How To Create A Graphic Novel

welcome to this presentation of how to create your own graphic novel and Magnum arts presentation the thing to remember is the graphic novels are equal parts writing and artwork both are important but usually the writing is more important than the artwork since that is what drives the story and that is what engages your reader so if you're thinking about writing a graphic novel you obviously have a story to tell or a point to make you have something you want to say the challenge is to how to make your readers care about what you want to say and to say it in a compelling manner that maintains your readers attention now there are four primary structures as far as how to tell a story the setting what happened character and event so let's look at the setting in the setting structure a character enters and then leaves a place so the character enters an environment the story takes place in that environment to its conclusion and then the character leaves the environment what happened this is the structure where the story begins with a question and then ends when the question is answered so the story might open with a reader not knowing what is going on or why events are unfolding the way that they are the story answers these questions until all of them have been answered and the story is thus resolved character a character in your story is lacking or deficient in some way the story ends when the character finds what he or she is looking for or needs or when the character dies and lastly event something happens that upsets the normal order of a situation or environment or setting and the story revolves are on the characters attempts to deal with this disruption in this environment so let's talk about storytelling tips your main character is the heart of your story and we'll have to carry the most weight to drive the story forward now to make your main character compelling and fun to read about and identifiable to your reader your readers must identify with your characters motivations whether they be good or evil the thing to remember is all characters are motivated by something every character has a motivation for what they say and what they do no one acts without motivation for example villains are evil for a reason villains may be motivated by greed or a desire for revenge or even the satisfaction of knowing they're breaking society's rules and are having fun doing it but they must be understandable their motives must be identified and their logic the reasoning must be flawed if they are villains flawed characters are usually the most interesting characters the best and most compelling characters are those that are imperfect a character with flaws odd quirks and amusing habits are usually the most engaging these things give a character a distinctive personality and prevent them from being dull cookie cutter archetypes compare Superman who was utterly bland without identifiable character flaws to Bruce Wayne as Batman a man whose psyche is so twisted by his experiences that he is a compelling interesting and dark character so what kind of motivations might your characters have well your character's motivation whether it be to hero or villain can be driven by a variety of factors such as a fear of losing something that they have a longing for something they don't have revenge a quest for knowledge based on curiosity these are four common motivations for a character now your character must suffer in your story in some way your character must suffer if your character does not suffer any hardship or deprivation then there's no drama there's no point to your story hurt your characters see how they respond and what they do the generate is about how to create characters watch people observe people spend time thinking about why people you know do what they do and why they don't think about what motivates the characters in the books and graphic novels that you read think about what possessed you to do what you did as a child okay so you have your main character but you also are going to have background characters and background characters help carry the story along with the main character will be background characters who will assist or hinder the main characters goal in the story background characters play a very important role because they help move the story forward so that the main character does not have to do all the work now when you are writing your background characters make sure you control them okay learn the control the depth of your characters some character should stay in the background or else they will take over the entire story the main character should drive the action but sometimes it's okay to let the main character take a back seat and let the background characters jump to the foreground to carry the story for a while also remember that there are characters you will have fun with that are not always the main character and cannot carry the whole story but they're just fun to write for and remember that the hero the main character may not alt may not always be the most interesting character in your story and last but not least go out and experience life seriously people put down the Xbox put down the remote control set aside your smartphone go out into the real world live life meet people go out and do things okay the more you go out and live life the more you experience life the more you're going to have to write about writing and creativity does not take place in the back you so go outside put the technology away and live life a little bit okay so there are ten good ways to create good supporting characters because again you need supporting characters to drive the story but you do not want them to be cookie cutter cardboard cutouts they need to be distinctive in their own way one way is to give them at least one defining characteristic many Mara memorable characters have one defining quirk or personality trait that defines them and sets them apart from other characters they may have a distinctive way of talking or a certain viewpoint or a strange habit the second way is to give them an origin story at some point in the story spend a little time explaining the experiences that made this supporting character who he or she is how they got their power or their history that motivates them third way is to make sure that they talk in a unique way your character should not all talk the same way make sure they have their own unique way of expressing themselves maybe a peculiar dialect or a certain way that you use words fourth way is to give them personality flaws flawed characters are most interesting flawless characters are dull give your characters flaws they should have a flaw such as a misguided motivation or a skewed erroneous point of view dishonorable motives bad habits another way is to connect them to a particular place supporting characters should be identified with a particular place or situation so they're not just idly drifting through your story there should be a reason for them to be where they are another way is to introduce them twice the first time in the background the second time in the foreground before introducing a background character maybe refer to that character earlier in the story by another character or by your main character so that when the character eventually makes his or her appearance there's a sense of familiarity number 7 is focus on what they mean to your main character what role does a background character fulfill to your main character is the background character helping the main character hindering why how number eight give them their own story arc a story arc is just a starting point and an end point at the beginning a character feels a certain way at the end the character feels a different way something has happened in between