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ESTABLISHING THE INITIAL STEPS FOR A WEBCOMIC


Hi I’m Andrea Dotta: a Pro comic artist and animator and one year ago I had the insane idea of making a powerful webcomic to show my works to more people as possible. Now I’m in a positive development towards my goal. If you want to do a webcomic, always do your best as their are millions of webcomics on the internet. 

In this article,  I  would like to share the things that I’ve learned this year so I hope you will get something from me.


 

WRITING

  • IDEAThere are no bad ideas, there are only ideas that are not developed.  To develop your idea, you need to be authentic - think of your real life experiences to give credibility to your story. If you need a sad story, think of a sad story in your life. If you want a happy story, think and say what is a happy story for you and write with your experiences in life.

  • TARGET: This is really important for your story: WHO IS YOUR AUDIENCE? First, you have to think on the genre (Sci-Fi, Western, Horror), after that ask yourself:  "what’s the best audience for that genre?" and make a fast identikit of your ideal fan. E.g. “FAN HORROR: 15-18 years old, like strong emotions. Can  be Dark or Emo or a Head-banger with black humor” I don’t know if it’s a perfect this identikit but I always ask myself as to who I think is my best fan as it helps a lot in improving my story.

  • LOGLINE: One important rule in telling a story is “One character, one thing, one story”. Try to develop your idea in one line because, if you can explain your story in one line, your story can become really strong and clear as it is an indication that your idea is already clear in your head. 
    • E.g.” A girl tries to run away from her home because she wants her self-sufficiency.” You need the Main character(A girl), the most important verb (run away) and the motivation of the Main character (she want her self-sufficiency)

  • SUBJECT: Now if you want to work on a unique long story, you need to write the entire story of your comic in max one page. You have to do that to establish the beginning and the ending of your story. If you are working on a series with many episodes,  little by little, write down the subject matter of every episode in max one page as you go deeper in your story. Here you can use the Target Audience to see their most liked films, books or comics so you can give your expected readers the things that they would like to see and read.

  • CHARACTERS: Make a Identikit of your characters and here are some of the points to consider:
    • NAME
    • YEARS
    • GENDER
    • PSYCHOLOGICAL DESCRIPTION
    • PHYSIQUE
    • WORK
    • CURIOSITY
    • RELATIONSHIP – family, girlfriend or boyfriend etc.
    • BACK STORY - The most important thing! The motivation of the character is most of the time connected with his past.

                People have a very complex lifestyle so it is important that you keep these in mind.

 


Drawing 

  • REFERENCE: Don’t draw with your actual style instantly . Try to improve yourself and discover new styles. Don't be afraid to use references when necessary: drawings, photos, real life objects, etc. After that, search for drawings, paintings, comics and everything that you think is needed for your story. 
<da:thumb id="77045718"/>  Final Shot - Drawing Reference by SenshiStock  Baseball cap reference by randychen

  • INSPIRATION SKETCHES: Now draw with the reference you've found on your research and try to be as free as possible. Try to do fast sketches here, just enough to help you establish the look and feel for your characters, settings, etc and try variations because you need a lot of images you can choose whatever is best for your characters and settings for your story.

Character Profile Skull Study by LuigiL  <da:thumb id="205736644"/>  Thumbnails for bg paint by davidsdoodles

  • CHARACTERS STUDIES:There are a number of ways in studying your character and one way that I find helpful is  to make different silhouettes showing different arms movements, faces shapes, clothes, weapons, etc. If you make a readable silhouette of your character, it can help you see clearly  from a different camera perspective in a simpler way. You have to do the same thing with the colors, try a lot of different colors and choose the best for your characters or you can try the following:

space warrior silouettes by ShaneCorn    Chanta Fey - 2D turn-around by Hanesihiko

  • BACKGROUNDS STUDIES: Try different worlds and remember that the world of the characters must be related to them as their interaction with their surroundings is important. 
 
    back ground studies by greenestreet  Tales of the Abyss BG Studies by Avibroso

  • THE STYLE: Here you can do 1-2 finished images to know the final style of your comic, also here try different ways to make shadows, lights, atmosphere, ink and layout/lettering. Try some textures if you want. The reference can be very useful here for the style.


