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.
It's not meant to be perfect, but it is a stepping stone to get you closer to your final product. Plus, it's easy. If it's easy, you can do it. So just do it.
I've been going through just doing rough layouts for all episodes 2 - 8. I've been doing roughly 1 episode a day. I feel confident that the experience is getting solidified. In the next step, which is storyboarding, I can keep modifying the panels and dialogue text placement as I see mistakes made in the previous step. Step by step, you revise, you get better, and the final quality of the manga will be great.
Well, those are all my tips at this early stage for manga creation. Hope you enjoyed the blog post. Have a good one,