Friday, February 24, 2017

Intro To Comic Craft: Step by Step: Creating Thumbnails

This series is also made possible thanks to the generosity and interest of my Patrons on Patreon.


My  have expressed interest in content on the comic making process, and I am happy to oblige.  Comics are one of my passions, and they're the reason I began this blog in the first place.  It isn't always easy to share comic content here, but their generosity has made it easier to set aside the time and resources necessary to doing so.  Writing about comic craft in depth requires research, setting aside time during the comic creation process to document my progress, and a lot of thought, and I feel is best served through longform series such as the Intro to Comic Craft: Step By Step series.  If you enjoy this series, please take a moment to share it with your friends and loved ones on the social network of your choice, leave me a G+ comment, or send me an email using the sidebar form- your feedback is important to me!  If you have specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask via email.

As part of this series, my Patrons have exclusive access to behind the scenes comic creation content, including the entire plotform synopsis for 7" Kara, the 7" Kara beat sheet, the Chapter 7 Synopsis, the Chapter 7 tight script, and loads more.   If you learn best from working example, joining my Patreon will give you access to those files.

What are thumbnails?
Thumbnails are a rough sketch (I really like to think of them as a map or guideline) for your entire comic page.  They include the action from every panel, basic character acting, and basic background indications.  Your thumbnails are your opportunity to play director and stage your comic- shot choices are made in the thumbnail stage.

For more information on shot choices, please read:
The 5 C's of Cinematography
Understanding Comics
Drawing Words and Writing Pictures

Why Create Thumbnails?  Why not go straight to page?

Thumbnails are an opportunity for you to play around with your comic ideas.  You can take risks with composition, set design, character placement, and more, and see immediately whether or not those risks worth, or are even worth it.  Thumbnails are an opportunity to visually tell your story and solve problems, and to get some feedback on your storytelling skills from other artists.

For a long-term project like 7" Kara, I rely heavily on thumbnails to provide the framework for later stages.  My thumbnails are the blueprint for my roughs, which are the blueprint for my pencils- each stage allowing for further refinement and improvement.

If you feel comfortable going straight to your final page, or if you create comics under a time crunch, by all means skip the thumbnail stage.  But if you've never tried multi-stage comics, or if you're planning a comic that is longer than 1 page, I highly recommend you give thumbnails a try!

Find a thumbnail layout that works for you. 

Below is the guideline I use



I like to work traditionally, so I print out enough thumbnails for an entire chapter.  If I have a spread, I use the below template.

Inner rectangle:  Live area, no bleed.  This is the area that, if you printed the full page, would not be cut off by the printer under any circumstance but catastrophic failure
Dotted Rectangle: Between the inner rectangle and dotted line, your artwork SHOULD be safe, but it's recommended that you don't place important faces or any dialogue in this area.
Solid outer rectangle:  Full bleed.  Very likely to get cut off to some extent. Do not put anything important past the dotted line.
Hash Marks:  Recommendations for border placement.

With the first template, you should get four comic thumbnails per printed page.  With the second, you should get a two page spread.

Print

Print enough copies to handle your entire chapter (divide your number of pages by 4)


I print my thumbnail templates on 8.5"x11" copy paper- cheap is fine. You want to avoid papers that have a finish or film, as that will make sketching more difficult.

Drawing:

Step 1: Sketch in Layout
We discussed layouts in our last Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step post.

Step 2: Rough sketch for character placement, based on the sketches completed on my script



This is sketched using non photo blue lead.  I have used Color Eno leads and mechanical pencils for years, and I recommend Soft Blue in .7.

Step 3: refine sketches, adding in pertinent information like background, facial expressions, clothing, and hair.


Step 4: Pencil sketches, finalizing artwork.

For my pencil sketches, I use a soft lead- B or softer, as it goes over the waxy blue lead and is easier for the scanner to pick up.


Set of day's allotment of tight thumbnails, on template:

When working on tight thumbnails like these, I try to parcel them out to three finished tight thumbs per day, to prevent burnout and to better distribute my workload.



The 3 stages thumbnails undergo

To see everything in action, check out this Intro to Comic Craft: Thumbnails video:

Sample thumbnails:




Please note:  Patreon backers have access to all Chapter 7 thumbnails.  If you're interested in seeing how a chapter comes together, I recommend joining the artnerd community!  For just $2 per month, you get access to Chapter 7 comic materials, early access to many videos, and much more!

