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Making a Graphic novel

Step 0.
Before you start...

  Before you start drawing those pages:

1- Keep in mind that your GN will take at least 1 year to complete if not more.
2- If you have a series of graphic novels in mind, you might want to have book 2 ready for sale, and be working on book 3 before you sell book 1

Book 1
on sale
Book 2
ready to be sold
Book 3
being worked on
Books 4 and up
still in rough draft form

Materials I use to make my GN

- Typical art material (paper, pens, ink, white-out, etc...)
- computer
- scanner (11x17 scanning surface is the best)
- imaging software (photoshop, piantshop pro,etc..)
- spellschecking software
-external hard drive

Build yourself a solid base

Pre-production phase
The pre-production phase can be broken down into 3 distinct blocks

Block A:
the story

Block B
character design

Block C
environments and color range

These 3 blocks should be worked on simultaneously.


Let the character design influence the story. Story and dialog can influence certain visual sequences. Environments and color range can inspire a dramatic shift of events in the story, etc...

In the end, with these 3 building blocks you will create the rough draft of your graphic novel (step 2).

Block A
The story

Organising your ideas

Sources of Inspiration

Create a W diagram of the whole story arch
This is an event driven version of the story. What event happens when and in what order.
If you have a series of novels in mind, you might want to write a quick outline of the whole story arch before starting your first novel. In the case of Nemexar I planned out a story arch of 33 chapters.

Create a W diagram of character evolution
This is a character driven version of the story. How the character reacts to the events in the story and evolves because of them.

Break up the story arch W diagram for each chapter.

Break up the character evolution W diagram for each chapter

check out my storytelling section for more tips.


Block B
Charater design

ody (side, front, back)
Face detail (front ,side, back)
Weapons and other equipment

Sometimes the character comes first. And then you get an idea for the story. But keep in mind, the story is more important than the character design. Of course, if you have an interesting character design, readers will be more easily attracted to your Gn. But readers walk away from nice looking characters with uninteresting stories.

What makes a good character desing? Honestly, I don't know. You can check out some personal observations in my elements of desing page


Extra tip: sculpture

Sometimes it helps to have a 3d representation of your character. Sculptures come in really handy when drawing a character in a very specific angle or when its time to do shading. The sculpt doesn't have to be perfect. Just enough detail to help you figure out where everything goes. Cloth on a 12 inch articulated action figure is great when it comes to drawing drapery. Check out my sculpture section for more tips

Block C
Environments and color range

Environments: Create conceptual images of buildings and places where the story takes place. Sometimes you might need quick 3d representations of these.

Color range: what colors will be used in certain times and places in the stroy.


Step 2.
Putting the building blocks together and making a rough draft of the whole thing


(nemexar chapters 1-33)

This is where it all comes together
before making your work presentable to the public.
once you've got a story and your characters you can start building your rough draft.
its a big pile of papers on which you,ll have quickly scetched out what you want the whole thing to look like.
(sort of the equivalent of a stroy board in the movie industry.)
once the rought draft complete, use it as a guide to build your
official version (step 3: the production phase).

as you build your rough draft you will most likely be led to modify things in your story, or reajust the character desing or add something to the environment in which the story takes place. this is normal. if you let it happen, your graphic novel will sort of start writing itself. you will become a witness to a story that want to come out through you.

build your rough draft in multiples of 32 (16/16)


(nemexar chapter inside)

Building tip:pay close attention to Layout (rythm)

rythm is the way you tell your story. the way you place the pictures and text on the page to keep your reader hooked

rythm is extremely important
more important than the artwork

comics books with great rythm:
tmnt leonardo solo adventure+ no. 10,
lone wolf and cub


(nemexar chapter inside)

Printing tip: multiples of 32

build your gn in multiples of 32 pages

printshops print on big sjheets on mwich they fit 16 pages on one side, 16 on the other


Step 3.
The production phase (turning your rough draft into something presentable to the public)


Here things become personal. You can do all your artwork on a computer. You can do it on paper and then scan it. You can do it in black and white. You cn do it in color. It's all up you and what you want the final result to look like.

if you scan your artwork, your images should be in CMYK and at a least 300 DPI.

