Thursday, 10 March 2016

PLANNING & BALANCE


Ever since I have discovered my passion for comics, I have made several attempts at creating them. Some were shorter, others a bit longer, though not by much.
'Miraj', (Romanian for mirage) is the longest one by far. The original version has about 170 (badly drawn!) pages, and that's not even that far off into the story... This poor old, all-traditional version had to be put on hiatus.

Firstly, because life at uni got really busy that year. But that could've been overcome if it wasn't for the second reason: I felt stuck. I constantly had to face the inconsistencies in story, design and style and became overwhelmed. Why was this happening? It's not unusual to be confronted with these problems while working on a comic. In this case though, they were much deeper. And they all stemmed from the fact that I jumped straight onto making the comic without a plan (no story, no character design, not even an idea about the many aspects involved in comic making).

They all kind of happened as I went along. Just trying to draw the character interaction, gave me an idea about what kind of people they are. The time consuming aspect of drawing a comic page also proved to have one advantage - it allowed me to think. To think and to figure out parts of the story, plot and others. Discovering all those things was great and all, but those were all choices that I should have made before finalising the pages.

Ironically, my reckless jump was exactly what made it possible for me to get so far in the comic. Because I wasn't aware of the stakes, I had no fear of failure. So I kept going. Until I started to realise my "system" was falling apart. My comic was in need of a remake.

Now fast forward a few years, add a couple more comic attempts, plus some art fundamentals and storytelling studies and here we are. At this point I decided to rework my comic, this time with all the necessary ingredients, or at least as many as I can muster. Now I feel slightly more prepared, although there are some drawbacks as well. Speed for example. Maybe it's because I went from the familiar traditional to the unfamiliar digital, or maybe it's because I'm trying to incorporate all these new things I've learned or simply because of fear, but my workflow is now  a lot slower (even if sometimes I feel a slight burst). Since digital tools easily allow for it, I keep finding ways to improve on the pages. Which is good in a way, but on the other hand, it just means getting stuck again.

Over-planning, constant revision and research can get you stuck, just as much as jumping in with no plan can. All the things you have learned start piling up in a huge mountain of information, and that can quickly become overwhelming. Keep in mind that there is never going to be a moment when you think you are ready. It's important to find a balance in order to avoid getting stuck. So you have to consider if you know enough in order to tell your story the way you want to.

Do a short test first and see what works. If you need to get better at anatomy, study it for a while and try again. Build up a solid outline (and maybe a set of stylistic and design choices) that you can follow, and then learn the rest on the way bit by bit. Yes, that means that some inconsistencies will appear along the way. That is unavoidable. In any long project, improvement will show, and that's a good thing.

As inconsistent as my old comic was, I don't regret making it. I wouldn't have gotten here without it. If you are curious about it, you can check it here.
As for the new version... Well, at this point I would've liked to tell you my logline. Except I don't have one yet (still working on it). So I'm hoping maybe you can get an idea from this first page instead.


How much do you plan? How do you approach a long term project? Share your thoughts!

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