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Okay, how do you PLAN your comic's pages?
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Doogl McDoog
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Joined: 28 Sep 2007
Posts: 436
Location: Northern NJ

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 2:52 pm    Post subject: Okay, how do you PLAN your comic's pages? Reply with quote

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Liliy



Joined: 24 Jun 2008
Posts: 268

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 4:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

...plan? What is this...plan?

XD

Ha...foreign concept. WAM is 90% ad-libbed the night before it updates. The other 10% is the in my head concept of what I want to happen in the chapter./Section.

Now Granted, my comic's only half story driven; the other half is gag a day so this works well enough. If I were to shift into full blown story...I'd probably still ad lib b/c Im lazy.

Now if I wanted to really get into it and get into more depth, like symbolism, or deep plot lines - I'd probably write out the entire story first and then story board it out so it could be proof read and have someone help me find the continuity errors.
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toypajme



Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 23
Location: Maryland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 5:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

for mine, I generally go with Lilly, but i'm sure we do "strips" and not chapters. I think about the idea i'm going to do for a few days-- let it gestate. Then I write down a basic idea and refine the punchline and then I just draw a sketch and then ink it and color it.. Panels size vary based on how I feel at the moment.
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katastrophe



Joined: 19 Aug 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My comic's a bit... odd... in terms of plot. (Actually, I could probably have stopped at "odd", but sticking to the question at hand....) I do actually have a plan for it, in terms of "character X will end up at point Y", but on a day-to-day basis it's basically a lot of people wandering around having stuff happen to them in a moderately interesting/funny way.

Basically the plotting process goes like this:

A) Come up with a storyline that either moves a character towards that eventual goal, shows something about the characters or world that I want to show, or amuses me. Preferably all three.

B) Figure out how many pages it is. Since I update three times a week, I largely think "how many weeks does it feel like this runs?" and then try to poke the storyline into that shape. If I can, I make big reveals or major shifts in tone/scene/time/whatever within the storyline fall on Fridays, because it feels like a better break.

D) Sketch out what I want to happen in each page. What moves plot-wise, basically, and what information I need to get across, and the punch, and how many panels it's going to be, and so on. I've been trying to think more about layout in this stage too. Almost all my stuff is three- or four-panel, but I'm not sure whether that's necessity or laziness.

E) Script. If I'm being good, anyway -- I will admit to occasionally winging it and doing the comic from the rough idea I came up with in D), but it's much better if I script. Saves those last-minute surprises like, "oh, damn, they wouldn't have a 'book' per se in the future, need to come up with a different metaphor" or "oops, I really should have him say that in French, where'd I put the reference books....?" Amazing how much that can slow you down.

And then I, you know, do the comic. And it mostly seems to work. My readers haven't shot me yet, at least....
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Hyena Hell



Joined: 19 Feb 2009
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My comic's more "episodic" than "epic"; I do have a general plot and an eventual ending that things move towards, but mostly each issue is a self-contained story-arc.

As for the technical side of how things get put together- before I started my comic, I'd had the idea in my head for about 7 or 8 years; some of the characters for as many as 12 years. So a lot of the stuff that happens/ will happen is preplanned, even down to some of the dialogue. I just decide what order the "episodes" go in. I think I'm probably more structured than most folks... kinda OCD. Wink

1. Script- each issue is 32 pages. (Why? I don't know. I arbitrarily decide these things.) I usually decide how much of the comic to devote to each scene (re: "Okay, this needs to happen over the duration of no more than 8 pages...") and break up the dialogue/ action into panels. The script probably takes 2-3 weeks to finish, and usually I end up editing and revising it as I'm drawing.

2. Lay-out/ storyboard- since there's a lot of dialogue, I do preliminary mock-ups of each page to make sure the speech bubbles will fit. I also draw each panel in a few different angles, and play around with the size of the panels. I make sure the flow works, and the background/ the characters' relative positions are consistent. I do a layout page right before I start on the pencils for that page.

3. Pencils: I do all the pencils, start to finish, before I ink. I tend to get pretty detailed with these, probably more than most folk.

4. Inking: again, start to finish. Panels first, speech bubbles second, linework, lettering, then detail.

5. Voila.
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ttallan
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Joined: 28 Feb 2008
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's my method:

1) Look over my written plot, which is a long and ponderous document. See what has to happen next to move the story along.

2) Re-read what has come before. It's amazing how easy it is to forget vital bits of story over the long haul.

3) Write the script for the next chapter, making decisions about what seems "right" for a good beginning and ending place. (The vague notion of "what seems right" figures heavily into my entire creative process. Smile ) This script isn't in any common format, but it most closely resembles a play or movie script in that it mostly consists of dialogue and notes to myself. I'm not giving the art a great deal of thought at this point, but it is in the back of my mind.

3a) Have certain friends and family members read the script. Rewrite as necessary.

