How to make a comic book

Icon_Comic_bookLast week I’ve started the “My first comic book” serie on the blog where I told you about my dream of creating a comic book and I’ve also invited you to join me on this journey, where you can create your own comic too. The first assignment was to decide on a plan that will lead us to create a comic book.

Different comics need different strategy

There are many ways to create a comic. The techniques are depending on how many different people (They have nice names like: writer, penciler, inker etc.) are working on the project, what kind of style you are looking for. Different cultures have different strategies when it comes to comic creation. An american comic is different in style and in making too from an asian comic like a japanese manga. (Read more about comic books on Wikipedia.) In my case I will work alone so I will adjust the plan according to this. I don’t need to write down my introductions for the artist on how I imagine a scene or a place, right?

Do your research

This is the right time to tell you that I would like to create a comic book that has some more research behind it. I believe that whatever you do will be better if you put more effort in it. This is very true for comic creation. There are many areas you can dive in to learn more, it is not enough to draw nice, you will need to tell a story in a way that people will continue reading your comic.

You can create a comic jumping right in, creating some characters, maybe a little writing and start drawing as soon as possible. This is not the way to do it if you want your comic to stand out from the crowd. You need resource gathering (a lot), idea brainstorming, different designs for characters to choose from and a lot more behind the scenes work. And most importantly you need a story you enjoy and that has a meaning (and an ending). As we move forward I will recommend resource gathering when it is necessary, but you can do this whenever you feel you are stuck with your comic. It will help you to start moving forward again.

I already have an idea of what my comic will look like. I will go with a full colored comic. I will ink it and color it with a painterly style. It will be eather in B4 or A4 size. I really like the style of Sarah Ellerton’s The Phoenix Requiem comic book. I plan to go in a similar direction as she did with her book regarding its bckground and paneling style. I suggest you also decide what format you would like to see your comic in if you haven’t done so before. Collect some comics or mangas you like in story or in style so you can check those works as a guideline to help you out when you need it. You can learn many things this way. For example you can see that Sarah put 5 chapters into each Phoenix Requiem volume and she put nearly 30 pages into each chapter. This is something you can also use in your comic if you like this setting.

Go in small steps

Last but not least I would like to tell you that creating a good comic needs knowledge from many areas but because you are just starting out there is no need to overwhelm yourself. Only do enough that you still feel comfortably with. If you feel resistance then you might be forcing yourself to do more than you can handle at the time. So go slower and when you gather informations, get only the most important ones, understand them, then move on and focus on your comic again: write the next paragraph, add more personality to your character (write it down), do something that will bring you closer to a finished page.

This serie will help you move forward one step at a time. Take as much time as you need to take these steps, if you need more time than a week, then you need it. It is okay, go with your own pace.

Now that we have talked about these things too, lets see last weeks assignment. Here is what my plan looks like:

Steps of creating a comic

Writing part

  • Deciding genre and form
  • Imagining the world
  • Creating the characters
  • Deciding on a plot
  • Writing the story
    • Write the skeleton of the story
    • Work on chapters as you go

Designing part

  • The world
  • Characters
  • Peoples
  • Animals, creatures
  • Vehicles, weapons

Drawing part

  • Work on one chapter at a time
  • Create thumbnail for all pages
  • Draw a page (repeat)

How this plan will work? I won’t write the whole story at once, instead I will decide on a plot and create the skeleton of the story based on that. Know where you want to go with your story. What is the beginning of the story and how will it end?

Do you know why it is good to know the end of your story? First of all you will have a clear goal you can follow, so you wont be lost in your story. Secondly you will have freedom with the story. You can change parts along the way or add more to it, this won’t prevent you from reaching the end goal. For example Eiichiro Oda who creates the popular serie of One Piece, knew the ending of the story from the beginning. That is how he started working on it. He said that along the years he started to love his characters and their story so much that he gave them more adventure, but this won’t hold him back to lead the story to the desired goal. He just doesn’t know when he will get there.

I also think that writing only the most important parts will remove overwhelm too. It is more than enough to know your goal and to write the first chapter for starting out. You can write the next chapters while you draw the first one, as you will have time for that beside the drawing.

About the design part: you can sketch your characters and the world while you are thinking about them. So this step might go along with the writing part. You will see what works for you as soon as you start it.

Next week’s assignment

Deciding genre and form
Decide what kind of story you would like to create. Will it be an adventure, sci-fi or a romance? Here is a list of genres to choose from. You can choose more than one for your story.