Remember: the computer is a touch up tool. Do not expect the software to hide your mistakes. Make your artwork as perfect as possible before scanning it.


My own GN production process looks somewhat like this:

1.a: draw forground elements
1.b: paint backrounds

2.: scan images 300 dpi

3.a.: build up pages
3.b: add visual effects
3.c: add dialog and sound fx

4. a.: correct visual errors
4. b.: correct typos


Step 4.
printing the book at home

before you make a major investment in printing a high quality version of your book, try printing a section of the story on your home printer (maybe 30 to 50 pages). This will give you an idea what creating an official version witll be like. Do you find yourself spending alot of time drawing in the details of the characters? maybe you need to simplify their design alittle bit. do you find it takes too much time doing your work in color maybe shift to black and white...

once this home version is done, make the necessary reajustments to your rough draft, character design and environments before moving on.

image size is important.
build it so the reader can get lost in the picture. it'll help pull the reader into the story

find out how many copies you need to print vs the amount of money you need to fork out.

make sure your colors come out properly,
makes sure all spelling mistakes are corected,

stellar cover is a must make your book stand out

Preparing the document:

1.:make a copy of your pages
2 add bluur in nesecesary
3 flaten images

4cut pages for page set up

print pages

print cover

assemble pages

glue on cover

cut/trim book


Step 4.
printing the book at a printshop

This is where i'm at.

so, for more advice, visit the remind website for more info for this section

  comics and graphic novels on the web:

  commercialisation, marketing extra tips:

- make a buisness plan
- managing sharks and wolves
copyright issues
marketing and visibility

Back to workshop page


elements of desing page stuff i prefer stuff that looks good even if it is old (dragonball (1985),akira(compare the colour and BW versions), khai nielsen1914, abreybeardsly 1919, lionel feninger kinderkids 1906 windsor mckay1905,franquingaston lagaffe, fredphile,mon)

stroytellming stuff dialog and text
your story will be conveyed throught the actions of your characters and their speach.
so, study dialog in movies, t.v.shows, plays.

I recommend:
- plays by Harold Pinter
- and any Woody Allen movie.
- listening to how people talk.

Try to keep the dialog in your story as natural as possible. This is more difficult than it sounds.

recomended readings: getting things done david allen, 1001 ways to market your book john kremer

e-book publishing, print on demand

get media coverage. send out 200 copies to getmedia attention

add something to your website once a week

online store paypal yahhoo

sustained marketin effort

push your stuff into spotliht everyday
ebsite should have:
-who are you
-examples of work
-contact information
regularly updated blog
online store ebay,paypal,yahoo,anmazon
pub google adds-sapin de noel
site de jouet->pub de jouet

blog facebook, or titter

youtube mash up amv cmv

partager vos truques conseils comment vous avexz regler vos problemes

3 strategies: maison edition direct, auto edit->m.d'e, auto editi->self distribut

getting it printed eric henly mark beach

buying bookprinting: 28 page pfdf for 19.95


20%should cover advertising and makingfabrication

personal finance fo dummies

self publishuin manual dan poynter

graphic desing fo dummies

bookmacking marshall lee

contact-3biuisness days
patyment reminder-3-30 days
non pay7ing bidde alert 7u-40days
request final value fee credit- ithin 60 days
non paying bidder arning renmoval- within 9i0 days

auto edition avantages controle total, plus grosse marge de prodfit sur plus petite quatite, mieux adapte au chanement cause par intenert etnouvelles technos
inconvenients: tu dois tout faire tout seul

maison dedition: predns les decision final par rapport au prodyuit
5-10% apres repris ses couts
soccupe de promouvoir le produit
submvention disponible qui sine ensuite redistribuer au createur

marcel barbeau donne une oeuvre a un ami
le fils de son ami revend l<>oeuvre 85000 $

bdeiste thierry