4) Break down my script into pages, giving thought to what a good amount for each page would be, and where I can get the best effect for pageturns (thinking ahead towards the printed version!). Although on the web, the pageturn effect (where you get to the bottom of the page and think to yourself, OMG I must know what comes next!) is on every page... I used to write for 20 pages per chapter, but on the web I've stopped caring about the length. It just goes as long as it needs to go.

The next few steps I usually do at a block of five pages at a time.

5) Make teeny little thumbnails of each page, to get a rough idea of where panels will go and where dialogue will go.

6) Make larger thumbnails of each page (that's 5 pages at a time, remember), the size of an 8.5x11 paper folded in half. I hate this step, and it mostly looks like chicken scratch, but it's a necessary evil. I need to do it to make sure the word balloons will fit, and to give me an idea of camera angles and stuff. At this stage dialogue is frequently rewritten and condensed to make it all fit nicely on the page.

7) Draw all five pages in a row. Sometimes I will put word balloons in first, sometimes I will draw the art first. Depends on the panel and how much space I have to play with.

7a) Get same friends and family to look over pencils, catch any errors. Frequently by this point it's a long time since they read the script.

Cool -- haha, I can't put "8" and ")" together without this thing thinking it's a smiley-- Ink, cleanup, scan, fix in Photoshop, etc.

9) Do the next batch of five pages.

Well damn, I guess now I know why I'm so slow. Wink
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Lavenderbard
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Joined: 12 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 7:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, er...
1) I have a story roughly shaped out in my head.

2) I write a script for the whole story (that is really more like a play script than a comic script -- dialog and a few stage directions.)

3) I take the script and draw storyboards for the whole story, writing in the dialog and sketching all the panels. I try to get each page to move the story forward... if I think it didn't I do a little snippage. I also try to end each page on a significant moment, a joke line, or a cliff-hanger. I don't always manage, but I try.

4a) If this is Black Flag, I go into Poser and discover that my storyboards don't actually work in three dimensions, and redo everything as I do the actual renders.

4b) If this is Scent of Spring, I redraw all the storyboards as "good art" usually making only minor changes, but adding a lot of detail.


Doing storyboards may take longer, and when we're talking Black Flag I do redo a lot of stuff, but I find I'm happier with the results anyway. If I decide to do major revisions anywhere I usually go back and do a new set of storyboards.

Edit: Forgot to say that I try to get test readers at each stage in the process. With try being the operative word.
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Varethane



Joined: 18 Apr 2008
Posts: 557

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

katastrophe wrote:
My comic's a bit... odd... in terms of plot. (Actually, I could probably have stopped at "odd", but sticking to the question at hand....) I do actually have a plan for it, in terms of "character X will end up at point Y", but on a day-to-day basis it's basically a lot of people wandering around having stuff happen to them in a moderately interesting/funny way.

This is pretty much what I do, all the time. <_<

...Well all right, there is a bit more, although it varies from page to page. Scripts and I don't seem to get along, for all that I enjoy writing them and have done so religiously at least once for nearly every chapter. Thing is, I'll write the script and then never look at it again except for when I feel like I'm going too far off the rails or that I've forgotten the overall progression of actions within a sequence. Mostly I just make pages based on the logical progression of the characters and their reactions to the page that came before. So character X just got insulted? What will he do? I could look at my script (if I haven't diverged too far from it already), but I know character X and his speech/reaction patterns, and I've probably already thought of something for him to say. Sometimes it's close to what I wrote the first time; other times it's way off, but usually fits better anyway.

Ordering the panels is generally the trickiest part for me (which is why my panel layouts are so plain compared to other manga-inspired comics), followed closely by figuring out what angle/exact point in an action or scene would function best to portray what's going on. So I know what the character is going to be saying and doing.... do I draw the beginning of that action, the middle, or the end? Do I break it up into two or three panels? Do I put my 'camera' behind them, below them, above them? Do I fit in another character, or show a glimpse of the monster creeping up behind them?

I decide these things based on what I did for all the other panels-- if I've already done an extreme-angle shot from below on one page, I won't do it again (or if it would fit better the second time, I'll erase the first and figure out something else).

I have this tendency to not put as much as I want to in my panels. Other comics can fit entire figures into one small panel; somehow I have to force myself to draw any smaller than what usually amounts to about half the figure, or a bust shot. This could be because I work small, as far as comics go-- I've been considering sizing up my pages from letter-size. Maybe it'll be easier then (or I'll just put more panels onto a single page.... then again, I wouldn't mind that either. All in the interests of moving the action along faster!)
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plughead



Joined: 30 Nov 1999
Posts: 542
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I plan my pages out as story beats.

To avoid information overload on each spread, I space things out, forcing the reader to feel each moment and experience the story rather than scan a bunch of talking heads and word balloons (like with my old stuff).