Last Tape in Hell - Cerberus by ratherlemony  kitchen by zain7  Agent X9 by RalphNiese


  • PAGES: Put all the work you’ve done in the show and add the words with a good lettering and layout.

mikey new comicbook day pg9 by mikey-c  Little Big Heads page 3! (color edit1) by cheeks-74  Crafting 1.2- Page_03 by stplmstr  


YOUR BLOG / SITE

  • To make a professional work, you need a blog or a site where you can publish webcomic online. Try to update your webcomic weekly or try to have a schedule and if you say something like “I will release the next episode on February 1” you have to do that or you will lose credibility.
  • There are a lot of possible formats and layouts to put online your webcomics, in the links are some examples:
  1. Classic Orizzontal comic [link]
  2. Strip comic [link]
  3. Vertical comic: [link] (is in italian sorry)
  4. Film style: [link] this is really interesting!

 Carrying trade site layout by floydworx  Video Site Concept by z-design



ADVERTISE YOURSELF!

  • LOGO AND SLOGAN: Make a good logo that explains the world of your webcomic, this is your business card! Also the slogan is important, because it helps builds attraction and people can easily remember it.

L4D2 Fan Comic Logo by MidNight-Vixen  Symbiote Spiderman Logo by Wolverine080976  DICK TRACY LOGO COMIC STRIP by JaimeMolina

  • SOCIAL NETWORKS: Find the most important social networks for you, you don’t need 30 social to advertise your comic… You can’t do it well everywhere! Try to have 2-3 social max. For me the best for comics are advertised on Facebook, Deviantart and Twitter. Someone said that I can also also use Tumblr and Pinterest but I don’t know much about it. But you can try them ofcourse! Just choose the best for you.

  • OTHER SITES AND BLOG: Find every site and blog that can attract interest on your work, contact the admin of the site and try to have a critique on it or a review or just ask them to visit your works


 

MONEY, MONEY, MONEY!

  • To get some money from your webcomic, you can try selling your brand as a merchandise with an online shop or use a crowd funding website like KICKSTARTER[link]  or INDIEGOGO [link] or use GOOGLE ADSENSE to have advertise on your site.

 

Well I think I talk too much for this time! If you have any question contact me and I can answer you well!

Ah, last thing… a preview from my future webcomic, JOHNNY DYNAMIC!


JOHNNY DYNAMIC - Preview by andreadotta


Bye!




Add a Comment:
 
:icondianagrigore:
DianaGrigore Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013
This was a very interesting article, I'm in love with comics and I used to draw some when i was little. That film style was pretty cool. :clap:
Reply
:iconjburns272:
Jburns272 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Great tutorial. I found it very helpful. :)

Are those zombie lego men?!?
Reply
:icondarkjanet:
DarkJanet Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'd better make my own comic after I get cintiq 22HD. I'm going to surpass *bleedman.
Reply
:iconmissmiracles:
MissMiracles Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
It's really easy to surpass Bleedman, he's really bad.
Reply
:iconthegreataiko-sama:
THEGREATAIKO-SAMA Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist
:giggle:
Reply
:iconmissmiracles:
MissMiracles Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional General Artist
I'm glad you find honesty funny. :'D
Reply
:icondarkjanet:
DarkJanet Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Why bad?
Reply
:iconmissmiracles:
MissMiracles Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
His art is really creepy( Like a pedo-bear creepy, not Freddy Krueger creepy) his story lines are awful and he just isn't good in general. Sorry if I'm coming off as rude, but he honestly is bad.
Reply
:icondarkjanet:
DarkJanet Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I know, Miss Miracles, I know.
Um, is yaoi okay with you?
Reply
:iconmissmiracles:
MissMiracles Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Yaoi is fine I guess, I don't really care about stuff like that. Why?
Reply
:icondarkjanet:
DarkJanet Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, I like yaoi, too. I think I remember I read Sasuke x Naruto doujinshi in 2007. I love Naruto very much, do you?
Reply
:iconmissmiracles:
MissMiracles Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
I really don't like anime, I don't have anything against it, either.
Reply
(1 Reply)
:iconmartinsilvertant:
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Very nice article. I actually saw this through #InfoAsYouNeedIt, where only the first part was posted. Which begs the question, why didn't you post the full article there? If you add the same article to different groups you will also get all the comments in one spot.

