Three Ways To Make A Change To Your Webcomic Series (Without Alienating Too Many Of Your Readers)

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Although this is an article about making webcomics, I’m going to have to start by talking about TV shows for a while. As usual, there’s (almost) a good reason for this that I hope becomes obvious later.

The day before I wrote this article, I started watching the second season of “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex“. Even from the opening credits alone, I knew that this season was going to be different. Everything in the opening credits had a much more gothic look to it, and the theme tune had hints of symphonic metal music in it. I was literally awestruck when I saw it for the first time.

When I started watching the episodes, I noticed that they’d gone from being intelligent sci-fi thriller episodes to being much darker and more complex political thriller episodes. Visually speaking, the set design in the first four episodes had a much stronger resemblance to both the original “Ghost In The Shell” movie and to “Blade Runner”. Needless to say, it was already my favourite season of the show after binge-watching a mere four episodes.

It’s an example of a change to a series done properly. And, since my own occasional webcomics have changed a bit over the past year or two (eg: I’ve moved more towards story-based comics etc..), I thought that I’d give some advice about how to make changes to your own webcomics. I’ve probably said some of this stuff before, but it bears repeating.

1) Have a good reason: As many users of a popular online art gallery site will probably tell you, change for the sake of change benefits no-one. In other words, you should only change your webcomic if there’s actually a good practical reason for doing so.

The main reason why webcomics change dramatically is because the change helps to keep the person making the webcomic inspired. Some people are able to make the same sort of thing repeatedly for years, and other people need to do different things in order to stay inspired. If you’re making webcomics, then staying inspired should be your top priority.

If you feel absolutely fascinated by a different type of comic, then make it! If your characters are developing in a way that you didn’t expect them to, let them develop! If you’re in a different mood to the one you usually are in when you’re making your comic, let your comic reflect that mood!

But, don’t make changes just for the sake of it, or to be fashionable. If a change doesn’t genuinely help you to feel more inspired, don’t make it.

Yes, inspired changes might annoy a few of your readers, but the higher quality that will result from these inspired changes will probably help you to keep readers or gain more of them.

2) Continuity: Even if you make a major change, try to keep some things the same. In other words, there should be something that regular fans of your webcomic will recognise instantly. This can be a similar style of humour, this can be recurring characters, this can even be a similar art style. Generally, changes tend to work best when they are part of a gradual progression – rather than a more abrupt change.

So, leaving parts of the “old” version of your webcomic in your new updates can help your audience to adapt to the changes you’ve made more easily.

For example, although I moved over to making more narrative-based webcomics (compared to more self-contained comics), many of my earlier narrative-based series included brief story recaps in the dialogue of each update, so that many episodes could theoretically be read on their own. Like this comic from “Damania Repressed“:

"Damania Repressed - Analytical Engine" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Repressed – Analytical Engine” By C. A. Brown

Plus, in the mini series that will appear here in late July, I’ve been experimenting with including a better mixture of story-based updates and self-contained updates, in part to appeal to people who prefer the “old-school” versions of my comics. Here’s another preview:

The full comic update will appear here on the 23rd July.

The full comic update will appear here on the 23rd July.

Likewise, the switch to more story-based comics wasn’t too difficult to make since I’d already made occasional story-based comics before (like this one, this one or this one). Yes, I’d used a slightly different visual style and panel layout for them, but regular readers of the series will hopefully realise that story-based comics aren’t an entirely new thing for me.

3) Practice and improvment: Many of the best changes in my webcomics have probably been the less noticeable ones. In other words, the improvements I’ve made in both the art and dialogue in my comics over the past year or so. Here’s a chart to show you what I mean:

 As you can see, I've started using slightly more detailed art and more extensive digital editing.

As you can see, I’ve started using slightly more detailed art and more extensive digital editing. (Note: The release dates refer to this blog, rather than to DeviantART)

In other words, if you practice making art and/or making webcomics regularly, then you’re going to improve. This will, over time, lead to changes in the “look” of your webcomic. These changes will probably happen without you even really noticing them at first. It goes without saying, but these are the kinds of changes that your audience is least likely to complain about.

So, if you want to change your webcomic without changing it, then just keep practicing (even if you only make webcomics occasionally, do art practice as often as possible).

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Ways To Make A Webcomic Update In A Hurry

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Although I talked about filler updates yesterday, I thought that I’d look at something subtly different today – namely, how to make a webcomic update quickly.

