After browsing through the old threads lately (boredom/artist's block) I came up with the following:
26 tips for beginners, or how to avoid the mistakes the rest of us all made:
1. Learn to draw
No, seriously, LEARN to draw. Whether self-taught from books and tutorials or by taking art classes you need to learn to draw and draw the real world
before you draw comics, so just bookmark that how to draw manga tutorial for now and go buy a good simple art book (I'd recommend this book
it's a good all-rounder) and any anatomy for the artist book. You don't have to become great at drawing just learn to understand.
2. Have a story
Preferably a good one but so long as it's competently written you've got a good starting point.
Alternatively if you're doing a gag-a-day comic (which is a good way to learn comicking) learn to tell a joke.
3. Make your bible
No don't go start a cult or anything (yet), a bible is basically just a book of information - in the case of your comic this should include character designs, location layouts, plot outlines, character bios, rules of your universe, anything you need to know about your comic - and do it in advance, if you can resist just jumping into your comic, it will make everything a LOT easier.
4. Be realistic
Don't expect you're going to be the next big thing, the truth is the vast majority of new webcomics fail miserably.
Also don't expect your first webcomic to be the one you stick with, more often than not you'll use it as a learning experience and your second (or third etc) will be the one you can truly be passionate about.
5. Be prepared
Try to have a decent amount of strips/pages done before you go online, either as a buffer or so you have a reasonable sample for when you go around asking for critiques /reviews. Having a buffer is probably the better idea but be sure you maintain it, if you can't draw a page one day/week/whatever draw two next time to make up for what you've used.
THE RIGHT ATTITUDE
6. Be patient
A quick check of topwebcomics.com shows over 3000 comics (I wasn't clicking anymore pages than that) so there are plenty of comics out there waiting to be discovered, no matter how loud you shout about it people will take their own sweet time to discover you comic. Don't watch the hits counter and don't get frustrated by the lack of feedback just enjoy doing the comic.
7. Never be ashamed of your work
Artwise most of us beginners are frankly dreadful, but that's okay keep trying you WILL improve. The same thing goes for the writing.
More importantly don't be ashamed of the subject matter you choose (especially if it's "controversial") because I guarantee you some troll will find your comic and bash it to hell, ignore them or if it really gets to you maybe rethink your ideas (especially if they involve some wierd fetish).
8. Don't be an arrogant SOB
If you strut around the place acting as if you/your comic/your opinions are gifts from the Goddess then people will NOT like you, will NOT take you seriously and even if your comic really is the best thing ever people won't stick around to enjoy it.
9. If you ask for help be prepared to accept it
There is nothing more annoying than someone asking for help around here and then arguing with every single pointer they are given. If you don't like or disagree with the advice given, ask for a second (or third or sixteenth) opinion, none of us in this world is an all-knowing expert but at least respect the fact we're trying to help you AND you asked for our help.
10. Your comic isn't perfect, accept this now
Your first critique/review will more than likely point out numerous flaws you have been "blind" to, these people (generally) are not saying these things just to be mean.
MAKING THE COMIC
11. Quality materials for a quality result
This doesn't mean rush out an buy all the expensive professional equipment/paper/tools/programs/etc but at least use materials that are of a good quality.
If you're traditional use clean, flat, unlined, uncreased paper a nice new pencil/pacer and INK your comic, avoid using shapies, ballpoint pens, etc go to an art store and buy real pens (or nib pens if that's your thing).
If you're all digital DO NOT USE MS PAINT, you can find free programs like gimp if you can't afford to buy software.
12. Cut and paste or tracing paper CAN be your friend
But only if you use it properly. For instance here
I needed to maintain the same basic positions/expressions from the previous comic (the effect being two characters having one of those meet-cute, crushy moments) but I still made subtle changes to expression and the hair flow so as it does not appear to be a static moment, time visibly flows between frames of the conversation.
