I sort of stumbled across it just looking at stuff for Pokemon groups on DA. It looked really interesting, so I decided to join. You can find lots of groups like that on DeviantArt. In fact, they have a whole section where you can search for them at the top (the little drop down arrow next to the logo).
The group ended this spring break, however, and they don’t have plans for a reboot of any sort, I’m afraid. You can join other OCTs (original character tournaments) from DA though, for a similar experience.
As for advice on comics….
Start out with making character sheets. You can use templates that you find online for free, or make your own. You want to have basic information such as;
And so on and so forth. This will give you a basic idea of the character’s structure. I try to leave sexuality off, because I never really know what my characters are into until I get into a situation with them where I wind up finding out. It’s always awkward.
Also, draw your character from the front, ¾ths view, and the back. Get a turn around look of them with clothes on and clothes off so you know what they look like and have something to reference for later pages.
Draw your characters’ expressions! I can’t emphasize this enough. This is an important thing to do in order to maintain consistency in style throughout your pages.
Make a color palette for your character. You don’t want to have to guesstimate every time you go to color in your character. Make a palette for them on a separate doc or in the palette option in the sidebar of whatever program you’re using.
Now that we’ve got the basics for your actual characters down, let’s talk about the actual comicking part.
Script out every page. This is important so you not only know what actions your characters are going to do, but also so you know things like camera angle and, of course, their dialogue.
Here’s what my scripts look like, but yours can be different.
P19:Carol: [camera centered] *muttering*
P20:Carol: [camera remains centered] *standing* Well, if you need me, I’ll be in the basement trying to come up with things to put into my will.
P21:Sylv: *looking up at Carol with concern* Carol….
P22:Carol: [headshot] *over his shoulder and down at Sylv* Look, we both know I’m dead, just leave it alone, okay? And leave me alone!
P23:Carol: [camera at collar level, showing Sylv behind him] *walking away* Frickin’ jerkass keeping things like that from me.
Like I said, you can change this up however you want, but it’s an important step and not one you should think you can get away with missing.
Make a timeline of events and leave wiggle room in case you need to make changes. This is important so you know the basic flow of what your story will be about.
Here’s what one of my timelines look like.
The dark line is the overlaying plot. Along that line, I usually write out a summary of the plot. In the bubbles, I write how I want the comic to open and close. In the little, colored ones, I write certain subplots in. It’s the same concept with the dark line, however, I also write in how it helps the plot along the line. The bubbles show where I want it to start (I usually scribble in what event the subplot starts after and what causes it to take place in the first place).
This is a very helpful technique, I think. I know there are lots of other ways to make timelines, but out of all the ones I’ve tried, I like this method the best.
Watch movies and short films and pay attention to camera angles. I can’t tell you how much doing this has helped me with my comics. The basic concept of successful camera angles lies in The Rule of Thirds.
The Rule of Thirds divides the image up into a grid. Each of the cross hairs in the grid above indicates the “sweet spot” (if you will) of the image. It’s along these cross hairs that you want to position the focus of the camera.
See how the bottle looks all fancy? Yeah. This image shows a successful display of the usage of The Rule of Thirds.
Now that’s just a small bit of camera angles. I’m also talking about wide shots, low angles, high angles, and close ups.
Wide shots are generally used to put the entire scene on display.
Close ups usually only show one character in detail, and center the focus on said character.
High angle shots make the characters look small and maybe weak or scared.
Low shots can be used to make a character or object look very large and often give it the appearance of having power.
The next thing I’m going to talk about is color. Since we don’t have the benefits of a musical soundtrack or a heavy description as are used in film and literature respectively, we need to rely on color to depict the mood of the page.
Red indicates violence or passion. Deeper reds or pinks usually indicate passion, while orange or fiery reds indicate violence.
Blue indicates calm or sadness. Darker blues generally lean towards a sadder mood, whereas lighter blues indicate calmness.
Yellow indicates happiness.
Green indicates tension.
This is a very important part of comicking, and it will help you a lot to utilize right off the bat when you first start your comic.
If you plan on doing a black and white comic; use lines and contrast to give your pages the right mood effects. I would recommend looking at the Attack on Titan manga for an idea of how this would be used.
Try to update consistently. This is not only so you’ll keep your readers interested, but so you’ll also become better at working with deadlines, which is a skill you will need when you go to college and get a job. Yes, things will get in the way. Life happens. But if something does get in the way, make sure you let your readers know, especially if you’ve been very consistent with your comic with weekly updates or so on.
Promo yourself! There are plenty of comic websites and groups on DeviantArt you can join to get views. It might also help to post links to your pages on tumblr like I do every time a new one comes out.
Read comics! We tend to learn more by example, so read a lot of comics, ranging from manga to Marvel, and try to pick out the techniques they use that make their comics effective.
Do your research! Take a figure drawing class, do some studies of objects that you see every day. Look up information about time periods or how machines work or whatever it is you need for your comic. Remember, you’re still technically a writer, and when you’re a writer, you’re a lot of other things as well (like a dentist, a mortician, an astronomer, etc.)
Last but not least! Remember, you’re just starting a comic. You’re going to get better as your comic moves forward. I know for a fact that my comic looked TERRIBLE when I first started out, and that’s okay. I was happy with it at the time that I made it, and that’s all that matters.
Comics are a great way to improve your style, as they force you to draw certain things over and over again. I seem to be improving with every page. It’s always fun to look back and see how you started.
Remember, comics are a lot of work and can cause some stress. Just do your best, and I’m sure your comic will look great!
I hope this helped!