camera angles lego comic

Camera angles - a guide for Lego comics

This post on camera angles follows the post on camera shots. I will discuss the basics of camera angles int he context of Lego comics. Though you can also use this information for Lego photography not related to comics.

What are camera angles

The term itself says it all, camera angles are the angles at which a photo of a subject is taken. Using different angles can effectively add subtext to an image. By using you camera-angles carefully you can, per example, make characters look like giants or dwarfs, cool or insecure. Also buildings can look larger or smaller than in reality, making them look very impressive or insignificant. Just like minifigures. Besides you can influence the atmosphere of a panel or person. Is everything okay, or is something/ someone off. Choose you angles carefully, you probably don't want to inadvertently convey these kinds of information if you don't intent to.

Types of camera angles

Below are the most used angles

High angle

At high angle, the camera looks down on characters or objects. This makes them less impressive, small and insignificant. The readers seem to dominant the depicted character. Sometimes you can even make the character look scared or like a loser. Figure 1 shows an example, but its impact would've been significantly higher if I shot Willy from a little further away. This would've made him disappear in his surroundings a bit.

On the other hand, this is also a good shot to use to establish surrounding (for example combined with an (extreme) long shot. Also I've been seeing a lot of images from antman recently, these photos also benefit from high angle camera positions.

camera angle high angle lego photography
Figure 1: High angle

Overhead shot/ birds eye/ God's eye shot

An extreme version of the high angle shot is the overhead shot. A very unnatural view of a scene. It makes the readers look down on the characters and surroundings as if he were a bird or in a plane.

It is a distant, remote point of (world) view and sometimes conveys sort of philosophical thoughts and ideas.

Another thing to remember is that it can make characters or objects unrecognizable or look strange from this angle (like hats, parasols or anything for that matter).

camera angle overhead shot lego photography
Figure 2: Overhead shot

Eye-level shot

Eye level is the camera angle which is mostly used. Especially in conversations. This is the most natural angle to most readers and have no real dramatic power. If you deviate from this angle, make sure you think about the why. For example in a dialog scene, you can make a character look more or less significant than its conversation partner.

camera angle eye level lego photography
Figure 3: Eye level

Low angle shot

The low angle shot makes a character (or object/ building) look strong, powerful, gigantic and/ or ominous. You can also use this angle as a point of view (POV) shot from a character. In those cases the readers might share a feeling of awe with the character whose point of view is showing.

Examples in movies of this angle as point-of-view is in dog-movies or the ant-man. In those movies you instantly know you are seeing through the eyes of the dog or small antman whenever a low angle camera shot is used.

camera angle low angle lego photography
Figure 4: Low angle

Dutch tilt

The Dutch tilt is a camera angle that makes the reader feel there is something off or wrong. It's a confusing viewpoint for most readers. Usually we strive for straight lines in a photo (like the straight horizon for example). This is important because apparently human perception is very sensitive to off-levels, especially off-level verticals than off-level horizontals. This means that off-levels will create some sort of tension or confusion.

This angle is used just for that; to create confusion, anxiety, paranoia, danger, mall-intent or mystery. Below, figure 5 and 6 show examples. In itself they may not be as powerful, yet, combined with other angles these Dutch tilts camera angles become much more effective indeed.

camera angle Dutch tilt lego photography
Figure 5: Dutch tilt

 

example camera angle Dutch tilt lego comic
Figure 6: Another example of a Dutch tilt

What angle to use

Under normal conditions try to shoot a eye levels of your characters. Many lego comics out there are shot with high angle shots and doing so makes the Lego minifigures unintentionally look small, make everything look much more artificial than it already is and can take the reader out of the story.

However, it can look dull only photographing at eye-level. I myself change the angle of a shot a little to add some visual diversity to my comic. In these instances I'm always careful not to overdo it because I don't want to inadvertently add subtext to certain panels.

Camera angles vs. lenses

You can use any camera or lens. Especially smartphone cameras are so small they can easily be set at the angle you'd like. Yet, this (currently) still comes at the price of lowered quality of the image and I'm quiet attached to my RAW-images.

In the Foolish Lego comic I rarely use a low angle shot. And when I do, it's mostly not that effective due to technical issues. My camera (a Pentax K1 with f100 macro lens) needs to get very low and close and is often too large to get it where I want. And when I do get it in place, it's usually too close to be able to focus. In future I'll try to still use these shots and post-process them (for example shoot from further away and then crop so the character seems to be closer), that's what I did to get the low angle shot in figure 4.

In conclusion

There you have it. These are basically the most important camera angles to know. When thinking about shooting the scenes for your Lego comic make sure to use the right shots and angles. Combine camera shots and camera angles to make the best of the composition of your Lego comic panels besides adding all kinds of subtext.


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cover guide to camera shots lego comic

Camera shots - a guide for Lego comics

Your Lego comic will consist of one or more scenes. Of course, these scenes need to build. And the actual building blocks of scenes are the so called camera shots. In this post I will discuss the basics of camera shots in the context of Lego comics.

What are camera shots?

Camera shots are camera positions related to how much of the subject and its surrounding area is visible in a panel. Not be confused with camera angles. Camera angles provide the shots at different angles. I discuss camera angles in separate post.

Choosing your shots and angles carefully will help you convey information about the story you are telling. Like, where you characters are, who is present, how everybody is positioned related to each other, if there is anything going on besides the main action, any emotions that need extra attention, etc. An example of conveying information is combining a full-shot (see below) with a shallow depth of field (remember your aperture settings!) focussed on a specific character or purpose, can tell your readers who is present in this scene whilst also directing the readers to the person or element you’d like them to focus upon.

Besides these functions you can also alternate camera shots to make your comic visually more attractive. Some Lego comics out there have very static panels which, in my opinion, make comics visually less engaging.

Anyway, you’ll want to try to keep the readers of your Lego comic engaged in multiple ways so choose your shots carefully.

Types of camera shots

In general, there are two types of camera shots; framing shots & function shots. Framing is defined by how much is included in the shot; function about what the purpose of the shot is.

Framing shots

First; any shot that includes only one character is called a single. Furthermore, a shot with two character included is called a two shot, one of the most essential shots of storytelling.

example two-shot lego comic
Figure 1; Example of a two-shot (ch 2 ep 8)

If the shots are focused on characters; there are usually called character-shots. Figure 1 shows examples of several character shots.

character camera shots lego comic
Figure 2; Character camera shots

Below, I listed a few of the more well know camera shots. However, the naming and definitions of all these shots might vary somewhat.

