Storyboarding your narrative
As with many things creative, there’s a lot of ways to storyboard your idea. I am by no means prescribing how storyboarding should be done, only that I use storyboarding as a tool to develop my narrative at the visual level.
One thing that’s helpful to understand is that the act of script writing and storyboarding is pretty fluid and they lend themselves to one another. In fact, I believe that a healthy back and forth between the two is very necessary in order to convey the right tone, idea, and visuals. For example, I wrote my script with a visual in mind and added cues in my writing where I felt necessary, but once it goes into a quick sketch, there are things you can absolutely convey without text, and vise versa there’s some antecedents that require more context from the writing side of things as well. Storyboarding absolutely helps with sussing out the type of narrative you desire, so it’s important to be flexible and let the process flow.
Use a script to guide your visual narrative
I write out my scripts like scenes where I have both dialog and non-dialog displayed, and I experimented with various layouts before I ended up with the below script template example. This is what works for me:
SCENE 1, EXAMPLE
[I use this as a way to convey action, scene, setting, or anything else that might be non-dialog. There’s unlimited ways to write and layout a script so try different things to see what works.]
Character A: “Hopefully this helps with ideas for how to layout a script.”
[I use this as a way to indicate some sort of action or non-dialog.]
Character B: “Do what’s comfortable and works for you.”
Character A: (smiles) “Couldn’t have said it better myself!”
Don’t worry too much about the fidelity
Your storyboards don’t have to be perfect, in fact it’s better if they’re not so you can make adjustments without a lot of revision work. Think of your storyboard like a rough outline of your graphic novel. Each moment conveyed should take small strides in telling your story. Your storyboard overall is meant to save you time, so once you get to the illustration, coloring, and lettering portion of the process, you’re a little bit more foolproof when it comes to revisions, which can take a lot of time and that’s what we’re trying to save by adding this to our process. In the image below I’m using the webtoon scroll format because I think it lends itself beautifully to the handheld device medium.
You want to convey just enough information in your sketches so that if a stranger were to pick up your storyboard and read it, they’d know exactly what’s going on with no context whatsoever. Your storyboard is also going to fill gaps for you and let you know if you’ve left out any important details in your narrative.
It’s ok to take shortcuts
Making a comic is a huge time investment, so creators are always looking for ways to optimize the process. I use acon3d for things like settings and backgrounds and view the models in Sketchup. Though it’s best to take this into account when you’re storyboarding so you can grab the models and angles that best fit your workflow.
Ask for feedback and revise as necessary
A storyboard will allow you to look at things holistically, which is a beautiful aspect of adding this to your process. Also, don’t be afraid to share with friends and ask for feedback in areas you feel might need more attention. I love getting detailed and actionable feedback:
Good luck with your storyboarding process!
Thank you for the support. ♡
I do not have much in the vein of new art for you, so here’s a sketch I doodled this month of one of my OCs, Ryn. Why’s he so grumpy anyway?
I’ve been diligently writing episodes and outlines, but hopefully I’ll have some new artwork to share with you soon. 2023 is off to a great start. I successfully launched Tiny Chicken Island, (the sticker shop inspired by all the drawing I’ve been doing for the comic) and it’s kept me pretty occupied. But I promise you I have not neglected TBS that much, I’m making good strides. Comic production for Season 1 is slated for April 2023. More news to come soon!
Thank you for the support, I hope you’re having a good start to 2023. ♡
2023, Happy New Year
Here it is, the artwork I promised…and just in time for 2023. I hope you like it, I enjoyed working on it. I’m still trying to find the creative styles that suit me, and this has been a fun learning opportunity. A new year means new opportunities for creativity and growth!
Let me give you a little background on the new artwork. It’s all my favorite characters from season 1 (which starts production early this year by the way, I’m so excited!). Oriole, Ryn, and all the fun support Onyx Guard characters: Bolse, Imaris, A’zahl and Thome. This has inspired me to actually make a similar layout with the ‘bad guys’, which could be kinda awesome.
January is going to be a very busy month for me. I’m actually launching a sticker business that was inspired by all the drawing I’ve been doing for The Barrier Scroll. The name of the shop is called Tiny Chicken Island, and I’ll be selling island themed stickers that hopefully bring you joy 🙂 Opening day is January 20th, 2023.
