When creating a webcomic, there are many different ways to approach the design and format. Some creators prefer to create the comic right off the bat, with no prior planning or conceptualizing. Others may spend months or even years planning out the entirety of the story, writing out detailed scripts and making numerous rough drafts of each page before even beginning. Some may put out each page as they are made, wait until they have created an entire batch of pages or a whole chapter and release it all at once, or even finish the entire thing before even publishing the first page. As the webcomic format has developed over the years, there has become no wrong way of creating a webcomic. Some processes work best depending on the way the comic is presented.
My webcomic, Boss Rush, is created using Adobe Photoshop, and drawn using a Wacom Pen Tablet. Each page is presented in an A4 portrait format, with a 5mm margin between the outer border and the page edge. The outer border itself is 20px thick, and the inner borders are all 10px. All pages are 300 pixels per inch.
When first creating the comic, I planned out the general plot of the story, starting with particularly climactic scenes from later on and working on interconnecting them. As the portion of the comic I was to create was at the beginning, I only worked on fleshing out the first few chapters, and left the rest open to change. That way, if I came up with any ideas that worked in practice early on, I could make adjustments before they were too late to change. I like to do this with any story I write, as it means I can adjust the details of the narrative as needed to appeal to the audience, as well as keep me from getting bored with the story so I don’t become dissuaded from putting the effort needed to make the story better.
With the story outlined, I wrote out the script to detail everything in the comic; every page, every panel, and every line of dialogue. Planning everything out in this format is a good format to use as it helps to keep the flow of every page as the creator thinks of it.
When laying out the pages, I tend to have a general idea of how I want each panel to look. I start with the page base, an A4 page with a 20px black border, and use the Line tool to experiment with layouts and angles. To aid in this, I also quickly sketch a rough image of the panel, and shape the borders around that. When the borders are laid out correctly, I erase portions of the outer border to make the area outside the panels one connected space.
My drawing process always has three steps; a base sketch, followed by a detailed sketch, and then the line art or ‘inking’. The base sketch helps with posing the characters, and with working out perspective and depth. Usually the character sketches are simple stick figure-like characters, because it is just to give an idea of character proportion, and objects in the environment and the background usually just have the general shape of the object in question.
On top of the base sketch is the detail sketch. For this, I draw a rough version of the line art, paying more attention to minor details than with the previous step. This helps with establishing the final image, and acts as sort of a rough draft for the line art. With the sketch layers done, I reduce their layer opacity to 45% so they don’t interfere with the line art layer.
With line art, digitally producing the drawing makes the process much easier. With each brush stroke, I am able to simply undo the action as needed, as opposed to physically drawing the image which would require manual erasure. Using a tablet and computer allows me to undo mistakes in less than a second of making them, and setting the history states of Photoshop up to 1000 meant I could undo almost the entirety of a page’s creation if required.
For the speech bubbles, I used Photoshop’s smart shapes to combine ellipses and custom polygons set at three sides to form the necessary shape. As the shapes are combined their paths intersect, and as the outline follows the paths it means the shape protrudes out to point at the character saying the line. The text inside each bubble is copied directly from the script, and the font used is a free font downloaded online called Anime Ace BB.
After each page is created, they are saved as Photoshop and PNG files, and the PNGs are uploaded online.