The Five Stages of Making A Webcomic Update (Plus, A Comic Preview)

2017 Artwork Making A Webcomic update

Well, since there will probably be about twenty webcomic updates (from three different time-travel themed mini series) posted here this month (with another ten next month), I thought that I’d write about making webcomics again.

In fact, I thought that I’d show you the five stages of making a webcomic update. Of course, different artists have different creative processes (eg: I use a combination of traditional and digital tools, whilst many webcomics are digital-only) but at least some of the things here should be similar to how many other artists make webcomics.

For this article, I’ll be showing you the “making of” a comic update that won’t formally appear here until the very end of the month, so it’s also something of a preview as well (well, here anyway. If you don’t mind SPOILERS, I tend to be somewhat further ahead when posting comics and art on DeviantART [due to a whole host of scheduling reasons].)

Anyway, let’s get started:

1) Planning: Surprisingly, this is actually the most important part of making a webcomic update. Before you make the update, sketch out a rough plan of what it will look like – this gives you the chance to fine-tune the dialogue, to see if a comic idea will work and to work out the pacing of your comic (eg: what happens in each panel).

It’s usually a good idea to use a different sketchbook for your plans, since you can use cheaper paper (eg: non-watercolour paper) and so that your plans won’t clutter up your “proper” sketchbook.

The paper that I use for my actual comics is a sketchbook of (a fairly cheap type of) watercolour paper. This is just because I’ll be using watercolours later. If you aren’t using watercolours, then you can use a different type of paper.

In the example below, you can see that the top comic plan has had a couple of small dialogue changes. Not only that, you can also see an abandoned comic idea at the bottom of the page – this idea started out well, but fortunately it failed during the planning stage (rather than when I was actually making the real comic).

 [CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is the comic update in the planning stage. As you can see, the art in my plan is very rough and there is more emphasis on planning the dialogue. You can also see an abandoned comic idea at the bottom of the page too

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is the comic update in the planning stage. As you can see, the art in my plan is very rough and there is more emphasis on planning the dialogue. You can also see an abandoned comic idea at the bottom of the page too



2) Pencilling, inking and lettering:
Different artists have different approaches to this.

My approach is to start each panel by writing in the dialogue using waterproof ink, before using a light pencil (2H graphite) to sketch out the artwork, before inking the art and moving on to the next panel.

Some artists prefer to just make the art and then add the dialogue digitally, other artists prefer to pencil the entire comic strip and then ink the entire thing in one go. Different things work for different artists, but lettering, pencilling and inking each panel sequentially is probably my favourite method.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] As you can see from the unfinished comic, I usually like to add the dialogue first, then sketch the art in pencil, before adding ink and moving on to the next panel.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] As you can see from the unfinished comic, I usually like to add the dialogue first, then sketch the art in pencil, before adding ink and moving on to the next panel.

3) Line art: This part is fairly self-explanatory. When I’ve finished inking the comic with waterproof ink, I wait for the ink to dry before erasing it and scanning a copy of the line art before I start painting. The advantage of keeping a copy of the line art is that you can show it off separately as “added value”/ “bonus material” for your fans.

Often, I’ll digitally alter the brightness/contrast levels of the line art before I show it off online (in posts like this one). But, here’s an unprocessed (albeit cropped) scan of the line art for this comic.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] - This is a cropped, but otherwise unprocessed, scan of the line art for this comic update.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] – This is a cropped, but otherwise unprocessed, scan of the line art for this comic update.

4) Painting: Ever since very late 2013/very early 2014, my main method of adding colour to my comics (and artwork) is to use watercolour pencils.

If you’ve never heard of these before, they’re like colouring pencils but they turn into watercolour paint when you go over the finished picture with a wet paintbrush. If you’re using these, then you’ll also need to use waterproof ink and watercolour paper too though.

This allows me to add colour relatively quickly, precisely and consistently, as well as allowing me to blend colours easily too. Here’s what it looks like when I’ve finished painting:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is a cropped, but unprocessed scan of what the comic looks like after I've added watercolour paint to it.

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] This is a cropped, but unprocessed scan of what the comic looks like after I’ve added watercolour paint to it.

5) Digital editing: This is probably the most time-consuming part of the comic-making process.

As you can see, the scanned painting I showed you earlier looks a bit faded and a bit rough – so, digital editing can be a good way to refine the artwork (and to correct any small mistakes in the art and/or dialogue too). This is how many of my comics and paintings get their characteristic “vivid” look.

Most of the time, I use a couple of old image editing programs for this but, everything I’ll describe in the next couple of paragraphs can be done in almost any graphics program (even a free open-source one like “GIMP” [GNU Image Manipulation Program]). So, don’t think that you have to use a fancy, new or expensive one.

I usually start by lowering the brightness level/ increasing the contrast level of the image. After this, I’ll usually have to correct the skin tones in the picture (since changes to the brightness/contrast levels can affect these parts of the picture) by selecting these areas of the picture and altering their RGB values. I’ll then sometimes alter the highlight/midtone/shadow levels of various parts of the picture (eg: some of the backgrounds) too.

After this, I’ll use various airbrush, paintbrush, pencil etc.. tools to correct numerous small mistakes in the picture. Eventually, the finished picture looks a bit like this:

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] "Damania Repressed - Goth" By C. A. Brown

[CLICK FOR LARGER IMAGE] “Damania Repressed – Goth” By C. A. Brown

————–

Anyway, I hope that this was interesting šŸ™‚

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