Liked what you saw?  Well I have great news for you! 

This series is sponsored by:


The images used in this installment of Intro to Comic Craft are all from Chapter 7 of 7" Kara, the second chapter in Volume 2.  To purchase your own copy of Volume 1, and help support my endeavors, please visit my shop for physical copies, or my Gumroad for PDF copies of Volume 1 or Chapter 5 (the first available chapter in Volume 2)


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Intro to Comic Craft: Turning Your Script Into Thumbnails and Layouts

This series is also made possible thanks to the generosity and interest of my Patrons on Patreon.


My Patrons have expressed interest in content on the comic making process, and I am happy to oblige.  Comics are one of my passions, and they're the reason I began this blog in the first place.  It isn't always easy to share comic content here, but their generosity has made it easier to set aside the time and resources necessary to doing so.  Writing about comic craft in depth requires research, setting aside time during the comic creation process to document my progress, and a lot of thought, and I feel is best served through longform series such as the Intro to Comic Craft: Step By Step series.  If you enjoy this series, please take a moment to share it with your friends and loved ones on the social network of your choice, leave me a G+ comment, or send me an email using the sidebar form- your feedback is important to me!  If you have specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask via email.

As part of this series, my Patrons have exclusive access to behind the scenes comic creation content, including the entire plotform synopsis for 7" Kara, the 7" Kara beat sheet, the Chapter 7 Synopsis, the Chapter 7 tight script, and loads more.   If you learn best from working example, joining my Patreon will give you access to those files.

Create a folder for your work

I use a physical folder, one for each chapter. This helps me stay organized, and I retain my chapter folders in storage once the chapter is done.  Each chapter folder contains the script, thumbnails, notes, and the roughs.



Print out script

Working three pages per day, draw rough layout in margin, tighten as necessary


I go ahead and use a non photo blue pencil to create ticmarks bracketing each Tier.  Once that's finished, I sketch in a rough layout (no staging, just the panel borders) to get an idea of how I want to frame the page.

Once I've settled on a layout, I begin populating my frames with characters and background, as described in the panels.  If I make a mistake, I don't erase, I just draw a panel to the right of the thumbnail with the correct illustration.  Stopping to erase often interrupts my train of thought.

I'm not worried about accuracy or readability, because these sketches are immediately transcribed to tight thumbnails on the thumbnail template once completed.



As I create these layouts, I usually go ahead and draw the final tight thumbnail on my thumbnail template, which will be covered in the next Intro to Comic Craft: Step By Step post.

To see this in action please watch

Intro to Comic Craft: Thumbnailing Your Comic- Becca Hillburn


I demonstrate the thumbnailing process for Chapter 6 of 7" Kara.

Outside Resources:

Comic Book Thumbnail Lesson- Scattered Comics
ReMind- Making Comics: Thumbnails
Sunnyville Stories- How to Make Comics: Thumbnails and Layouts
Lackadaisy: Making a Comic
Comic Page Layouts and Story Arcs- Jamie Noguchi

Digital Thumbnails:
Opening and Setting Up a Thumbnail in Manga Studio- Scribbles with Jonathan
Making Thumbnails in Manga Studio-Scribbles with Jonathan
Making Thumbnails for Comics- Ram Studio



This series is sponsored by:


The images used in this installment of Intro to Comic Craft are all from Chapter 7 of 7" Kara, the second chapter in Volume 2.  To purchase your own copy of Volume 1, and help support my endeavors, please visit my shop for physical copies, or my Gumroad for PDF copies of Volume 1 or Chapter 5 (the first available chapter in Volume 2)

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step: Soliciting and Using Critique

