Things I Wish I Knew Before I Started My Webtoon

492

Shoulda Coulda Woulda, am I right? Now that I’ve had roughly two years of experience posting my comic to Webtoon, Here’s a bunch of general and technical stuff I wish I had known before starting my comic that I want to share with you guys who might be just starting out on your comic making adventure.

The General Stuff

Starting is one of the highest hurdles for a lot of beginning comic artists. And don’t let these tips intimidate or distract you from starting. I was locked in a cycle of learning and learning and learning and while I did learn a lot about the comic making process, I was also just using it as an excuse to put off actually doing the thing. You learn a lot faster actually making and posting your comic than you do just doing the research. And yes research is important but again, don’t let it prevent you from even starting. Things won’t ever be perfect and nitpicking the heck out of your comic isn’t going to help you hit that publish button.

Budget panels are great. Embrace them. Use them for comedic purposes, use them in varying states of budget. Stick figures to represent the characters for a panel, chibi drawings, or panels with less shading, panels with only a color or gradient as the background. You see it all the time in anime. Whole scenes that clearly look like the animation team ran out of budget. You can do it for your comic to get between points in your story. Just save the High budget stuff for important moments. Or abs. I mean establishing scenes, yea that.

All these extra details going in each panel don't matter as much as you think. If you’re still not convinced, Read your favorite webcomic and then ask yourself if you lingered on EVERY single panel as if it were an absolute masterpiece. Chances are, probably not. The dialogue and action probably pull you to the next panel without much resistance and then you get to a wow moment where the comic’s creator slows down the pace and gives you that one amazing panel usually as a cliffhanger at the end of the episode. And then you’re like, “well dang I have to wait another whole week?!” But you go back to that one amazing panel and treasure it. So point made: focus on those important panels and don’t give too much extra time and energy to panels that don’t matter as much. They still matter, but you don’t have to nitpick them to death. Things really don't have to be perfect.

You won't get readers overnight, but that's no reason to stop posting your comic. It’s hard to see that once you do finally start your comic, you probably won’t see a whole lot of readers flooding in at once. It will be a quiet start, so just appreciate the people who get to see your comic first and try interacting with them in your comments section. And keep posting. The more content you have the more likely new readers will stay once they discover your comic because they will have more to read initially and be hooked.

Photo References and 3D models are your friend. Don’t be afraid to use them to help tell your story. If it helps make the process go quicker, you’ll have that much more story out in the world to your readers. One of my own personal hang ups is wanting to use 3D models to help me draw my backgrounds, and it’s actually starting to bottleneck my process because I don’t want to tell my story without backgrounds. But I haven’t learned enough about making said backgrounds and oh. That learning loop I talked about from earlier is starting to show. I should just do it. And learn as I go. Follow your own advice Bri gosh–

Post your first three episodes together so that the initial readers have some content to go through. The hook should be in these episodes. They can be short or as long as you need them to be to get to the hook. The reason you want 3 separate episodes is because Webtoon helps you out at the third episode by prompting the reader to follow your comic. “But Bri I don’t have three whole episodes to post yet.” Do you have one episode? Can it be broken down into three separate parts that aren’t too choppy? Yes? You now have three “episodes” Remember that Webtoon Canvas creators don’t have the same requirements that Originals have. You can make four panel episodes, or 60 panel episodes or anything really.

I will advise that keeping a consistent posting schedule takes more priority so plan your Episodes to be as short or as long as you need them to be in order to keep up with your desired posting schedule. If you think you can do 60 panels a week, try it. (And then tell me your secrets cuz I’m still trying to figure that one out. Pfft. Lol but seriously, evaluate what you can SUSTAINABLY do to keep a consistent posting schedule meaning: what can you do while respecting your mental, physical health as well as obligations outside of comic-making) If you can do 40-60 panels a month which is much more relaxed, see if you can break it up into 4 smaller parts to get 4 weekly posts of content, or even go every two weeks and give yourself a small buffer. Figure out what works for you to stay consistent.

And don't compare yourself to Originals too harshly. Most likely, you're doing this in your free time or limited time after other obligations like a full-time job, school, raising kids, etc. and you’re probably working on your comic solo or just duo with a writer. Webtoon isn't paying you a full-time salary to make your comic and put it on Canvas, so go at your own healthy pace and enjoy the comic-making process. It’s a whole adventure for sure.

And Now …. The Technical Stuff

I would have changed drawing programs much sooner. The first 10 episodes of my comic were made in Photoshop and looking back I was lucky that my computer didn’t explode. My process is much faster on Clip Studio Paint now and it became pretty obvious once I switched and got over that learning curve that this program was actually made with comic artists in mind. As a stay-at-home mom with not a whole lot of time to dedicate to my comic, this drawing program has saved my sanity simply by being a good stable program that doesn’t crash and lose work. And then add all the features that have made my life easier.

