August marks the sixth year anniversary of my webcomic, "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord", and throughout the years many have asked me one question or another about the process of making the webcomic (or any project I'm involved with, really).
So I thought now is the perfect time to answer all these questions in one place. Every Thursday for the time being I will post the different process I go through to produce this comic. This is not a tutorial per se. This is not the "right way" to do your comic, this is simply my way of doing it.
If you have your own way of doing it, or have further questions, by any means share in the comments section below or go to he new community forum and feel free to express yourselves. With that in mind, let me share with you my particular process and resources that are used to make "Fred Peterson, The Mighty Warlord".
Many of you might not know this, but I majored in communications for two years. And much of the process I go through to this day revolves around what I learned. Although even throughout high school, when I made actual comics of Warlord in notebooks, little did I know I was already almost instinctively doing back then what I would eventually learn and refine through college in terms of making a comic. Though some might look at the picture to the right and read this section and may think "what does pre-production for video, film, and multimedia has to do with comics?". Believe me, it has more to do than you think.
What does comics, video, film, and multimedia have in common?
It's a visual medium. And many of the steps followed are very similar. It all comes down to planning and story boarding and laying everything out. And of course, in my case, reading as much possible about the subject at hand.
See those nine notebooks spread out? That's the entire original run of Warlord, done all the way from tenth grade all through sophomore year of college, 1994-2000. As I progressed I became hungrier for knowledge. During that period I found out more about Bruce Lee's life and how he "devoured" all kinds of books to hone his martial arts. Basically anything that would help him engage an opponent fast and win as quick as possible. He would read and mark and take notes on the actual books themselves. So, in high school I bought my first art book.
This book basically became my teacher alongside the tutorials from "Wizard Magazine" throughout the 90s. Many who see my pencil work and the "energy" that comes from it actually came from this book that really helped me in terms of posing characters and having solid pencil linework.
A few years later I bought this How to draw human anatomy book, which taught me the importance of body structure and anatomy of course. That's probably why there's a HUGE difference in my artwork from say... 1997-2000 in relation to my artwork circa 2002-2010. But that's a blog for another day...
This is actually a college book for a class I had as a freshman before I studied communications. I actually majored in computer programming first, but this book , and this class in particular, helped students with big grades coming out of high school to be able to adapt to college life much easier.
What I got out of this book is an important element to comic making: having a schedule and making time to stick with it and how to make a budget. So, much of the discipline I developed was thanks to this book. Thanks to the author!
This book (Art School How to Draw and Paint) was a present. With this book I learned mostly composition and framing since it dealt mostly with portraits and paintings, but it can also be applied for doing comic book covers and pin-ups and/or promo work . It also helped me experiment with digital painting, actually using digital brushstrokes rather than an actual brush. Pretty neat book!
This too was a gift. Given to me at the same time as the previous book mentioned. I learned basically the same things, except for this book it's actually very philosophical in nature, and not only opened my artistic soul, but my mind as well. For those who have read my more philosophical blogs linking comic book work with personal philosophies, this book helped inspire that, even way back then in 2003 I believe.
This Joe Kubert's Comic Book Studio book was a birthday present. It's a very practical guide to making your own comic. What I learned from this is that it's ALWAYS good to remind yourself of the basics. Sometimes (and I am guilty of this from time to time) we tend to over-complicate things, and then it's necessary to simply go back to the basics and remind yourself of this. Sometimes it's best to remember the old saying: "less is more".
I bought this How to Draw Manga book when I did the first set of "webisodes" of The Mighty Warlord. When I decided to inject a more "Japanese style" into my art, instead of merely copying my favorite mangakas, I decided I wanted to know more about that process, so I went and bought this book. This book showed me the importance of backgrounds, motion, and emotional portrayal in characters, somethings that artists seem to neglect nowadays.
