YAY~! *happy dance* I've reached a milestone in creating "Butterfly Kisses." As you know, I said I finished the scripts for episodes 2 through 8. Well, as of today, I've finished the initial layouts for all of these scripts. Why is this important? -- it means the end of almost complete uncertainty! A script can only go so far when it comes to the manga media. You still need to know what is in its panel and how big to make the panel and how to put it in a flow that makes sense.
That's not to say that a script is not useful. It has to be step 1. Initial layout is step 2 of the process and helps put down the first layer of solid foundation for the rest of the creation process.
Here's what my document and initial layout looks like.
How's it going? Were you snowed in today? I was. The snow was super light and fluffy during the day. I wish I'd shoveled it up an hour earlier. My back is killing me. Hahahaha...
So it's been a few days since the last update, and I'd like to keep you guys in the loop about what I've been working on. Since quitting my job, I've dedicated to working on my projects full time, but if I don't release anything, it's all moot.
One of my goals this year has been to continue on "Butterfly Kisses." I mentioned in an earlier post that I had been working on episodes 2 through 8 of my web manga. The truth is, 8 months before I published episode 1, I had 11 chapters all written in the traditional format. The problem was that converting them to webtoon, would make that first arc end WAY too late. 1 traditional chapter was equal to 4 webtoon episodes. So that's why it was such a big deal for me in January to have found out what to cut to make the series not drag.
Lesson 1, I Learned
The original drafts were all thumbnails of layouts and characters, with a loose idea on words. It takes time to scan all that, and then reformat it. In the beginning, I think this is needed. You need to see your vision as close as possible. However, in the later stage, you get a feel. Or even, if you become a writer that has passed beyond the newbie stage, you learn what details to include.
In my mid-stage, after the setting and characters had been fully explored in the initial draft, I went through and wrote the entire scripts, word and description first. I used Microsoft word to just go through and write out all the dialogue and what each character was doing in each panel. Each new panel was a new paragraph. That was intuitive.
What I learned specifically to make me successful on Webtoon was to increase the font in the Word document to the size it would be in my web manga. Why? Because webtoon will take a max size of 1280 by 800 for an image (portrait mode). For full stories, you have to cut it down. Well, here's the thing, sometimes your panels may be way longer than that. That's fine. It's not fine when you're in an image creation software, like Clip Studio Paint, and have a 40,000 tall document. Performance goes down and I've had some issues with files saving. After I'm done with my script in Word, I export it as a PDF, then every page is a different file in Clip Studio Paint (I use the Story feature here). I stay true to the PDF as I'm taking the dialogue and copy and pasting into the Clip file. If I need to keep sequences together, that's fine. I just put a note on that blank page that I've moved it to the previous page and keep on going. I extend certain Clip files as I need more room for my panels. So some files in, let's say episode 2, are 2560 px long (my default) while others are over 8000 px. From my experience, I'd say to keep it below 9000, if possible.
Lesson 2, I learned
Since I'd written all of the script up, and thought I was happy, I was about to go and print all these pages off. I thought, "hey, I need to flip through and see what's happening. Sketch things out." I held off on that idea for money saving reasons. Now, I find out it was a great idea not to do that.
You see, your script will change if you learn something new, as I did. That would have been a waste of paper, and I would have had to reprint (because the changes were massive). If I did that for every episode, that would mean the original 96 pages I printed out were useless, and I'd have to print out another 100+ more. That's a lot of waste, even double sided. On a whim of laziness, I thought, "I can at least just copy the dialogue in and add in rectangles and squares. I can use the draft settings and put in rulers for keeping things even." So I did that. That was an easy yet effective use of my time. I then found I could put script directions in blue text under the draft folder (these would not show up in the final image as long as my output setting did not have "Draft" selected) and attached descriptions to each dialogue box. Some blocking issues arose, so I changed it in the Clip file. I found excessive adjectives in the dialogue and pulled them out. It turns out, I just needed each page in Word once to set up the rough layout in Clip. Printing out all that paper was just a waste of time, money, and resources. Digitally, I can make mistakes and just stretch the canvas or delete. You can't do that so easily with traditional media.
My first, manga series was called "The Legend of Auferre." I did that 90% traditionally. It had so many issues but I sake a whole bunch of time into it. I was so happy I published like 60 pages of it. It was a learning process, but I'm glad I evolved.