Anyway, the article is informative and to the point. There are two points though which I don't completely agree with; one of them actually seems a personal preference rather than a universal rule.

The first point I'm not so sure about is "idea". Of course there are bad ideas! It rather seems like a cliché to protect people's feelings. You almost seem to insinuate the idea is secondary to the execution. Indeed the execution can make a lot right, but it all starts with a good idea. A bad idea is probably not worth developing further. I have to agree however that most bad ideas have the potential to become good ideas depending on the writer, but this seems very subjective anyway.

The second point I don't agree with is "subject". Actually, I don't disagree, but it seems to be A method and not THE method. Mind you, it's really good advise to write the whole story down on one paper and reference that for the comic, but it seems there are plenty of comics which were written with just a very global description of the story, and it may not even have a defined ending yet. For the inexperienced user though your method seems most recommendable because without experience it's hard to estimate how your story would translate into comic book (or web comic inthis case) pages exactly. I wouldn't know how easy it is in the industry to simply ask for a few more pages or panels if necessary, but I guess you need to be able to make a comic with an already defined amount of pages as well.

What's interesting to me is that this article somewhat seems to focus on a larger audience. I have no aspirations to start a web comic, but I did find your article rather useful in regard to a fictional story I'm writing.
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Every idea is a good idea but you need to work very hard on it! You have to work hard on the idea and on the developpment.
Is a really fast article and i can't explain well what i think sometimes :)

When i give a project to an editor first think we talk about is the entire story, if you don't know the end and you're a newbye they can't consider your story.
This is how it work in italy.

Thanks to give me your opinions, they are to helpfull for me!
Reply
:iconmartinsilvertant:
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Professional General Artist
if you don't know the end and you're a newbye they can't consider your story.
You would be surprised what you can do if they really want your story. Louis CK managed to get picked up for a TV series without letting know anything about his show. No story, no actors and not even a general theme. Every time the network said "No, we can't do it this way" Louis would say "Yeah, you're absolutely right. We can't do it this way. Never mind then" and they kept coming back.

I think it's very important for people to realize we're not robots. Without a doubt it's good to have a story written down from start to finish, but since we're dealing with people and not with robots, I'm sure a lot could be done without following such a protocol. Having said that, quite obviously a newbie would have a very hard time doing things this way without credibility or a track record.

I still find myself disagreeing with your statement that everything is a good idea. Have a look at movies. That's a whole branch where ideas are worked out to an extent a new comic writer like your readers could only dream of, and yet there are enough movies with a ridiculously bad story. So really, not every idea is a good one.
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner May 3, 2013  Professional Filmographer
i understand all...
Writing in this year i trowed away a lot of my work, and now for the final story i'm writing all another time :)

The creative work is really casual... and i think i must have strong rules to begin, but if one thing don't match, you have to brake the rules.

In story writing i'm not so professional at this time and every comment make me thinking...

Thnaks for you time
Reply
:iconmarimariakutsu:
marimariakutsu Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you very much TuT~!!!!
Reply
:iconkjo1993:
kjo1993 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
hmm no bad ideas you say... you ever try jumping onto an air mattress from the second story window? bad idea -_-

