At some point during your childhood, you believed that you were the best artist in all of you kindergarten class. Even more so, you probably aspired to master your skills and do something great with your new-found talent, whether it is animation or design. For me, it was making comics; and I know that I am not the only one. For anyone out there who has ever wanted to make a comic but never knew how to, then I’m here to share the basics on how to create one of your very own.
Step 1: Brain Storm
Everything starts with an idea. Do you want your comic to be a fantasy adventure? Do you want to make a slice-of-life romance? If you’re having troubles coming up with a concept, then try to find a source of inspiration. Some people draw inspiration from their dreams while others bank on their daily, real life experiences. Regardless of where you decide to discover your creativity, know that the idea you come up with will build the framework needed to begin your comic.
A brainstorm can be general (a character will fight a dragon and save a princess) or complex (Alex Walker is a detective in a town full of Fables). No matter where you decide to go with your idea, know that it will probably be revised during the story board process, so don’t worry about coming up with a perfect concept on your first try.
Step 2: Create a Story Board
The second part in the comic creation process, and perhaps the most critical, is the creation of a story board. Aimless plotlines and scenes that go nowhere hinder your audience’s engagement with your comic and often muddle all of your hard work. Thus following a story board format will greatly affect the quality of your work.
The first part of making a story board starts with a general overview of how your story is going to progress. You should determine who your protagonist is, what their conflict is, and how their journey will progress. The most common format to use is the “17 Stages of Joseph Cambell’s Monomyth.” It details how a typical hero’s journey condenses down into seventeen steps. Most of your original concept will be revised during this process.
Next, you should specify in words how each page in your comic shall go. Think of it like a stage play. Describe the emotion of each character, what’s in the background, the character’s dialogue and interaction, etc. This will help you gain a firm grasp on how each of your pages will play out. While you don’t necessarily need to have each page planned out, you do need to have a strong foundation on where you plan on going with your story.
Step 3: Create Characters
After you have written exactly how your story will pan out, it’s time for character creation. Note that every style of art is unique to its artist. Don’t feel bad if your art is different from everyone else’s. People enjoy originality and sometimes the more original an artist’s style is, the more it draws viewers in.
That said character creation for your comic will take time. Don’t just stick to the first design you draw. All good characters go through multiple designs and redesigns. Try to focus on what makes your character stand out. Eye shape, hair style, and facial structure are all very important features when crafting your main cast and crew for your comic, so take this process very seriously.
Step 4: Choose a Style
Once you’ve finished all the nitty-gritty aspects of comic creation, it’s time to choose your comic’s style. Comic styles come in many different shapes and forms. You have your traditional strip style, most often used in newspaper comics or some variant web-comics. You can also choose to follow the grid system that’s more commonly found in actual comic books. You should choose the style that best fits the type of story.
Step 5: Choose a Form of Media
Next on the list is to determine what form of media you wish to draw your comics in. Are you a traditional artist? Do you like to use ink or just pencil? Are you more accustomed with digital art as opposed to sketch art? Your media can sometimes determine what kind of audience you will draw. It’s unfortunate, but most comic artists gain more attention through a colorful, more digitalized media as opposed to black and white or sketched comics. Note that while it is important to develop your own style, there are certain drawbacks.
Step 6: Distribute Your Comic
Once you have a few pages already pre-made, you’re going to want to distribute them. There are many websites out there that are perfect for first timers. DeviantArt is a wonderful site that manages to get new artists decent exposure. You could also try Tumblr or, if you’re really dedicated to getting yourself out there, you could create your own web domain to showcase your art at. You don’t just have to stick to one webpage, though. The more sites your comic is circulating at, the more people will be able to run into it, and thus the larger your audience will become.
Step 7: Don't Become Discouraged
Finally, you cannot give up. Don’t expect to make it big with only two of your comic pages out. Don’t even expect to make it big with fifty of your pages out. Chances are you won’t get recognized immediately. For some well-known artist out there, many of them don’t gain a steady following until they are years into their story’s progression. Point being is that you should never, ever become discouraged. Keep your hopes high and your ideas flowing.