There’s a lot of Technical tools that have made my life easier, but the ones that pop up immediately in my head are these and I’ll talk about each in more depth in just a moment.

Having a preset webcomic format right in the new file prompt, ability to make page divisions so it’s less taxing on my computer, freehand balloon tool and ability to edit the balloons, object tool to move everything around easily, 3D models to help out with poses when you’re struggling, just to focus on a few… and there’s probably a lot more to discover as I get more familiar with the program.

Alright preset webcomic format. Super duper helpful in taking some of the technical thinking out of the process. With a little tweaking to your own preferences, you can literally jump right into making your comic which is awesome.
The ability to make page divisions within the file so that you can load just a section of your intended episode is a great feature too. When I made my comic in Photoshop, I would get stuck having to scroll at length to get to a specific panel in my comic, it would lag and I would miss it, and as my painting process progressed and the art got more detailed, contributing to the lag.
Crashes left and right and even some lost work at times.
I worked around this by making shorter episodes and even separate files for panel artwork. It was a mess, so getting to eliminate all that from my workflow has been a total game changer. I would definitely recommend using page divisions regardless of if you have a weak or stronger computer. It’s just made my process so much more peaceful and I can focus on the story and art for my comic instead of struggling with the tools.

I wish I knew about the freehand balloon tool at the beginning. It probably would have convinced me to switch drawing programs sooner. Lol. Maybe. I was very resistant to change and convinced I had no time to learn a new drawing program. Ahem, anyway. The freehand balloon tool helps you make speech balloons without the preset options. Which—for someone who loooves having more of a shaky-hand look to the panels and speech balloons, this tool makes me very happy. You can literally draw them like you would with pen and paper, buuuuuut the cool part is that they still interact with text like a normal speech balloon in the program. Meaning that you can type directly into them, the text joins the balloon and you can edit them together as an automatic little group. Handy <3 Extra tips about the balloon tool while we’re here.

Hitting T on your keyboard opens the text tool. Hitting it again pull up the balloon tool yessss!! Y on the keyboard pulls up the anchor tool and allows you to adjust the anchor points on the balloons itself. If you have any weird spots, you can delete an anchor by holding alt and tapping the undesired anchor point.

Object tool. I did not have this when I made my first 10 full episodes of my comic which was roughly a year’s worth of work without having this beautiful tool. Object tool lets you bypass the digging through all your layer files to select something. Magical. Especially for adjusting text in your speech balloons.

3D models have helped me out on some of my more recent episodes. I’m still learning about them (slowly) but they’ve proven their worth in a short few panels. I had a scene where I really wanted to show one of the characters having a freak out moment and I wanted to slow down that moment for the readers to take it in. I could have done a budget panel of chibi or stick figure drawings to show it, but since it was leading up to something more serious in the story, it felt more appropriate to have it closer to the usual art style. So instead, I used one of the 3d character models to help me pose out everything properly and then painted over it. Doing this saved me some time in having to hunt down pose references or take photos of my awkward self trying to act out the scene. So definitely a win-win.

A few more handy technical things I would want to share to new webcomic creators starting out on their comic-making adventure.

The companion mode is pretty great to check out the quality and more importantly the text size of the dialogue in your comic. I find it much better than having to hold up your phone to your computer monitor to check all that. It’s a pretty reliable preview mode.
And another tip: Saving your comic out as a jpg instead png file saves up data since you’re limited to 20mb per episode upload on Webtoon.

Bonus Tips!!

These are back in the General side of Tips, but I figured if you’re still here, you might like these two extra tips and maybe want to subscribe to my channel or check out my comic that’s kind of become a case-study for this whole youtube channel, lol. Anyways, bonus tips and I’ll get out of your hair.

Writing/Idea tip: If you have a kickass idea and then it whooshes away before you can write it down, try going back to the physical place you had the idea. For example, maybe you had a whole scene for your comic unfold in your head while taking a shower. You don’t have to take another shower, but maybe you stand in the bathroom for a moment to see if the idea comes back. As a mom, I get my thoughts interrupted all the time by an adorable toddler, so this little method of jogging my memory has been incredibly helpful to remember important moments I wanted to write for my comic, and even some key plot stuff. I’ve had to pretend to wash another dish at the sink a few times because apparently that’s my idea place whether I like it or not. pfft.

Art Block/Analysis Paralysis Tip: If you’re stumped in the thumbnailing process, try going old school with a pen and paper and some very silly stick figures. It’s easy to overthink stuff, and I’ve found that using a pen keeps me from getting stuck in that loop of erasing and redrawing panels. Better to get the ideas out fully and then leave the erasing and redrawing in the digital drafts where you’ll probably be in a better headspace to tackle them.

So those are just some tips I wanted to give for starting your webtoon in 2023.

Good luck on your comic-making adventure!

Comment

New

New Official Articles