anyway this is very helpful thank you! also very coincidental since im planing to start my first comic soon :D
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional Filmographer
i'm happy that you can find this article usefull :)
Reply
:iconsirjoepanzer:
sirjoepanzer Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Digital Artist
perchè i cuoricini? ahahah
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
haha non lo so me li ha messi l'editor dell'evento :)
Reply
:iconntholden:
ntholden Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
thanks for the great info.
Reply
:iconjazylh:
JazylH Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Very well put, though I feel Advertising should be highlighted in more detail. From on webcomic creator to another Great webcomic you have there & its nice to see someone take out time & share his experience.
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional Filmographer
i find a lot of funny writing this article and i will write others more specifics on this big guideline.
But i want to do it when i'll have more experience on it
Reply
:iconjazylh:
JazylH Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Totally. You're doing a great job!
Reply
:iconnamelessobsidian22:
NamelessObsidian22 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Student Digital Artist
do you know any software programs that can be used to make film style webcomics?
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
i don't know if there's a program to do it... You have to do for every image a jpeg and make a slideshow in the site.
I'm working on it with a web designer soon i will know more :)
Reply
:iconspudfuzz:
Spudfuzz Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's a good article but I don't know if the target audience is even a valid thing anymore. It used to be from back in the days when we believed certain demographics would never even read comics, as if stereotypes were a legitimate thing. I find personally more useful to worry about the story itself, does it make sense, are the characters actually characters or just tropes and stereotypes, are there any plot holes from a normal reader's point of view, whether they like it or not is irrelevant. You can intend a comic to be for a general type of audience, but more often than not it seems to appeal to a majority of a type you never expected. I like to point to MLP FIM as one example.
Reply
:iconmartinsilvertant:
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
I don't have experience in regard to comics particularly, but it seems in general the target audience is very relevant. A study of the target audience always needs to be made, particularly when it regards a commercial project.

It used to be from back in the days when we believed certain demographics would never even read comics, as if stereotypes were a legitimate thing.
They are. It does work. Also, we haven't fundamentally changed in 50 years or so. We are still affected by the same psychological principles, and this is partially presented with a proper study in the target audience.

Again though, I have no experience with comics, but when graphic design is concerned the target audience always, always needs to be considered. You can then make a conscious decision to deviate from what you think your target audience would expect, but the point is that you don't just start working and see where it goes. I mean, that's a fine method for a personal comic, but I can't imagine that will be the case with big projects, and I personally think even for a personal comic the target audience needs to be considered. Hey and of course not all types of fans can be anticipated, but that's part of the fun. It does start with a proper study though.

I like to point to MLP FIM as one example.
This got me curious. Could you elaborate on that?
Reply
:iconbomkosh:
BomKosh Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
Bad Webcomics Wiki also has some tutorials so your upcoming wouldn't wind up on their wiki.

[link]
Reply
:iconlil-hawk:
Lil-Hawk Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013  Professional General Artist
There's a lot of good interesting info here but I don't agree with writing something for a target audience. Which is basically ditching inspiration in favor of trying to please others. Though I guess it's something you have to do if you're trying to make money out of it, like a print comic or a TV show. You can't do it without your followers...

For me personally anyway, it's a way to express myself, not an industry. My little webcomic thingy (which sadly updates way irregularly due to time constraints :( ) will not make any money (it's a fan comic) and uses existing unpopular characters from a canceled show, the plots are my whacky random brain farts... yet the fans come. (No not by the thousands... or hundreds... but who cares =p) Sure they give input, like which characters they wanna see make a guest appearance etc, but I can't utilize it unless it inspires me. I think even if you don't chase a target audience, they'll find you. :)
Reply
:iconmartinsilvertant:
MartinSilvertant Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional General Artist
Which is basically ditching inspiration in favor of trying to please others.
Very interesting point. I do however think it's important to differentiate between researching the target audience and writing for the target audience. It's always useful to know what your (potential) target audience is. You can then make a conscious decision to which extent you will write within the confines of that target audience and where you will deviate from it. They seem to be more like guidelines than actual restrains. But good point though; I do think people need to be more conscious about it.
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
I think sometimes the audience can find you, but if you haven't a name is really difficult for you.
We have different goal, i want to show my work, find some editors, make money and make it my work... This can be my dream.