  • Extreme long shot, shows the general area of the current setting. For these shots you would have to build a large stage. This shot all about scenery and gives your readers some idea of the geography your scene takes place in. I haven’t used these shot in my comic yet, simply because it is too much work to build such a large stage. However, I might use it in future using micro builds of a city or forest for example.
Example extreme long shot lego comic
Figure 3; Example of extreme long shot. Establishing shot, showing the geography, general mood and more (ch 2 ep 1).
  • Long shot, (wide shot); still is about scenery, more  specifically showing where the action in the scene takes place. This time however, there (mostly) are characters present in the shot.
Example long shot lego comic
Figure 4; Example of a long shot (ch 2 ep 51)
  • Full shot; a complete view of a character. There may also be more than one character in this shot, showing what the relationship between characters is.
Example full shot lego comic
Figure 5; Example of a full shot - single (ch 2 ep 148)
  • Cowboy (American shot); a variation of the full shot, where the character is in view from the wast up. This comes from the western genre to show the gun-holster on the characters.
  • Medium shot (social shot); the character(s) from the waist up. For example characters at a table or behind a counter/ bar. This shot brings your readers closer to the characters and into the action.
example medium shot lego comic
Figure 6; Example of a medium shot (ch 2 ep 7)
  • Close-ups (personal shot);  there are many variations of the close-up and brings you readers up close and personal with your character. With Lego there are no subtle emotions that can’t be seen from a medium shot, however mostly it does change the feel of a frame if you move in real close. The variations of a close-up are;
    • Medium close-up: mid-torso and up. In my comic, this is the tightest shot I used up until now. The tighter close-ups did not seem to bring me any extra.
    • Choker: from the throat up.
    • Tight close-up (big head): just below the head, cutting of part of the hair.
    • Extreme close up (Italian shot): even less of the head is visible in the frame. You can also use this for objects; for example only a knife, or part of the character.
example medium close-up lego comic
Figure 7; Example of a medium character close-up (ch 2 ep 131)

 

Example close-up object lego comic
Figure 8; Example of an object close-up  (ch 2 ep 18).
  • Over the shoulder: a shot where we are looking over the shoulder (close-up) of one character to another character/ object (medium shot or close-up). It ties two characters or a character and an object together.
example over the shoulder shot lego comic
Figure 9; Example of an over the shoulder shot (ch 2 ep 60)

Function shots

  • Establishing shot; A shot that shows the readers of your comic where the action is taking place. Besides giving the readers a ‘where’, it can convey much more information; what’s the weather, is it a busy, hectic place or the opposite, are we in a rich environment, is there a lot of police in the street and much more. The possibilities are endless. Usually an extreme long shot or long shot is used.
  • Reaction shot; shows the reaction of a character to some kind of event or text. Usually a medium shot or close-up is used.
  • Insert; a part of the larger scene that gives your readers extra information about what is going on. For example a clock showing time or a name on a name tag. Usually a close-up is used.
  • Transitional shot; A shot between scenes that is not a part of either scene. This can help for atmosphere or give some information. For example a sunset or sunrise, or a busy street indicating that the workday has begon.

Camera shots vs. lenses

If you’d like to get all the shots straight out the camera you will need a macro-lens, certainly for the medium shots and close-ups. Alternatively you can photography your scenes as full shots or bigger and crop the images in an image-editor (for example: Photoshop or GIMP). If you edit afterwards, use the highest quality images you can shoot with your camera to prevent having too much noise in your images after cropping.

For the really tight shots, you might need a combination. I use a f/100 Pentax macro for most of my comic photography and should I need anything tighter than a medium close-up, I’d probably need to crop in post-processing after getting in as close as I could with my lens. Thos Lego minifigures are really small after all.

In conclusion

When I started my comic I had no idea of camera shots. I only varied shots to make the panels look different from each other so the comic looked better. Over the years I started thinking about my panels and the shots more and more. I have to admit, it makes shooting the comic more amusing, thinking about how you want to shoot the frame to use as a panel, how to get information across. Yet, I still have a long way to go, especially because Lego is a very different medium than the more classical comics out there and I have to figure out how to use these camera shots in Lego.

Are you a Lego comic creator? Do you ever consciously use camera shots?

Next time: camera-angles


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Shadow on book

The premise of your story

Shadow on book

The premise-line, possible consequences of not having one

Story-wise, the first Foolish Lego comic was written on the fly. I just shot my episode and got stuck somewhere near the end. Also I started wondering what my main character -Barry- was actually doing, he was more or less riding the waves in stead of causing them.Far to late a learned about the concept of a premise-line.  You need to know what  your story will be about and the premise line is THE primary guide  for developing your story lateron. It was too late for my first comic. However, I decided to write one for the second chapter of the comic. Yet, I abandoned the premise-line before fully developing it, because of time-constraints. Eventually, I did have a notion of where I was going, but the faulty premise-line is now the cause of difficulties writing the later part of the story.

What is a premise-line?

I really suggest you start developing your premise line before you start writing your story or script. At this moment I am working avidly on the premise-line of the third comic-chapter and I know it will pay off when developing the story itself. The premise contains, amongst other components, the primary story structure, important character(s), the conflict and ending. If you develop a good premise line, you can always return to it if you’re stuck writing your story.

The Seven components of a premise-line

A brilliant book on the premise line is: “Anatomy of a premise line” by Jeff Lyons. It comes highly recommended. Basically the information in this book will help you identify the core structure of your story.

In short; there are usually seven components that you need to identify:

Character:

Who is the main character, your protagonist?

Constriction:

Your protagonist is inhibited in some way. Maybe material, usually a deep belief or moral. Whatever it is, this is what’s driving him in his daily life (even if your protagonist doesn’t know this is what is driving him; a moral blindspot).

Desire:

Your main character wants something. And his/ her actions are directly or indirectly related to this desire.

Focal relationship(s):

Usually there are one or more persons your protagonist talks to. And through these conversations your readers will get a deeper insight into the thoughts and desires of your main character. These relationships are part of the dramatic focus of your story.

Resistance:

Of course there is someone or something that is the opposing force!

Adventure:

Because of all the elements mentioned before, your protagonist will (choose to) end up in an adventure.

Change:

And in the end, the adventure will be over. Your main character will have changed… will have a better understanding of him- or herself… for better or for worse.

As you can see the first chapter of my comic missed a few elements; Barry being the main character; there was no constriction, no real desire, he didn’t really choose anything in the adventure part and he never changed. If anything; Amida or Darryl would’ve been much better candidates for a main character.

The structure of the actual premise-line

After you identified all elements, you can create your premise line:

When some event provokes your main character to act (not react), your main character joins with one or more people acting on some desire until your main character’s actions are met by opposing force - creating the adventure - leading to a transformation of your main character, for better or for worse.