The form of the story can be a novel or short story (more about these on Wikipedia). What is your goal with your comic? Will it be a part of a comic book anthology (so you need a short story) or will it be a webcomic that can go for years? Do you want to sell it as a one-shot comic for your audience? You can also decide how your comic will look like. Will it have a manga style (black and white, with tones) or will it be a colored comic?

Finding the genre and the form is quite easy, you might already have an idea of them, so lets give your brain a bit more work. I suggest to start thinking now about your main characters, and the world they live in. There is no need to be sure of them yet, as we will have a different assignment for them. Now just let your mind soar, collect ideas, brainstorm. Open a new document on your computer (or write it in a mail on the go) and write down your ideas as they appear. Don’t remove any of them, just collect as many as you can, you will need them later.

Next steps

  1. Decide the genres of your story (write them down)
  2. Decide the form of the story
  3. Use this week to think about characters and imagine a world around them (collect and write down your ideas)

Lets meet next week too!
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5 thoughts on “How to make a comic book

  1. Esther

    Ahh azt hiszem becsatlakozom melléd :D Annyi történetem, szereplőm van már amiken évek óta ‘dolgozok’ persze csak fejben, néha firkálok róluk de mindig halogatom h konkrétan valamin nagyobb projectnek neki is kezdjek..

    1. Adrienn Post author

      Szuper! :) Meddig jutottál el eddig a történetek kigondolásában? Illetve hol volt az a pont szerinted, amin már nem haladtál tovább a képregény készítés/tervezés során?

      1. Esther

        Hmm hát szereplők, személyiségeik, a kapcsolataik egymáshoz megvannak.. nagyjából a világ is – bár a választott sztorimhoz nem kell semmi különleges amúgy sem. A történet elejét, végét tudom, nagyobb történések is.. ami nekem vsz gondot fog okozni.. az időzítése a dolgoknak? Nem tudom így érthető -e mire gondolok. Mivel a lényeg a karakterek közötti kapcsolatokon van és hogy ezek hogyan változnak, nem akarom elkapkodni, kellenek filler részek is, viszont túlzottan elnyújtani sem.
        A másik dolog amivel gondom lesz biztosan, bár az már majd a rajzolásnál maga a panelezés..
        (a rajzos/akármis oldalamra írogattam róla, meg majd oda pakolok fel dolgokat, ha érdekel)

        1. Adrienn Post author

          Igen, értem mire gondolsz az időzítésnél. Érdemes felvezetni az egyes eseményeket. Akár többször is tehetsz kisebb-nagyobb utalásokat egy dologra, ami utána kiderül. Vagy amikor valakinek változik a személyisége, akkor lehet, hogy előbb belefut háromszor is ugyanabba a hibába, mire rájön, hogy vele van a gond. Ezeket akkor érdemes jól eloszlatni a történések közepette, hogy legyen kellő idő a változáshoz.

          A fillerekből hasznos sztori részt varázsolhatsz, ha beleteszel egy kis jellemfejlődést vagy épp csak megmutatod valakinek az egyik nem éppen szimpatikus oldalát, amire később visszautalsz. A fillereknél az olvasók megunhatják a sztorit, szóval szerintem érdemes feldobni azokat is valamivel, hogy legyen szerepük a sztoriban.

          A panelezést szeretem. :) Mark Crilley-nek vannak jó videói panelezésről, nem tudom, hogy ezeket láttad-e már:

          Elolvastam, amiket tumblr-en írtál. Akkor egy sztorinak az előzményét fogod most elkészíteni? Tetszik, hogy lesznek benne ikrek is – velük jól el lehet játszani. :D

          1. Esther

            Igen én is gondolkoztam ezeken a dolgokon, de a megvalósítása nehezebb :’) Ismerem őt, de a videót még nem láttam, meg fogom nézni, köszi. Egy barátom ajánlott könyveket a témával kapcsolatban, meg is szereztem gépen, de nem emlékszem most így, hogy ki csinálta.
            Igen valami felvezetés szerűséget szeretnék egyenlőre, aztán meglátjuk mi lesz belőle. Inkább az a cél, hogy végre kezdjek valamit az ötleteimmel és közben próbáljak ki különféle dolgokat/stílusokat is akár. Őszintén az iker dolgot nem rég találtam ki, hogy talán nem lenne rossz az idióta testvérpárnak és beleszerettem az ötletbe. ( meg külön fáj a családnevük miatt – Blade, twin blades )

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