“By believing in his dreams, madn turns them into reality.” - Hergé
While there’s been a decrease in printed media, comic book stores in the UK reported little or no decrease in sales recently. It just goes to show that people still love comics. Whether it’s kids’ comics, manga, or non-fiction comics, a lot of people are interested in comics.
If you want to join the growing family of comic strip creators, here’s how you can get started creating your own comic book.
How to Create Your Own Comics
Comics, as we know them today, came into being towards the start of the 19th century. After the first comic, l’Histoire de monsieur Jabot by Rodolphe Töpffer in 1827, comic strips crossed the Atlantic and became hugely popular in the US, especially those with superheroes. Today, Japan is the biggest producer of comics in the world. In fact, manga accounts for a huge part of the global comic book market.
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No matter what type of comic art you’re trying to make, most of them follow the same steps. Be it Franco-Belgian comics like Tintin and Asterix, American Marvel and DC comics, manga, or graphic novels, the starting point for most comics is an idea.
Each comic book author needs to start with an idea, a theme, a story, or a plot. From there, they can create the comic in their own style.
You don’t necessarily need to have studied art and illustration or have taken art lessons to start drawing your own comics. Most comic book authors are self-taught.
To get started with your comics, it’s important to not get discouraged the second you run into any difficulties.
You can also learn how to draw your own manga.
Finding Inspiration for Comics
Are you dreaming of creating a comic that you can show your friends and family? Would you like to publish or sell it?
Before you start drawing it and approaching publishing houses, you need to find the right idea.
Some creators get it straight away whereas others need to plan out their ideas.
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When it comes to inspiration, you can always look to other comic books and comic book artists. Try to work out which books and comic book series you like, the themes covered in the comics you read, the comic book art style you like, and why the visual storytelling works so well. Of course, we don’t mean copying another author! Your comic needs to be original and not guilty of plagiarism.
However, looking at other comics is a great way to get your imagination and creativity going. You could always head to a library and read some books there or borrow the comics you like and take them home. As you’re reading them, make a note of your ideas and start structuring them.
If you like futuristic comics, make a note of all the backgrounds you like or the plots you find interesting.
Heading to a comic convention is a great way to explore comic books. There are plenty of conventions up and down the country and around the world.
There’s also a comic book museum in Brussels if you fancy a trip abroad for inspiration. You might even get some inspiration from the city itself. After all, Belgium has a rich tradition of comics.
You should also decide what your comic’s going to be like:
- Science fiction
- Black and white
- In colour
Find out more about creating a caricature.
Create a Detailed Outline of Your Comic’s Plot
Once you’ve established the universe that your comic will be set in, you’ll need to think of a plot. Just like in cinema, creating a synopsis will help you create a story for your graphic work. Here’s a quick definition of synopsis:
“a brief summary or general survey of something.”
Creating a synopsis can be useful for organising your ideas and is essential if you’re going to be presenting your ideas to an editor. You’ll often present this with some samples of the comic’s visuals. Even if you’ve decided you’re going to do it all yourself, a synopsis will help as it can act as a guide for your story.
A synopsis can be between one and six pages but there are no rules. Your story needs to be understandable and detailed enough so that you don’t have to keep thinking stuff up on the spot. You also need to consider the plot, characters, the Spatio-temporal framework, the outcome, the twists, the length, etc.
Taking time with this step will save you time in the long run. While it might seem tedious, thinking about the key details right at the beginning will save you so much time later on, especially if you can refer to them in your synopsis.
Character Design: Designing Characters for Comic Books
Just like the plot, character design can save you a lot of time when it comes to drawing your characters. Character model sheets show how characters should be represented visually. You don’t need to describe a character’s physical characteristics but rather represent them visually.
Each character can be drawn in different ways with different expressions: standing, portrait, profile, while moving, etc. The goal is to capture the character in most eventualities so that it can act as a model when you need to draw them again. This can be really useful if the writer or illustrator isn’t the same person as the character design process will allow you to agree on the big picture and also the finer details.
You should start the model sheets with a sketch of the character. It’s easy to start off vague and add more details. Doing several different characters will also help you to establish the style. Whether you’re drawing on a graphics tablet or using traditional materials, it's much easier to create the first few pages of your graphic novel if you’ve already learnt the fundamentals of drawing.
Find out more about drawing faces and portraits.
Creating a Storyboard for Your Comic
One of the first things you should do when creating a comic is your storyboard. A storyboard can be used to outline, panel by panel, the dialogue and scenes in your comic. To do this, sketch out the visuals and the speech bubbles. Start by segmenting the story into pages.
Storyboarding is a long process when it comes to making comics and you need to ensure that the speech bubbles or coherent and understandable and avoid wasting panels. You also need to ensure that everything adds to the narrative and brings something new to the reader.
Creating Your Comic Book
Now you’re ready to start making your comics. From the synopsis to the storyboarding, everything’s ready. Now you just have to draw, colour, and maybe publish your comic book.
Drawing in the Panels
With the help of the storyboard you created, you can now draw the details into each panel. Your storyboard should effectively outline the composition for the panel.
Inking: An Important Part of Creating Comics
Inking is going back over the sketches with ink. Once the inking is finished, the illustrator can erase all remnants of the sketches.
Colouring is sometimes done by a specialist but the illustrator can do it themselves. Whether it’s with markers, watercolours, or coloured pencils, this process is essential if you don’t want your comic to be in black and white. Colouring can also be done digitally with programmes like Inkscape, Illustrator, Photoshop, etc.
Now you just need to put it all into practice!
You could also learn more with private tutorials from one of the many talented tutors on Superprof!
There are three main types of tutorials available: face-to-face tutorials, online tutorials, and group tutorials, and each comes with its pros and cons in terms of learning and cost-effectiveness. What's right for one student may not be right for another so take your time to find the right kind of tutor and tutoring.
Face-to-face tutorials are taught with one student and one tutor and they tend to be the most cost-effective type since every minute in the lesson is spent focusing on you as the student. Additionally, the tutor will also spend time outside of the lessons finding resources and planning the time they'll spend with you.
Online tutorials are similar to the face-to-face tutorials but take place either on a call or via webcam. Since the tutor won't have the travel costs to worry about and can fit more students into their schedule as a result, online tutorials are usually cheaper than face-to-face tutorials.
Finally, group tutorials are classes with one teacher or tutor and multiple students. These tend to be the cheapest per student per hour.