Well, for today, I thought that I’d talk about settings in webcomics and how they can be an unusual source of creative motivation.
As regular readers of this site probably know by now, I’ve been busy making a series of three time travel themed webcomic mini series that will appear here this month and early next month (the first one begins tonight 🙂 ).
One of the interesting things about making these comics was how detailed the backgrounds were when compared to many of the previous webcomics that I’ve made. Previously, I’d usually tended towards using minimalist backgrounds as often as possible for time reasons.
The idea of making highly-detailed backgrounds for each panel of my webcomic updates used to seem a bit like a frustrating waste of time to me. After all, the focus was supposed to be on the characters and the dialogue.
But, paradoxically, the detailed backgrounds were one of the many things that really helped to keep me motivated when making these upcoming comics. Even if these comics took slightly more effort to make than usual, I still found myself producing them at a faster rate than I had expected. And I know why!
Here are a few of the reasons. Who knows, they might be useful for your webcomic too:
1) Interesting locations: One of the many reasons that I used minimalist backgrounds for a lot of my webcomics was for the simple reason that the settings weren’t that interesting.
Most of the settings were either inside a flat and/or on the streets of a generic town (that is heavily inspired by Aberystwyth). These settings are mildly “realistic”, but they aren’t interesting. No wonder that I saw adding the backgrounds as a chore that I would try to put the minimum amount of effort into as possible.
By contrast, since I was making comics about time travel, I had to come up with more “unrealistic” backgrounds. I had to draw gloomy futuristic cities, ominous Victorian factories, something suspiciously similar to 221B Baker Street, a 1980s/90s-style version of cyberspace, menacing medieval castles etc…
Needless to say, these were all settings that required a lot more creativity and imagination. They also gave me a lot more freedom to experiment with things like different types of lighting and/or slightly less realistic colour schemes. Needless to say, the chance to do all of this was considerably motivational than just drawing the inside of the same flat for the hundredth time.
So, set your webcomic somewhere interesting and you’ll find that the idea of making detailed backgrounds will go from being a motivation-sapping chore to being something that you actually want to do.
2) Background jokes: Since all of the upcoming comics in the three mini series that will be appearing here over the next month or so are part of a larger story (although many individual comic updates are still self-contained), this allowed me to include a few references, interesting details and jokes in the backgrounds.
Naturally, this made the backgrounds considerably more fun to make than usual. The idea of hiding something plot-related in the background and knowing that dedicated readers of the comic might spot it upon re-reading the comics added an extra level of motivation. The same is true for some of the movie and game references that I also sneaked into the comics too.
So, adding jokes or references to the backgrounds of your webcomic updates can be another great way to get motivated.
3) Variety: There’s a reason why I’ve made three separate time travel-themed webcomic mini series, rather than just one longer series set in a single time period. That reason is, of course, variety!
If you have to re-draw the same settings (or even the same types of settings) over and over again, it can quickly become a dull and repetitive activity. So, one way to stay motivated is to ensure that there’s a good variety of settings within your webcomic. Yes, you shouldn’t completely change the setting in each panel, but try to introduce new locations as often as you can.
Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