  1. When some event provokes your main character to act (not react)… [combine Character with Constriction]
  2. …your main character joins with one or more people acting on some desire… [combine Desire with Focal relationship(s)]
  3. until your main character’s actions are met by opposing force - creating the adventure - [combine resistance with Adventure]
  4. leading to a transformation of your main character, for better or for worse. [Change]

Take you time developing

Developing a good premise-line can take a long time. Yet, in the end it’ll all be worth it. See it as a map to your story, a map to find your way when you get lost writing. And remember that if your premise-line doesn’t work, you’ll probably get stuck writing your story too. Besides, thinking, developing and tweaking the premise-line turned out to be a lot of fun. Especially, when suddenly all elements fall into place!

 


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lego man stepping out of comic

Definite guide to creating a Lego comic

lego man stepping out of comicHow to create your own Lego brick comic?

Last updated: August 28th 2018

Have you been thinking about creating your own Lego comic? This article can help you get started and will discuss the most important elements needed  to create a Lego comic (or brick comic as it called within the AFOL community).

Eventually, all that is written here is what I learned working on the Foolish Lego comic. So you don't need to make all the mistakes I made during the course of my own comic. Although, to be honest, maybe making mistakes and learning from them is the best way to go. My workflow certainly changed over the years.

Table of contents

This article is meant as a general overview of the process and will be regularly updated to reflect the latest insights. Also, over time I will discuss most subjects mentioned in this post in separate more in-depth articles.

1. What budget do you need to create a Lego comic?

To decide what budget you will need, you will have to decide first wat quality comic you would like. Afterwards you can think of the amount of money and time you will need to budget to create the comic according to the standard you'd like.

1.1 What quality do you want your Lego brick comic to be?

The quality of your Lego comic is important to consider early on. First of, there are many aspects where quality comes in; the core story, the photography, composition of the comic, your website and consistency of publishing being amongst them. And all elements ask for differing skills. Ultimately, in the beginning you are probably going to have to prioritise and concentrate on one or two elements. Eventually, over time, the quality will improve when your comic is up and running and you start adjusting here and there.

Consequently, the level of quality you want to bring to your comic will determine your budget. Many people will only consider the financial budget. However, there is another, arguably more important, commodity you will need to budget; your time!

Man thinking about the budget for his comic
Contemplating the budget for his comic

1.2 What will your financial budget be?

First of, you don’t have be a millionaire to create a Lego brick comic. For example; you could create a brilliant comic with a couple of minifigures in a ‘normal world’ backdrop. For this, you can use natural lights or the lamps you have lying around. Also, you can use your smartphone as a camera. Furthermore, there is free software available to do some post-production on your photos as well as for creating the actual comic. Finally, you can publish your brick webcomic on a free website. There are quite a few awesome Lego comics out there made on a small to modest budget.  And some, if not all, of them started small and grew over the years.

On the other end of the spectrum you can go for professional cameras including several objectives, studio lights combined with smaller specialised lights, soft-boxes, tons of Lego, a computer with premium software, etc…

Ultimately, Keep in mind you can make it as expensive or low-cost as you want. I recommend start small, focussing on one or two elements. And, eventually expanding over time, each time focussing on a certain aspect of your comic.

1.3 What amount of time are you willing to spent?

Anticipate the time you want to put into creating your Lego brick comic! At first, I myself gravely underestimated the time that went into creating my comic. Especially since I am a real nit-picker.

I assume the end of all Lego comics have to do with time-constraints. So, balance your time and be realistic about it! Basically, you will have to accept there will be mistakes and not everything will turn out as anticipated.

2. What equipment do you need to create a Lego comic?

There are some essentials you will need to get your Lego comic up and running. I can advice you on what kind of equipment you’ll need. However, I can’t advice you on exactly what equipment to buy. A lot depends on your specific needs, location and funds. Besides, there are many specialised reviewers out there that can do a far better job than me on advising you on the incredible quantity of equipment on the market.

So, what equipment do you need to create your Lego comic? Listed below are several options.

Lego: goes without saying. Though, surprisingly, there is an example of a Lego comic produced without the use of Lego. The artist uses the Lego Digital Designer (LDD) software. He's still working on it and I'm hoping he'll publish his comic somewhere next year.

Photo Camera: Anything goes; a smartphone, compact camera, system camera or a Digital Single Lens Reflex-camera (DSLR). Each camera has its own advantages and disadvantages. Some equations you can ask yourself are: What quality do you need?  Should your camera be pocket-size or can it be larger? How flexible should your camera be? What configuration options would you like? And of course, what is my budget. Arguably, if you decide on a DSLR I also recommend getting a macro-lens. The moment I got my first macro-lens resulted in a landscape shift of quality of my photography. Before I forget, one of my favourite accessories is the camera remote! First it helps with keeping the image stable. Second, it sometimes provides me with a extra hand, since I can operate the remote with my teeth (not recommended ; ) ).

Tri-pod: Crucial to get the sharpest pictures! A tri-pod is also essential for some of the trick photography if you are into that.

Lighting: My favourite light comes from natural light sources. But if you want to have any control over your lighting I recommend using artificial lighting. At first all sorts of light in and around your house will suffice. If you want to step it up; it is good to get daylight lamps. These lamps emit a spectrum of light near that of emitted by the sun. And the use of the right lamps is important for consistency and post-production purposes. Other options for lights include smaller specialised lighting.

Softbox: Is helpful for decreasing reflections on your Lego minifigures. Besides, using light boxes creates a more diffuse, softer lighting of your Lego scenes.

Studio: Well, not exactly a studio, but it helps to have a dedicated location in your house to use for your photography. A place where you can leave everything as it is between photography sessions.

Computer + software: I know some people create and upload their comic only using their smartphone. Yet, a computer with image-editing-software, comic-creation software, or other software you might want to use is much more superior. Especially if you want to upgrade your technical quality. Also a computer is essential if you want to create and maintain your own website.

‘Other stuff’: tape, fun-talk, paper-towels, clips, backdrops, a bit of wire, etc…

3. How to get ideas for a Lego comic

Finding ideas for your comic can, at times, be challenging. For me at least, this is one of then harder parts. But first things first.

3.1 What kind of Lego comic do you want to create?

First you will have to decide what kind of Lego comic you want to create. Will you develop short stories, or long epic stories? Maybe an ongoing series with specific characters or will it be one specific setting? A soap-opera maybe? Or would you rather create short 3-4 panel gags? A combination? There are many possibilities. Each of these options will have different consequences for the way you want to develop your story.