Things I aim to do more of this year:
1. Comic panels
3. Welcoming uncertainty
5. Eating better
7. Pouring into cups that pour back into mine
8. Prioritizing my needs
9. Embracing difficult conversations
10. Making time for the people I care about/care about me
Things I aim to do less of this year:
1. Force, chase, or beg
2. Negative self-talk
3. Let my empathy impede my self-respect
4. Dwell on failure
5. Compare myself to others
6. Take things personally
7. Hold onto toxic feelings, people, or ideas
8. Be a prisoner to the things I can’t change/control
10. Making time for people who don’t care about me
Thank you for the support, I hope you have a wonderful new year. ♡
Reflecting on 2022
This year has been capricious to say the least. But regardless of how tumultuous it’s been, I have been able to continue to pour my heart into the passion projects I care deeply about. This comic has been a wonderful escape for me for the last year and a half, and within that time I have been able to conceive characters and a world that I love and I hope someday you do as well. That being said, none of this consistency and progress would be possible without time and dedication set aside to work on these things.
Making time for Personal Projects
I recently wrote a post about how to make time for the things you care about and want to be doing. Creating The Barrier Scroll comic is a huge undertaking for me, and something that I was, quite frankly, intimidated to commit my time to. I am by no means an ‘illustrator’ or a ‘writer’…but I want to be. So I try to take what time I have in each day, and dedicate it to something that gives me joy and passion. I’ve given passion projects and personal development a lot of thought and it really comes down to one thing: making time. This little cutlet of insight can be applicable to countless parts of our life. We as human beings can be extremely busy, overwhelmed even. However, it’s important to identify what really matters.
I completed my Book Blurb
I decided to stop putzing around and finish my attempt at a “back of the book blurb”, not to be confused with a “synopsis”–which I am also still very much working on as well. I’m not writing a novel obviously, but the need for some sort of way to entice readers to care about my comic seemed necessary. And what better way than a short pithy paragraph or two that leaves the reader wanting more.
Seasons 1, 2, and 3 are outlined
The story of The Barrier Scroll is something that has been with me for a long time, but I’ve never truly fleshed out the details. When you start to think about story structure and character motivations, it can be daunting, intimidating even to outline your narrative, so I put together a post on how I approached this task. Seasons 1-3 are completely outlined, Season 1 is written, and 2 is well on it’s way, and it’s been so enjoyable to do this since the outline really helps propel the narrative forward for me. I know what I’m writing towards, and rarely hit writer’s block now. It’s been such an enjoyable experience and allows me to look at the story holistically–that way I’m able to plant seeds in Season 1 that won’t come to fruition until Season 3–and I’m here for that.
I drew so much and enjoyed it that I’m opening an (unrelated to TBS) sticker shop
I’ll be honest with you I did not expect so much art to come out of me this year, I hadn’t even planned on it. But I was so inspired my the narrative I just drew and drew, some of it good, some of it crappy, but all of it enjoyable. In fact, I had so much fun drawing and doodling that I’m launching a sticker shop called Tiny Chicken Island on January 20th, 2023. The Barrier Scroll and its progress has reignited my love for drawing and I couldn’t be happier. Also side note, a new promo image is coming soon (totally not sneak peeked somewhere in this blog post) with all my favorite characters and I am so excited to share it as soon as it’s done.
See you in 2023. I’ll have much more to share with you soon, thank you for the support. ♡
Writing a book blurb for my comic
I decided to stop putzing around and finish my attempt at a “back of the book blurb”, not to be confused with a “synopsis”–which I am also still very much working on as well.
What is a Book Blurb? A book blurb (also called a “back-cover blurb” or a “book description”) is a short description of the book’s main character and conflict, usually between 100 and 200 words, that traditionally is included on the inside cover or on the back of a book.
I’m not writing a novel obviously, but the need for some sort of way to entice readers to care about my comic seemed necessary. And what better way than a short pithy paragraph or two that leaves the reader wanting more. I’m currently in the process of garnering feedback on how to make my blurb better on various sites, but I’ll post it here too, and if you’re up for it, I’d love yours as well. I’m at ~182 words.
I’ll post the resources below that I used to get to the point I’m at now. I hope they’re helpful to you as well. Any helpful resources get you to the blurb you love?
Here’s the formula I loosely followed:
1. Grab the readers’ attention
2. Introduce your protagonist
3. Introduce the basics of your conflict
4. The twist or the ‘not everything is as it seems’ moment
5. The ‘stakes’ of your story
The work-in-progress blurb is just below here:
Broken Swords Still Cut.
Seven hundred years ago, Abjuration Barrier Magic ended the East Territories War. The realm is at risk again, only this time, there’s no Abjurer.
The child of a Federation Soldier and a Su’nethian Aristocrat, Oriole is an outsider from birth, hoping someday to find her parents. When her guardian’s life is threatened, Oriole unknowingly casts an ancient magic barrier for protection. Whisked away to the Ivory Ministry in Vaal to harness her abilities, Oriole finds fellowship with the renowned Onyx Guard, as well as an unlikely ally in the dejected soldier, Ryn Alrae.
