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How to Make a Comic

Create your own comic

Comics have a way of making us feel. Whether that be laughter, sadness, intrigue, excitement, or any other emotion, the power of a visual story cannot be denied. Creating your own comic book can be a rewarding experience, and easier than you might think. If you've got an idea, follow this guide to turn it into a reality.

Developing the Comic

Write down the basics. A comic is, at its most basic level, a narrative told through sequential images, called frames or panels. Even a single-frame comic has to have a sense of forward movement. In that sense, a comic is not really different from any other form of storytelling, and thus follows certain conventions.

Setting. Every story is set somewhere. Even if the background is just plain white, that's still a setting. The setting is the backdrop for the actions of your characters, and depending on your story can be an integral part of the narrative.

Characters. You need actors for your story. Your characters move the action, they speak the dialogue, and they are who the reader connects with. Develop your characters over time; this is especially important for strips that form longer narratives.

Conflict. Every story needs a conflict to drive it. This is the basis of the story, the "why" of what your characters are doing. This can be as simple as checking the mail or as complex as saving the universe.

Themes. The theme of your comic is what drives the day to day creation. Your theme will also dictate your audience. If you're writing a comedy strip, what are the nature of the jokes? If you're writing a love story, what are the lessons of love learned?

Tone. This is the vibe of your comic. Are you writing a comedy? Is your story more of a drama? Maybe you're looking at doing political cartoons. Your possibilities are endless. Combine comedy with drama, make it dark, or light-hearted. Write a romance, or a gripping political thriller. Your tone will be expressed through dialogue, narrative text, and visuals.

Write What You Know

One of the best ways to make your comics feel "true" is to write about what you know. This will also help you keep your own voice in your writing, and prevent you from copying too much from other comics.

Decide on a Style

Because you are creating a comic, your visual style will be the first aspect of your comic that the reader encounters. Choose a style that matches both the tone of your story and the image you have in your head. Experiment with various styles until you find one that feels natural to draw and to write for. There are a variety of popular styles that you can practice and then adapt to your own needs. Here are just a few examples:

American Superhero
Sprites⁄Clip art
Sunday funnies

Dramas usually necessitate a more elaborate visual style than a comedy. There are exceptions to this, however, as with every rule when it comes to creating something.

Inkscape vector graphics editor

If you would like to become a real digital-age professional, check out the free open-source Inkscape vector graphics editor similar to Adobe Illustrator, Corel Draw, or Freehand. What sets Inkscape apart is its use of Scalable Vector Graphics (SVG), an open XML-based W3C standard, as the native format.

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