Eric's Webcomic Howto

This is how I do it. Your Mileage May Vary.

Firstly, I set aside one hour each night for drawing, typically 1900-2000h. Reality means that occasionally, an evening is used up by events. I then make it up the next day… The important thing is to keep up practice.

A) Story

1) arc - a broad idea of where the comic will go — perhaps a few milestones (e.g., go to an underground city, meet X. Find a fountain, get a sword)
2) a more detailed idea of the next 100 strips or so, more detailed milestones (e.g., plan how to enter the town, in general who to meet, and then how to leave)
3) storyboard the sections. (scene 050102 - panel 1: characters looking at street, Jim says "Look at that" - panel 2: Characters standing still. A cart zooms past in front of them, followed by a horse - panel 3: Mike comments, "There's something that you dont' see everyday.")

Other things to consider in the Story stage:
A character list may be important, with motives, appearances, and so on.
Drawing the character in detail in another sketchbook first may help later when drawing them smaller in frame.
A numbering scheme to keep track of the strips. I use 010203 Chapter:Section:Strip. This permits a narrative-based scheme so that I can enlarge any section or chapter without impacting the next. Since strips are usually made ahead of time, simply noting the date may not work.

B) Drawing

I use a full letter-sized sketch book. Upon one side (the right side, although lefties may prefer the left), I use a pencil and divide it vertically in half, and then split the halves into three sections each. Using it in a landscape orientation, this provides the classic "three cell" view. Sometimes I need to erase a line, so I don't ink it until later.

Then, I consult my story board, and write the strip numbers lightly on the back of the opposing page so when I hold the book landscape, the numbers are legible above the pairs of cells.

(image)

I proceed to lightly block out the various perspectives and proportions that I need for each scene. I also note lightly on the opposing page any special effects that will have to be added in the computer. I do this for about 12 or so strips at a time.

(image)

Then, I do a finer pass, starting with objects closer to the "camera." I erase occluded lines.

(image)

Another pencil pass is done to bring out more details, such as facial expressions, eyebrows, ears, and so on.

(image)

Then, I ink the border lines with 0.5mm.
Inking the drawing, I follow the folowing guide, adjusting a bit for light, shadow:
0.05mm - file hair, whiskers
0.1mm - fur
0.3mm - clothes
0.5mm - bags, leather, basic signs
0.7mm - metal, rock, floors

I sign it and put my "seal" by hand.

(image)

C) Scanning

My scanner automatically sets itself when you press "warm". To protect the layered images, I have to put one or two blank pieces of paper under each image to prevent ghosting, and start with a preview, which sets luminosity settings and adapts the scan sampling to the image. Next, I manually set the scanner program to "Black and white Photograph" and then override the pixel depth to 300dpi from 150 (in that order). This produces a 8MB BMP with a width of about 3200 pixels.

D) Finishing

Assuming that there are no other effects to be added, I open each in PAINT — select them all, and right-click, choosing "Edit."
I then add some 72-point Comic Sans text with my web site URL http://airfire.r3d.net with the lower option to make it transparent over the image.

(image)

Then I open them all in Photoshop and add a little symbol/watermark for plot reasons.

(image)

E) Preparing

I then use a program to save copies of the images downsized to widths of 1200 and 800 pixels for nice screen viewing in daily and weekly views respectively.

F) Posting

If you need free webhosting, you can try comicgenesis, and googlepages. Even free Livejournal.com accounts can do this.

Generally, they can be posted as far in advance as you want, and when that day rolls around, it will be visible to the public (except maybe livejournal).


2007 by Eric Funk



The contents of this document are © their respective authors.