Going digital, it is so easy and time effective to modify and polish your work. These next few episodes are going to be of some of the highest level of storytelling I have ever done. The quality of content is going to really shine in this series.
Lesson 3, I learned
Now that the story has been thoroughly explored, the script vetted, the plot consistent, the vision is there, layout becomes easy.
It starts out just by drawing these panels on a single layer with squares and rectangles. You roughly place your dialogue text there (without the bubble at this point), you make sure the rectangles are the right size, or your resize them and/or the canvas. Make sure there is enough space between panels for pauses/quiet time.
How are you guys doing? Happy February the 13th! One of the best days of the month. Defiantly not the day after today. Anyways, this will be a chill post. Let's just talk.
It's good to be basically done with my short stories (that's the Chase Series). Man, about a year ago, I thought the hardest thing about writing, was writing enough words for it to be a story. Now, I think the hardest part of writing is having a proper character arc. Making characters sympathetic enough so that the readers will be interested. How you do that is all dependent on your ability to communicate. Which words you use. How you execute those lines. Even, knowing when to not explain. Just let the feelings come through. Here's a tricky thing: sometimes what your characters feel is designed to make your readers feel something else. So, for Lavender Chase, in one scene Alexander is upset, but what I wanted the readers to feel is curiosity. Why is he upset? That piece the heightens the book's ending at the end that ties all the clues from before into one package. At the end of the story, it just feels so satisfying instead of being lack luster.
And hopefully, my blogs are a bit better written. Writing is like drawing. It's a skill. Some people are born with the gift, and others, like myself, have to practice like heck to get better.
It also helps to read books that are about the context of your story. I've been reading "Worthy Fights" by Leon Panetta who was a US Secretary of Defense, CIA Director, and Congressman. Since the Chase series focuses so much on government and how the Department of Defense works, his insight was indispensable. For Azure Chase, I had a scene about a mission briefing. The first version was vague and generic, and even my editor hated me for it. After taking his information (combined with Phillip Mudd's book "The HEAD Game") this scene was utterly transformed. It was filled with context and detail. Instead of saying "The Guardian Knight sat with authority," I was able to convey those feelings instead.
Hope you guys had a great Saturday. I'm personally feeling very accomplished. I've uploaded a more fleshed out version of "Lavender Chase" today. This update delves more into the Guardian Knight's character (who is the equivalent to Secretary of Defense of the Quartz Region and a Muslim woman). This version even comes with a new cover.
Anyways, I feel like the story is as good as I can make it.
It is with great pleasure I introduce to you the second edition to my short story "Azure Chase." It has been completely redone with a different plot altogether. If you like stories where the monster/villain is the protagonist, you've got to get your hands on this right now. Also, in honor of this second edition, I'm giving away 5 copies of this book through Amazon (ebook/Kindle Store only). All you have to do is click a button to see if you get the prize or not. No extra work after that. So why not give it a try?
Even though Alexander decided not to replace all the humans with its parasites, simply coexisting with their constricting rules was not the life it wanted. It deserved more.
After waking up from a 13-year hibernation, the alien parasite known as Alexander looked in a mirror and observed its masterfully sculpted, newly transformed human host–it was perfect. Now, this incubus could blend in seamlessly within human society. Normal humans fell in love with it left and right, yet none offered the same wholesome relationship as its late, human daughter had. The truth was, she was well alive, but also its greatest threat. She is the Guardian Knight, leader of the Department of Defense, and her duty is to protect all residents of the Quartz region. Alexander is no exception, although it tries to become one. Its biggest hindrance to reconnecting with its daughter is its insatiable hunger for human DNA.
Will they be able to reconnect or will this tale end in betrayal and death? See how this short story ends by reading this book now.
I'm still working on mostly artwork for my characters, one of which is featured below (it's still just a WIP). However, I am devoting half my time to the full re-release of "Lavender Chase." That one should be coming up in a week or so.
As for the secret projects, they are not nearly close to completion for me to say anything about them yet. Stay tuned.
Just a quick couple of updates. Still working on the two secret projects. They are art intensive and it's taking me a while to create all that work. I've put a some of the WIP for the artwork on twitter but I've also put the tweets down here below.
Also, I've unpublished "Red Chase" for now as its quality is just not up to par with my standards, especially after turning it into a novel that goes into a lot of things. Don't worry, Red Chase will be re-released one day, perhaps this year.