Updated: Sep 13, 2020
So I thought It would be fun to explain my actual process behind making webcomics, it’s changed a lot over the years as I’ve learnt new things so hopefully, you’ll find something useful.
Where to start?
Personally I like to start with a simple concept or theme and then build onto it by adding more later. Ideally, I like to be able, to sum up, my comic in one word or a phrase like...
“My comic is about ______.”
The fun part is you can use any word, for example, for my comic Not Another Cliche! My starting concept was “Virtual Reality” which changed to “Virtual Art University” as I developed the world and characters.
It’s important not to just settle for the first thing that pops into your head, instead see what you can add, take away and edit to make your story interesting and stand out from similar ones.
I like to answer a series of questions to help focus and develop my concept, story and characters. Here are some examples:
Questions about your story:
What is the main genre of your story?
What other genres can you cross with to make it more interesting?
What kind of tone do you want the story to have?
Will there be any humour and does there need to be humour?
What type of reaction or feeling do you want to invoke in people when they read your story?
What lessons will people learn from your story?
Has the concept of your story been written before? If so by who and what twist can you add to make your story stand out?
What can you learn from similar stories/ concepts as yours?
What can you do to play with people's expectations of your concept?
What year is your story set in?
Roughly how do you want the story to end?
Questions about your protagonist:
How will people be able to relate to the protagonist?
OR What particular audience do you want to be able to relate to the protagonist?
Is there something special about them? Is it a secret?
What is the main goal you want your protagonist to achieve by the end of the story?
What physical ailment or handicap can you add to make your protagonist more interesting?
What motivates the protagonist into continuing to reach their goal?
What kind of challenges (if any) will the protagonist face as a direct result of your story concept?
What kind of struggles can you add to the protagonist’s journey?
What gender/race/ nationality Is your protagonist, and is it important to the story?
Does your protagonist have any friends, family, pets?
Who is the supporting cast?
Is there a love interest? If so who?
Questions about the Villain or antagonist
Does your story need a Villain or an antagonist?
Do they need a back story to help people relate to them?
How bad is your Villain and/or antagonist? Ie do they burn whole cities to the ground and murder women and children, or do they have morals?
What kind of atmosphere does the Villain and/or antagonist make when they enter a room?
Why should anyone care about them?
As someone who has Dyslexia, My scripts are very basic since I know I’ll be physically illustrating them later so I only write what’s necessary for me to remember as I like to have the freedom to add and change things when designing later on.
For the script itself, the main important things I focus on is the dialogue, plot and rough scene descriptions, Here is an example from the first scene in my comic, Not Another Cliche! Chapter 1 Amature:
Scene: Woods, fantasy or otherworldly look to it, no natural colours, (probably purple??)
Sky is running away from a Monster, she ends up running into a tree branch and falling over as the monster catches up with her (Spooky?).
Sky Commentary: "So you're probably thinking…. I don’t remember this happening in Alice in Wonderland, well that or what did I possibly do to piss off that Furrie?"
Sky continues: “The short answer is I'm not entirely sure… And believe me, I know how dumb that sounds, but the truth is, I don’t even know where the heck I am…”
I don’t like to limit myself by my script, for me it’s only a rough guideline, so if I end up coming up with something better while I’m making the pages and want to change something then I will.
For actually writing my script I like to use a version of the 7 point method which I simplified to make it easier for myself but perhaps I’ll talk about that in another video.
Before making any pages I like to get some designs prepped so I can reference them while making the pages later. It always saves me a lot of time so I don’t have to panic and come up with something on the spot all the time.
Some things I like to have prepared are:
Prop designs (weapons, items, bags, magic etc.)
Set or screen Designs (for rooms, environments and buildings)
Concept Art (for general ideas)
Obviously, it’s too much to prepare everything in advance, especially if certain things won’t show up in your first few chapters, so I usually only prep things for the specific chapter I’m working on. I also love to use sites like pinterest to help focus my ideas!
Personally I don’t like publicly posting my prep work to social media since I don’t want to spoil things for the people who only want to see it as it happens in the comic, so I only post that kind of thing on my Patreon for people who want to see it and would like to further support what I do!
Storyboarding and Sketches.
I started using Clip Studio paint during making chapter 3 which has speeded up my process a lot more as clip studio has a lot of features that are specifically aimed towards making comics, so I can work on a group of pages at the same time and switch between pages a lot faster as they are all grouped together.
