Comic Building Tips
Updated: Mar 23, 2021
Quite often I get asked "I want to make a webtoon/comic, do you have any tips?"
I'm no pro, all I've learned are what I've picked up on the way. I also started without a clue in story writing, relying on just intuition. But I do believe that the things I write out will benefit anyone starting out. Now, writing a story takes a LOT of time and dedication so if you're down to get sucked into comic hell, here are some general tips.
1. Create a story from passion, not what's popular.
For the obvious reason, you're gonna stop if you don't love it. Too often, comics get left unfinished because the creator got tired of working on it, this ends up in feeling like you've abandoned something you spent so much effort in, and also the readers you left hanging.
Also I highly believe that you should write the story for yourself, don't change it because of other's opinions. You'll end up with a story that can easily bend and break, and it'll probably be predictable too.
2. The plot.
You need to think about the main conflict of the entire story.
Why are you making this comic? What's the purpose of it?
What are you trying to bring across with your story? The meaning?
Now make a problem(conflict) that, when solved, will fulfill those questions and that would be your main plot of the entire story. However, this means you gotta have sub plots, mini conflicts or extra side stories that drive your story forward without it being too straight and simple, making it boring to read. Everything in the story should be related to pushing it forward, not side tracking it, which is a huge thing to keep it smooth. This way, even if it's "confusing" when everything wraps up, readers can remember certain events that seemed trivial, but really had a purpose. This gives them the mind blown effect, which is actually a favorite of mine.
Personally this is how I do things when planning a story: I divide my story into arcs, each one with it's own main event. Within each arc there are also main conflicts and minor ones to push the story towards the main plot.
Is it an event/mission based story or a character based one?
No matter which one it is, character development is absolutely crucial since the characters are literally what you're reading about. I have more experience with it being character based so I'll talk about that more.
My story is heavily focused on character development and interpersonal relationships so I need to build the story between characters A and B but also how C is in relation to those two too. But then there are also side characters D and E. So I need to think about how these characters and their own stories affect the main characters, and overall plot.
Often times you use side characters as supports to bring out something about the story you can't directly use your main characters for. Sometimes it's to highlight certain personality traits of a character, or to cause a conflict that will later be solved.
Keep a character relationship web. Like I said above, how one character relates to another. This helps you to avoid plot holes, and also serves as a good backup for when you develop your story and need to trace back to things.
Every character should have their own story.
Even the side ones. This builds their character, their personality. You will know how to make them act if they have their own background instead of making them do things that don't line up with their personality.
Write down all the details, even if you won't use them.
Same reasoning as above, it gives less room for plot holes as well.
I'm more familiar with the webtoon format but these tips would be applicable for manga formats well.
For the webtoon format, the spacing between panels as you scroll impacts the pacing tremendously. As you are story boarding you don't want the spaces to be too far apart as it requires the reader to scroll more and can take away from their reading flow. However you can use the spaces to your story boarding advantage. With larger spaces, you can build up tension or show a gap in time. With smaller spaces or overlapping panels you can add a sense of urgency.
You want the font size to be consistent and to be big enough to read even if there are multiple bubbles on one panel. The font should be easy to read, simple is good.
For speech bubbles, you want there to be a cushion of space between it and the text. A huge or tiny border does not make it comfortable to read.
Typically for webtoons readers read from top to bottom so be mindful about the bubble placements as those guide where the eyes follow. In some cases where there are multiple dialogues happening, be sure to keep it either right to left, or vice versa so they don't get lost between the texts.
That's it for what I can think of for now but hopefully these tips were new and helpful.
In the end, have fun and good luck!