Understanding how to make a comic book from scratch for the first time can be a scary process, especially if you don’t think you are much of a visual artist.
Of course, comic books are a visual form of storytelling, but they pair very well with the text. A good story is of utmost importance for a good comic book because it’s what engages people and makes them read on.
Comics can be funny, bold, dark, inspiring and emotional. Depending on how the events unfold, comics can move you, break your heart or make you laugh.
Comic books were once an underappreciated art form, but they’ve now reached peak popularity, mainly thanks to blockbuster movies.
If you wish to create a comic book on your own, keep reading to find out how to master the comic book creating process, from script to face shapes drawing and marketing your end product.
Develop a concept
There’s a lot of content out there, so your creative vision has to be what makes you stand out. Your best shot is to start with the idea that sets you apart from the rest, the one you completely believe in.
Of course, starting a comic book means committing to hours of work, so you have to be sure you’re willing to spend time creating an engaging storyline and appealing characters. Otherwise, there’s a high chance you won’t see your project through.
Finding and developing the concept for a comic can look different for everyone, but it all starts from an outline. Do your best to make it unique. Choose the theme, the most important ideas and the main plot points. Of course, don’t forget about the characters and the general tone of the story.
As you start working on your comic book, think about your sources of inspiration and the things that influence you in creating your story. Would you like to emulate a certain style or technique? Do you have a favorite comic book artist you’d like to channel? Find the answers to these questions and think of a way to balance your uniqueness with your inspiration.
Build the script
After you figure out the main plot and characters, it’s time to write your comic book script. It’s very important to write your story down before going in with the visuals because you may decide to do a few sketches to round out your plot.
If you’re going to hire a professional to create illustrations for your comic book, it’s all the more important to write the story first. An illustrator will find it easier to work by following a script.
When it comes to creating a comic book script, you can go for either page-by-page or panel-by-panel scripts. The former focuses on writing what happens on every page, whereas the latter details what happens in every panel, including action and dialogue.
As you start writing your comic book, consider the following:
When you take all of these elements into consideration, it’ll be easier for you to develop an interesting plot and immersive character journey.
Figure out the layout
Before you skip to drawing, it’s important you focus on creating the perfect composition for every page. You should also consider the flow of your story and decide on the page layout. In most cases, comic book artists will use rough sketches for every page to get the feel of the story and see if it makes sense. You’ll start with a storyboard and end up putting everything together later.
Before proceeding further, you have to be sure the text and illustrations work well together and they fit each page and panel. You also have to consider if the visuals and text create the momentum needed to keep eventual readers interested.
Ask yourself if the action is clear enough or if the dialog works. You may have to make some adjustments to the text to make it more engaging and sensical. A common technique is to create suspense at the end of a page, so the reader is bound to turn the page to see what happens next.
If you run into problems with your sketches, you can work on them or create completely new ones. It’s a process of trial and error, where you’ll learn what works for your story and what doesn’t.
It’s always better to figure out how your story looks and develops visually and plot-wise before you start inking and coloring. It’s even better to create the layout and sketches together with an illustrator to make sure all elements complement each other well.
Make the illustrations
When you’re happy with how your plot and layout are looking — what comes next?
It’s time to put in the work during the drawing phase. Now, you have several options at hand. You can choose to draw in ink, pencil, with tablets, software and apps. It’s your choice.
When working on your comic book illustrations, here are some steps you should follow:
- Drawing in pencil is the first step to take when you’re drawing on paper. If you opted for digital illustrations, you can outline your drawings first. You can go over pages more than once, so you don’t have to stress on making each page perfect from the start.
- Inking is more related to your personal style. Or the style you choose for your comic book, for example, if someone else does the illustrations for you. Inking consists of filling in each drawing, adding shading, depth and texture effects.
- Coloring is especially important for your project. You can select an entire palette for your comic book panels. Keep things simple and give each character and scene something unique. You can make your characters memorable by associating specific colors with them. Make sure to use the same colors for certain elements every time they appear in panels. Show your dedication to work at every step by being consistent.
- Lettering is the step that completes your comic book. You can decide whether to use hand-drawn letters or digital fonts. It’s essential for your font to be easily readable, otherwise, it won’t make an impact.
Formatting and publishing
In the past, the only way to read comics was in the newsprint format. In the modern era, however, that’s no longer the only option. You can opt for ebooks or webcomics as well as traditional media. You can get just as much exposure and traction when you focus your efforts on digital comic books.
To make the best choice, you have to consider your budget and your goals. You can go for the print format if you want to hold your comic book in your hands at the end of the creation process. Alternatively, you can go for the ebook format.
Printing also requires publishing, so you’ll have to consider your distribution options. Some companies offer print-on-demand, but they don’t necessarily sell products on platforms like Amazon. Others may require you to order your copies in bulk, and then you’d have to sell them yourself.
When it comes to ebook comic books, you have to upload your work to the retailers of your choice. But you may need to invest more in comic book software or work with a layout designer if you don’t know how to format your comic book. Or you can make your net comic book downloadable on your website.
The final option is to just post your comics online. You can share them on your website, on social media or on dedicated content-sharing platforms like Issuu. The downside is it’s much harder to monetize your work in this manner.
As you can see, creating a comic book takes a lot of time, resources and planning. But when you have the skills and desire to make your project work, you’ll find a way to succeed. If you don’t feel you’ll do a good job alone, you can collaborate with another artist.
Follow the simple tips above, focus on your plot, characters and illustrations and you’re bound to create something great that readers will love just as much as you do. Now that you know what it takes to create and publish a comic book, all you have to do is let your creative juices flow and use the creativity you have to your advantage.
Travis Dillard is a business consultant and an organizational psychologist based in Arlington, Texas. Passionate about marketing, social networks, and business in general. In his spare time, he writes a lot about new business strategies and digital marketing for Seo Turnover.