to change the way that they feel number 9 the more minor the character the more caricature like they they may have to be so if you're going to have a supporting character that only makes a brief appearance in one or two scenes they kind of be more cartoonish and less well-defined don't spend a lot of time slaving away over minor characters that are only going to be appearing briefly in your story it's not worth it it's a waste of time and number 10 decide which supporting characters will be forgettable the thing you have to understand is characters take up space time and effort not all characters are worth it some drift in and out for just one scene and are never seen again so remember it or not not every character has to be memorable okay so you plotted your story you created some compelling story characters or at least you know the story that you want to tell now it is time to actually begin drawing your pages this can often be the most difficult part of the whole process because that involves so many decisions that have to be made about how to proceed there's no wrong way or right way just the way that works best for you so let's talk a little bit about sequential story time a graphic novel is a form of sequential storytelling like comics each panel is another piece in your story that keeps the action going forward how many panels you use to tell the story is up to you and as part of the choices you make in telling your story there are several ways to proceed in creating your graphic novel pages some artists start with rough sketches of the entire graphic novel consisting of nothing more than rough boxes circles and heads and ovals for war balloons so they can figure out how they're going to divide up the panels and where the characters are going to be within those panels from there they create dialogue and narration and then create the finished art some artists begin with a full script which is nothing more but words written by the artist or by somebody else which is then used to create a roughly sketch to layout which is then used to create the finished graphic novel and then some artist will just create one finished panel with no idea what happens next followed by the next panel and the next and the next until the story is concluded many graphic artists will use a combination of all three of these techniques in creating their graphic novel while you're working you'll be faced with a constant series of decisions about how to render the art in your panels you do not want your reader struggling to figure out which panel to look at next the reader should be able to follow the action from panel to panel without thinking about it so that they are not distracted panels in comic books and graphic novels are a way to separate the action into separate scenes since the action in a graphic novel does not move on the page by itself it is up to you as the artist to show the sequence of events in a way that your reader will comprehend the other thing you have to understand is panels are representations of time I'll say that again panels are representations of time since you can't control how long a reader will spend looking at each panel it is up to you to help them understand how much time is taking place in a particular panel is it an hour is it a day is it a second how fast is the action taking place inside the panel think of a panel as a television screen you are the director it is up to you to plan your camera angle for each panel as a director you have to decide what would make the best camera angle for each shot in your graphic novel do not fall under the trap of having every panel shot from the same angle in the same distance that is dull very often when we discuss camera angles in graphic novels movie lingo is used there are several types of camera angles for you to consider when sketching out your pages the establishing shot the medium shot close-up shot long shot overhead shot low angle and point of view and I'll briefly cover each one of these a good rule of thumb is to begin each scene with an establishing shot which is a shot that is a big panel it illustrates where the scene is taking place drawing detailed establishing shots can be time-consuming in hard work but it can create a strong sense of place usually the next panel zooms in a bit to a medium shot to further define the environment and then up close to focus on the character in the story from there the camera views vary depending on the action taking place in this example we have the establishing shot in the top frame in the medium shot in the second frame notice that the establishing shot sets up the environment that the character is walking through it looks like a winter day or autumn there's leaves bellowing through the air the trees are bare there's no one else on the street the certain level of desolation which is setting the scene then the camera zooms in towards the front steps and the door and we see what her destination is so the panels are drawing us into the story in this particular example you have the establishing shot showing the the large galleon sailing on the ocean towards what looks like a port then the camera zooms in to a medium shot looking down on the deck of the ship and then zooms in closer for a close-up shot on the people on the deck before zooming back out to a medium shot close-up shots are used to add emphasis to focus the reader's attention and to heighten the drama in this particular sequence of events tough-talking Private Eye Philip Marlowe gets a gun drawn on him by a gangster in his office panel by panel Philip Marlowe watches as the gangsters finger tightens on the trigger so notice how the camera keeps zooming in closer and closer and closer until by the final panel all we see is a tiny bit of the trigger guard and a little snippet of the finger that's extreme close-up these panels serve to gradually heighten the tension because we don't know what's going to happen next the long shot is similar to an establishing shot and two terms can kind of be used interchangeably periodically when you're telling your story it's good to zoom back a little bit reestablish the environment where the action is taking place before is zooming back in again one good example of this is the movie Titanic in James Cameron's movie when this Titanic has struck the iceberg and there's chaos cacophony people shoving screaming shouting then the carrot pulls back by about five miles above the ship and you see this tiny little ship on his huge enormous black ocean and you get a sense of how alone everyone on that ship is that long shot serves to establish the isolation of the Titanic before she sinks very powerful tool the overhead shot is also another dramatic shot to use when you want to focus on the height of an environment or useful we want to demonstrate or show another dramatic angle or a setting from a new point of view the point of the point of view shot serves to put your reader directly into the eyes of your character so this immerses your reader into the world you are creating because now your character are the eyes of the reader so when you are deciding what panels to use remember the action flows left to right top to bottom you want to avoid confusing the layouts well that's it I hope you've enjoyed this workshop on how to create your own graphic novel again if you are interested in learning more or want to take a 6 week how to create your own graphic novel class contact Magnum Arts at Magnum Arnett's or send an email to Magnum arts 1 the number 1 at the six-week course will conclude with you having created your own 2 page graphic novel so that you have good understanding of each step of the process thank you for tuning in to this Magnum arts podcast and hopefully we'll see you on a future Magnum arts podcast