3.2 Story idea, character and conflict.

To start with you will need an idea that will enable you to create a story out of the idea. Essentially a useful story idea consists of two parts; character and conflict. Essentially conflict is your story or at the very least drives your story. Furthermore, the conflict needs to be directly tied to your character, he or she needs to play a central role and be essential for moving the story forward.

3.3 Write down your ideas for a story

Ideas for stories come at the most peculiar times. So I’m always prepared. Sometimes I cary a good old fashioned notebook with me, yet mostly I have a cross-device-syncing writing or notes app. Many people use Evernote, also great for research. Yet, my favourite writing app is Bear (Apple only). Many simple note taking software will do. So, as long as it synchronises fast between your phone and your computer, you’re good to go.

3.4 How to get inspiration for a story

There are many approaches to discover useful story ideas and I will present you a few of my favorite techniques.

The most obvious advice is to simply watch a lot of movies, read books and comics/ graphic novels! Whilst doing this look at the story on a higher level, aiming to find out what the movie, book or comic really is about? Are all these stories really different, or can you find the common themes amongst them? When using this technique be sure to create your own story, do not simply copy/ paste the story itself. Nevertheless, you can copy the basic story structure, as many storywriters will probably have used a commonly used structure themselves. More on story structure will follow lateron.

The aforementioned technique is a great way to get inspired. However, to do this on a regular basis you need a lot of time, which I don’t have. So, alternatively, I read the flaps of books, abstracts and such. Concerning movies I scroll through the synopsis on the net, like IMDB or wikipedia. Both of these can be done anywhere, however I prefer to read the flaps of the books in an old-fashioned bookstore (over here in Maastricht we’ve got a great bookstore), in the process, just for fun, buying a few books too.

You can also combine the basic ideas of books, films and comics. For example; “A zombie run bar” = Walking Dead meets Cheers; “Two bad-ass cops blow thing up in space” = Lethal Weapon meets Star Trek. There are endless possibilities.

Popular amongst Lego brick comic creators is using a well know setting and creating a Lego counterpart. There are for example Harry Potter Lego Comics out there, or comics based on a mixture of Star Trek and Star Wars. This is a simple way of starting out in fleshed out world with established characters, though, mostly, during the course of your comic most things will probably change according to your own personal preferences.

Another possibility is doing research on things you like. The Internet makes this very easy, there is soo much (obscure) information to be found. For me subjects would include; Mythology (I particularly love Greek Mythology), mysterious places in the world, local folklore, secret organisations, etc. Reading up on subjects you like, will probably spark basic ideas.

What I sometimes do is set an alarm clock for ten minutes and then just start writing, ideas words, connections, names, ect. It does’t really matter what you write, there is no right or wrong. You need to keep writing for the whole ten minutes, don’t stop, don’t cross anything out, don’t think. Then, after the ten minutes are gone, you may take a look at all the stuff you wrote down. And only then make connections and see if anything viable is in there. Most of the times, you will be amazed by what your brain can bring up!

In conclusion; there are countless techniques to get inspired for your comic of which I mentioned only a few possibilities. However, using (a combination of) these techniques should get you going.

3.5 Character-driven story or plot driven-story

Besides stories (in this article character-driven stories) there are situations (plot-driven stories). As you will read about in Paragraph 4, a character-driven story needs all kinds of elements to be classified as a character-driven story.

The main difference is the your central character. In a character-driven story, your character drives the story and as a result (s)he undergoes a substantial change. Your protagonist at the end of the story is a different from the person at the end. In a plot-driven story (situation), your protagonist gets into a situation (s)he has to solve. The story is driven by the plot and not by your main character. (S)he mostly reacts to what is happening, but does not  really change as a result of that adventure. In the end, everything is essentially the same as in  the beginning.

The story-development-section of this article is mainly about character-driven stories, however, maybe you'd rather have a comic about a situation/ plot-driven story (as many brick-comics and blockbuster movies and series are).

4. How to develop a story for your Lego comic

Developing your story can be done in several ways. However, not all believe this is necessary.  Some develop no story at all and simply start shooting their comic, seeing where it’ll end up. Others write a basic story-line and leave the minor elements for later. Lastly, some develop each and every detail before starting shooting pictures.

I tried all of them. The first Chapter of the Foolish Lego Brick Comic was written on the fly, the second one has a basic story-line. The third one will probably be fleshed out relatively well before I start shooting it. All the methods have their own pros and cons and it’s up to you to choose. Be flexible though. I mean If you start with a story, you might want to change the script on the fly. This will most likely improve the story you had in the first place.

Whatever option you choose, I would like to give you one specific recommendation; ‘write or create with the end in mind’. Try to think of an ending of your story right at the beginning. It’s good to have a goal to work towards. The first chapter of my Lego comic was created without an end in mind and, oh boy, did I mess up the ending.

4.1 Premise line

I suggest you start developing your premise line before you start writing your story or script. You need to know what  your story will be about and the premise line is a primary guide for developing your story. The premise contains, amongst other components, the primary story structure, important character(s), the conflict and ending. If you develop a good premise line, you can always return to it if you’re stuck writing your story.

A brilliant book on the premise line is: “Anatomy of a premise line” by Jeff Lyons. It comes highly recommended. Basically the information in this book will help you identify the core structure of your story.

The basic template for a premise line is as follows;

When some event provokes your main character to act (not react), your main character joins with one or more people acting on some desire until your main character’s actions are met by opposing force - creating the adventure - leading to a transformation of your main character, for better or for worse.

Developing a good premise-line can take a long time. Yet, in the end it’ll all be worth it. See it as a map to your story, a map to find your way when you get lost writing. And remember that if your premise-line doesn’t work, you’ll probably get stuck writing your story too.

4.2 Story structure

Then develop the story; write the outline. For this purpose you might want to take a look at several proposed story structure templates that are out there. Some are written for movies -like ‘Save the Cat’- and some are more general -like ‘The writer’s journey’.

I myself like using the structure as described in ‘The writer’s journey’ by Christopher Vogler. This book also comes highly recommended.

Some people argue that using these templates may lead to formulaic writing. While that may be partly true, many of the stages described in such a template can be very broadly interpreted leading to numerous variations. Beside, you must keep in mind, that you can always deviate from templates, you can change hem, add elements or leave parts out. Nobody will force you to use all components. In the end, these templates are here to help you, and if you get stuck in your writing, it is nice to have some structure to fall back to.

Man developing the story and writing the script of his comic
Developing the story and writing the script of his comic

5. How to write a script for your Lego comic

In a script you will write the field of view, action and dialogue, including key elements that need to be in a panel or on the page. And at this point my individual panels come to life in my brain. I can see the photographs before I set them up and shoot them.