13. Tell the story with the images
You should, in most cases be able to take a comic and remove the words without removing the feel of the story. Certainly in some more conversational pages you may not get across the exact details of the story but you should at least be able to tell the tone of the conversation (mind you I have seen some comics where you wouldn't even know it was a convesation, just two people on a couch staring like goldfish).
One big exception to this is the offscreen gag, sometimes you do have to tell rather than show but this normally is only one frame of the page.
14. Creation is a multi-step process
The first thing you put on paper (or first layer in photoshop) should not be the final product.
My process goes roughly: script - thumbnail - layout - underdrawing - inking - colouring - scan - tidy - background fill - lettering - resize.
Your exact process will be different than mine but even digitally you should have a similar amount of work going into each comic.
15. Stick to a schedule
If you plan to update three times a week update three times a week - a buffer will help on those occasions that real life interferes, and let life interfere from time to time you need the chance to chill and find inspiration - if you can't stick to the schedule change it, start small and increase updates as your speed/skills improve.
Make your characters believable - they're people, they have flaws and insecurities and motivations.
For instance if your character is a 107 year old vampire don't make him act like a whiny petulant teenager, would he really still be in highschool and wouldn't people have noticed after a couple of decades, perhaps a more reclusive, pining for the outside world (like Edward Scissorhands or the Beast) personality would better suit the character and the story.
I have to blame anime/manga for the single biggest flaw I see in characterization: characters whose designs don't fit.
There are too many examples out there of overly cute characters with dark personalities, violent activites, etc - and sometimes this can work as a contrast to other characters around them - there should always be some hint of the character's true nature in their appearance, give your secret schoolgirl assassin colder eyes or a stiffer posture.
18. Clothing makes the character
It's more than something you use to cover up the nakedness. Clothing is a great shorthand for the characters personality, whether you use it simply to illustrate stereotypes (goth, jock, slut, etc) or as a more subtle, personal expression of the character - for instance a girl wearing baggy t-shirts could hint at certain body-insecurities.
19. Your world is a character too
Even if set in the here-and-now real world your comic's world is just as much in need of characterization as the cast.
For example if your story is set in a medieval fantasy world the people shouln't speak like 21st century teenagers.
Everything from the appearance of the world to the language usage should be considered and consistent.
Everyone is an individual. Remember that.
21. Obey the rules
Your world needs to have established rules, you need to have limitations on where you can go, this helps to maintain a streamlined and cohesive story. If you allow yourself to go anywhere you can lose track of the destination.
22. Let today lead into tomorrow
If you plan on telling a proper story rmember that not only does each page of a webcomic need to stand on its own it also has to build expectation for the next page.
23. If you set it up pay it off
If you introduce an idea earlier in the story you must return to is eventually to pay-off the idea, all super-secret weapons must be used eventually and all prophecies should be fullfilled.
Of course you don't necessarily need to pay it off as expected, your super weapon could be a dud and your prophecy may have been made up by a drunk at the local pub, the point is to return to the idea at some stage and close the circle
24. Let the story explain itself
You shouldn't be drumming story-points into people's heads, just tell the story and trust them to understand it for themselves. If you have some little mystery plot-point that is "important" to the story don't jump and shout "Look at this, look at this", it ruins the story later, be subtle.
25. Don't lecture
If you have an important message to make with your comic, just make your comic, people will generally get your point without you having to get on the soapbox under the [insert opinion of choice here] banner. You get more people thinking by weaving your message into the story than by shouting at them "[subject of choice] is good/bad!!!"
Alway push yourself, always try new things.
Try to draw a new pose or expression or object.
If you always draw teen characters try drawing an oldy once in a while.
Normally draw furries? try a human or a real animal. Draw Sci-fi? Why not try a cowboy or an elf.
Normally write a funny comic? try a little drama or action or romance.
You don't need to include your experiments in your comic but experiment anyway, you never know you might get a great new idea.