  • Select a Group You Trust
  1. And don't kid yourself about who you trust.  Actually pick people who's opinions you respect, because if they say harsh things, you don't want to automatically brush that off.
  2. Sometimes the artists whose work you admire are not the artists most qualified to critique your work- they may have difficulty articulating issues, they may be dismissive, they may find it difficult to find suggestions for early-stage issues. 
  3. It helps to select people from a variety of backgrounds- not only creators of different types of comics, but people from other walks of life.
  • Send files out early-early stage revisions (synopsis, script, thumbs) are the least painful to make, as they're the easiest on your part.
  • Learn to critique your own work and catch mistakes- make notes on your thumbnails of things you personally want to change.
  1. Speaking from personal experience, if you can make notes of your mistakes early and available, you'll generally get better critique from your critique group.
  2. They're able to focus on other issues, rather than those most obvious.
  • If someone is reading your thumbs in person, colored leads for notes can be helpful, or providing print outs that they can mark up may lead to really insightful critique.  Colored pens are also good.
  • Upload your files somewhere that everyone can easily access- I use Google Drive, and make sure you enable access
  1. If you're working on a large project, setting up a Trello board can be helpful to make sure everyone is on track, and to keep track of what people have done.
  2. Google Docs allows users to make comments, and keeps everything organized in one place.
  • When discussing the critique, be open minded, take copious notes (I copy out relevant segments of the conversation for my later reference), and DONT take it personally!
  • If you don't understand something, it's ok to ask for clarification.
  • It's also ok to ask for suggestions on how to handle things better.  Sometimes people forget to provide alternatives.
  • Don't just write down the negative, make sure you write down what worked for them as well.  By the time you get around to making corrections, you will have forgotten the positive, and will only be left with a list of what doesn't work.  With this sort of list, its very easy to become discouraged.
  • Don't try to make corrections right away- sleep on it, and let your brain solve the problems for you while you're dreaming.
  • Be gracious, thank them for their time, regardless of how you personally feel.  You may be a little tender right now, but after a couple nights' sleep, you may realize that they were spot on.
  • Keep in mind that these people are doing you a favor- they want your work to be the best it can be.  If you've selected your group carefully and honestly, then you know that even negative criticism is meant to help you grow.
  • Make sure you're available to beta read for them in return.

When using groups for critique:
  • I've found that if three people say the same thing independently, it tends to be true and needs addressing.
  • If there's conflicting opinions, press for more information so you can gain a better understanding of the conflict.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

November and December 2016 Sketchbook Tour



Sketchbook tours are so much easier to share than sketchbook dumps.  There's no scanning, just a leisurely flip through filled pages.  You even have the opportunity to talk about the content as ideas come to you, rather than trying to write something for every piece scanned and shared.

My sketchbook contains so much more than what's shared to Instagram or Twitter.  It's a place for me to practice, to learn, and to make mistakes.  With sketch dumps, I often selected my favorite pieces, leaving out the dozens of filled pages that didn't quite make the cut.   Most of these neglected sketches are fine as sketches and studies, but a bit repetitive, and when scanning a sketchbook, it's easy to decide to skip 10 pages of gesture drawings, or 5 pages of figure studies.

That said, if you miss my sketch dumps, and enjoyed looking at my art and sketches at your own pace, please consider joining us on Patreon.  The next goal for community pledges unlocks monthly sketchbook pdfs for all backers, which means you'll see the inside of my sketchbook every month.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

7" Kara Webcomic Launch

It's been a lot of hard work, but I am so delighted to announce that 7" Kara has begun its life as a webcomic!



You can find 7" Kara on Tumblr at www.7InchKara.tumblr.com or on it's own site at www.7InchKara.com.  All of Chapter 1 is available to read, and 7" Kara will update one comic page per week every Friday.



In preparation for the site launch, I generated a lot of unique assets.  While we continue to develop the standalone 7" Kara site, I will continue to create assets, but I wanted to share some of them here.  This is a callback to the assets created when publishing Volume 1- my goal is always to create an environment for my comic that feels right.







While working on 7" Kara, my art has improved significantly over the years, so don't be surprised if early chapters look different from the work you've seen here or on my Instagram!  I find the art evolution that's apparent in certain comics to be charming and encouraging, and I hope you feel the same.

Sample page from Chapter 1

Sample Page from Chapter 2

Sample Page from Chapter 3

Sample Page from Chapter 4

Sample Page from Chapter 5

Chapter 6

If you'd like to help support and promote 7" Kara, please make sure to share it with your friends!  Below are some handy banners, if you're interested in doing a link exchange.  Please set the link to www.7inchkara.com or www.7inchkara.tumblr.com.  If you need a size not shown here, please don't hesistate to ask!

468x60

160x274



180x150


250x100 pix

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step: Developing A Script

This series is also made possible thanks to the generosity and interest of my Patrons on Patreon.