This is mostly because, the day before I wrote this article, I found that I had relatively little time to prepare the second of the two comic updates (to be posted as part of a mini series in late July) that I’d planned to make that day.

Luckily, I still made the comic update. Here’s a reduced-size preview of it:

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 26th July.

The full-size comic update will be posted here on the 26th July.

So, how was I able to speed everything up? Here are a few tips:

1) Three panels or one panel: Most of my webcomic updates tend to have 4-5 panels per update, this comic update only has three – even if this is cleverly disguised by the unusual panel layout. Although this might sound like it would be more difficult to write (since there’s less space for dialogue and storytelling), it actually isn’t if you’ve had a bit of practice.

Whilst longer comics might require more complex writing or structure, three panel comics often just follow the rule of “premise, set-up, punchline“. The first panel sets the scene, the second panel creates an expectation (about the third panel) and the third panel then shatters that expectation in an amusing way.

When you’ve seen this done enough times (typically in newspaper comics) and have practiced it a bit, then it’s a very familiar and easy rhythm that can help you to come up with quick comic ideas when you’re in a hurry.

Likewise, the general rule with one-panel comics is to set up an expectation with the art or the dialogue, and then subvert it with whichever one you haven’t used already (eg: art or dialogue) to set up the expectation.

2) Recycling: If you’re in a rush, then you probably won’t have much planning time for your comic update. So, take all or part of an idea or a joke from one of your previous comic updates and try to find a new twist on it (or add something to it). Don’t repeat the joke or idea exactly, but borrow the parts that made it so good the last time you used it.

For example, when I was making the comic update that I previewed earlier in this article, I didn’t have a huge amount of planning time. So, since it was a science fiction comic, I borrowed elements from the joke from this old four-panel comic of mine about VR technology and then used a slightly different punchline.

Although recycling your own stuff isn’t the most creative thing in the world and it shouldn’t be done that often, it can be useful for actually making something when you are in a hurry.

3) Art tricks: There are probably too many of them to mention every one here, but it’s always a good idea to learn some tricks that make the art in your comic look better than it actually is. This will save you time, whilst also allowing you to make impressive-looking comic updates.

These tricks include things like giving the illusion of detail, using realistic lighting to distract from the lack of detail in other parts of the artwork, making the setting look larger than it actually is, using simplified backgrounds, numerous digital editing techniques etc……

For example, most of the art in the preview at the beginning of this article is in the large middle panel. In case you can’t tell from the preview image, most of the art in that panel was created digitally using a few image effects. What this meant was that the bulk of the update’s art could be created by just selecting a few areas of the picture and applying various image effects.

However, the other two panels are made traditionally using ink and watercolours (albeit with some digital image editing after I scanned them). Since the comic starts off and ends with a traditional panel, it still gives the impression that the comic update was mostly made traditionally. Even though only about 25% of the entire update was created by slightly more time-consuming traditional methods.

If you learn sneaky tricks like this, then they can come in handy when you are in a hurry.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Ways To Make Better Filler Episodes For Your (Story-Based) Webcomic

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Well, due to being extremely tired at the time, I ended up making a filler episode for a webcomic mini series that will appear here in late July. Since this mini series will have an over-arching plot, I thought that I’d look at making filler updates for story-based webcomics today.

Like all good filler episodes, the one I made hopefully won’t obviously look too much like a filler episode, but it allowed me to plan and make a comic episode with relatively little effort. Here’s a preview of one panel from it:

The full comic update will appear here on the 24th July.

The full comic update will appear here on the 24th July.

Anyway, how do you make interesting (and easy) filler updates for story-based webcomics?

1) Focus on the secondary cast: One of the easiest ways to make a filler comic is to focus on a background character (or background characters) who hasn’t had much “screen time” in your webcomic. Even if you use a fairly generic joke or if you just show the background characters discussing what the main characters are doing, then this can be a good way to make an interesting filler comic.

Why? Because these characters haven’t appeared too much in the rest of your webcomic, they’re probably slightly mysterious. So, even if they don’t actually do much in your filler comic, these characters will be interesting because your audience will probably want to learn more about them.

Likewise, even if you just show them discussing what your main characters have done earlier in the comic then this will add some depth to your comic by showing that the “world” of your comic is larger than just the characters who appear in most of your comic updates. Likewise, you can use these character discussions to either add some background details, move the story along slightly and/or foreshadow something that will happen later in the comic.

