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How to Create a Graphic Novel

Written by son of rambow on Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Here 12 steps to make a graphic novel:

1. Learn a drawing style. Manga and US Comic styles are popular, or you can draw humourous cartoons and give it a quirky edge. There are many resources available to learn how to draw. Your local library or bookstore is a great place to find "How to draw" books, but the only way to really improve your drawing skills is to practice. To accelerate the process, have a skilled artist such as a teacher or friend give you lessons, or look over your work and give you pointers. Often just watching a talented artist work is enough to open your mind to the techniques and possibilities. Most of all, don't be afraid to experiment with style. Finding your unique style is often more valuable than simply drawing like everybody else.

2. Come up with a cast of characters. When doing this, think both about their appearance, and their personality and history. If you have a plot in mind already, that will drive the creation of your characters. Develop the character's appearance by drawing them in as many ways as you can: you will improve your drawing ability and your understanding of the character. Use the character's appearance to develop their personality, and use the personality to develop the appearance.

3. Write out your ideas for the story. They will start out as rough ideas, but eventually you will want a fully developed plot. You can develop this plot in many ways: you can draw out rough pages, you can write it as a narrative story, you can write a page full of ideas, a page full of sketches, or you can write it as a script. Keep in mind, though, that graphic novels take up more space than normal novels, so the plot shouldn't be quite as long. Use the characters and settings to figure out the plot.

4. Do a rough sketch of your ideas on scrap paper. The usual way this is done is with thumbnails. Figure out the final page size, and draw small boxes in proportion to the final page. E.g. If your finished page will be 8.5" x 11" (U.S. Letter) then draw boxes that are 1.5" x 2". You will use these boxes to plan out the entire book, and while many artists feel they can skip this step, generally your design will be better if you do not skip the thumbnail phase. Thumbnails can also be an invaluable tool to organize the production of the book. Thumbnails can be changed much easier than finished pages. Consider the thumbnails your "map" to the finished product. If you have other artists helping you, or if you are dealing with printing shops yourself then handing them a photocopy of your finished thumbnails will ensure that everyone knows what you expect the book to be.

5. Create the finished pages, also known as the original art. There are many ways to work, and they will depend on many factors. If you are publishing it yourself, then you must consider how it will be printed, how it will be trimmed, how it will be bound, how it will be transported, how it will be distributed, just to name a few. If you are working with a publisher, they will tell you all the specifications. If you are creating a one-off book, then you have a lot more freedom, and can incorporate any medium you want. The basic questions are: Will there be color, or just black and white? Will the edges of the book be trimmed down (allowing bleed) or left untrimmed (no bleed). Bleed is when page contents extend past the edge of the page, and are trimmed down to the final size after binding. It allows for a more professional look, since most printers can't reliably print all the way to the paper's edge. Binding (how the pages are held together) is also an important consideration since it will affect how close your artwork can go to the center of the book. There are many types of binding available, all with benefits and drawbacks. The general rule is keep your important content about 1/2" from the edges and "gutter" (bound side) of the page. Most graphic novels will have three or four steps per page: penciling, lettering, inking, coloring.

6. Choose your paper. If you plan on painting, or erasing a lot, you may want to consider using bristol board or some other thick medium.

7. Start by penciling the entire page. Draw lightly and erase with a good eraser. Be as sketchy or precise as you want. You should pencil in the text for each panel as well.

8. Once you're happy with the penciling, begin the inking phase. Use a good black pen or marker. Have different tips for different line widths. An alternative method is brush and ink, which is more challenging, but enables a different style. Good use of inking can make your drawings seem dimensional and bold.

9. Ink the lettering. If you don't feel confident lettering yourself, you may want to get someone who is, or consider using a computer for the type.

10. Erase any stray pencil lines. Inking can be touched up with white paint (even white-out or liquid paper). Be aware that if you plan on coloring directly onto the original artwork, white touch ups might affect the color adversely. You may want to color a photocopy of the inked art. (See 'Tips' for more on using a photocopier)

11. Color your artwork. Any medium can be used for color reproduction. Watercolor paint, acrylic paint, art markers, color pencil, etc. Increasingly artists are turning to the computer for coloring their work. Get a good reference for painting, color theory, and any computer software/hardware you plan on using. And PRACTICE!

12. Print, bind, and distribute.

source: wiki how

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