Hi! First of all I love your art and I love you <3 Secondly, I want to start a comic of my own but I’m not sure how to do it. I have the briefest of the brief ideas for it but I have no idea how to develop it, plan it, stretch out the story, develop the characters and the such. Could I have some hints please?
Hello and Thank You!!!! I’m not sure if you’re talking about a fan comic or an original, or long or short but I’ll give you some tips. GRANTED I am not a professional and you may find a different way that is easier for you.
1.) Think of a basic storyline or prompt. Like, “Man is dying and is going to a mountain to see it before he dies and meets his DESTINY???” it can be stupid. It can be silly or vague so long as you have something to start with.
2.) Think of the protagonist, as well as a bit of the timeframe or universe. Are they human? Alien? Medieval? Elf? For our example here lets say its a medieval man from a heavily forested area. He is a lumberjack who hates potatoes and his old man told him stories of the mountain in the west that holds a magic temple; only the pure of heart may enter. He is dying, and wants to see this mythical place before he passes. Draw a few examples. You’ll want some basic refs to look back on.
3.)Think of the antagonist. It can be nature, machine, man, elderich horrors, etc….(typical story tropes are something like man vs. machine or man vs. nature). For our case lets say its mainly man and nature. Bandits, bad weather, illness, etc…DRAW SOME OF THOSE REFS. These beginning ones don’t have to be in depth. just basic stuff.
4.)Hash out what you want to happen in the BEGINNING, MIDDLE and END. These are kind of the most important parts. Its definitely important to think of the end ahead of time instead of thinking about it when you’re halfway through; thats a quick way to never end it at all. Our lumberjack begins his journey selling all he owns and getting a horse to set out to the mountains with nothing but a bit of gold, an old axe and a sick ride. In the middle he encounters various trials that test his “pure of heart”-ness. Probably three, they can be as long as you want so long as they are generally even alongside each other. (3 or 7 are magic numbers WINK). In the end he reaches the temple and is welcomed inside due to his good deeds and it was allllll along a metaphor for the journey to the afterlife.
5.)get some good references. You have a time period set, a scene in mind, and some tools. Gathering from our example, we’re going to want; various forest scenes of pines, plains, dirt roads, medieval towns, mountains, temples, animals, people, cultures, etc. We need refs for our horse, axe, and gold. Remember those quick refs of characters you made in steps one and two? Now is the time to finalize those. They’ll have developed with the level of detail in your story. Add background nonsense no one else will notice but will enliven the story like how our axeman always ties his beard when mad or how he prefers apple cider over beer anyday. Give those fuckers some names. Bandit Bill challenges Axeman Abel for his horse and loses his head (literallly???)
–if you can go to like, museums or lectures or fairs about these things and take notes. USE YOUR RESOURCES!! ASK QUESTIONS!!! (For ilulatte I visited a couple of coffeeshops and roughed out some cafe drawings haha)
7.) Separate events into chapters. Generally theres a prologue, chapters 1-whatever, the end, and an epilogue. Our axeman has a prologue of starting out on the road, chapters 1-3 depicting pure-heart-trials, climax/end of reaching the temple, and an epilogue of someone else starting their journey to the temple based on his influence on the world because this shit is cyclical, baby.
6.) make a fuckton of thumbnail drafts. You know these characters now; you built em out of your own head. You know how they move and talk, so slap down their journey in tiny pages. add minor details to the sides. (Here’s a shitty example of mine from ilulatte!!!!!)
7.) finish allllll of them. or at least the first few chapters. Its good for you I promise. You’ll notice the pacing much better this way! You can add a bunch of extra details in the margins like extra panels and bg notes. Don’t be afraid to experiment with the direction of your story, but try to keep the overall plot the same! (sticky notes are great for this!)
8.) start roughing out the actual pages. You’ll change things from the thumbnails (like I always do haha); thats okay!!! They’re more of a helpful guide than solid stone rules. It’s like making the scaffolding to make the base for the rest of the building.
9.) do the lineart, bgs, text, etc. There’s tons of helpful art programs for this like CLIP studio paint or medibang if you’re doing it digitally. Remember those refs you collected for our horse, axe, and bgs? Now is the time to use em. BE VIGILANT. Keep copies of the originals. Go back frequently to look for mistakes or missing details. Keep a check list. Freckles? check. Scar on nose? check. shading???? UHHHHHH—-SHIT.
10.)you should probably number the pages. keep em in a nice sized resolution if you want to print but lower it if you’re posting to the internet to dissuade reposters. keep em all in one organized folder if possible. Slap your signature on em for extra safety.
11.) ????? Sell it on gumroad idk.
-start with short stories. Build your own stamina.
-have relatable characters with flaws. Tumblr seems to hate “problematic” characters but thats literally the point of character building and narratives. THEY’RE RELATABLE IF THEY’RE FLAWED. If a story doesn’t have characters that conflict with each other its a boring one. Axeman Abel wants to help everyone; Bandit Bill wants to help himself only. LET THEM HATE EACH OTHER.
-its also good to have characters that are friends but still conflict with each other. The Dragon Age series is phenomenal with this (their characters are good in general, take notes!!)
-theres a lot of shitty people out there. USE THEM. (seriously though examine other peoples interactions and you’ll make better characters. )
-bad things happen to good people. Bad things also happen to bad people. Bad things just sort of happen. Don’t shy away from unfortunate events; your story will fall flat without conflict both planned and random.
-Obviously you don’t have to share the same world views as your characters. (dont let the antis fool you.) Axeman Abel can hate broccoli but you can still enjoy it. Bandit Bill can be a racist piece of shit but that doesn’t mean you are.
-have characters of various personality, body type, race, height, etc….it really livens up the story.
-generally you don’t want the bg to overwhelm the characters, so most people do a sort of painterly bg against the solid outlines of the characters but thats all really up to you and how in-depth you want it to be.
-you should also make a regular schedule, if you can. Say, something like “twenty finished pages a month” or “four pages a week” depending on the level of detail. Simplistic style and palettes of course take less time to make than full color/heavily detailed pages, so plan accordingly to prevent burnout. If you post weekly, having a few pages done ahead of time will be good in case you need an emergency break.
-be open to critique but don’t be a doormat, either. ESPECIALLY if you’re doing it for free. People will try to take advantage of you; don’t let them. Block them and move on.
-above all; BE DEDICATED. Comics take a great deal of time by yourself, but doing them helps you develop important skills in the end like time management and general technical know-how like digital programs and writing. It’s not just art, though that’s a major part of it.
-probably should’ve said this earlier but make what you enjoy??? People can generally tell if you dont enjoy your own work. There’s less effort there.
THIS WAS REALLY LONG SO I HOPE IT WAS HELPFUL IN SOME WAY ILU HAVE FUN BE SAFE OUT THERE <3