2) Recaps and flashbacks: Another sneaky way to make a quick filler comic to make a recap update. Not only will this help new readers to catch up on the story but, if you know a little bit about digital editing, you can also create one of these updates fairly quickly by directly copying important panels from your previous comics and collecting them together in a new comic update.

A good way to learn which types of panels you should include is to watch movie trailers and/or the short “previously on…” recaps that often appear before episodes of long-running American TV shows.

If you want some of the speed that making a recap update offers, but you still actually want to include some new stuff in your comic update too, then just include a flashback scene. This is where you show one of your characters remembering something from earlier in the comic. Like with a recap, you can just digitally copy the scene in question from one of your previous updates.

However, to make it obvious that it’s a flashback, it’s usually a good idea to use some kind of image effect on the copied panel. The classic way to do this is to digitally desaturate the panel until it looks like something from an old movie. But, you could also alter the hue of the panel too – for example, the flashback scene in my filler comic has a blue tint to it (which also went well with the colour scheme of the rest of the update).

3) Backgrounds: Another way to make your filler update quickly is to keep the backgrounds as simplistic as possible. So, set your filler update in part of your comic’s setting which is (relatively) quick and easy to draw.

For example, in the mini series I’m making at the moment, many of the comics are set in a rainy, neon-lit futuristic city. This usually involves time-consuming things like digitally adding rain to the comic in MS after scanning it etc… Sometimes, I can cut down on this by just showing the cityscape through a window in the background, but it still involves extra editing.

So, if you take another look at the preview at the beginning of this article, you’ll probably notice that whilst there’s still a window in the background, the blinds happen to be drawn. The rest of the background still looks a bit like the backgrounds in other comic updates from the mini series, so it’s still clear that it is taking place in the same city – even though it doesn’t actually include a detailed cityscape in the background.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

One Cool Thing That TV Shows Taught Me About Storytelling In Webcomics

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As I mentioned yesterday, I’m busy making another webcomic mini series at the time of writing.

This one will appear in mid-late July and I’m planning on taking a slightly similar approach to the storytelling in it as I did in “Damania Retrofuturistic“, “Damania Renaissance” and “Damania Repressed“. In other words, there will be an overarching plot, but (hopefully) several self-contained updates too.

This is an approach to storytelling that I’ve learnt from watching numerous TV shows. Most recently, I’ve seen an absolutely great example of this technique in the first season of “Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex“. One really cool thing about this show is the fact that the episode title screen looks different depending on whether the episode is a stand-alone episode or part of the series’ main story arc.

Although television is a different medium to webcomics, they have more in common than you might think. They’re both visual mediums and they’re both released in an episodic fashion. Likewise, since they’re often produced in less time, on a lower budget and/or in larger quantities than films or novels are, there’s a lot more emphasis on characterisation and writing than there is on visual spectacle.

Anyway, the main reasons why a lot of TV shows use this structure is because, before the days of DVD boxsets, internet TV etc.. they couldn’t rely on their audience watching every episode in order. So, self-contained episodes provide something for people who have missed a few episodes and/or have started watching the TV show halfway through a season etc…

Even though most webcomics have easily searchable archives of one kind or another (like with the comics index page on this site), most people become interested in a webcomic by stumbling across just one episode of it by accident. So, if you include self-contained comic updates, then this makes your webcomic more easily accessible and it increases the chances of new readers being amused or intrigued by just seeing one comic update.

In addition to this, in television, these types of episodes also provide a bit of variety within the show itself. For example, a TV show with a depressing main plot might try to lighten the tone by including a few humourous or light-hearted stand-alone episodes in each season.

In webcomics, this sort of thing can allow you to include extra characterisation, to make jokes that wouldn’t fit into the main storyline and things like that. It gives you more room to try different things and to add more to your comic, without affecting the main storyline too much.

The trick to all of this is, of course, working out the ratio of self-contained to story-based episodes. Generally, if you include more story-based episodes, then you can tell a more detailed and complex story – albeit at the expense of making it more accessible to new readers. Likewise, if most of the updates in your comic are self-contained, then you’ll probably have to use a simpler story for the main plot.

Of course, if you’re really up for a challenge- you can include an over-arching plot in the background, whilst also giving each “episode” a self-contained sub plot. This is probably a lot more difficult to do in webcomics than it is in TV for the simple reason that you’ll only have 1-8 panels to work with in every comic update (as opposed to 45 minutes of screen time). But, the main advantage of this is that it makes your comic more accessible to new and/or infrequent readers than if you use a combination of self-contained comics and story-based comics.