The most essential component of the script is getting the dialogue clear. Knowledge about how many and who’s dialogue goes into what panel is crucial to the composition of the photographs. Will person A need to be on the left or right from person B (who talks first?), how much room will I need in the photo to be able to place my intended dialogue, etc.

I usually don’t have the script for the whole story ready before shooting. But it is good to have at least minimally one complete scene scripted before shooting one or more episodes within that scene.  Sometimes I stray a little from the script when need arises, but mostly it is pretty accurate.

6. How to build stages for a Lego brick comic

Once you know where the characters in your comic will be going you are going to have to build one or more stages, assuming that you will build your stages from Lego bricks. Sometimes it won’t be necessary to build Lego stages; for example when you situate your comic in a real world environment, or when you only use existing lego sets.

When building sets, think about what will be in the panels. Don’t build the stages too large if you will only use a small part of them (you will be amazed about how small some stages can be), on the other hand, don’t make them too small if you plan to use long shots or have a lot going on.

Also, think about how many sides you need to build. Usually two sides/ corner is enough, but these days I build complete rooms with four removable walls, so I have the freedom to shoot from different angles.

Finally, think about the amount of details necessary. This will will partly depend on your planned camera shots and angles besides aperture settings.

I build Many stages in the past, some better than others. I wrote a blog on The stages I build for the first chapter of the Foolish Lego brick comic if you want some examples.

7. Photographing Lego

How to photography Lego is a much heard question. Essentially, it is not that different from 'normal' photography. However, photographing Lego for the purpose of a comic comes with a few extra issues to keep in the back of your mind. Of course you can choose to ignore all these issues if you want too. Simply because you are the boss. However, using guidelines to work with these issues can really improve the technical aspects of your Lego brick comic. Following are a few aspects to keep in mind when shooting the panels for your comic.

7.1 Camera shots and angles

Changing the field of view, using differing camera shots and camera angles is at first good simply for the purpose of making the episodes look a bit more attractive. Many Lego brick comics have episodes showing multiple panels with nearly the same photo, whilst only the dialogue changes. Thus, visually not very  stimulating.

Yet, there are more compelling reasons for changing your camera shots and angles, they are very effective for adding subtexts to your panels. For example, you can help the readers focus on the elements in the panel that are important for the story at that moment. You can also create tension, drama. Also, you can manipulate, deliberately confuse or mislead your readers.

Camera shots are about how much of the subject and its surrounding area is visible in one panel. Using the relatively well-known long shots, medium shots and close-ups will take you a long way. Camera angles provide the camera shots at different angles, adding the subtext. At first remember to try and photograph the minifigures mostly from their perspective/ eye level and not from above. So, get down to their level!

7.2 Composition

Composition is the way you arrange your scene. Again, there are several compositional guidelines you can use to increase the impact of your scene. Remember, these are not rules and you may deviate from them if you want. As a matter of fact, sometimes the deviation from these guidelines is what makes a particular scene come to life.

Many people can create amazing photo’s without knowing anything about  compositional rules. However, I often hear or see that people unknowingly/ instinctively shoot their best photos keeping to one or more of these rules.

Some of the more well-known guidelines are: rule of thirds, golden ratio, centred composition/ symmetry, leading lines, rule of space, balanced elements and the use negative space. If you’d like to step up your photography, at least knowing these guidelines exist is welcome. However, for the shooting of comic panels the following elements of composition are crucial;

7.2.1 Have your subject in focus.

See to it that the main subject of your panel in focus! It’s a small effort, but makes your photos look so much better! It is one of the first things that readers will notice, even if they don’t care about anything else described in this blog. Blurry faces of the main character within that panel looks as if you did a rush job and don’t care about quality. Of course there are exceptions, but remember that exceptions are intentional!

7.2.2 Make important subjects stand out.

Isolate the subjects. Thus, making it clear from the beginning what or who the main subject in a panel is. You can use several methods to achieve this. An important one is controlling your depth-of-field, by changing your aperture-settings. For example; you can give lesser elements in the panel a more shallow depth of field. Or by using a shallow depth-of-field combined with a minifigure in focus will make that minifigure really stand out of the hazy background.

Other methods for isolating your subjects include the placing of the elements in your panel, exposure and background-elements. For instance, busy backgrounds will make your subject stand out less.

7.2.3 Pay attention to your background

Try and make the background as fitting to the story you’re telling as possible. It’ll help engage your readers. Of course, you can also play a little with the background; are there lesser stories in the background for the readers to find? Maybe you want to include something that is important to you, or a bit of inside information in a panel. Maybe there are people or objects that will play an important part later on in the story. Anything goes.

7.2.4 Dialogue

As mentioned earlier, do not forget to leave room for dialogue! it helps me to create the text-balloons before i shoot the pictures. That way I can already visualise the space necessary for text, besides helping me decide if I should cut back on text.

7.2.5 Relationship between panels

Finally, when dealing with multiple panels within one scene consistency is important too. Remember where everybody should be from panel to panel. And don’t forget to move the the world along with the central characters within the scene. If you only move your characters and leave everyone else untouched it will look like time has stopped.

man photographing Lego for his comic
Photographing Lego for his comic

7.3 Lighting the scene

In the beginning it is mostly important to see to it that your central subjects are well-lit and not too dark. Second, you will want some consistent lighting between panels and episodes of your Lego brick comic. And when you’re getting more experienced you’ll be wanting to do more. Below are a few elements you might want to keep in mind.

7.3.1 Lighting setup

There are many guidelines describing how you could light your scenes and characters. A the very least see to it that your main characters are well-lit. And pay attention to the background too, especially if there a re important elements in the background, see to it that these elements stand out, for instance by putting an extra light on it.

7.3.2 Exposure

Exposure deals with the amount of light captured by your camera and is directly related to the bright- and darkness of (parts of) your panels. Normal exposure is similar to what our eyes see, overexposure happens when too much light is reflected into the camera, resulting in a brighter panel and underexposure happens when little light enters the camera, resulting in a dark panel.

However, the right exposure is not the same as normal exposure. Maybe you purposely want to over-or underexpose (parts) of your panel, related to the mood you want to create in your panel.

The three factors you can use to control exposure are; changing the amount of light on (parts) of your stage, changing aperture settings (also influencing depth-of-field) and changing shutter-speed. Remember, slow shutter-speeds combined with using a tri-pod are mostly no problem since your Lego  scene overall will be pretty static. Changing your ISO-settings can also brighten your photo. However, it is not a part of exposure itself, since it does not influence the amount of light that reaches your camera sensor. It solely brightens the image after the sensor has already been exposed to light.

