The Joy of Making Comics

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Making comics
Comic book artist Marceia Patterson

By Marceia Patterson

Marceia S. Patterson is a creative artist currently working as a freelance illustrator and animator. She is also a vivd character designer, visual development artist, and UNCSA alumni

Creative Process

Hello, everyone! I’m Marceia Patterson, a freelance artist who is also the creator of an independent fantasy webcomic called Never Normal, which can be viewed anytime at never-normal-webcomic.tumblr.com. The comic depicts the story of a boy named Pip who stumbles upon the vivid city of Nevernorm, only to find it inhabited entirely by whimsical monsters. I’ve working on Never Normal since 2015, and today I’d like to discuss with you the process of making this webcomic.

Steps of making a comic

Before I do any drawing whatsoever, I jot down notes in a small writing pad, making sure to pencil in every creative idea that I conceive. My mind is a whirlwind of concepts, and it’s easy to lose track of some of those ideas when I multitask, therefore, writing things down is very important. After reviewing and breaking down my notes, I write a script for each episode of the comic; scripts serve as a neater – and easier – story outline for me to follow. Once I’ve completed the writing portion of the comic, I move on to the art. I enjoy storyboarding my comic, often traditionally in a sketch pad with a graphite pencil, and then turn those boards into comic panels for each page. Below is a brief illustration showing both the sketched out boards and the stages of page development. The boards start out very rough and are subject to changes, but they’re still solid enough to give me a general idea of what I want for the panels.

Storyboarding from making comics

Cinema Techniques

After boarding the scenes, I sketch out the entire page on my computer, then transition to inking, coloring and shading, and final touches such as glow effects and overlays to enhance the hues of the page.

You’re probably wondering why I’ve used a few cinematic techniques while creating this comic. Attending the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has opened my eyes to various aspects of film, including animation. During those four years of college, I’ve storyboarded and written scripts for all of my student film projects.

I was always a shy person, but my teachers helped me come out of my shell. They’d arrange a lot of collaborative projects amongst me and my peers, which made me more confident with displaying my creativity in public. More importantly, it helped me explore styles outside my comfort zone, and made me better at asking for feedback from others. Connecting with your peers on your project can be difficult, however, if no one is on the same page.

Your viewers may see, or not see something, that you distinguish in your own work. It’s beneficial for both you and your viewers to be able to perceive the same message your project is trying to deliver, which leads me to one of the most vital elements necessary for film and art – communication. Storyboards were a better way of rendering my concepts than screenplays, and it was important for them to be clear and precise to my audience when they’ve become the final animated sequence. Even before college, film, animation, and visual art has always helped me bring my written stories to life.

Often times, I see Never Normal as a colossal storyboard instead of a comic, and to this day, my dream is to transform this comic of mine into a successful animated production for television and cinema.

Communicate with your audience

To conclude, there are many methods to making a webcomic, but no matter what method you approach, your comic must communicate well with your readers. Make your audience feel the characters jumping out of the panels, or being dragged across the page, and make them feel like they, themselves, have delved into your characters’ world. Studying different areas of art and even the world around you can help you establish the perfect atmosphere for your scenes. Be sure to look out for unique and corresponding combinations of color and environmental elements.

Comic book sample pages

For instance, my main protagonist is transported form a dull, mundane setting to a vibrantly colorful world. Comics are one of the best examples of a visual story, and should living forms of art that create a sense of motion. Every page counts, and each page should be treated like a picture that’s worth a thousand words.