But, yes, TV shows can teach you a lot about story structure in webcomics.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Three Advantages Of Hyper-Detailed Art In Webcomics

....And, yes, I cheated and rotoscoped this picture from a photo.

….And, yes, I cheated and rotoscoped this picture from a photo.

Ok, before I list the advantages of detailed art in webcomics, I’ll start by briefly mentioning the disadvantages that I’ve found with using mildly more detailed art in my occasional webcomics.

Most of these disadvantages involve the extra planning, drawing, painting and/or editing time that goes into making more detailed webcomics. This can lead to shorter webcomics and/or it can lead to more infrequent webcomics. For example, the webcomic mini series which is appearing here at the end of the month will only be six daily updates long (rather than the usual 8-12).

Likewise, there will probably only be one mini series posted here in July (and, even then, it’ll appear later in the month). Here’s a preview of the first two panels of episode one:

The full comic update will be posted here on the 19th July.

The full comic update will be posted here on the 19th July.

Ok, that’s the disadvantages out of the way. So, let’s talk about the advantages:

1) They have instant appeal: The night before I wrote this article, I discovered a new webcomic by accident after an update from it grabbed my attention during an image search for pictures of Linux in the 1990s. It was an absolutely hilarious webcomic called “The Joy Of Tech” and it has been running for over a decade and a half, so it had a huge archive.

One of the things that really surprised me about this webcomic was the fact that even the older updates use a realistic, but cartoonish, art style and that the later comics almost look like they were rotoscoped from photographs. Since it’s a satirical webcomic, this added degree of realism makes all of the caricatures about twice as funny (seriously, the comics about Mark Zuckerberg are just too funny!).

Likewise, one of the things that makes my favourite webcomic – “Subnormality” – so fascinating is the sheer amount of stuff hidden in the background. Although the art in it is more stylised than the art in “The Joy Of Tech”, it’s the kind of comic which makes you look closely at almost every panel.

2) It shows the value of practice: If you look at any webcomic with hyper-detailed art, it can be easy to think that the artist has been gifted with some kind of special talent that you could never even hope to replicate. Chances are, they haven’t. They’ve just practiced a lot.

If you look back through the archives of many webcomics, you’ll find that the earlier updates often feature significantly less detailed or realistic art. In other words, the artist gradually got better at making art through regular practice. Yes, improvements can be slow – but they will happen if you practice regularly.

To show you what I mean, here’s an update from my long-running occasional webcomic series from 2012 (eg: before I even started this blog):

"Damania - Static" By C. A. Brown [21st October 2012]

“Damania – Static” By C. A. Brown [21st October 2012]

And here’s a comic from the same occasional series that appeared here a few days ago:

"Damania Revelry - Preparation" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Revelry – Preparation” By C. A. Brown

I didn’t instantly jump from one to the other in real life, there were something like 4-5 years of daily art practice (but not exclusively comic practice – in,fact, most of my practice included “ordinary” drawings and paintings) between these comics. And there’s probably still a lot of room for improvement. But, you’ll never improve if you don’t practice – and comparing the old and new art in “detailed” webcomics can be a good way to remind yourself of this.

3) It can cover up obscure humour and/or weak writing: In the “Joy Of Tech” webcomic I’ve mentioned earlier, there were some updates that I either didn’t find funny or just didn’t understand. Yet, I was more than willing to overlook this and keep reading. Why? Because the art looks awesome.

I mean, I’m not a fan of Apple computers and I don’t know where Cupertino is, but I was still absolutely awestruck by this comic because of the accurate re-creation of the Tyrell Building office from “Blade Runner” in the first panel. Some of the satire went over my head, but the art still made the comic worth reading.

Yes, the writing is the most important part of any webcomic – it’s why XKCD is so popular, despite featuring extremely minimalist artwork. But, highly detailed art can serve as a very good “backup” for the occasions when the writing fails to interest or amuse the audience.

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Anyway, I hope that this was interesting 🙂

Three Ways To Take Artistic Inspiration From Anime And/Or Manga (If You Don’t Use That Drawing Style)

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Although I seem to have something of a strange on/off relationship with anime and manga, they can be surprisingly inspirational things if you’re an artist. This is even true when, like me, your own art style isn’t actually an anime/manga art style (and, yes, there are both advantages and disadvantages to not using this style).

So, how and why should you take inspiration from this type of art?