7.3.3 Color temperature

Color temperature is crucial to convey the mood and atmosphere of a scene. You can use color to influence your readers. For example; if you shoot a panel in yellowish light, you will convey a sunny day, maybe even happiness of your characters. Shoot the same panel in white blue-ish light and you will convey coldness (or a distant relationship between characters). Red may convey warmth or danger, a minifigure shot in a green environment might look sick (or it might seem like the environment is sick or something is terribly wrong).

7.3.4 Dealing with reflections

Lego bricks have the annoying tendency of overly reflecting. Especially the heads of Lego mini figures have this problem. Just when you think you’ve got your scene lighted correctly the reflections are posing problems. I try to get them out of the shot by moving the lights ever so slightly (or tilting the lights), or by turning/ moving/ tilting the object that has the annoying reflection. You’ll be amazed how often it helps to tilt a minifigure just a little bit. Another option is diffusing the lights, for instance with a light box.

In the end, you probably can not get rid of all unwanted reflections. In that case, just see to it that no crucial parts show the reflection (like the middle of the face or some other important printed part). Thereupon, you can get the reflections out by using software like photoshop.

8. What post-production is necessary?

After you have photographed all your scenes. Mostly you’ll want to do a little post-production. I always use Adobe Photoshop -combined with one or two plugins- but of course there are various options to choose from. A high quality free solution is  the GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP). Eventually, using the software of your choice, there are several aspects you might want to take a look at.

8.1 Cropping

Through cropping you can correct or fine-tune a panels’ composition if need be. I don’t do this very often. Usually, I try to get the composition right in camera. Lastly, note that when you resort to cropping, your photo should be large enough in pixel-size otherwise you might loose quality.

8.2 Removing reflections or other imperfections

I discussed the reflections in the paragraph on cinematography. Mostly the ‘other imperfections’ comes down to removing specs of dust. Especcialy macro lenses suddenly show dust  I often didn’t notice with my bare eyes.

8.3 Color correcting

Color correcting is necessary whenever I don’t have the right colors available as lights. If your camera has a RAW-setting, shoot your photos in RAW. Thus, the most (color-)information is incorporated in the photo which is important for post-processing. If not available, always shoot in the highest quality.

8.4 Lighting corrections

Sometimes a photo doesn’t come out like I wanted with respect to lighting. I try and correct those issues in post-production. Sometimes lighting up certain parts of the image to get more attention to that part, or darkening some part(s) of a picture. This takes some practice, and if done right it looks pretty good. However, never as good as lighting a scene correctly ( in my case ;) ).

8.5 Special effects

Special effects are always cool to incorporate in a comic, as long as you don’t overdo it and keep it related to the story. Ghosts, lightsabers, light-beams, lightning, rain, flying objects/ minifigures, explosions, walking through walls. Whatever you can think of, it is possible. From time to time I will be posting (Photoshop) tutorials.

9. Put the Lego comic together and save it

In the end everything comes together when you create the actual comic. You have the script, you thought of a basic panel layout, you have for photos and you have the texts you want to use. In this step everything comes together. Tweak each page and panel until you’re happy with the result and you’re good to go.

Again there are several options to put the comic together.  Some use photoshop, GIMP or similar software. But, these come with a learning curve. I myself use specific software to create my comics: ‘Comic Life’. It’s not free, but it saves a lot of time for me.

After you have your comic completely to your liking, consider adding copyright-information, save it and don’t forget to optimize the image for the web!

10. How to share your Lego comic

I presume you want to share your comic with other people in stead of keeping all your awesomeness to yourself. Again you have several options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages:

10.1 Your own website

As the creator of a Lego brick comic, I believe you should try and set up your own website. Sure it can be a lot of work at first, and it may be difficult to get some traffic towards your website. But in the end your Lego comic deserves its own little home on the Internet. A home where you as creator are in charge and you are not dependent on how others believe your creation should be treated.

These days it is fairly simple to get a simple website going. There are many options for websites. You could also work with a (low-cost) provider. I recommend using Wordpress with the comic-press or panel theme or another theme of your choice combined with the comic-easel plugin.

10.2 Social media like instagram

There are a few Lego brick comics published media. Yet i myself am not a fan of giving all control of my comic to a third party.

I only know that there are Lego brick comic on Instagram. On the one hand, there are a few disadvantages. For instance, instagram messing up the chronological order of the comics. Besides, there is no adequate navigation. Just try and get to the first episode of each Lego comic listed below as fast as possible. On the other hand I hear it is easy to build a large audience fast. Currently, I don’t recommend social media for posting your comics. But who knows what the future might bring.

10.3 Forums

I have seen a few comics shared on a forum. This outlet may be nice if you have a few experimental comics and you want some feedback from likeminded people. However, if you are getting serious about posting a longer run of Lego brick comics, you should go for one of the other two options.

11. Go and get your Lego brick comic up and running!

I’ve given you an overview of many aspects to consider if you’d like to create your own Lego brick comic. Not all aspects are equally important and of course it is up to you, how  you want to organise things. The most important aspect, of course, is to simply have fun! Enjoy conceiving, creating, publishing your own comic.

So, what are you waiting for? Go off and create your own comic! And don’t forget to let me know if you do! That way I can read your comic and add your production to the ultimate list of Lego brick comics.

I will update this article periodically and link to in depth articles on several subjects.


Other posts on Foolish Bricks that might interest you:

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Lighting a scene; lighting a subject part 1

I hate minifigures… sometimes

Sometimes I really hate Lego-minifigures! There, i said it! “Why?”, you ask? Well, for two reasons actually so keep reading to find out.

Mostly people think that the problem with Lego-minifigures is their limited movement capabilities and minimal possibilities of conveying emotion. While these two things do pose a problem sometimes, overall, these things are no problem and actually force you, as a photographer, to be creative in order to get the most emotion as possible out of your minifigures. I happen to like that.

How to get more emotion into photo’s of minifigures? There are many options; the one I’d like to discuss now is lighting the subject; in the studio.

 

Three point lighting principle

Many of you might know about the three point lighting principle. This principle can function as a basic template of how to light your subject. This concept was created for theater purposes, so every actor on stage was lit by three lights, one 45 degrees to the left, the other 45 degrees to the right and one behind the actors. The primary reason was that everyone in the audience would see the actors optimally, no matter where their seat was. Basically this principle is still used a lot, of course with many variations.

In many pictures I tried this too; however, it almost never looked very good because I didn’t have the proper lights. Nevertheless, I kept trying and now that use a range of daylight-lamps combined with lights from the company Brickstuff I’m finally getting there.

Lighting your subject this way, brings it to live, conveys different emotions, brings depth to your pictures and many other things.