Now that Oriole has glimpsed a world that perhaps accepts her after all, she is ready to fight to be a part of it. As Oriole’s powers grow, so does the desire by Emperor Su’neth to get his hands on the rare and ancient magic many thought vanished. As the threat of war looms between two nations, Oriole will discover things about herself that will change the course of the conflict, and what she believed, forever.
And that’s it! Here’s the Recommended Resources as promised:
- How to Write a Catchy Back-Cover Blurb that Sells
- A Handy Formula for Writing the Perfect Book Blurb
- How To Write The Perfect Blurb
Thank you for the support. ♡
Making time for personal projects
Creating The Barrier Scroll comic is a huge undertaking for me, and something that I was, quite frankly, intimidated to commit my time to. I am by no means an ‘illustrator’ or a ‘writer’…but I want to be. So I try to take what time I have in each day, and dedicate it to something that gives me joy and passion. I’ve given passion projects and personal development a lot of thought and it really comes down to one thing: making time. This little cutlet of insight can be applicable to countless parts of our life. We as human beings can be extremely busy, overwhelmed even. However, it’s important to identify what really matters.
Stop with the glorification of ‘busy’. The fundamental core of being ‘too busy’ stems from the lack of priorities or the inability to prioritize. Directed at the wrong pursuits, it can pose as a limiting factor to our full creative potential. Half of all parents (47%) said they were ‘too busy’ to read a bedtime story to children. “Despite the fact that 97% agreed that reading before bedtime was beneficial to a child’s development, only a third of parents felt guilty that they didn’t spare the time.”
Carve out time in your daily routine. Block time for lunch. Cultivate regular time for physical activity in your day to service health benefits and thought clarity. Some studies suggest that physical activity can even help boost creativity. Consider opportunities for meditation, yoga, or any other moments for yourself to help improve mental health. Set aside manageable chunks of time to focus on the creative pursuits that are important to you. Tutorials, writing, painting, learning a new skill.
The only way to get good at something is to do it, a lot. The only way to do something a lot, is to make time for it. For example: 1 hour a day ~ 30 hours a month, 365 hours a year = 9+ full time working weeks of personal project time. That’s over 2 months of time you can use for personal projects with simply 1 hour a day, and many creatives say the weekends are when they dedicate the most time to passion projects and personal development.
When creativity strikes, listen. One skillset that I’ve learned to cultivate is writing down your ideas when you’re unable to execute on them. I’m currently knee deep in the episodic writing of Book 2 for The Barrier Scroll. I’m not convinced I would be this productive and excited about getting all my ideas down on paper if I hadn’t written a smattering of random creative lightning bolts down when creativity struck. Some people keep actual written journals (this is wonderful), I use the notes app on my phone–and translate them to an appropriately named file later in Google Docs. I jot down as much as I can to give me context for when next I peek at it. You do your future self a disservice when you write down notes that don’t make much sense later, so be concise as possible and add as much context as it takes for it to make sense to a stranger who has never seen that note before.
You’re not busy, you just suck at time management. Prioritize your passion projects and personal development, and every moment is an opportunity for creative inspiration. Now get out there and be productive and intentional with your time and creativity.
Thank you for the support. ♡
Writing tips: Outlining your narrative
The story of The Barrier Scroll is something that has been with me for a long time, but I’ve never truly fleshed out the details. When you start to think about story structure and character motivations, it can be daunting, intimidating even to outline your narrative.
There are countless resources to plot your story but the one that resonated with me the most was a rendition of Blake Snyder‘s storytelling structure, Save the Cat!, called Save the Cat! Writes a Novel, by Jessica Brody. This story structure, used on countless popular movies and novels, outlines essential plot points, or beats. When you struggle with structure like I do, this is immensely helpful. To visualize this, here’s Savannah Gilbo’s graphic to get us oriented:
I wont go in depth as to what exactly Save the Cat! story structure is, but I do want to stress the importance of structure overall. Structure helps you space out the major events of your story in a way that keeps your reader engaged, without overwhelming them. How do the character’s goals, motivations, and internal conflicts propel the story forward? And why should the audience care?
John Truby, screenwriter, director, and author of The Anatomy of Story says: “Without good structure a story will not work, no matter how good the writing.” I don’t recommend sitting down to write a story from beginning to end and expect it to all make sense when you come out the other end. For most people, to get the best result, you need to apply the craft of story telling and think about what you are doing before you dive in and start writing. Truby says, “Every hour you put into prep work on your story, you save ten when it comes to writing, and rewriting, it…writer’s block is almost always caused by not knowing where the story is going.”
Stories, at their deepest level, explore the human spirit and communicate that truth. Find a structure that works for you, so that your narrative has meaning, and connects with readers.