Personally I prefer to just sketch out each page as the actual pages size, rather than using the small thumbnail method since for me, it saves me time so I don’t have to resize everything later.
Instead, I just zoom out of the page as I’m sketching so I can work fast since at this point I’m just trying to get the overall idea across.
Normally I’ll do about 2 sketches before the final line-art, where the first will just be super rough/ or stickmen as I’m just trying to illustrate my the script and the second will be more on model so it makes inking easer.
I’ve also made a bunch of custom brushes for backgrounds to make things easier for myself, I would differently recommend making custom brushes for your own comic if you have a unique style as it will save you a lot of time, later on.
Before I used to draw literally every single stone and pebble in the background which takes up a lot of time that the average reader probably isn’t going to care that much about in all honesty so instead I made some custom pebble brushes which I can just manipulate the perspective change some of the colours and done!
There are some brushes you can download from clip studio, and there are people who constantly make new things all the time, so check that out too!
For some bigger backgrounds and or establishing shots, I like to make separate illustrations that are easy to reuse and tweak for multiple panels if I need to, the trick is to make the whole illustration super detailed so you can focus on a smaller part of it in different panels, that way that one detailed drawing can be used in multiple panels, but I would say only do this if it fits the flow of your story.
For example, I like to use this trick for characters who are talking for more than one panel, as it gives the reader a little break and reminds them of the setting.
Some comic creators also use 3d modules to help create there comic
Formats, Panelling and scheduling
So for my webcomic, I prefer to make it with a traditional comic/manga layout first and then edit the panels to fit a webcomic layout.
This way if I ever want to print my comic I’ll have less hassle trying to fit everything within a page. But if you don’t plan to ever print your comic then you can just work with the webcomic format.
But If you do use the edit method, be aware that you will need to resize your text and possibly redo some text bubbles since webcomics need to have a bigger text size for easier readability as some people will be using their phones to read it!
Remember to space out your panels in a way that keeps the pace thought out each episode. I think webtoons recommends having at least 30 to 60 panels per episode every week, but as someone who can’t work on there comic full time due to other commitments, don’t feel bad if you can’t keep up with that, instead just work on making a bulk of pages before uploading them. And let people know when you’ll be uploading on social media before the day of the upload. I think people tend to be more understanding if they know what’s going on and when they can expect to see updates from you, I try to update at least once a month if I can, but I upload a month in advance to patreon so they are always ahead by at least 1 episode.
I try to leave each episode on a mystory or cliffhanger which will hopefully keep readers interested enough to come back for the next episode, so sometimes I’ll make certain episodes longer just so it’ll end at a more interesting part, I avoid ending episodes in the middle of a conversation since it will break the flow of the overall episode, Ideally, I want reader to be able to pick up were then left off from the last episode so they don’t have to re-read it to remember what happened.
I would advise making a comic buffer before uploading your comic though, try to work out the average amount of pages you will post per week or month and double it.
So for example, if you’re making and posting 3 to 4 pages per month then you’ll need to make at least 6-8 pages before posting. If you can make more than that then even better, but having a buffer is good because if something happens to you, like you get sick, or feel demotivated or something then you have time to rest for a few days.
So… I’m not an expert by any means but there is some things you can do to promote your comic.
Personally I don’t like being that person that randomly post’s links to my comic on other peoples pages with prompt, that’s kind of the fastest way to get me to not read your comic, if I don't know you honestly.
But the number 1 thing you need is a good icon image, that gives the reader some kind of idea what kind of story it is.
avoid just having the title as it only tells the reader what the name of your story is, which is normally written under the icon anyway so it’s pointless don’t do it.
Don’t use your side characters to represent your comic either, especially if they are only in one episode, there’s nothing worse then clicking an icon because of an interesting looking character and then never seeing them in the story.
Instead, I use my main character in my icon because she’s the most important character and the one the readers will see the most.
And she has an interesting expression, you can clearly see my art style, and it gives off the impression that it might be a little… um… weird and possibly even funny?
I personally try to avoid having characters with a blank expression or just looking pretty for the icon because that doesn’t say anything about them and you want to make a good impression!
Don’t cram too much into your icon since it’s only small, and people won’t be able to see everything anyway.
For Banner art, I like to add my title logo to the banner and have an action shot with more characters that show their personality.
Tapas actually has a pretty good forum where there are frequent promos, tips, advice and more.
And I’m sure you know, but it doesn’t hurt to let your Instagram, Twitter and other socials know about your comic too!
If you'd like to see more tips like this then consider joining my patreon!