The three point lighting system states that three lights are used:

  1. A key-light: the brightest light hitting your minifigure. This is also the light that needs to look like its coming from a logical source within or outside of the borers of your frame/ scene.
  2. A fill-light: a softer light that will fill the shadows produced by the key-light.
  3. A backlight: a light at the back of the subject, opposite of the key-light, this will separate your minifigure from the background.

Variations

As I said, there are many variations and additions, dependent on what the scene is about. Sometimes more lights are added to light the actors, though some of these are better not used on minifigures; an eye-light is useless in minifigures (I sometimes add this subtle effect in photoshop), a kicker (a light that hits the shoulder/ side of the head) should be used with care and a costume light. That last one is self-explanatory and might be helpful for lighting the torso and legs of the minifigure.

On the other hand, sometimes one or two lights are enough, a dark side of a head introduces a different sentiment in a scene than a head that is lighted frontally for example.

 

In practice

Some of you might have seen that I seemed quiet happy with this photo. The main reason was that it was the first time I successfully lighted Dwaas exactly as I wanted out of the camera and didn’t need any photoshop to adjust lighting at all. I used three light, a key on the left frontal 3/4, a backlight straight behind Dwaas and a small kicker on the left of Dwaas.

There were two versions the one published, is the one without the kicker. One of the readers mentioned in a comment that he found Dwaas was a little too dark; I guess that’s a matter of taste. The kicker does add a little more lighting from the right separating Dwaas from the dark. However, I like the fact that Dwaas (who LOVES the dark), is mostly in the dark, like the mystery he is to most people around him. Below you can see the difference with or without the kicker.

In the comic

lighting comic

Of course this image is very conceptional. So I am trying to incorporate variations of this principle into the comic. You may notice these principle in, amongst others, this episode. Panel four is based on this principle. The key-light from the left front is a little lower on Dwaas’ head to express dark thoughts, there is a fill-light frontal above and a backlight from the store-window. There is also a kicker from the right with the same warm light from the store. In each panel the lighting is adjusted a bit. More on that in another post.

 

So, do I really hate Lego-minifigures… sometimes?

Oh, I started this post stating that I hate Lego-minifigures sometimes, can you guess the reasons? Well, the minor one is that there are no shapes so the shadowing mostly falls a bit flat. The other (really annoying thing) is that minifigures reflect like crazy! That messes with lighting setup and is the main reason for using photoshop. I managed to avoid reflections in the dark photo of Dwaas, but that is not easy and I still need to refine techniques for that.

So, how do you light your subjects? And if you are a Lego/ toy-photographer; how do you deal with those annoying reflections


Dwaas befriended a rat in his house

Lighting a scene; white-balance part 1

White-balance red

 

I never considered myself a good (Lego)photographer, there are so many great toy-photographers out there. Yet, I am getting there, slowly but surely. This year I will write some blogposts on the things I learned over the past five years I’ve been photographing lego. This first episode is on white-balance. It is very, very basic; but at the time it was a real eye-opener to me… showing how little I actually knew about photography. Makes me wonder how many basic things I am oblivious to.

To me, the hardest part of lego photography is lighting indoor scenes, composition of a scene coming in as a close second. There are so many factors to consider before you can take the shot. In the beginning I didn’t really look at specific lighting at all. I just saw to it that my subject wasn’t dark and that was about it. At some point I started paying a little bit more attention, using the lights I had in and about the house, lightbulbs, Leds, iphones, etc… The photos back then didn’t really come out my camera the way i wanted. So i would turn to photoshop and correct them as much as I could. However… I couldn’t really get them right. I had no clue what I was doing, shadows everywhere, uneven lighting, reflections… etc.

The problem: white-balance

One thing I found very, very annoying was the fact I couldn’t get the color temperatures/ white-balance right, At first I thought I could solve that problem by just shooting in raw and post-processing the white balance in photoshop…. again, it didn’t work. Even two photo’s that were lighted approximately the same way gave completely different results at exactly the same settings for color temperature in photoshop.

I considered that was a huge problem for the comic. In those times I shot each episode the day it went up and for the better part I couldn’t get them consistent (just take a look at the first comic and you’ll see).

The crucial finding… providing more problems

It took me some time to figure out that not every light had all colors incorporated. For the comic episodes I used more than one type of lamp, all simple home lamps, all with different types of lightbulbs. Furthermore, for each episode the scene was lighted a bit different because I moved the lamps and so their light wasn’t evenly distributed. I didn’t notice with the naked eye… but, as a result, in post-processing I couldn’t get the temperatures the same.

To solve this i bought daylight lamps. And that solved most of that problem! At least the scenes were lighted the same regarding temperature. So most of the time I shot all photo’s in those lights (I became afraid of all other types of lights) and then corrected the white-balance in Photoshop, coincidentally introducing more problems. It was a lot of work, I had to remember all kinds of settings and, not surprisingly; mostly these photo’s looked artificial even when i longed for a more realistic look.

Solution(s)

Nowadays, i don’t let the lights control me anymore, i control the lights! I still use the daylight lamps, but added smaller lights with different colors and temperatures whenever necessary (I got them at Brickstuff – check them out!). That means more consistency and less post-processing and more time for the shoot itself. Yay!

White-balance moodTwo different moods, in one scene. Is Dwaas inviting the rat from its cold and lonely hideout into his warm and cozy area?

At least now I know how to basically get the white-balance right. However, there is so much, less basic, stuff to now and learn. I’m working on that and hopefully take you along for the journey.

So if you are into (toy-)photography what was something very basic you didn’t realise at first? And how do you deal with the white-balance in your photo’s, straight out of the camera, or mostly in post-processing?


Lego comic stage

Stage-design of the Foolish Lego comic

Now that the first episode is done and over with I recently took down the sets for the first comic. I don't systematically keep track of how they are build so all I have are a few photo's of the sets taken from a couple of different angles. If I should need one of these sets in the future I can hopefully recreate them pretty accurate from these photo's.

I've already shown little bits and pieces of these sets, but now that their really gone I'll share most of them with you. Sadly some of the sets are already lost, without photo's (the cafe-set from one of the early episodes, or the escape-tunnel with entrance and exit for example). Many other sets are existing Lego sets, sometimes with a few tweaks (for example the very first episodes on the street).

Looking back at them they are quite small and simple. As I understand from some readers they imagined them to be (a lot) bigger. That's nice to hear because -mainly later in the comic-  I tried to make the sets a little more extensive than necessary so there is a feeling of space outside the borders of the panels. It also helps making different angles of shooting the individual scenes more diverse when necessary. Most of these sets have one or two walls. For most shots that is sufficient, but there were times that I needed a wall on the other side, so I quickly put something together and put it behind the 'actors'. (an example is the last panel in THIS early episode).

