Monday, June 8, 2015

100 Days of Making Comics: Wrap Up Report, Tips and Advice

Last Monday I released the inks of issue one of my comic, The Caped Sphincter and Wednesday was the final day of my 100 Days of making comics journey. I thought it may be useful to provide my account of the experience for anyone considering trying it for themselves. If you don't like these tips, who told you to seek advice from a guy who devoted 100 days to a butt in a cape?

1. If you've been considering making a comic or any other project of yours that's just been sitting, DO IT.  It will never get done if you don't chip away at it.  Working 30 minutes a day is not ideal but setting that simple goal gets "something" done. Soemthing is better than nothing. 100 days from now you'll be 50 hours further than you were before. Like eating an elephant...one bite at a time.

2. Don't beat yourself up when you can't get more than the minimum done. If you're like me, you start when you got an open block of time in the schedule and you're off like gangbusters. You're thinking, "Man, I'll have this comic knocked out in a week." Then life hits you in the face and you're barely getting the minimum in.  It's alright! Just do the minimum and tell yourself "It's 30 minutes closer to my goal."

3. If you want maximum exposure and sales MAKE VIDEOS.  Few people want to read a blog. Making a video gives people the option to listen to you babble on. If you babble on in a blog people will quit coming back. I knew this going in but didn't care to be in front of the camera. I'm not that serious about making this comic a profitable endeavor so I figured I could skip the video.

4. If you're going to blog, do it once a week instead of daily. Again, people will get bored. And use other social media to direct people's attention to it. I use Twitter every time I make a new post and it really helps.

5. Write ahead of time.  I was fortunate enough to have an old script and comic that I was reworking but if I hadn't, I could easily see it consuming a large block of my 100 days. In addition IT'S BORING.  People like visuals...page samples, process video, skits and anecdotes.... I felt a constant pressure to post visuals and it was to my detriment when I had nothing that week. At least in video you could film something else interesting. 

6. Don't rush it.  I was working digitally and referencing old material that I had done in 1996. Therefore I tried to skip a lot of the pencils and go straight to ink. While this was fine for characters and things I felt comfortable with, it was impossible for things like perspective and backgrounds. Ultimately I ended up trashing a lot of work, going back and penciling and then inking. It would have saved me a lot of time and frustration if I hadn't tried to cut corners. Thumbnails, roughs and pencils are all necessary steps. Go slow to go fast.

7. Work with whatever media you are most comfortable with.  I chose to learn Manga Studio 5 at the same time I did this 100 days of making comics. In hindsight I wish I'd learned Manga Studio prior to starting.  I don't regret doing this book in Manga Studio, it's just that I've been using Photoshop since version 1 and the learning curve slowed me down considerably. There is still so much I don't know about Manga Studio 5.

8.  All that being said, Manga Studio 5 is well worth learning. I can see myself kissing Photoshop goodbye after I master this software.  The inking and pen controls make me a better inker.  I love the lines I get from it and the stabilization setting really helps me get smooth results I can't get from Photoshop. Best of all I love the ability to ink in vectors. I can worry more about the flow and the gesture than precision. If the line is off I can move an individual line. If I like the position but the thickness needs to be increased or decreased I can adjust it. If I ink too far I can snip off the end with one click! No erasing needed.  The inking alone sold me on Manga Studio 5.

9. If you end up using Manga Studio 5, upgrade to the EX version. I didn't and I missed out on the perspective tools which would have been as amazing as the inking experience (from what I've seen). You also can layout an entire book rather than just a page or spread at a time. (I used InDesign for my layout). I deeply regret not upgrading to EX.

10. Have fun!  This I had in abundance.  THIS IS YOUR PROJECT!  Do whatever the heck you want.  There are no rules. You're the boss and this is your chance to express yourself, so go for it. If you're not having fun, then what's the point?