22 thoughts on “How To Create A Graphic Novel

  1. This is about writing. The graphic novel part of it is absent.

  2. Superman is not a bland character. Maybe you should read up on the characters that you mention man. I mean no disrespect, but I don't appreciate when people disrespect characters that I love whole heartedly.

  3. Is there a pdf or pps downloadable of these tips? btw thanks a lot! I have a graphic novel project and your tips were so helpful!

  4. Thank You.. Lot's of valuable information especially the part that "You are like a director. Finding the best angles for the best shots for your panels."

  5. i get the point you were making but superman is not bland. he has plenty of flaws

  6. Thank you for the feedback, very gratified that this video is helping people. I actually forgot I had created this video. I am publishing the first installment of my own graphic novel next year.

  7. Thanks man 👍, this video was really helpful, I now know how to make a graphic novel or a comic book and its all thanks to you 😊

  8. thanks for the help. Also you sound a little like Dennis Hopper.

  9. By the way James Cameron did that shot in Titanic because he zoomed in and then had to pee….thats why suddenly it backs up…its him running to the john 😉

  10. A villain's reasoning must be flawed? That's ridiculous. On the contrary, he must be absolutely convinced that his actions are either morally good or neutral. In WW2 Hitler murdered in the name of racial superiority, Stalin in the name of totalitarianism, the allies in the name of freedom. All sides were convinced their reasoning was faultless, and the rest flawed. A good novel does not dictate morality, but examines it by showing different perspectives to let the reader decide for themselves.

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