My Patrons have expressed interest in content on the comic making process, and I am happy to oblige.  Comics are one of my passions, and they're the reason I began this blog in the first place.  It isn't always easy to share comic content here, but their generosity has made it easier to set aside the time and resources necessary to doing so.  Writing about comic craft in depth requires research, setting aside time during the comic creation process to document my progress, and a lot of thought, and I feel is best served through longform series such as the Intro to Comic Craft: Step By Step series.  If you enjoy this series, please take a moment to share it with your friends and loved ones on the social network of your choice, leave me a G+ comment, or send me an email using the sidebar form- your feedback is important to me!  If you have specific questions, please don't hesitate to ask via email.

As part of this series, my Patrons have exclusive access to behind the scenes comic creation content, including the entire plotform synopsis for 7" Kara, the 7" Kara beat sheet, the Chapter 7 Synopsis, the Chapter 7 tight script, and loads more.   If you learn best from working example, joining my Patreon will give you access to those files.


In comics, there are numerous ways of going from concept-comic, and multiple ways to write a script that works for you.  Today I'm going to share my method for writing chapter scripts for my long form comic, 7" Kara, but you may find other methods suit your needs better.  I recommend checking out the links in my Outside Resources section at the bottom of this post for more on scripting for comics.  If you're interested in learning how to script for a short comic or a mini comic, please check out the below video, if you haven't already.

Lets Make a Comic Concept to Scripting to Thumbnails to Roughs-Becca Hillburn 


For story and character development, please read Intro to Comic Craft: Step by Step: Brainstorming and Character Development.

Once I have a solid idea, and have done enough brainstorming to know the main beats of the story, it's time to start solidifying things into a synopsis.

Overall Plotform Synopsis


If you need a further example, here's a friendly reminder that Patrons have access to the full 7" Kara synopsis!

With the plotform synopsis, I start out pretty simple- beginning, middle, and end.  After that has been established, I work on fleshing out the sections, based on the 3 Act structure mentioned in the Brainstorming post.  Over the months, I've taken loads of story and worldbuilding notes, and this is a perfect time to weave them into a coherent whole.

My goal isn't to work particularly tight- as a story is drawn, it evolves, and I want to leave room for filling plotholes, new story ideas, and character development.

As mentioned in the Brainstorming post, it is key that you have an idea of how you want your story to end.

Once I've gotten a fairly fleshed out synopsis of my story, I begin to

Break synopsis down into arcs or books

This is more for my own benefit, so I have a reasonable idea of how much work is involved.  Of course, with 7" Kara, this is really just an estimate, and it's very prone to change.  That's ok!  Be open and flexible with your webcomic projects.

Once I've broken my synopsis down into arcs or books, it's time to

Break  the synopsis down into chapters

Again, this is really just an estimate, to give me an idea of how much content I'm working with, and how long each chapter will be.

I work on a chapter per chapter basis, and occasionally go back to the original plotform synopsis document and make additions, notes, and changes.

So when I'm ready to begin a new chapter:

When writing a chapter

Copy that chapter text into a new file/Google Doc

Another friendly reminder that Patrons have access to all current 7" Kara Chapter 7 files, including the Chapter 7 synopsis and fleshed out script!

Chapters should have a beginning, middle, and end as well.  For children's comics, I lead in with large establishing shots, to give the young reader time to adjust to the change in scenery, and an opportunity to immerse themselves in the world.

Begin fleshing that chapter out

Once I've established where the chapter is going (and this is usually already established by the synopsis segment I've copy and pasted into a new document), it's time to start adding details and flesh things out.

Get an outside view on the overall chapter


For me, this involves sending my chapter (via Google Docs) to a couple beta readers.  The earlier I can get critique, the more I'm able to make necessary changes and improve the story.

Break chapter into page units

Control Enter for each page, so every page is a fresh page.  Convert original text to italic, begin fleshing out page in normal font.

I break my pages down by:

Tiers
A row of panels, almost always related.  Think call and response, question and answer.  This is based off a technique demonstrated by Kiyohiko Azuma in Yotsuba&!.

Panels
Individual illustrations on the page, usually surrounded by borders.  Try to limit your panel to ONE action, if possible, unless its a special shot.

Dialogue
In comics, dialogue is usually contained in speech balloons, narration is contained in boxes.  Try to stick to one type per page, if possible.  Dialogue can quickly overwhelm the page, covering up the background and characters, so limit it in scenes where you need to show action or scenery.


Include background and staging direction


For the full script, please join my Patreon for access to 7" Kara materials!

Send Google Docs link to Beta readers for comments


I enjoy using Google docs for writing as it allows for easy comments and editing.  I can save specific versions of files as an archive if necessary, and have access to these files on any computer and via my phone.  Google docs is free and is saved to cloud storage (although I can also download a PDF copy if I wish), so it's really a very handy way to work on comics when you're constantly traveling. 

