Things You'll Need
- Lettering Guide
- White Out
- Graphic Software
Making a comic strip can be very enjoyable, but it can also be a lot of work. Luckily if you’re trying to integrate a storyline that’s been already written for you, you can focus more on drawing. "Romeo and Juliet" was written by Williams Shakespeare in 1594. Over time it became one of his most well-known plays. Using a story like this with text available on the Internet can build interest to your comic strip.
Planning Your Comic
Plan out what parts of the Romeo and Juliet story you want to put in your comic strip. Ask yourself if you’re going to do the whole story broken up into many story arcs, or if you want to make a continuing serial strip by breaking down the storyline.
Create style sheets of your main characters in various positions. Sketch your characters in profile, head shots, view from left/right, full figure and other poses. Establish a look for your characters before proceeding.
Many cartoonists start with the dialogue or story line, so they know what to draw. Write or sketch your comic strips. In a three-panel strip, cartoonists use the first panel to establish the scene. The second panel shows strong action. The third sets up suspense, delivers the punchline if humorous or encourages the reader to come back for the next strip.
Making Your Comic
Draw your comic strip with pencils first. Start by creating the boxes, or “panels” that your visuals will go in. Cartoonists often draw their strips four to six times larger than finished size and reduce them on the computer. Then, draw your characters in the poses you want them in. You may want to sketch each character elsewhere and then scale and crop within each panel. Include your speech bubbles and rough lettering. Use photographic and cinematic techniques for close-up, medium scene and long shot.
Use a lettering guide and ink pens to perfect your lettering. Your lettering may be bigger than you expected, so draw your speech bubbles last.
Ink the characters and speech bubbles. Use different size pens to vary the thickness and weight of your lines. Do hard shadows in solid black, and use lines or cross hatching for gray areas.
Draw your background by using pencils to sketch it out, then ink pens to make them darker and blend in with the rest of the scene.
Erase unwanted pencil or ink marks by using a standard, soft-tip eraser and White Out or Liquid Paper. Sign your work, indicate copyright if needed and date or number each strip. Put your e-mail or Website between the panels to encourage feedback from your readers and build traffic.
Digitizing Your Comic
Digitize your images into your computer using a scanner. Make sure the whole image is scanned black and white.
Open your digital images in a graphics software program and begin editing. Increase the contrast if you need to. You may want to remove mistakes, crop and increase or decrease the size.
Use the threshold settings or set the layer your image is on to where the white is transparent. Then with a new layer below it, begin painting the background then paint the characters. Be sure to use slightly darker colors and add a little more shading.
Export your new comic strip as a .jpeg. Share your strip with friends, family, colleagues -- and the world via the Internet. Offer it to print and digital newsletters, local newspapers and neighborhood publications. Ask everyone for feedback and use the good ideas.
Since you're using Romeo and Juliet as a base, decide whether you want them to speak modern English, old English or a satirical mix of both.
Though you can take many liberties with the Romeo and Juliet story, try to stick close enough to the theme so that it's recognizable by your readers.
Comics and drawing in general can take a lot of practice. You may find that your style changes or gets better over years of working on it.
It's tough to break into any type of syndication for comics because newspapers change their comics line-up slowly and space is shrinking. The five major comics and feature syndicates receive tens of thousands of comics submissions yearly. Syndicate editors review only a few closely and agree to sign a new creator only a couple times a year. Your best outlets are local newspapers in print and online, print and digital newsletters, and local magazines and other publications. Few will offer to pay. So find your own satisfaction in delighting your audience.
Alex Williams is a full-time freelance writer and videographer who has worked in the field since 2008. He currently attends the College for Motion Pictures & Television and earned the Kiwanis Video Student of the Year Award in 2002.