I have my scenes and spreads transition into one another, so I give each spread it's own entry and exit points with either words, ideas or visuals. I try to make each spread dovetail into the spread that came before, and leads into the spread that comes after to hopefully create a seamless, fluid reading experience.

So what remains is the "middle" of each spread. But many of my spreads are actually single panels! So this makes having strong transitions even more important! With single-panel spreads, I aim for either a key character moment, a particular plot point or maybe make a social commentarty on something.

Sometimes it's necessary for me to condense a spread into several panels, but I really don't like doing this often cuz it starts to look WAAAAAAY to cluttered for my personal tastes, but sometimes from a pacing point of view, it's necessary and often works to either freeze time or convey short, quick actions and/or dialogue exchange between characters.

So blah blah blah, I try to think of every spread as a mini cliffhanger, that is either a payoff or is a setup for a later payoff.
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MoonFreight3



Joined: 06 Feb 2009
Posts: 140
Location: Connecticut, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 9:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) I hand-write the script on a page of a notepad. I tend to write a few scripts all at once, and if I have a story arc planned I will write the entire thing out from beginning to end in one sitting. I will write out any done-in-ones, too, so I have them on hand when I sit down to draw.

2) I pencil my strips. I try to draw them in the order they'll be posted, so if I come across a better way of drawing something I won't have it show up early, only to have the old style appear a few days later. I try to pencil a few strips in a row.

3) I ink the strips.

4) I scan them, clean up any extra marks or lines I didn't catch during the inking process, letter them, and resize them.

5) I upload them and wait for them to appear on the site.
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Lord Pandar
Resident Loony Detector


Joined: 04 Mar 2007
Posts: 2517

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Usually goes something like this...

1. Open Photoshop

2. Turn on music

3. Try to think of something clever to draw

4. Draw something anyway

5. Pass it off as avant garde.
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psi



Joined: 16 Nov 2008
Posts: 26
Location: Toronto, Ontario

PostPosted: Sun Apr 05, 2009 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Over at DS, we don't really have these 'plots' you speak of, but creation of strip ideas pretty much consists of:

1) me, Vasir, Klutch and Chip all in an msn chat
2) me and/or Vasir say something funny
3) someone screams "OMG WE MUST MAKE THAT A COMIC"
4) comic strip created based on us mocking whoever screamed step 3

If we do actually make some sort of storyline, it's usually just:

1) Vasir thinks up a concept
2) I improve it and make the strips

NC is pretty much just me doodling a random 1 shot i thought up while at school (in most cases having something to do with the lessons being taught, but the rest of the time just one of my many random, morbid thoughts).
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munkymu
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Joined: 30 Nov 1999
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have some vague idea of where the story's going next. I write out a few paragraphs about what happens next until something clicks. I do a rough draft to test my pacing and composition and make sure I'm not trying to cram too much into one page and the page actually moves things forward. Then I do the good version.

Most of the planning actually happens in the rough draft/thumbnail (well, most of it happens inside my head) so there's often large holes in my "script".
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Harrington AW



Joined: 26 Oct 2008
Posts: 850

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 4:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For Spying with Lana I sketch out a loose layout of each episode and scribble the dialog next to it so that I can refer to it when I do the actual comic.

For Outrageous Fortune, I do nothing. The final product is also the first draft. I just put down whatever i think of at the time.

Maybe that's why Spying with Lana is the more popular of the two....

-S
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vulpeslibertas
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Joined: 19 Dec 2005
Posts: 2488
Location: Here and there...mostly there. Sometimes kinda in between.

PostPosted: Mon Apr 06, 2009 6:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My comic started out as more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants thing, and has become a super-scripted epic. So a lot of what I do is salvaging the earlier ideas.

I started to think up every awesome fight location, battle scene or villain I could. Then, I came up with simple generic plots to support those. Later, I started to condense those plots when I realized it would take me decades to actually make all of that and my writing was pretty much pointless generic crap anyway (Good writing is all about what you don't write, after all).

For condensation, I took into account what bad guys I have, what major plot points I need to achieve my overall story, and what snippets of story I have already (y'know, the kind of stuff that just springs into your head one day and you think... "yeah, I've got to do that some time"). I tried to double-up bad guys and plot elements where possible to save story length. Throw out stuff that doesn't fit anywhere.

So now, I've got a list of chapters with one or two enemies, and a couple of plot elements and a basic story arch. I let a chapter stew in my mind a bit before I write it down, to make sure I've got good links for everything that's supposed to happen. At this point, I basically have the chapter in my head as a movie with a few gaps. I write the story board, one scene at a time starting at the beginning, filling in the gaps as I come to them. I get the basic angles, dialog, and poses from the movie in my head. Writing the storyboards is where I try to work out the shortest way to say the dialog, and panel alignments/directional lines. I make most of my final adjustments here, trying to apply art concepts to what I already know I'm going to do.

Then I make the comic from the storyboard, making sure not to make more than one comic a month. This last step really cuts down on quality complaints from my readers.
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