As with synopsis edits, script and dialogue edits are an important stage in refining my work.  I try to stay consistent with who I ask to beta read my work, and am careful to pick artists/readers who are familiar with comics, familiar with my work, and feel comfortable being blunt with me. 

I've found that, if you are careful with picking your beta readers, the comments that sting the most are usually the ones that have hit home, and definitely deserve your consideration.  The sting often comes from the idea of having to cut your darlings- remove portions of the script that you love most, or edits that will take additional time to complete.  While these are painful, they're well worth considering.

This is just my method of planning and scripting chapters for 7" Kara.  What's important is that you try a variety of methods, and work with the methods that suit your comic best. 

Tips on Writing:

Leave time for revision- from yourself and from others.  This makes for a stronger story

Don't tight script (dialogue, panel descriptions) unless you know where the chapter is going, you'll script yourself into a hole.

Don't write checks your artist can't cash:
  • Too much dialogue per page, no room for characters/setting
  • Too many panels per page, for every single page
  • Too many characters per page, every page
  • Multiple actions in a single panel by a single character (this is just impossible)

Outside Resources:

Scripting Resources:
Sample Comic Book Scripts (superhero biased)
Friends with Boys Comic Process (YA graphic novel by Faith Erin Hicks)
The Comics Experience: Comic Script Archive
The Beat- Making Comics- Script Format

Scripting Programs

Microsoft Word
Final Draft- Screenplay and Script writing software

Templates
Oscar Wilde Comics- Word Template
How to Format a Comic Script- links to multiple templates



This series is sponsored by:


The images used in this installment of Intro to Comic Craft are all from Chapter 7 of 7" Kara, the second chapter in Volume 2.  To purchase your own copy of Volume 1, and help support my endeavors, please visit my shop for physical copies, or my Gumroad for PDF copies of Volume 1 or Chapter 5 (the first available chapter in Volume 2)

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Watercolor Basics: Working In Batch: Securing Your Paper

This post was brought to you due to the generosity of my Patrons on Patreon.


Enjoy the content on this blog?  Want to help support the continued creation of longform series like Watercolor Basics and Intro to Comic Craft?  Join us on Patreon!  Your monthly contribution enables me to dedicate the time necessary to researching, purchasing, photographing, demonstrating, organizing, and writing everything that goes on this blog. 

Membership starts at just $2 a month, and grants you access to all sorts of goodies, including comics, comic process, backer exclusive content, and early access to popular series. 

In past Watercolor Basics posts, we've talked about conventional and unconventional ways to secure your watercolor paper while painting.  We've talked about why stretching is beneficial, and the materials used in the process.  In this post, we're going to talk about securing images in bulk for painting.  These 5"x7" cards are too small for stretching to be worthwhile, but they still need to be secured to prevent buckling.

Materials Used:
Corrugated Plastic
Blue Painter's Tape
Bulldog Clips
Binder Clips

Step 1:  Deciding on a Layout 

I want to secure as many cards as possible to my pre-cut corrugated plastic, as I don't have much room for drying images.


I try out a couple demo layouts, and find one that works well.


Step 2: Temporarily Secure Your Images 

To prevent shifting while handling.


Step 3: Tape down the full length of the sides



Step 4: Tape tops and bottoms

Along the edges of the corrugated plastic, I also use bulldog clips to help hold the watercolor paper in place.



Step 5: Repeat process as necessary



Step 6: Secure edges nearest edge of chloroplast with bulldog clips




Now your images are ready to paint!

Painting in batch can come in handy- I paint 7" Kara pages in batch, one scene at a time.  Batch painting allows for color consistency, as you mix your colors in large batches using welled palettes.

The Watercolor Basics series is made possible thanks to the generosity of my friends on Patreon.  Their support enables me to dedicate the necessary time and resources for creating quality tutorials such as those in this series.  If you have enjoyed this post, or any other Watercolor Basics post, please consider joining our community of artnerds, and funding future content.



This particular post was sponsored by 7" Kara, a delightful watercolor comic for all ages.  Join tiny Kara as she ventures into the large world beyond her dollhouse doors, meets humans, and rides cats.  Volume 1, written and illustrated by me, and full of the art you see on this blog, is available for $15+shipping from my online store.

Thanks for reading. Check out these products.