As I am always complaining about time, the set-building was an important issue. Many times I wanted to move on in the comic,  but I just didn't have the time to go and build these sets I needed for the new scenes. It didn't help that I didn't have a complete script either, this kept me from the possibility of building when I had the time and using the set when necessary in a future episode. Thankfully Eno was a very green planet... Putting down a green baseplate, and just sticking flowers, trees and plants on there has helped me on a lot of occasions... simple, quick and effective. That explains the many forrest-scenes :).

In the new episode I have no such luck; most, if not all, of the story does not take place in some kind of forrest. Nevertheless, as I mentioned a  few times before, I do have a general script this time around and already three sets have been build! This weekend I will start on the fourth (important) set, whoho :D ! That feels so liberating!

One thing I have noticed is that the set-design has changed for the new chapter. they are larger and technically more difficult. Complete environments, and a lot of elements that can be removed, returned and changed. This makes it that I can shoot from all angles. I did not do this for the first scene though, and I noticed I was missing two walls, so the next scene will be different in the angle-aspect. Also this time there really IS off camera space with some details no one will probably ever see in the comic. When this episode is finished I will post pictures of the sets.

So here they are:

The front of Strabo's little shop...

Lego comic stageAnd the inside, one of the few (if not the only) set in this batch that uses both sides of the wall.

Lego comic stageStrabo's shop

Lego comic stageand his library..

Lego comic stageand the basement, I used this one for a single photo once btw...

Lego comic stageAmida's celldoors

Lego comic stageThe inside AND the outside of Amida's cell!

Lego comic stageThe portal. The trees and green are all re-used

Lego comic stageThe cave entrance. My favorite set! I loved sculpting these rocks...

Lego comic stageThe backside however.... not so nice ;)

Lego comic stageThe second portal, with lighting under 'Willy's eye'

Lego comic stageAn elaborate set, very underused. A complete backstory attached that was never used in the comic. Many different things are going on in this set. Oh and did anyone notice a picture of Dwaas on the wall? :)

Lego comic stageThe largest set, but also quite easy. A tweaked existing 'hobbit-set', used for the sequence in the past (one of my favorite parts of the comic, but also the part that cost me the most time because of all the photoshopping).

Lego comic stageThe dragonshrine. This one I did not take down, I like this little build too much. Actually the shrine was build for a 365-photo with Willy before I even thought of putting him in the comic if I remember correctly.

Lego comic stageInside the sanctuary...

The hallway inside the dragon-shrine...

That's it for now. Do you recognize all of them? Are they different than you imagined them to be? And if you'd like to create your own comic, be sure to read Dwaas' definite guide to create a Lego Brick Comic.


The workflow of the Foolish Lego comic - Chapter 1

Many readers asked me what my workflow is on the Foolish Lego comic. This post will bring you a general answer to how I worked on chapter one. These days I have a very different workflow.

The Foolish Lego webcomic has, in many ways, been a learning school for me. I made a lot of mistakes, but I got better in the process. I will not elaborate on the mistakes in this post, but one of them is the fact that I don’t have a clear script for this comic. I have a general idea of where it is going and of certain plot-aspects, but I don’t know where the comic is going episode to episode. The biggest problem in this is that the comic turns out to be pretty uneven and sometimes drags. Besides this I sometimes started a mystery without knowing where it was going. On the other hand it gives me some freedom shooting each episode and I notice some jokes come to me the moment I’m working on the episode.

Oh, one other problem this absence of a general script gives me, is that I have relative little time to build sets… that gets me in trouble from time to time so sometimes I stay in a scene too long because I have to find time to build a new set.

For the next installment of the comic, I will have a script though (more on that in another blog-post). Well, enough on this, now on to this workflow.

To be honest the workflow is pretty straightforward.

The evening before publication:

  1. I write the script for one or a few episodes
  2. I put together the panels in text, without the images
  3. I shoot the photo’s
  4. I do a little color correction
  5. If necessary I apply special effects
  6. The photo’s go into the comic
  7. A little resizing
  8. Upload with a little text

The writing of the script is the most time-consuming. Only the story-arc where Willy and Amida were in Willy’s mind was very heavy on the effects, which took a LOT of time, so I was happy when that arc was over.

I write the script for one or a few episodesWorkflow chapter 1 comic

I use ‘Scrivener’ to do this. An incredible versatile piece of software and I don’t use it to it’s full power at all.

Each episode I try to achieve a few things. At the very least it has to be in line towards the end that I have in mind. And I try to give the episode a surprising or compelling end-panel.

Writing the text I also imagine the scene’s to go along with the text

I put together the panels in text, without the images

Workflow chapter 1 comicI do this to get an idea of space in the panels. This sometimes changes the way I shoot the photo’s and helps me envision the scene’s. I’m terrible at drawing, otherwise I would do this in the scriptwriting-phase. I use the excellent software “comic-life 3” for this by the way.

I shoot the photos

For shooting the photo’s I use a Pentax K5-IIs combined (mostly) with a 100mm macro-lens. I shoot the photo’s in Raw-format.

Workflow chapter 1 comicI used to shoot these photo’s all around the house, sometimes even in the backyard in the sunlight. These days I have a small ‘studio’ in the basement. It’s a multifunctional room really. My daughter plays there, my wife works out and I shoot the comics.

The reason I wanted a studio is to get the circumstances the same in each photo, mostly lighting-wise. Also it is good to have a place where you can leave your stuff lying around.

I do a little color correction

Workflow chapter 1 comicI use Adobe Photoshop and NIK-software to do this. (sadly google bought the NIK software, and made it free to use recently… an ominous sign that in the near future it won’t be developed anymore, so hopefully I am really wrong on this one). I also check contrast, sharpness etc.

I don’t do to much correction mind you, just a bit.

 

If necessary I apply special effects

workflow chapter 1 lego comic

When elaborately necessary, this part takes a lot of time. Especially the first time I use an effect. The first time I still need to fabricate the effect (I mostly use Photoshop-tutorials on the Internet, in books or magazines for this.).

 

The photo’s go into the comic

This is the easiest part. I just drop ‘m into the panels I prepared in phase 2. Sometimes I change the text a little.

If my wife is around, she gets to proof-read the episode, which sometimes leads to a change of text and seldom to a new photo….

I save the episode as a comic-life and jpg-file.

workflow chapter 1 lego comic

A little resizing

The original file is too large to go on the internet so I resize it to 1020 x 656 pixels (that used to be 850 x 546pixels). I try to keep the file-size maximally between 500 and 600kb in order to keep loading times on the site as short as possible.

 

Upload with a little text

For the final part I upload the episode to my website (Wordpress combined with the (free but worth a donation) plugin comic-easel).

I schedule it for publication!