Welcome to Gaia! ::

rainy day blues's avatar

Magical Gekko

I have always read and loved comics and have been thinking about making my own, and as the title states I was just wondering how do you get started?

Do you sit and write out the story structure first, or do you just draw and get the feel of it, or do something completely different?

I really want to know or I'll probably continue staring at a piece of blank paper. sweatdrop
Kyousouka's avatar

Shadowy Phantom

Either way works. Some people jump right in, some people plan meticulously. It's all about what works for you. If you don't know yet, then experiment with different workflows!

I recommend starting with some short stories, so you can get a feel for different ways of working, different drawing and writing styles, etc without committing to anything big.

I personally like to have an outline for my entire story (regardless of length). Then, I know what has to happen and when, where each character's development is at any point in time, etc. I never feel lost. But, since it's an outline rather than a detailed script, I still have a lot of flexibility in just how the story gets between the major points, so that I can adjust the story as I become a better writer over the course of making the comic.

One thing I highly recommend you do before doing any pages is to thumbnail them, though. Thumbnails are small sketches wherein you try to figure out what happens on each page and the composition of each page. They're quite rough and quick.

Whether you write a detailed script, an outline, or nothing at all, trying out different ways to draw each scene will help you figure out what works best without slaving away for hours on a bad comic page.
rainy day blues's avatar

Magical Gekko


Thank you. 4laugh

I'm usually more of a screenwriter so I find comic creating a very different way of storytelling.
Kenny Cappuchino's avatar

Anxious Lunatic

Hmm, I think the simplest explanation I've found that explains how to start well is from here.
But... They list the simple steps as follows:

              - DON’T DO 5 MONTHS OF BUFFERS
              - CHOOSE A TEMPLATE
              - DON’T GO BACK.
              - JUST DO IT
              - DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP.

And really, that's what it takes xD
Xiam's avatar

Anxious Humorist

14,050 Points
  • Forum Regular 100
  • Elocutionist 200
  • Hero 100
rainy day blues
I have always read and loved comics and have been thinking about making my own, and as the title states I was just wondering how do you get started?

Do you sit and write out the story structure first, or do you just draw and get the feel of it, or do something completely different?

I say do both. Figure out what you're doing, draw up the characters so you know how they're supposed to look, work out a script, then start drawing.

I usually have these as loose guidelines though. I tend to bend the rules a lot. For instance, character designs are often scrapped at the last minute for something that feels better in the context of the comics, and my script is almost never the same as what ends up on pages due to panel pacing and space issues.

So really, just have fun with it and see what comes about.

Kenny Cappuchino

I... I just can't follow this one... emo

But yes! Make a template beforehand! I have this boxy four-panel design I've had for ages. I usually change the design every time I make a new series, because I'm trying to get the best possible design for it (I think I have it now), though I also have a "full page" design I'm using now for one series, which has just general guidelines and I draw in the panels I need based on those guidelines, so they tend to change in size, shape, and number.

Really, just figure out what you'll want your comic to look like, panel-wise, and set up a sort of Master Template for use as a guide every time you do another comic. You said you're using paper? Everything I do is digital nowadays so I just have a file saved with those parameters, and I pull it up and save as a separate file (the next page) and work from that. But if you're working from paper, I'd suggest getting out a ruler and coming up with something, then saving that sheet of paper and its panel designs and just use it as a reference when making other pages.

Um... I probably went on for much too long here, sorry about that.
rainy day blues's avatar

Magical Gekko


Long but a lot of advice, thank you.
Kyousouka's avatar

Shadowy Phantom

rainy day blues

Thank you. 4laugh

I'm usually more of a screenwriter so I find comic creating a very different way of storytelling.

Writing for comics is much closer to screenwriting than it is to most other forms of writing, because both are so visual, and there are some comparable constraints. Apply what you know from screenwriting to comics. Obviously, not everything will work well, but with some critical thinking you can pick what's good and what it's, and save yourself the time of learning writing anew just for a new medium. Ultimately, what makes a story great is largely the same regardless of medium.

Also, templates: I support the idea, but if you're writing a long-form comic rather than strips, don't feel confined to a single layout like you might for a gag comic strip. Make a template for your page so that the size and panel borders are consistent, but create your page layouts for every page, make them fit the events instead of fitting the events to a preset layout. Don't forget that you can also have double-page spreads, too, if you're formatting your comic for print as a book.
My own templates are just the bleed and margin areas with some notes on gutter sizes between panels, so that I can quickly draw the panels I need for each page and keep them looking consistent. The idea is the same in both traditional and digital in this case.
Little Reds Hoodie's avatar

Bashful Fairy

I get off track easily, so I like to have it written out first, go through my program and sketch it out, then go back and do all the outlining.
I'm starting on my first manga right now actually.
I wrote out the story 7 years ago and just now felt confident enough with my skills to draw it out.
I've decided to make a bunch of changes to it, but the general story line is gonna be the same.
I have never completed a comic project so I'm probably not the best person to answer this question lol, but I do have to say, the several times I have jumped into a comic project with minimal planning have all ended in failure. There was a severe lack in direction so I was just floundering around and ended up getting burned out and lost motivation. For my current project I am trying to plan out as much as possible in advance so that when it comes to drawing the actual pages it is just a matter of production. I'm currently writing out the story for now but when that's done I'll work on storyboard and script ^^
the first time i tried to do a webcomic i jumped right in. no planning, only mimimal character design. it failed miserably when i realized i had no idea where the plot was going. i'm now planning another one (a few years on from the first one) and have sat down to write out the entire story, first in a general outline and then by chapter. i personally have found that works much better for me. i can see plot holes and things that need changing, and where character development needs to be, etc. i honestly think that if you do not plan out your comic it will be a wreck. you need to think about your story, what you want from it and where you want it to go. then start doing char development, test pages, etc.
Hyper_Beagle's avatar

Tipsy Capitalist

9,950 Points
  • Timid 100
  • Wall Street 200
  • Money Never Sleeps 200
Good advice so far, and don't be afraid to experiment with different methods as much as you need to to find out what works.

It's easier for me when I've planned things out. I start with a short summary, a few sentences to a paragraph long, explaining the story and especially focusing on how it starts and how it will end. I set an approximate page length. Then I go to write the script - but I do this by thumbnailing pages and writing notes/outlining on unlined paper. After gathering the notes into a written script, I draw actual thumbnails (the ones I do while I script art just brainstorming and messy so I ignore them after I have my script). Then I do a "tight rough." Which is done at about half size and somewhere between thumbnails and finished pencils. After that, I don't have to do too much because I just blow the tight rough up to full size and refine that for my finished page.
Even though I have a finished script, I change things as I go, but that's the point of all the planning- it allows me to see what works and what does not before I've gone too far!

I also do a lot of environment sketches and schematics, as well as character designs. For me, it helps me to really know where the story is taking place if I've drawn it before and gives my something to refer back to when it comes to placing props in the background.

Mostly though, I recommend having a clear idea of how your story ends before you start it.
You'll first want to figure out what it is you want to do. Eastern comics? Western comics? Color? Black and white? Fantasy, realism, romance, etc? Do you want to do it as a hobby, for education, for a living? Do you want to get published, self-published or have a webcomic? There are a lot of choices. Be sure to do research on all the varieties and figure out what you like most, and then go for that. smile And remember, practice makes perfect!

Quick Reply

Manage Your Items
Other Stuff
Get GCash
Get Items
More Items
Where Everyone Hangs Out
Other Community Areas
Virtual Spaces
Fun Stuff
Gaia's Games