1) It’s like every genre “turned up to eleven”: Even if you’re not interested in some of the more well-known types of anime and manga, it’s important to remember that these terms only refer to the group of art styles used in Japanese-style comics (manga) and animation (anime).

Since these mediums have historically been taken much more seriously in Japan than they were in the UK or US, there are anime and manga in pretty much every genre you can imagine. Yes, even “serious” science fiction!

For example, the thing that made me return to anime (after re-watching “Akira” a week or two earlier) was when I read that the original “Ghost In The Shell” film was very similar to my favourite (live-action) film, “Blade Runner”.

After finding a cheap second-hand DVD of the director’s cut of “Ghost In The Shell”, I checked it out and was absolutely astonished by it. Although a few scenes lacked the gloomy atmosphere of “Blade Runner”, the actual film itself was like Blade Runner on steroids! Seriously, it’s one of the few films that I can easily see myself rewatching numerous times – both because of the sumptuous art and because of the complex, intelligent “Blade Runner”-like storyline. And it’s a cartoon!

As I’ve mentioned in previous articles, one of the cool things about comics and animation is the fact that, whilst the art can look fairly realistic, it isn’t limited by the constraints of real life. As such, it can be exaggerated in an imaginative way that you can’t do if you try to be too realistic.

Like how literally anything can happen in a novel because the only materials needed (to say, build a gigantic fictional world) are 26 letters – one of the cool things about art and comics is that, if you know how, you can draw literally anything with just a few art supplies.

Since comics and animation have, historically, been a much more respected medium (with a much more diverse range of genres) in Japan than they have been in the English-speaking parts of the world – anime and manga contain numerous inspirational examples of how to use the creative freedom inherent in traditional art to create things that would be difficult or impossible to create using film, photography etc…

So, if you need to remind yourself of how creative art can be at it’s best, then watch some anime or read some manga.

2) Realism and detail: Although I discussed this in the comments on another article last year, one of the things that can be very easy to miss when watching anime or reading manga is the fact that the art is often much more realistic and detailed than it might appear at first glance. If you ignore the stylised character designs and look at the backgrounds instead, you’ll quickly see what I mean.

When you watch as little as a trailer for a large-budget anime film or TV series like “Akira”, “Cowboy Bebop”, “Spirited Away”, “Ghost In The Shell” etc.. you’ll be bowled over by the sheer level of realism and detail in both the backgrounds and the animation itself. Likewise, although many manga comics are designed to be drawn quickly (more on that later), the backgrounds in them can often be astonishingly detailed line art drawings that almost look like they were traced from photographs.

If you find an anime film/TV series that you really love or a manga series that you really love, then it’s probably going to make you want to add more detail to your own art. After all, you’re going to want to make something that looks as cool as the thing you’ve just seen – albeit in your own art style.

For example, the day after I watched “Ghost In The Shell” (and started to watch some of the spin-off TV series, which I’d bought at the same time) I ended up producing what is probably my most detailed digitally-edited painting yet. Here’s a reduced-size preview:

The full-size painting will appear here on the 14th July.

The full-size painting will appear here on the 14th July.

3) Good art made quickly: Because manga comics are usually made fairly quickly, they contain lots of easily noticeable lessons about how to use artistic techniques and how to make good art quickly.

For example, if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to draw in black and white, then look closely traditonal manga comics.

Yes, many of them use pre-made dot pattern transfer sheets for the shading. But, if you ignore this, then manga comics are pretty much a “how to” guide when it comes to learning how to do things like balancing the amounts of black and white in a single image, how to only show the most essential details, how to give the impression of things like shiny surfaces etc…

Likewise, if you want to make comics of your own, then you can learn a lot of time-saving techniques from looking at manga. For example, to save time, dramatic scenes will sometimes use a solid black background. Not only does this draw attention to the characters and give the picture a “serious” look, it also meant that the artist doesn’t have to draw a complex background.

Here’s an example from one of my own (non-manga) comics of this technique in action. You can see it in the last panel:

"Damania Regenerated - Killjoys" By C. A. Brown

“Damania Regenerated – Killjoys” By C. A. Brown

So, yes, if you take a close look at manga comics, you can learn all sorts of new artistic techniques that will both make your art look cooler and allow you to make it more quickly.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂

Two Ways To Find Your Own “Version” Of The Cyberpunk Genre

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If you’ve been reading this site recently, you can probably guess that I’m in something of a cyberpunk mood at the moment. The interesting thing about the cyberpunk genre is that, despite the fact that it’s only been around for 32-37 years, there are numerous “versions” of it.