When I decided to do Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord as a webcomic in 2006, I was just starting to dabble finally in computer coloring. It was very hit and miss until people suddenly noticed a big leap forward in the coloring department. That was the result of this book right here: How to Color For Comics. It shows various techniques (many I have even yet to practice) and the creative process behind them. I still go to this book from time to time despite learning from fellow indie artists and their own way of coloring.
I've also read many online tutorials and video tutorials as well. I highly suggest to do this in terms of writing or artwork. At least for me, this is a continual growth process and with new advances in technology, there's always something new to learn. Hit those books, even if they are ebooks!
The Rule of 70-30-10
After having read and absorbed all that, I always keep coming back to this book. In terms of creativity and planning this book is my bible. And to me it's most important verse is the rule of 70-30-10. That pretty much breaks down three aspect of the creating:
70 percent would go into pre-production. In comics terms, that would be coming up with an idea, doing a draft or synopsis of the story, any research you must do for the story and the reference material for artwork. That also includes to have your tools of the trade up to date. There is nothing more irritating than doing traditional inks and mid-way through the page, you run out, and you realize you don't have another bottle of ink at your disposal!
At least I like to keep tabs on my materials and check list them if need be. Because good planning will save you both time and money.
30 percent would go into post-production. In comic book terms, that would be organizing how and where the book will be printed or uploaded on the web, the promotion behind it to give it exposure, the marketing and administration of it, etc.
And finally, 10 percent goes into the actual production, which is what many of us like to do the most, which is basically writing the actual script and the actual art process and making the comic real. Sometimes you drain more energy in the pre-production and post-production because they are hats we regularly tend to avoid wearing because we just want to do comics, at least in my case, anyway.
So, as this book stresses, I do a lot of planning whenever I go into the world of The Mighty Warlord, especially since I put so much characters in it and especially now that there is six years worth of back story to it, so I have to carefully stage the continuity of this story, which is why story is very important to me.
And the writing aspect is something that is also preached very much in this book. How do you know what you're going to draw without an idea of what you want to do first? That's how I see it, I know there are plenty ways around this, but this is my particular way of doing this.
And there is to me at least, three ways I go around this (some may use more, others less, depends on who or what they want to do). For example, When I used to do Warlord in notebooks through high school, I just wrote the basic plot of an issue, and after writing the basic plot, I would just draw the scenes and wrote the dialogue as I went, actually doing it all almost at the same time (you can click the picture to the left to make it bigger).
The second way I do it (which is what I do 85% of the time when I'm writing and doing the art on my personal projects) is I write scenes in particular, in the order they'll happen, with the majority of the dialogue written, and then I break down the scenes into small thumbnails to organize the pacing and flow of the story, adding or taking away scenes as it's necessary to not drag down the story or make too sudden of a cut to a next scene**.
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And my third way of doing it, which is really up to the artist and how comfortable they feel with it, is the full script, where I break everything down, panel-to-panel, page-to-page, full dialogue**.
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So in Warlord's case, I like having the story written down first as to know if I have to research something or look up proper reference for artwork. In the picture to the right --------------------------------------> are Books 1-3 of Fred Peterson: The Mighty Warlord completely written out, and the last one to the right is book four, which I have yet to write the final arch of**.
**Click pic for bigger image**
And then, before I begin the actual production on the comic as in the artwork for a page, etc, I thumbnail the entire chapter (or issue) and rearrange as I see fit**. So as you can see, I stress story first.
**Click pic for bigger image**
Because (and this is a very personal state of mind) although yes, comics are a visual medium, it's usually the story that keeps readers coming back for more. A good story, or at the very least a basic, fun, enjoyable story, is what marks the difference between your webcomic being an epic tail or your webcomic simply being an online art gallery.
Well, this has gone long enough, so stay tuned for part two coming soon. I know this is a pretty long read, but if there are enough requests I might make a video version; who knows. Again, this is not "the right way" of doing it, it's simply MY way of doing it. In any case, I hope this helps you out in some way and again, if you have your own ways, please discuss them with us in the forum if you wish. Until next time, be safe, and thanks for reading!
~Alvaro "Lance Danger" Cortes Ortiz Jr