When can writing a comic become easy? Probably never. But, if you are keen to make it easier, enrich both your experience of writing and illustrating a comic, here are my top pieces of advice for comic creation.
1.Keep a Notebook
Have a place where you can keep all the character notes, the plot, the potential plot twists and ideas generally in the one place.
I find the rougher and more dynamic you keep it, the more useful it becomes. Don’t be precious about it: perfect for the story is what you pull out of the notebook, not what you put in.
2. Know Your Characters
You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view – until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.
Much like with real people, you can never really know your characters well enough. Ponder what they like, what they dislike.
Would they eat what you last ate? What was the last film they saw? How would they react in this situation?
You might be surprised by what you realise about them.
3. Draw Your Characters to Look Like Your Characters
Characters can look unlike themselves when drawn from an angle you are not familiar with. Keep a sketchbook specifically for practicing drawing your characters. If it happens to be in the notebook for plotting, all the better.
Draw them from every angle, interacting with other characters to get a better feel for height. Draw their expressions, have their body language reflect their mood. Draw them in different environments, completing chores, doing their hobbies
Draw, draw, and then draw again.
4. Know Your Locations
When you are creating a comic, you aren’t creating just characters. You are also crafting the world’s they live in.
Take time to map out the city, school, or even just their bedroom. Know how long it would take them to traverse distances, especially if they have to get there in a pinch!
Remember, if you are drawing a character’s bedroom, to fill it with items which reflect their character. It adds a whole other dimension in a subtle way which can really add to the relatable nature you’ve been building all along.
5. Go Big with Your Drafts
Much like painting dark to light depends entirely on the medium you are using, so is drafting when it comes to storytelling details.
Be as imaginative and free with your drafting as you can be. Keep your sketches loose and fluid. Remove excess, tone down scenes, layer up other scenes. Find the balance that fits the story.
6. Distil Your Drafts
Diving right into turning a first draft of a chapter into the finished piece is very rarely a good idea.
Take a break, then come back and refine with the story and the reader in mind. Where do you want their attention to be focused?
You may find that an extra panel is needed to help support the atmosphere of that scene, you may find that there is a panel too many.
If your eyes are roaming all over a sketch, there is likely visual confusion about where the focus of the panel is. Jarring the reader out of the immersion, what you’re left with is a poor storytelling experience – even if the story is the most interesting ever written.
Remove render detailing on what is only supporting the main action, add depth of field, check your framing.
7. Have Fun with It!
Tedious is as tedious does. Have fun with the process, and the story will inevitably be enjoyable to read.