The graphic novel of doom!

Geez! long time no see, hu?

I wish I had more time to post over here. Although it’s always a good sign to be swamped in work, it also sucks because I’ve got little to zero time to invest on the site. Anywaaaay, I’m here now, and I thought I’d do an update of what I’ve been working on for the past two months. That is to say, the story board of doom for my graphic novel.

As most of you know, I’m working on a book which I’m hoping to release this year (if Odin allows…). I did a little “test drive” before I started to tackle the whole deal. My drawing has changed lots in the last two years and this time around I wanted to actually get what I wanted out of it and not ‘something’ akin to what I wanted because I was rushing the whole process to make it to a deadline (word of advice, I know that we artists tend to work strictly around time tables but if you have a personal project, let it simmer and dedicate a proper time to develop. It shows when you are rushing). I did a 10 page trial which actually came out pretty good. I could even see a difference between the first page and the last page, which is always a good sign that the book as a whole would be awesome.

However I had to stop to draw the story board.

I wanted to dedicate this post to the ORDEAL that is, drawing storyboards.

I’ve drawn them for commercials, animatics for animations and of course for comics (be it comic strips and comics) and although the process tends to be overlooked in many cases -especially comic wise- it really helps you out to lay out the bases for your story and prevent mishaps, or plot holes etc as you go on.

Personally? I always drew a story board before  drawing a page. HOWEVER I never EVER drew a story board for an entire graphic novel, and it’s proving to be … hard, and tedious and …. to be honest, something I want to skip entirely to do the fun part: drawing the pages.

The ten pages I drew, were storyboarded but once I finished the sequence, I sat down to draw them :D

Right now, I’m *almost* done, after two excruciating months of story boarding. I know I will have to change some stuff once the whole story has been put into little thumbnails, BUT at least I’ll be closer to what I really want to do: DRAWING. And even when I thought once I finished the SB I would not want to draw the story (since I have it already on thumbnails, why would I bother to draw it *again*?) I really can’t wait to set down to work!! yay!

In any case, I wanted to drop by and write down a few tips for story boarding in case you want to layout your future projects. I really, really learned a lot this time around, and I thought I’d share it with you guys.


What you’ll need:

My nice materials ^^

This is what I do. I’ve found that it works pretty well, especially to the people who like me, are not cinematic geniuses and who struggle with composition and with setting the scene in general,

  • 1.- Litte notebook
  • 2.- Sketchbook
  • 3.-Scissors
  • 4.-Pen
  • 5.- Glue
  • 6.- Correction tape
  • 7.- Bond paper






The Whys

Now onto the whys of my chosen material.


I started the SB with a pencil. Being careful of my little thumbnails. Trying to do my best to get things out of my head and on the paper.

It does work. however I don’t recommend it, because

A) the pencil smudges: In the end you have to rely on chemicals to make it stick to the notebook. And believe me, when you story board you go back and forth on the notebook. it’s hard to keep things intact and pretty once the pencil is on the white page.

B) you are trying so hard to get things the “right” way, that you end up erasing, and erasing and erasing and the whole process becomes painful.

You MUST REMEMBER this is just a thumbnail and that sometimes the scene will change once you fit it into a panel. once you start drawing the page (I will explain this further later on).

Pen allows you to be spontaneous and direct and if you need to correct a utterly ugly thumbnails that’s what glue and bond paper is for! :D



This is pretty much self explanatory. As you can see I have a notebook for the comic, which stays at home and which I scan every once in a while…. Buy a big one so you have a sufficient amount of space to write down all your story without the risk of running out of pages. YEs, you could use two notebooks but when you need to tighten up a story (graphically) it’s always best to have just the one notebook. I know that there is a wide range of sketchbooks to chose from, but go for the cheapest. This are just notes. As long the paper resists to have things glued on, you are good to go.


Little notebook;

I write all my ideas in this notebook. The big one is just for the thumbnails. it’s my guide for the story and even when I could write a note or two about a scene or the action that I’m trying to convey but my brain is not cooperating and therefore the thumbnail is not coming the way I want.

I write quotes, or reminder and this time around I have all the useful historical facts that I can’t miss.


Glue, corrector tape, bond paper, scissors:

Well, this is to cover up mistakes (as you can see in the image). Works nice and the best thing is, everything remains in one place!


you can see the white bond paper sticking out!
you can see the white bond paper sticking out!

The Process

This is simpler than eating a cake, I’ll tell you.

When I start drawing a story board I do not worry myself with the page. I only worry about the scenes. My comic is a movie, and so I need to focus in how the scene will be set to convey the emotions, the message and of course the specific reactions I want from the reader, so that the story would work as I want it to.

so I start out drawing thumbnails like so and I write the dialogue or the action below. This helps me a lot, because in a graphic novel the dialogue is next to the characters. It’s very common to do a full drawing with zero spaces for the dialogue. Take this into consideration when you set the scene.

little thumbnails. This doesn’t have dialogue but, should it had any, it would have been below each frame.


Then I compile this ‘frames’ into my page like so

 the page

The only thing I do take into consideration is that the size of the panels and the disposition within the page equals to NARRATIVE.  and here it is the tricky part of doing a page, because…. uhm… how can I put it… Ah yes! when you are watching a movie the pacing of the film is set on how long a scene lingers on screen (in a nutshell). Well, in comics it is the same. The size of your panel sets the pacing. The smaller your panel is, the quicker the action. The wider it is, the slower it is. Of course close ups are also meant for detail and attention. You want the reader to pause and look at that thing inside the panel.

Of course there are… differences in narrative. obviously. On top of my head there’s Watchmen who has symmetrical panels setting the pace. So the ‘quicker=small panel’ really doesn’t apply here, but as you can see, there is a purpose for the size of the panels and when you compile your frames into one page, you should always ask yourself, Why am I putting this panel here? Which kind of reaction  I want to get from my readers? Since the comic is a…”still” art, you have to be *very* clear on every frame. If the reader keeps wondering “what is happening here” your story might crumble into pieces.

Narrative in comic has nothing to do in the order of events or the events themselves, like it would be in a book. It has to do with the way you present them. In book terms it would be with the order of words you chose to describe said event.


Obviously I always try to have pages that are pleasing to the eye, but…. you know it all depends. The pages are the last thing I do because once I start drawing, sometimes I find out that I was missing a scene and stuff, so things need to be arranged. Pages for me are never set in stone, but of course I always try to stick to the plan unless something is really very askew or NOT working at all.


Ant that’s it.

In general I think the highlight of my day was to draw half the storyboard with a pen. I highly recommend you to do it this way. I hope this tips help out someone out there to make the story board process less miserable. :P