I begin first with my idea, in the end of writing i think on what i can do to bring more people to my comic. You need all that tools after the idea that must be the same! You need to balance it, maybe
Reply
:icontheowl68:
TheOwl68 Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Very well explained, especially for newbies like me =D I'm not sure that my story would come under the webcomic grouping but I found this extremely helpful on most points, especially your mention of Kickstarter and Indiegogo for possible funding options. That alone is invaluable, so I truly appreciate you including that :love: Thank you so much for this article! Instant fave! :heart:
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
thank you to read it :)
If you've questions i'm here.
Bye
Reply
:icontheowl68:
TheOwl68 Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! =D
Reply
:iconpwassonne:
pwassonne Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is very interesting, but you seem to have omitted something that I think would be worth mentioning: namely, the artist's goals, not in terms of storyline but in terms of how big they want the comic to grow. Do they want to reach the most people, make the most money, eventually get a traditional publishing deal, just finish the story without giving up halfway? Webcomic artists have different goals, and I think different goals entail different priorities. ^^'
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
mmmmm really intresting your opinion.
You think that if your priorities are money can't be also have more people?
You've some example to show me?
Reply
:iconpwassonne:
pwassonne Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't have a precise example, and it's true that if you want to make money, you'll also want to attract a lot of people, because these people will buy stuff from you. What I mean is that your article starts from the assumption that every webcomic artist eventually wants to make money from their art AND that they will always be ready to alter their original ideas to cater to the desires of potential readers. I know at least one example of a webcomic artist who's not ready to change her story to attract more people, and that's =kalistina with her project, Creative Release. Basically, her priority seems to be the story she wants to tell, and not the amount of money she's going to make out of it. When you advise people to plan out their story according to what the target audience would like to see, you assume that the people who read your tutorial care more about their potential readers than they care about their own ideas. What I'm trying to point out is that not every artist will want to do this.
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Professional Filmographer
i know that it's my opinion because i work on comics and i want to make my webcomic a work, and to live with that i need money :)
The target is really important, you don't need to change your story for the readers but you have to know who is your target.
If you want to do a comic for child you must use some rules, if you make an underground violent comic for adults you have to work on another direction.
Reply
:iconpwassonne:
pwassonne Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
That, or you (impersonal you here) can just put your story out there and see who happens to like it. But that's less likely to earn you money. ^^
Reply
:iconrosepab:
rosepab Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013
A good piece.
I am finding that I have a core audience but finding it hard to attract new readers.
I do Facebook, DeviantArt, Belfry Webcomics, Ink Outbreak, Reddit but now finding the next step a little more difficult.
I think patience might be the answer because I seethat most of the established webcomics have been around for 5 years or more.
My site is one year old, has anyone got any suggestions or sites I should know to improve viewing figures?
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
I think the most problem you have about your webcomic is, also if it's really well made, is 3d.
A lot of people see with diffidence 3d comics and a lot of time they are terrbile!
I think is too far from the commercia comics and you will have an hard life for this webcomic i think.
Good luck!
Reply
:iconzalcoti:
Zalcoti Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013   Digital Artist
Try Project Wonderful if you have your own website. It's a really great advertising tool. Also try advertising on webcomic rank sites like Top Webcomics. They allow you to buy adspace for a certain amount of clicks and will stay up until that amount has been reached.


[link]
[link]
Reply
:iconpizzapotatonbacon:
PizzaPotatoNBacon Featured By Owner Apr 18, 2013  Student General Artist
Great article! Comprehensive- yet easy to understand :nod:, the key to a good article. I love that you gave links for awesome references to start with.

Can I say something regarding character creation? While it is good to have a backstory, does the backstory define all of the character's personality? Yes, the past can and does influence the personality, and it is indeed in important, I don't think it is not the most important part. But of course, we all have our methods, but I just needed to get that out.

Thanks for writing this. :D Have a pleasant day!
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013  Professional Filmographer
Thanks :)
For the character is how i'm working now, i think on how the director of a film work on a actor: he don't say to him what to do but about the past scene and emotions.
How do you work in characters?
Reply
:iconpizzapotatonbacon:
PizzaPotatoNBacon Featured By Owner Apr 19, 2013  Student General Artist
I see.
Yes, while their background and past affects them I let what my characters do define themselves. Similar to "Actions speak louder than words". Since my story is kind of about them growing up, I can't actually write a back story from the start, anyway. Not only that, I use this character creation method I found here: [link]
Reply
:iconandreadotta:
andreadotta Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Professional Filmographer
i will see this other tutorial because i think there's a lot of things i don't know.
I think the method change for every story.
Thanks to share it
Reply
:iconpizzapotatonbacon:
PizzaPotatoNBacon Featured By Owner Apr 20, 2013  Student General Artist
This doesn't mean your methods aren't great. Both are wonderful, really. :D
Yeah, I guess it does change for the story...
Reply
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