- The Anatomy of Story by John Truby
- Save the Cat! Writes a Novel by Jessica Brody
- The Trope Thesaurus by Jennifer Hilt
- Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder
- Romancing the Beat by Gwen Hayes
- The Conflict Thesaurus Vol. 1 by Becca Puglisi, Angela Ackerman
- The Emotional Wound Thesaurus by Becca Puglisi, Angela Ackerman
Thank you for the support. ♡
Character Spotlight: A’zahl Hyra
Next up on our Character Spotlight series is one of our Onyx Guardsmin, A’zahl Hyra. Really one of my favorite characters with how much depth he has and how vital to the narrative he is.
Name: A’zahl Hyra Character: Support Character Hair: black Age: 108 (ehh don’t quote me on this) Eyes: red Job: Onyx Guard Height: 6’1” Race: Volga From: Vaal Goal: retrieve barrier scroll Orientation: bi-sexual Want: rescue sister Nicknames: The Magus of Vaal Weapon: dark magic Enneagram: The Enchanter
A charming and quick witted Volga, A’zahl is a member of the Onyx Guard representing the state of Vaal. An extremely powerful magic user he prefers to wear a mask in combat to obscure his spell casting to enemies. He’s secretly in love with Imaris the Cunning.
The Volga have a pretty complicated history with the Federation, especially after a conflict called The Upheaval changes the way Elves view the Federation. However, as centuries pass, stories from generation to generation begin to fade. A new generation of Federation leadership accepts the wrongdoings of their predecessors and condemns the dark history. Opening the door for the remaining Volga to assimilate into society. Some go by way of the Empire, where as others like A’zahl join the Federation.
A’zahl has his own desires and motivations as well, and one of those is finding his little sister Saphielle.
Thank you for the support. ♡
Drawing Process: Phylos Crowmin
Ok story time: A few years ago I befriended a Crow family that lived in my neighborhood. It was a big crow family that was really vocal and loved to play. Hearing all kinds of exceptional stories online about people making crow-bro friends and getting neat little gifts in return I gave it my best effort and started feeding the family. Ok spoiler alert, THEY DID NOT BRING ME ANY GIFTS, but they did demand that I feed them, and were very vocal if I did not. This included banging on my window with such severity that I thought they would break it, as well as ripping up the patio furniture cushions until I came outside with a handful of dog food. Some crows are assholes. I named the momma Crow “Ukiyo-e” because she used to squat down and make this adorable noise that sounded like two wood blocks banging against one another. I was sad when I moved, and hope they’re still doing well.
Just to give you some context on this little guy, his name is Phylos Crowmin. Phylos took Oriole, our protagonist, in when she was tiny. Over the years he has become a father-like figure towards her, and has done his best to shield Oriole from the realities of life, maybe too much. He’s the owner of Caladrius Tavern and Inn, which he inherited after the previous owner passed away.
I wanted to share a progress video on how I drew this character. Enjoy.
Thinking up Beastmin characters is always fun because I can choose animals that I absolutely adore, and Crows are definitely on that list.
Thank you for the support. ♡
Character Spotlight: Oriole
In order to introduce you to the characters of The Barrier Scroll narrative in more depth, I’ve decided to start doing a Character Spotlight series here on the blog. 🙂 Who better to introduce you to first, than our reluctant hero, Oriole.
Name: Oriole Character: protagonist Hair: black Age: 28 Eyes: amber Job: Custodian of Magic Height: 5’4” Race: Human From: Neutral Unitary Goal: confront her past Orientation: heterosexual Want: to find her parents Nicknames: Ori Weapon: defense magic Enneagram: The Caregiver
Oriole is the main protagonist of our story. The child of a Su’nethian aristocrat and a Federation soldier, naturally she’s an outsider from birth. Growing up, Oriole has a strong natural affinity towards magic but was always prohibited from learning spells and never had any formal training. She grows up in the Neutral Unitary and is raised by Phylos Crowmin, a Beastmin who runs the Caladrius Tavern and Inn, with a mysterious past himself (I’ll intro him in a future character spotlight!).
When we first meet our hero, she’s working as a Custodian of Magic in the Library of Phusos (though she’s not very good at it.) Transcribing magic scrolls for really important casters in the region, not exactly the most stimulating of careers. Except for her pal Neeja Uro, Oriole is unliked and even bullied at her job. But with it being the only way for her to save up money in order to dig into her past, Oriole perseveres despite the negativity.
And just like any good protagonist, Oriole dreams of a world beyond the Caladrius Inn, and seeks to find the answers to questions she’s had all her life. What happened to her parents? Who are they? And why did they give her up?
Let me know if there’s anything else you’d like to know about our main protagonist. 🙂
Thank you for the support. ♡