From the rainy, neon-lit streets of “Blade Runner” to the gothic green-tinted world of “The Matrix” to the bright bleached cityscapes in some footage I’ve seen of a cyberpunk-influenced modern dystopian sci-fi game called “Mirror’s Edge“, no two things in the cyberpunk genre look exactly alike.

One small silver lining of the miserable fact that virtually nothing from the genre is in the public domain (in a way that many cyberpunk “classics” would if copyright laws were more rational) is the fact that everyone making something in the cyberpunk genre has to come up with their own very slightly unique interpretation of it.

Yes, it might be heavily influenced by the cyberpunk “canon” but, it will be at least subtly different from these things. But, this isn’t an article about copyright, it’s an article about how you can find your own version of the cyberpunk genre. So, how do you do this?

1) Have other influences!: Whenever it comes to anything creative or even anything to do with humanity, variety usually equals strength and/or quality. Democracies can last for centuries or more because they allow a wide variety of political opinions to exist. The food in the UK is significantly better than it apparently was 60-70 years ago, due to a wider variety of influences from around the world. Even genetics itself obviously relies on variety too. I could go on for a while, but I should probably get back to the cyberpunk genre.

What I’m trying to say here is that you aren’t going to find your own “version” of the cyberpunk genre if you aren’t willing to look outside of the cyberpunk genre for inspiration.

But, given how obscure this genre is these days – it’s pretty much impossible for you not to also have favourite novels, films, games etc.. from outside the genre too. So, let these influence your cyberpunk art, fiction, comics etc.. too.

Always be on the lookout for cool things, regardless of whether they’re cyberpunk or not, which instantly make you think “I want to learn how to make something like that”. Once you’ve worked out what generic features (eg: lighting, composition types, colour schemes, general types of locations, pacing, narrative style, themes etc..) make these things so interesting, then apply that knowledge to the cyberpunk things that you make.

To give you a recent example, here’s a reduced-size preview of a digitally-edited cyberpunk painting that will appear here in July:

The full-size painting will appear here on the 13th July.

The full-size painting will appear here on the 13th July.

Whilst the three “traditional” cyberpunk inspirations for this painting are “Blade Runner“, “Ghost In The Shell[NSFW] (I watched the “2.0” director’s cut shortly before making most of this painting) and Warren Ellis’ “Transmetropolitan” comics, you’ll probably notice that it looks a bit more colourful than any of these things. This element of the painting was inspired by the use of multiple complementary colour palettes in a set of “Doom II” levels called “Ancient Aliens“.

Likewise, the setting of the painting was also inspired by photos of New York and Tokyo that I’d seen online a couple of days earlier. Several clothing designs in the painting were inspired by 1980s fashion rather than by traditional “noir” cyberpunk. I could go on for a while…

The fact is that many of the “classics” of the cyberpunk genre have become unique classics for the simple reason that they looked for influences outside of the cyberpunk genre. For example, “The Matrix” owes as much to 1980s/90s goth culture as it does to prior cyberpunk films like “Blade Runner”, “Akira”, “Ghost In The Shell” etc..

2) Ask a simple question: One way to come up with your own “version” of the cyberpunk genre is just to ask yourself “what makes something cyberpunk?“. Go on, do it now.

Once you’ve written down or memorised your list of answers, then see if you can find a way to create something that fits into this definition. Whilst this might not sound like a way to come up with your own “unique” version of the genre, it will do exactly that! But, why?

Simply put, everyone is different. The things that really appeal to you about the cyberpunk genre will be at least slightly different from the things that appeal to everyone else about it. Whether you’re thinking about the visual elements of the genre or the thematic elements, you’ll probably have a slightly different idea of what makes something cyberpunk to everyone else.

For example, as an artist, the things that really appeal to me about the cyberpunk genre are the high-contrast lighting (eg: neon signs at night, CRT monitors in the dark etc..), the dense, angular cityscapes, the idea of an “old future”, flying cars, “film noir” rain, the idea of sensory overload etc…

But, other artists may be more fascinated by things like cyborgs, cyberspace, lines of programming code superimposed onto the real world, dystopian politics, environmental issues etc…

Everyone sees something slightly different when they look at the cyberpunk genre, so ask yourself what you see.

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Anyway, I hope that this was useful 🙂