scribbly guidelines for the background on the pencils and either a clear mental image or some sort of map from above, and if this isn't a new setting, colors on the previous page. If it's a new setting, well, I spend a lot more time on this, let's just say. If I got lucky and could canabalize most of the backgrounds, I just go over them and paint anything effected by the characters. Snow, water, footsteps, objects, wind effects, logical changes, but in general what I copy and paste is things the characters don't influence and wouldn't move anyway.

Step eight: Type out dialogue, change if necessary, add bubbles. Add sound effects. Move all of these to a ‘text’ layer folder.

Step nine: Paint base colors underneath pencils for characters and things not part of the background.

Step ten: Paint over top of the pencils. Once I have the shape for faces and people, make the pencils invisible.

Step eleven: Paint. Lots. And lots. And lots. And lots. And lots. And lots. Get sick of painting. Paint more. Until the characters are done, we're not done painting. Fortunately, I enjoy it. This painting is just shaping the characters, since there are no inks and pencils, and includes textures and everything the characters are effecting. If they're influencing the setting in some way, a layer will be made overtop them to paint that stuff too–such as running through the snow.

Step twelve: Atmospheric effects! Magic? Snow falling? Rain? Water splashing? Blood? Smoke? Portals? Paint all that.

Step thirteen: Save final version, not that I haven't been saving all along. Resize to manga print size and save as a .tif. Resize to web-size.

Step fourteen: Stick watermark on it, upload and we're done!

This is generally done over the course of a few days… I try to have a large buffer of pencils, an even larger buffer of notes… though the story's surprisingly flexible for a serious fantasy story, I figure–I know the end, I'll get it there eventually. I usually do the backgrounds and text one day and the characters/effects another. It is by no means simple, it is by no means boring and I follow no specific set of steps.

I don't think photo comics are easier. I don't think any are ‘easier’, per se. =P

But yeah… essentially usually in this order:

1) Write notes.
2) Make notes into rough pencils to be scanned into Photoshop.
3) Do the background, be it copy-paste or brand new.
4) Put speech bubbles on.
5) Do base colors.
7) Special effects/atmospheric stuff.
8) Touch up stuff, resize it, upload it, we're done!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:59PM
Exzachly at 7:16AM, Nov. 19, 2008
posts: 565
joined: 4-21-2007
Here's the guide to make your comic look barely passable!

1) Open Alias Sketchbook pro. Open a file of pre-drawn, empty panels on a transparent background.
2) Sketch everything out, then ink it all, making sure the lines of every shape leave no gaps. Delete the sketch layer. Merge my inks with the panel layer.
3) Open the GIMP.
4) Magic wand select inside all shapes to be black. Expand selection 3 pixels. Fill.
5) Create new layer, white, below the black and inks layer.
6) Move to top layer, select inside all shapes of the same color, move to white layer. Expand selection. Fill.
7) Repeat, repeat, repeat step 6.
8) Save as PSD. Flatten. Save as BMP. Shrink to 700 pixels wide. Save as JPG.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:25PM

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