I submitted it on my profile, so I might as well put it here too...
I often have people ask me; how do you make comics?
With such a vague question, I'm often at a loss for words and find myself primarily unable to help the person. There are many complex layers involved in making an ongoing comic. You have to worry about the layout, the dialogue, paneling, storyboarding, the actual execution of the art, and much more. While I can not answer this colossal question without sending you a small novel of a response, maybe this will help all of you aspiring comic artists out there...
~ First of all, a disclaimer. I am but an art student, not a professional and I can't claim to have had any personal fame from my technique, however I have been making comics for well over 10 years, and hopefully have a few tips to help you further your own stories.~
1.) The Blank Sheet of Paper
This is where the magic happens. Do you have an idea? A little grain of a story that is sure to blossom into something magnificent? Write it down! Ever story I've ever crafted started on a simple sheet of computer paper. Just start sketching out some ideas, maybe a sentence or two. Your inspiration can be as simple as one lyric from a song, or a single illustration in a children's book. Whatever prompted your creative juices to start flowing, get it down on paper fast. Trust me, if the story is worthy of being brought to life in the form of a comic, the ideas will just start flowing on the paper. One sketch will lead to scene, and this scene will lead to a character, and once you have found your protagonist, you must name them.
2.) Your Characters
Okay, for character design, NEVER SETTLE ON THE FIRST SKETCH! Variety is your friend. Once you have at least 5-6 (maybe more) character designs, pick the one that really speaks to you. Don't forget that the final design is one that your must redraw hundreds of times, so don't go overboard with detail. Besides, sometimes simple characters speak to the audience far more than an overly colorful, unbelievable, perfect character. Once you've settled on a design, you must create your supporting cast. This step will be a work in progress as you storyboard, and you might find yourself changing the characters up quite frequently. Learn from my mistake; give the characters variety. The Cloud Maker is my first full length, digital comic, and many beginners mistakes were made. One of which, was making the characters body types far too similar. While there are differences, and you can see me stress them a little more in later volumes, the character do essentially have the same build and skin tone. The last and arguable the most important step in creating your own protagonist, is naming them. I can't really help you there, other than to suggest shorter, easy to pronounce names. A reader is much more likely to remember the tale of Joe Williams than that of St. Edgardcillious McDeremondious.
The best and worst step; storyboarding. For those who don't know what that is, it's essentially a sketch of your comic page before you draw the final copy. It is a long and tedious process, but one that you'll be thankful to have completed when writing your comic. I often get asked how much storyboarding is really required in order to execute a successful story. The short answer; a lot. I storyboard every single page I have ever drawn, sometimes sketching it out multiple times before deciding on the page design I like. Your storyboards don't need to have award winning illustrations on them, but you should have the general layout, dialogue, and poses down. My storyboarded pages just contain sketches of my characters, and I don't ever draw their faces unless it's a closeup or of overall importance to the page. You have to decide what the most important aspects of he page are, and that's the what needs to be included in your storyboards. Don't quit storyboarding just because you "get the hang of it" or "feel like you have a good idea where you want the story to go". Trust me, you'll regret it later. It's much better to come across an inconsistency in the sketches, rather than find one you can't fix in the final draft. That's why I suggest you storyboard every page of you ENTIRE comic, before starting the good copy.
Yay! You've completed the hard part! The planning and designing is WAY more difficult than drawing the actual pages. As for the dialogue, hopefully you included most of that in your storyboards. There's really not much to say here, other than to avoid clichés. This is especially hard to avoid with villains. I know there are a lot of comics out there, and one of the keys to a successful story is writing dialogue that really speaks to your reader. Make your heroes and villains flawed, uncertain, afraid, and whatever you do, make sure you put them in difficult situations. Now, I'm not saying go abuse your characters, but I personally believe that you have created a worthy character when your readers are genuinely worried for their safety. Most importantly, a lot can be WITHOUT dialogue. Remember, you are writing a comic, most of your words should be in your drawings. Far more can be said in a stollen glance, or a hidden smirk, than in lines and lines of monologue.
5.) Creating the Pages
I won't go into detail about what tools to use, because I guarantee you, almost no one uses what I use to draw my comics. Now that all of the planning is out of the way, you just need to take the time to actually draw it. Don't get discouraged if your characters don't look QUITE as you'd imagines in your first few pages. The art will progressively get better and better as your story continues. You can always go back and redraw your early pages later on (like me!). Each page usually takes me anywhere from 2-3 hours. It took much longer when I first started, but I got faster with practice. First step, is to upload your storyboarded page to your digital platform. Once there, I sketch it out again, this time digitally. Then comes the typed text, which you can always tweak, and then the line-art. I know a lot of people make line-arts for their backgrounds as well, but I only draw it for my characters and buildings, if you page includes any. Then I create my backgrounds. Don't be afraid to use a reference for your landscapes, or anything you draw for that matter. After you have the text, background, and line-art, you can color in the characters with flat characters, then add in the shading depending on the scenery. Once you have everything completed, you can look over you page and fix any mistakes. Make sure any character changes you make along the way stay consistent throughout the pages, such as a ripped shirt, or scars.
I don't know if anyone out there has any interest in actually publishing, but for those that do, here's how I did it. Make sure your file size is large enough to print, otherwise your printed book will be all fuzzy. Next, is to find a publisher. If you want to self-publish, try sights like Authorhouse, Lulu, and Dorrance Publishing. Be prepared to spend a little bit of money, if you ever want to make any money. There's not many freebies in the publishing world, I hate to say it.
7.) Your Comic
Well, that's all I really have to tell you as far as the planning goes. I just have a few more tips concerning individualizing your story. If you have never written a comic before, I suggest starting small. Maybe make a ten page comic where you can find your own style and feel for creation. You should always shoot for the stars, but at the same time don't be over-ambitious your first go around. As for your idea, make it your own. It's easy to get discouraged when submitted to a world filled with literally millions of comics, and recognition may seem impossible, but take it from me, it doesn't happen overnight. I've made two comics here on DA and I'm still not even close to what you'd consider an accomplished writer, but you know what? THAT"S OKAY! You don't need to have hundreds of fans to make a good comic! You don't need to sell thousands of copies, or break any record, you just need to further yourself as an artist. If you can look in the mirror at the end of the day, and love what you've created, I guarantee you, others will too. It just takes time, and your very best effort on every single page.
~ Good Luck!! I hope this helps!! ~
(If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask)