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Author Topic: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories  (Read 5463 times)

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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #15 on: July 03, 2021, 10:24:26 AM »
might as well say it now, there wont be any manga this week either.

I lost 2+ days to side effects from my first dose of "the jab", and spent another day extra at work, so I've lost momentum and all sorts. I'll pick up probably by tomorrow, but it wont be enough to finish the chapter.

I also lowkey expect that I'm only having focus issues because I'm near the end of the project - if it had been longer, I would probably still be on track. something something procrastination something.

I'm not too annoyed because I've still got a lot I can give myself positive feedback for on this project, and really a week or 2 upset was allowed in the original unspoken plan, so it's gone almost exactly to how I envisioned it, but really, better than expected because I went though a lot of hell to get to 11 chapters within 11 weeks, and then and only then did I not manage to keep up with the workload, because of unforseen events. nothing that a buffer wouldn't have fixed, and so it's sort of a non-issue.

see you all hopefully next week with some manga :P
« Last Edit: July 03, 2021, 10:26:34 AM by Suuper-san »
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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #16 on: July 14, 2021, 02:54:03 PM »
well I kinda just about managed to get another chapter out , although I'm epicly far behind my schedule now.

Et Cetera


Whispering Magic

Omega World

Well this project kinda hit a brick wall on the last week of the main work. I’ll explain more in detail about the successes and problems I’ve faced but the following is sort of a raw explanation.

In the week I didn’t do any work, I basically forgot everything. How to draw, all my methods and stuff. Not sure why but I blame work for just messing with me. I managed to regain momentum but took far too long really, about 2 whole weeks from dropping off the running at full speed again. That’s not really a big amount of time but for a weekly artist that’s a massive drop in productivity. Gave me a good glimpse into failure and scheduling conflicts etc. again nothing a decent buffer can’t fix, but all the same I would have liked to have that regular output. Can’t help work messing with my days though, so that’s kinda “not my fault (TM)”. I would have liked to be able to adjust my schedule at a moment notice to keep my productivity high but I think I just got depressed at my plans being changed from an external source, and so in the remaining time I did have, I did nothing. So there’s plenty of room for improvement. It also made me realise that my skill might be more in short term memory rather than long term, and so it’s still easy to forget stuff I’ve learnt when it’s new, probably.
For some reason my quality control was really out of whack for this chapter, perhaps because of the gap of not doing anything I sort of forgot the quality I was aiming at, I was much more self conscious of the low quality I was working at, especially the script for some reason. That might also just be because I’ve had time for my skill to grow over the course of the project.

I found it hard to write anything for this chapter, could have been many reasons. I blame my hay fever as well since I have been sluggish and tired this week in addition to work problems. So that’s been super annoying. I thought it might have been that I was just getting burnout again but it’s more that I just didn’t want to do anything, at all. My eyes are super red and so I think I just wanted to keep them closed and so I ended up sleeping more :P

I finally figured what happened and the probable cause of the slump and the sort of fizzle out of the project. Basically when I was laid up in bed with a bad back I couldn’t do anything, but I thought about the project a lot, like what I would do next and so on, and basically mentally, I started to finish the project off. All the processing that was holding the project in memory started to switch to analysis and processing all the skills I had learnt, and so when I returned to the project for the final chapter - I had started to move on and now the project isn’t the best thing to work on, like I’m already ready to get the next project in gear to learn the next skill. So I had to rewind quite heavily to get back in the correct mindset for this project, which lost me an extra 10 days or so. But it was very difficult to get the quality up and so the final chapters was extra low quality overall, for each story. Basically this project has already taught me what’s a good workflow for drawing/learning manga, and it ISNT the current way I’m working. So I found it hard to get back into finishing off the project “the wrong way”. So sort of I’ve outgrown the project because I had time to process my skills due to being stuck doing nothing in bed for several days. My art quality I think has got much higher since doing this project and so I was working at the wrong level by the end. So many things wrong with this project. I always said I’d learn a lot from it, success or failure, and it’s really been quite a bit of both.

Well this concludes the primary output of my project, I won’t be writing any more scripts or drawing any more pages for the main story now. I will be doing some bonus sketches and pages (the sort of content you see in manga novels, just for fun and project rounded-outness), so stay tuned for the next 2 weeks which I’ll be releasing them. So it’s not quite over yet, but the main pressure is off, and I’ve got so many ideas for improvements and my methods and regimes, which I’ll muse about in GREAT length soon.

This puts my final manga page count at 841 when I finally do the last chapter title pages as well.
This doesn't include all the bonus pages I'm hopefully adding to make them into a book, but all the same a pretty epic number.

General thoughts:

Overall the quality of writing has been epicly awful. I know I can’t even see some of the awfulness because of my lack of experience, but even I can see that it’s just generically bad on almost every level. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me :P

I think that it’s not so much my ability of writing that’s limiting my range of concepts and ideas, but more the fact that I like seeing certain things and so I’ve included the same sort of things in my stories, simply because I tend to like those things. So the lack of variety is more because I’m catering to my own preferences a bit too strongly, perhaps.

I’m getting a sense of writing scripts, or more I’m realising which aspects are the most important. Basically I can generally write a scene once I’ve decided the overall flow, like “the result of the scene”, sort of thing. What’s hard to do is things that I’m not sure why they are there, or things that are sort of ambiguous. So basically better planning of specific scenes at an earlier stage would probably be useful, rather than just a list of things that happen, group them into specific scenes, and it will probably highlight any gaps in the story easier. Perhaps, I don’t know :P

I'm still only at about 30% of my normal maximum so still trying to catch up, but getting there slowly with focus and productivity.

see you all later.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2021, 03:03:17 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #17 on: July 29, 2021, 04:05:18 PM »
Well my project has finally finished.

Started roughly 1st March and finished 28th July, having printed out a physical copy of each volume of my story.
So basically 5 months, to produce 4 whole volumes of manga, 48 normal chapters in total. And almost totally in time with my schedule, only 2 weeks late which is pretty on track I think.

And here they are!

It sort of doesn't quite feel real yet to have such a tangible form of my work, but it totally feels epic to have finished and have something (weighty!) to show for it. Partly I think I'm just really wanting to move forward now and so finishing this project simply means that it's making space for a new one to take its place.

I'll be making a couple more copies of each book because I had some margin issues and so each one has some sort of problem with it that I couldn't figure out until I perfected my book binding method. I've only made small notebooks previously - never a printed book, and never of this size before, so it was a lot of figuring out new stuff, alignment and trimming and so on to get it to the quality I wanted.

In total the books have 938 pages of manga, so thats a lot of pages experience I got in. it was actually a major miscalculation that led to the books having an average size of 235 pages rather than a target 180-200, but I'll talk about that later I'm sure.

I'll be following up with a dump of rambling and statistics, so stay tuned.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2021, 04:27:13 PM by Suuper-san »
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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #18 on: July 31, 2021, 10:22:49 AM »
Project Thoughts

Well as this project was primarily a skill building project, I have a lot to comment on about things that worked and didn’t, skills learnt and how I would do things differently next time. Hopefully this can give someone some tips if they are planning their own manga project, otherwise it’ll help me sort my thoughts and plans out, so bear with my rambling :P

The Goal:

As stated at the beginning, this project was primarily aimed at getting some experience in writing manga, and working to a weekly publishing schedule. Sort of a very low quality version of my “final form” as a professional weekly manga author (wishful thinking), with the hopes that it would highlight any major flaws in my skills and methods.


I did not have any quality target for the writing or the art - all the focus of this project was on the new skills, and to focus on them I had to drop my focus on the art side to have the free brain space.

I did say at the beginning that I would lower the art quality even more if I needed to, to speed things up, so art quality was minimal if not non-existent. It was closer to guideline quality for the most part to be honest.

What went well:

Primarily, I was able to keep a weekly schedule, and apart from the last few weeks (I blame work!), was able to keep up the workload each week. Since this was the thing I was expecting to fail miserably, I was surprised that I was able to stick to my schedule, and in fact, the more the project went on, the stronger I was determined to not miss a week, which helped drive the midnight coffee-fuelled deadline rushes.

While it wasn’t ideal, the fact that I was able to focus so heavily to meet my deadlines, even going into drawing at midnight, showed the fact I have a lot of drive and focus when I need it, but it’s hard to get that level of focus all the time. Having a weekly deadline was useful as it made sure that every week I was producing the right amount of work (as opposed to say, a monthly deadline) I’ve probably been the most productive in terms of time spent working than I ever have previously.

Given that I have only written 4 short one-shots previously, one of which never got finished, I was surprised at the amount of written output I was able to generate. Writing pages of script and panel descriptions etc. All low quality of course, but I think the weekly pressure to write a chapter helped me push past the fear of writing something awful, to write something vaguely alright.

I was initially disappointed at the low quality of the art despite my decision to work at a low quality. But I found this to be a lifesaver on days when I really didn’t want to work on the project. So working below your maximum can really be helpful in maintaining quality over the weeks. This means that I need to raise my maximum much higher so that I can “casually” produce work to an acceptable quality.

I found that despite the art quality being really low, the use of guidelines helped to give the final panels a good sense of depth and form. I was expecting that if I rushed the guidelines that I wouldn’t be able to ink properly over the top, but overall I was able to deal with defective guidelines as they came along and make corrections when needed.

While the project was a difficult one, I did find myself enjoying quite a lot of the steps, when it went well. When I had a good run of words in the script, or was able to have a 2 hour inking session, etc. I felt that if my art quality had been higher, I would have enjoyed it even more, so I’m hopeful that once I go full pro with amazing artwork, that I’ll enjoy it even more.

As always, I worked in bulk pages, in sets of 10. I did try to work higher, but my PC couldn’t handle it. This really gave a speed boost that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Such as being able to draw all the panels in a chapter in around 5/6 minutes. Another advantage is that I don’t have to keep opening and closing files as I work, and I can stay in the flow for much longer. I made a template that had all the layers I needed, named, and ready to work. So there was very little wasted time on the file side of things.

What I found difficult:

Given my lack of writing experience, writing pages of scripts was quite difficult. This broke into a few separate issues:
-Not knowing what happens in the story (lack of plot)
In quite a few cases I didn’t have enough story to fill out a chapter, and so I just didn’t know what would happen between two scenes that I had imagined. That’s sort of not a writing issue but a planning issue I think - I should have planned out the scenes a bit more solidly and that would help to write the script I think.
-Not being confident in my idea
I often had an idea of what I wanted to happen, but I felt that it sounded too clichéd, or just too bad sounding to even write it down. The trouble is, it just stays in your head and you never can move on until you write it down. In almost every case where this happened, after an hour of blankly staring at my screen I eventually wrote the lines I had in my head all along, and they ended up in the final script. So it’s far better to just get everything out of your head and you can better organise and improve it, and also you can't evaluate what’s in your head properly until you give it a proper written form to properly analyse.
-Lack of experience/knowledge
Sometimes I knew what I wanted to happen but I didn’t have the words that I wanted for the dialogue and spent ages trying to figure out what words they would use. A better way to deal with this is to write the general idea or thought content and then fix up individual word choice as part of the script clean-up phase. Again, trying to plan an entire sentence in your head can be difficult, so write anything down and then keep improving it to be what you originally wanted.

This is a skill that I haven’t invested much time into ever - character design (and environment design etc)
I never created proper character sheets for some of the characters and basically drew them from my imagination/memory each time. This casually worked since I had not too many characters in my stories but it was troublesome to remember a characters outfit when I hadn’t drawn them for a week. So really, having a good character sheet to use as clear reference for EVERY character is super important. Also designing the characters looks and clothing is important - to make sure they have a solid personality, motives etc. This will help with writing the story as you can imagine better how your characters interact. I’m still unsure on the best method for this since it’s more of a writing skill, so I’ll have to figure something out for next time definitely.

As I got near the end of the project I found it much harder to write chapters of script. I’m not sure exactly why, but I suspect I was starting to gain the first level of analytical ability, and I could see how badly I was writing, and this made me lose the little confidence I had. Ultimately the deadline helped to force me to write a chapter each week. I think I was also getting a little fed up of the project, and so I was less emotionally invested in it, which made it harder to focus, especially as work got a bit more hectic near the end of the school term.

Although I was working at a non-existent art quality, I still tried to draw things as properly as I could at that quality. Drawing special effects, especially magic, was really difficult. I think that’s mostly because I’ve not drawn much of that, so I just didn’t know what I was aiming at. The same with some of the building shots - I knew the “feel” I wanted, but had none of the know-how to actually draw anything close.

Overal my focus for this project hasn’t been great and I procrastinated quite a bit at the beginning of each week instead of knuckling down and getting on with it. I think partly that was because I always unsure if what I was doing was working, or if I was doing things the right way. But thanks to the weekly deadline and me always working out predictions (“at this rate I’ll have to draw for 12 hours on Sunday!” kinda thing), I was able to get myself into working through the project quite reliably. But I would hazard that I was still only at about 50% of my maximum focus, if even that. Looking I feel like I could have done even more with the time I had available.

I also spent a lot of time, especially in the second half, wanting to go back to illustrations and just my normal WIP work. Perhaps that’s just because I was giving 100% into this project, I started to miss my normal art that I do. It made me wonder if perhaps I didn’t want to do manga, and do illustrations instead. Until I try a larger project I won’t know for sure, but I didn’t feel massively upset while I was doing this project. It would have been nice to have some time for more random sketches and little unrelated artworks all the same.

Skills learnt/developed:

Even when I knew the next line I was going to write, I found myself hesitating a lot due to lack of confidence. I managed to get over some of that my having an even lower level draft script, a “pre-draft” level, which I could ramble a bit more freely (like I do on MR), and then pick and choose parts to put into the first draft.

Near the end of my project, I found myself able to focus harder at the beginning of the week to reduce the massive rush at the end. Only the beginning of this skill though as I still found myself procrastinating a lot until the crunch came.

I started this project not sure I could even write a story at all. I finish this project confident that I can write a massively confusing badly written story. This is the first step in gaining more writing confidence. I think because of my art experience I am improving in my writing faster than I did with my art, and I’m also aware of confidence/skill pitfalls to avoid and so on, so I think my writing will get better with minimal issues, as long as I keep pumping the time into it. This was definitely a sub-goal of the project and I can definitely say that I can write a chapter of manga quite confidently now. It might take me a while to get my fingers typing the idea, and it will definitely come out badly, but I’m confident I can do it now.

I had some workflow issues that I was able to improve, especially on the “Turning a script into pages of draft manga”.
I originally started by working through the script, drawing each page and sectioning it off as I went. But it was quite stressful, and was hard to work the script to be the right number of pages (and I’m not redrawing the whole draft to adjust the page count!)
I broke this stage into 3 steps:
-Pagination - breaking the script into page lumps of panels
-Panel Draft - just drawing the right size panels without concern for the exact content angles etc
-Underguides - very massively simply guidelines showing the position of each character in each panel and the speech bubbles.
This helped to get through this task much more easily, and what was originally a stressful step became something that I could handle quite comfortably. This stresses the importance of not trying to do some massive thing all in one go, and break it down into simpler smaller steps.

I found that because I was drawing the same characters so much, I started to simplify my guidelines and I was still able to draw the same character with minimal issues. I’m not sure how this will scale up to working at high quality, but I’m quite confident that as I gain in skill I will need less and less guidelines to be able to reach the same quality of work. In some cases I drew the sketches without guidelines because the guidelines were so wonky I basically free-handed the panel. I was “projecting” a lot more strongly than previously - imagining the lines I needed to draw without any guidelines at all.

Not really relevant, but I’ve learnt to print and bind a book the size of a manga volume for the first time. I’ve only made small notebooks previously and so didn’t have any large-scale book experience. Half of the skill in printing a manga book is related to how the digital copy is produced, so this does have some relevance for when I would get a professionally printed book at some point in the future. Working with good margins, bleed areas etc. After a few practice volumes I was able to get the quality quite consistent, and for a handmade manga book, it’s almost perfectly indistinguishable from the real thing.

With regard to margins, I knew that printing my manga would always be an issue from the first chapter as the manga template I was using wasn’t the right proportions. I deliberately left this to focus on the bigger issue of actually producing manga, and only half way through did I recreate the template to be better for printing. The original template was centred on the page, but the new template has a left/right version with printing in mind.


Global Statistics

The entire project took 482 hours. I’m quite sharp with my timing, so this is only hours of solid work. If I started browsing YouTube I would stop the timer etc. I predicted 500 hours, so that’s bang on, really.

Overall it took on average 9 hours to write and fully draw a chapter of manga. This was almost exactly my prediction I made at the beginning of 10 hours, based off the time it took to do certain stages of work in my Dark Strike manga. So generally I didn’t get much faster than I was already going, but I’m pretty fast to begin with these days, so that can’t be helped.

Here's how much I worked on the project each week:

I struggled to hit higher than 35 hours a week, even when I had pending work for the following week. I hope to be able to improve on my focus and break through that barrier next time. Generally though I put a consistently high amount of time into the project each week, except the blip at the end. The fact that I was able to put so much time in when I was also at work (but part time) really shows the amount I have grown in my ability to focus well, and I hope to improve it even more in the future.

Here’s the number of hours work to produce each chapter of manga each week:

Generally the first few weeks I spent more time on each task as I was unsure of what I was doing, but as the weeks progress You can see the chapters were easier to complete in less time. I sort of didn't get much faster past the halfway point, so that's probably when I hit peak efficiency.

Some general stats and totals:

Each project took almost the exact same time in total and had very similar numbers when comparing each statistic, so I won’t compare them much here except with my shiny graphs. I’m sort of glad that they took the same amount of time as it means I was working at a stable rate, but I was hoping to see that the simpler project Et Cetera would take less time than a more complex project Whispering Magic. Which it actually did - Et Cetera took 110 hours and Whispering Magic took 126. Not really a massive difference, but perhaps enough to show I was right in my expectations.

I was glad that the time per page was quite low - only 30 minutes per page, writing and everything. That’s a massive drop from the 1hr40min from my previous project, and although the art quality is scrappy, I feel like I’ve learned just as much working at this quality, and more, since I’ve been able to do more stuff in the same time.

A very interesting chart (sort of a gantt chart) I made shows the level of work done each day in the week. You can clearly see the cascade of work as I work on projects on different days, as well as the rush on the last day where I’m working on each projects for hours. This is my favourite chart although it’s not very useful, just pretty :P

A taller bar means longer time spent each day on each manga. Hopefully that’s clear.

And another version where the darker the bar, the longer spent.

These charts are quite interesting as it shows in the beginning I solidly worked on each project in turn, but in the second half of the project I worked evenly on each project at the same time (writing all the scripts first, then drawing all the guidelines etc) This really shows the importance of eliminating context switching in my work, as it’s much easier to a long stretch of the same task than to keep jumping around. When the project got harder, I naturally switched patterns of work and this really helped.


I was very meticulous with my recording of how long it took to do each stage, as I wanted some definite metrics to help with future projects.
Probably the best chart, same as last time, is the time spent on different tasks in each chapter

As always, the main drawing takes up the most time, with the main writing a close second. I think there will always be stages that naturally take more time than others, so it’s not worth trying to make them quicker if the project loses quality.

I broke down some of the main tasks to see how this varied each week.

Script writing

I was honestly expecting to pick up speed with my writing as I gained experience, but perhaps I was being a bit too optimistic about how much skill I would gain over the project. Overall it seems the time didn’t change from beginning to end, and probably varied with my mood each week rather than any other factor.
I found it easier to write scripts one after each other, rather than doing one entire chapter and then moving on to the next one. That’s definitely a context switching thing, it’s much easier to keep momentum for one type of task.


This showed a much better trend of getting faster from week to week, and I was definitely trying to go faster with the guidelines. I found that I could lower the guideline quality and still ink the pages to the same quality even if the guidelines had errors and mistakes (because I notice the mistakes while inking and make corrections). I think it’s possible to get even faster but I’m not sure how the quality would fare.


Again there is a general downward trend of speeding up a little with my inking, but each chapter has wildly varying values. I think complexity of chapter definitely had an effect on drawing time (obviously), but I was working faster near the end of the project definitely.

An interesting but ultimately pointless metric is how many lines of script make how many panels of manga. This varies massively because some panels will have a lot of description, and others will have nothing but the character’s dialogue, and I’ll draw the panel off the top of my head. But there was a definite more script=more panels trend.

Ending Thoughts:

Overall this project has done exactly what it set out to do, and almost perfectly in the planned time as well. I give it a solid 8/10. It could have been better if I hit all my deadlines, and focused better when I was working, but otherwise I can’t fault it.

I’m sort of annoyed that it took 5 months, but 12 chapters @1/week is 3 months anyway, and once you add planning and bonus sketches etc, it's going to take a while. That’s sort of how it goes with large projects. If the project had been any shorter I don’t think I would have noticed some of the long term stamina issues that I hit and had to deal with.

I have gained a lot of experience and confidence for the rough work and planning stages of manga writing, and especially got a lot of experience with writing a story from a plan. I am confident that I could have taken pretty much any idea and written 12 chapters and made a volume from it.

I originally planned to have some time to do my normal WIP work, but the project took up all my available time. I think if I did another larger project like this, I need to have a week break where and there where I just relax and draw random stuff to fulfil those urges and then get back to the project again. 5 months is a long time to not draw cute girls ahahaha. I sort of got some enjoyment drawing my chapter title pages, and put a lot of cuteness in those when I could, but I’d still like to do more illustration work when I do manga in the future.

The biggest change I would make to this project if I did it again would be not to do each chapters work sequentially. I would write the entire thing, all the chapters, and then move onto drafting all the pages, and then finally drawing all the pages, all in one go. I think that would give a massive boost to speed and efficiency. I think I would still need to have deadlines set up to make sure I was working as quickly as possible and not just working less, but efficiently. I want to be massively productive after all.

Moving Forward:

The major thing I have learnt from this project is that it’s hard to gain skills when you’re working on a complex project like this one. I was spreading myself a little too thin even with my precautions. So if I want to improve my writing any more, I’ll be doing writing-only projects - writing scripts or short stories, on their own. This will help to focus on them without worrying about drawing the art side of the story.

I’ll be going back to my normal random sketching and studies for a couple of weeks as a bit of a relaxation, and then I’ll be full blast back to WIPs and improving my art quality. I’m hoping to raise my art quality to do a higher quality small one-shot at epic level. I want to actually be a good artist after all, not just an artist that spams tons of scrappy artworks and mangas :P

After a few weeks I’ll also be trying to get some writing practice in - and quite regularly if I can. I don’t think I’ll post much of it, to give myself the freedom to mess it up super badly on my own.

I have a lot of projects that I want to try out, for gaining or improving specific skills, as well as new methods and workflows to trial out. So really, back to the same old grinding of skills except now I’ve got writing to worry about as well now :P

Onwards and upwards!
« Last Edit: July 31, 2021, 10:31:11 AM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #19 on: February 15, 2023, 04:58:56 PM »
Ok let's ramble!
TL;DR I'm working on a new project, watch this space :P

It's been a fair while since my last writing/manga project and to be fair I've been busy with stuff, not been lazy. But all the same I'm not where I'd like to be or liked to have been given my aspirations when I finished the last project (the post above). So after a general think which returned 0 results, I basically wondered if having a regular timed output (i.e. daily or weekly) for my writing would be a good thing as well. Something manageable but enough to be creative and get some skill moving forward.

Now I previously have stated that I would have liked to get my writing skill higher before working on a manga again , so my art and writing skills were more similar in ability. But that's not going to happen to be honest, at least not in a timescale that I approve of. So the only way I can imagine my writing improving is by doing the only successful project again, my prototype manga method.

I'm still working on paid commissions so my time isn't as free as I'd like, but I'm realizing that my productivity would be much higher if I used all the available time, and the only reason it isn't, is because I'm lazy. But having a solid project to get your teeth into is more motivational I think, as it has been in the past, as so I'm hoping that can push me into full productive mode, which I haven't seen for a couple of years now. Partly having the paid commissions causes a drop in productivity as that involves communication and more planning, and money isn't so great a motivator for me at the moment as I'm living well within my means, so it's harder to be 100% focused for that as the end goal, getting paid, lacks that life-or-death punch for me.

In the past 2 weeks, in sketch survival, I've done a sketch a day without almost any issue, despite having a heavy cold and other stuff that might have got in the way. So that shows the difference dedication can make, as well as reasonable goals. So all I have to do, is basically increase the daily workload by a small fraction to include the workload of a serial manga. I can easily estimate this based on previous works due to my meticulous timekeeping :P
Which equates to around 10 hours a week for a weekly output. Or 1.5 hours a day give or take. That's quite a bump up from the daily sketch, but I'm aiming at 3+ hours daily anyway, so it's definitely achievable.

My previous manga project held on rather admirably but ultimately failed near the end because my mindset wasn't strong enough to focus during difficult times when I was distracted by stress at work. As long as I keep my eye out to monitor any potential stress levels rising I can deal with it, but as the weeks go on it's likely that something will catch me unawares. I suppose to some extent that's just life, deal with it and then resume as fast as possible is the best option there.

So this opens up the "new project" mode.
How will this project compare to the previous one?

Writing-wise I'd like to plan further ahead to prevent plot holes appearing too early, with at least the setting being more clearly defined from the get-go, as well as any other necessary info such as a magic system etc. I wound up with far too many problems last time because I winged it too much, so I want a more stable plot this time.
I'd also like the quality of writing to be better. That's hard as I have little experience, but I can switch skill/roles to compensate and focus on specific tasks at a single time such as drafting,character writing, editing , polishing etc. And have a slot for each task so I don't miss something because of my noobiness. I think I'll also be more likely to research things to add some flesh to my story, get some more inspiration and ideas as well. I want to avoid standard cliches more than I did in the last story and properly evaluate scenes for keeping things realistic and believable. Keeping in mind the future plot should help me to steer the story in the right direction hopefully.
As long as the story quality is anything like the last lot, I think I'd be happy for now. With more skill in the future I can adjust the goals accordingly.

Art-wise I have some goals too. I can't afford the time to produce high quality art, but at the same time I want to work more on composition than I did previously, where I just threw the panels down on the page, but make the whole page coherent and "artistic". I want to regularly use more artistic elements such as effects and tones/colour so that the pages give off a rough but finished vibe. Regarding accuracy and precision, I'll be increasing the quality with an additional guideline stage, at the cost of the inking stage. While they are quite similar, the guideline stage is rougher but allows for a higher quality inking stage to be done afterwards (theoretically), and so is more in line with my final high quality manga workflow. It also keeps the time for the art on the lower side without sacrificing too much quality. I would also like to have perhaps one panel per chapter rendered fully to highest level. I can't afford a full page probably because a full render takes so much time, in fact I've not really ever attempted it because it also requires higher level skills which I barely have. I also want to improve the sound effects and range of fonts used, which I avoided completely last time by choice.

Project-wise I'd also like to address a major issue that happened previously where the project failed one week before the end. I also suspected that it failed precisely because it was so close to the end. If the project had been longer, then I think it would have been more resilient to issues. So this project I intend to last a full year (or more). By the time a full year passes I may already have better ideas or projects to shift to so I wont worry past a year for now. Ideally I dont want to miss a single week but stuff like holidays and other major events are likely to cause an issue there so I'll allow for some error, maybe even try to catch it up, we'll see. I'd like to see more careful planning happen with these stories rather than winging it, so characters and environments I'd like to plan more properly as well. And finally another major issue the last project had was that I didn't get the time to do my other art and this was also stressful because I like doing my normal art as well, and basically, I got sad :P so another goal on top of this project is to keep producing my standard art. I'm not sure exactly what that entails but the daily sketch is here to stay regardless, and ideally around an hours worth of standard art in total a day would be nice.

Finally, will I do more than one story?
The previous project managed 4 weekly serials, and that didn't work up too much of a sweat really, with my laziness causing most of the issues. But I'm not sure if I can handle the same again with my upgraded goals. So I think the best thing I can do is just go with the flow hahahahaha. I'd love to keep to 4 stories just because it keeps me on my toes with different genres and keeping organized, but as well, it suits my ridiculous overkill nature :P
So I'm aiming for 4 serial weekly mangas once again, but with a more than likely possibility of dropping it down if the workload is higher than predicted. I don't want it to drop to just one though, that would be sad :P

I'm going to spread each chapter workload out over several weeks to create a cascade where I plan far-future chapters as well as finalizing nearer ones. See here for a fuller explanation. It has a couple of benefits, one being that in a week where I do no work, it affects a small part of many chapters rather than a massive part of just one chapter. And it also means I come to each chapter several times fresh which helps with finding issues and making improvements.

I had a 4-stage cascade last time and it frankly wasn't enough, so I'm going to try for a 6-stage one and we'll see if that helps. It will also help with project development as I get the project off the ground in the first few weeks.

I've fleshed out my task list mostly for my own benefit to reference back on. It ended up being 7 stages, I wasn't able to combine any stages together as some have to be separate for best practice. Ultimately it doesn't matter as I'll being doing each stage once a week anyway, it'll just be for a different chapter. Also new in this project are several distinct "quality control" steps. I've not outright used these before but I've seen the possible value of having them so I'll be trialling their usefulness as well.

Stage 1:
Brainstorming & Ideas - Generating new ideas for characters and plot.
Plot Development - Taking the new approved ideas and placing them into a rough chronological order, expanding with more details.
Character & Environment Design v0 - any potential (main) characters or settings (vehicles etc) get a single rough draft sketch (and also headshot if a character) for future reference.
Chapter Synopsis - the overview of a specific chapter, 1/2 sentences

Stage 2:
Chapter Outline - the scene-by-scene breakdown of the chapter, 10-15 sentences
Script v0 - a rough script draft. The speech content is mostly unrefined with generic/cliche phrasing
Character & Environment Design v1 - characters and settings relevant to the current chapter are fully drafted.

Stage 3:
Script v1 - any missing parts are filled and the speech is adjusted to match the characters' personalities.
Character & Environment Design v2 - designs of characters and settings relevant to the current chapter are finalized.

Stage 4:
Quality control - a careful read though, checking consistency and accuracy with regard to plot, speech etc.
Panelation - the script is split into sections which represent each panel of the manga. more details are added if needed to describe the shot.
Pagination - the script is split into page sections of average 5 panels each.
Blocking - a "name". A rough draft of the entire page

Stage 5:
Quality control - a careful check of the draft pages to find obvious errors or improvements.
Guidelines v0 - the quality is improved with figures and BG guides
Panels - the panel borders are drawn
Speech Insertion - the script is copied onto the page at the right locations. The font and size are adjusted accordingly.
SFX Insertion - hand drawn SFX is added, with the style matching the mood where possible.
Speech Bubbles - square and oval (etc) speech bubbles added at the appropriate locations

Stage 6:
Guidelines v1 Figures - the figures and main BG are redrawn to a higher accuracy
Guidelines v1 Details - additional details are added such as clothing, face, hair etc. rough quality.

Stage 7:
Quality control - check for errors outside of allowance and adjust, cleanup any stray lines.
Effects & Tone & Rendering - colour, texture and shade is added, each in turn.
Quality control - final check - checking for obvious mistakes and errors outside the allowance, fix where necessary.

After typing all this out and running a simulation in my mind I recalled something I decided last project, which was that the highest productivity was when I was doing the same stage multiple times for different projects or different chapters, as I gained a momentum in that one area while working. So I'm aware that this regular output isn't the most efficient method available, but it's probably the best working one I have due to it's regularity - each week is the same workload. After working with this workflow for a while I'll see if I can upgrade it to take advantage of working with multiple chapters at once. An ideal workflow would be planning the entire plot of the story and all characters, and then drafting the entire thing, and then finally drawing all the chapters in one go. But I'm not confident I can stay motivated and at a high level of productivity without a regular measurable output. For now at least.

So finally, I've just got to decide the stories I'm doing. Since I'm not expecting too much from this project in terms of quality, I'm planning on picking a couple of random prompts and producing a range of ideas and then narrowing it down to a couple of story ideas I think I can do, as well as actually want to do. ideally a range of genres would be nice like last time. I would have liked to finish off this post by having already deiced the stories but I don't want to rush the very first step, as I'll be living with this project for quite a while. But all the same I'm hoping to narrow down the stories before the end of the week. They don't have to be special, just workable. I might also work from my favourite mangas I'm reading and reverse engineer them back to a synopsis and then come up with a new story that way.

And finally because of my other current projects and commitments I don't think I can actually start for a couple of weeks, but I'd definitely like to start before Easter.

So that ended up being even more rambling than I was expecting :P
At least I gave you fair warning :P
I'll probably make one more huge post because there's a bunch of other planning I didn't quite get to think about yet, targets, constraints, initial workflow and that sort of thing.
Thanks for listening :P

onwards and upwards, hopefully this'll be a good one :D
« Last Edit: February 15, 2023, 05:41:38 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Suuper-san

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #20 on: February 16, 2023, 10:08:06 AM »
well this might be long we'll see.
TL;DR attempting problem solving regarding my new project.

There's quite a few issues already with this new project and I'll ramble a a bit and see if I can't find the answers.

Something that my previous manga project didn't allow for was skill growth - it generally relied on me either already being able to draw what I wanted, or fudging it really badly to get through it. That was the original project spec after all. But let's say I want to draw a dragon or a castle, a plane etc, something new. That goes beyond just a character sketch or draft. It requires perhaps a couple of hours research, reference and practice to learn how to draw this new thing at a crude level. I dont want to directly copy from reference if I can avoid it - this is to help me to actually memorize things rather than getting quick at copying stuff.

So the project needs to be flexible to allow quite a bit of time in "non-productive" project related work. I'd also like to have the freedom to glance at other manga works to get some inspiration or just to make sure I'm in the right ballpark for certain angle and shots. But I'm not sure how much time is required, and if it will be needed at all etc. And each story also requiring its own research time will add up if it's required on the same week. I don't know if just to hope that I don't run into the issue, or assign a block of 2-4 hours in which any project can use that time.

Actually most of these and other issues boil down to time available for the project. In a standard week I have at 100% usage, about 35 hours of free time. Everything else is booked. That's exactly 5 hours a day average.

Now I have to predict how long it will take to process a week chunk of project. The project can be split into chapter work and page work. I've added research as a separate step as well.

Per Chapter Times:
Total: 7 hours

Brainstorming & Ideas - 30m
Plot Development - 10m
Research - 30m
Character & Environment Design v0 - 30m
Chapter Synopsis - 10m
Chapter Outline - 30m
Script v0 - 1.5h
Character & Environment Design v1 - 45m
Script v1 - 1h
Quality control (script) - 30m
Panelation - 30m
Pagination - 10m

Per Page Times:
Total: 1.5 hours per page

Blocking - 10m
Quality control (draft) - 2m
Guidelines v0 - 10m
Panels - 1m
Speech Insertion - 1m
SFX Insertion - 5m
Speech Bubbles - 2m
Guidelines v1 Figures - 15m
Guidelines v1 Details - 15m
Quality control (art) -2m
Effects & Tone & Rendering - 15m
Quality control (final check) - 2m

The trouble is, these are only predictions - I have no idea how long it's actually going to take.

But at a standard ~15 pages a week that's around 30 hours predicted just for one project. The main issue being the art has more tasks across the whole project and the overall quality is higher. Now I could obviously play with the numbers to make it look good on paper but that's just being unrealistic. Partly I do think that it will be faster than I've estimated but I don't know by how much.

A solution keeps popping into my mind and that's to do a trial run first to get proper numbers and also to gauge the efficacy of the new workflow. I don't want to start multiple projects to have them all fail on me, that would be disastrous. But a trial run also sounds like I wont put much effort into it, and so the numbers wont be reliable.

So the final solution, which I had at the very beginning but wanted to avoid it, is to have a staggered start for each story. That way I can start with one and then adjust for the next one, and also gauge if I have enough free time to start another one in the first place. I'm a bit annoyed but that really is the best option. And one regular serial manga a week isn't to be sniffed at anyway, so there's that.

I was also toying with a 2-weekly release schedule, but with the multiple stories. This gives more of a space to manage such a huge volume of work and to deal with issues that crop up, but also a higher risk of failure due to procrastination.

Another possible way to achieve a higher volume of output is to increase the pages per chapter released. I noticed that the major issue with most of my work was starting the darn thing, and the volume of work didn't really affect the time taken to complete it, and at my highest level of panic I inked 120 pages of manga in about 3 days. So I'm also wondering if I aim for a double release of 30 pages per chapter, can I release more content in the same time-frame, be it 2 weeks or 3 weeks, and however many stories I'm doing. i.e. 3 stories every 2 weeks with 30 pages each instead of 2 stories every 1 week with 15 pages each. That's a bit of a gamble as well. I don't dislike the 15 pages a chapter workload but I think you can get more done with a longer chapter. I'll aim to be consistent regardless of which target I pick, as that helps with knowing how much to write and where to split the story between chapters.

So now I think most of the remaining variable are unknowns now, and I'll just have to get going with the project to know what I'm doing really. I'll still develop 4 chosen story ideas but I'll put 3 on the back-burner until the first is up and running and I can see what's going on.

One final option is to have different quality levels for each of the stories which would allow me to test more things, possibly. So there's that possible idea as well. Such as working to the old project quality but trying to increase the speed even more without losing any quality, like an ultra fast chapter release. Or something.

So back to the writing board it is.
Finally hopefully get something going real soon.
With just the one story I can start much sooner so hopefully get the ball rolling within the week.
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Offline Coryn

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #21 on: February 16, 2023, 12:06:24 PM »
I tried Suuper, I just don't have the time I need right to read the whole of your posts, lol

I'm glad you're working on writing again though. Don't get discouraged. We get better by writing stories we aren't happy with.

Will review stories upon request. My latest arc:

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #22 on: February 16, 2023, 12:44:01 PM »
thanks for even trying Coryn :D
it is somewhat unconstructed because I'm trying to work out something I'm not too familiar with and also because it'll be a big project, making sure it's exactly the right amount of big to be a challenge without being overwhelming.

I basically decided to work on a smaller scale to gain enough experience to gauge how the larger project should go, but the smaller project will still be large in its own right.

so I'll be starting a serial manga project soon hopefully, like the last one I did a year or so back. But hopefully to last a full year or so as a nice challenge. And all things going well, I'll start another serial once the first is underway.

I don't have high hopes for the content but the project itself should be rather fruitful.
« Last Edit: February 16, 2023, 01:32:11 PM by Suuper-san »
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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #23 on: February 26, 2023, 03:58:08 PM »
been thinking and working how to adjust my project so it both is challenging but also possible, and doesn't sacrifice anything that might actually be useful in the long run (such as quality control)

so I've realised a couple of things:
1) I really don't want to do just one story. I somehow get the feeling I would start to specialize in whatever genre the story might be, and then start to avoid other genres because of not having the same level of experience. Also, I love doing lots of work.
2) I don't want to sacrifice quality where I might actually benefit from working harder/longer on certain stages, even if that means it will take longer to finish a chapter. Long term I stand to benefit more by investing in higher level skills.

and so I'm adjusting my project to be:
-4 regular serial mangas of various genres
-NOT weekly.

I've decided not to release weekly because of the risk of lowering the quality to increase speed on weeks when I am rushing. I know from experience that I can work faster, and so there's no point rushing my work and losing out on the skills I could have gained by working slowly and steadily.

So instead I'll set a target amount of time each week (maybe around 20 hours) to spend on each project in rotation, which will roughly equate to a chapter every 1/2 weeks (therefore about 6 weeks between releases for each individual story as I work on each one in turn). The reason being if I encounter something challenging or that needs more time, I can take the time to learn the specific skill and do the work properly rather than rushing and ruining everything.

By working slowly I can properly gauge the time needed for each task (as opposed to the time I want to spend on it), and this will help planning for future projects. So again more long-term thinking this time round.

I originally wanted to get a large number of chapters done in one story, but now I'm making the project longer and adding more stories that'll be much harder, so I'm aiming this time for 2 volumes of each story, so 8 volumes in total. roughly 200 pages per volume. This might take possibly up to 2 years, but we'll see once it gets going. I don't even know where I'll be that far in the future so no point planning in any more detail than that.

Not having a deadline for the chapters means I can also switch between my studies and my illustrations, which all need attention for my skills to improve. Last manga project was so intense most of my focus went into completing the project rather than learning anything or having any specific skill focus. So I'm aiming to take my time, that is, as much time as is needed, but also work solidly and deftly, not spending more time than necessary. I'll need to make sure I keep the project moving forward.

If the project doesn't move forward as fast as I'd like, I might add a release deadline just to help myself get a move on, but that's more of a last resort as that will affect the quality I'm sure.

ok that's the main adjustment, to follow will be the project specifications which will help to control the quality and help me focus on the right things.
« Last Edit: February 26, 2023, 04:05:18 PM by Suuper-san »
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Offline Operative13

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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2023, 06:58:40 AM »
Meant to get a reply some whiles ago, but never really found the time until now  :ninja:

I think in terms of story, the best parts you need are the beginning and ending established. After that, it merely becomes an effort of "bridging the gap". By knowing your starting and end points, you know what needs to occur in order to get your story in the direction it needs to be in. Without that foresight and knowledge, it can become difficult to make any meaningful progress by dragging the story along unproductive plot lines.

If you're really good at it, you can apply this technique on a more granular scale. Just shrinking down those requirements for a smaller scenario. The idea is that you create enough start and end points for where you want to go that it becomes just a matter of filling-in-the-blanks.

Applying it to artwork, storyboarding is the first task you absolutely need to do. You definitely do not want to needlessly spend effort fully dedicating artwork that will end up not being used in the story, so having a vision ahead of time will save you a lot of pain with revisions later on.  :-\

As long as you've established what you want to do, you can plan how to do it, and then scheduling your work around the how. As the saying goes "Don't try to swim before you learn to float."
“To give of oneself is the noblest of all acts.”


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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2023, 07:51:23 AM »
Thanks for the feedback, that's some really useful suggestions there. And since you're working with both the art and writing side of things you know your stuff :D

I'm relatively confident I can write and draw "a" manga story, so now I'm working on refining my previous serial manga workflow to bump up the quality of the writing and the art, but at the same time keep it loose enough to not stress me out regarding quality targets etc.

As of yet I haven't decided on the stories I will write, but I've been narrowing down the tropes and genres I want to use, and ones I want to avoid, and I'm hoping that helps me narrow down my ideas to something I'm happy to work with. Ultimately I'm not aiming at unique or amazing stories, but "well-executed generic stories", which I hope will give me a nice amount of experience to aim even higher next time.

"Don't try to swim before you learn to float."
So very true!!
I'm hoping this project isn't too much of a jump up from my previous works like Whispering Magic etc, that project was quite successful so really this is just an upgraded version of the workflow. So at least in my head it's not something I can't achieve.

And yes I'm trying to stagger the art and writing design to make sure that everything has multi-level approval before I spend time developing and adding details to increase the quality to the final piece. I'm using my stepped-stage (i use a different name each time XD) idea which worked really well last time, in which I dont write and draw the same chapter in a week, but rather write the next week's chapter while drawing this weeks' chapter, and then next time I come to draw it, it's sat a while and I see it with fresh eyes.

All things going well I might manage to get at least the synopses planned soon, the only issue is my art commissions which are still ongoing which take priority.

Once I've decided on the overall plot and main characters I think it will go a lot more smoothly. Until then it's just a big ball of potential everything-and-nothing-at-the-same-time.
Ultimately as long as I dont hate my story ideas from the get-go it should be a fun and educational experience, and should bolster my productivity by having something to focus on :P
« Last Edit: March 03, 2023, 07:55:04 AM by Suuper-san »
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Re: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories
« Reply #26 on: April 23, 2023, 02:11:11 PM »
Small rambling warning, hopefully it won't be too long this time, just trying to figure things out.

This project has been taking its time getting started. I think the main reason is simply I haven't had the time, as my art has been suffering as well. But it's not so much I don't have the time, as I'm not using my time effectively. That's pretty much my fault 100%, I'm working on levelling my focus up so enough about that.

Secondly the form of this project has been shifting a lot in my mind (how many stories, what quality etc), it's not reaching a tangible form that I can see myself starting. And I think that's because I'm aiming higher than I ever have gone before and so it's unknown territory. So I'm trying to plan ahead for something that I've never experienced, and so that's going to naturally have issues. But I really don't want to start the project without a solid roadmap, so I'm a bit stuck there. Ultimately I've probably got to just start it and fix the issues when I run into them, like a normal person (!), instead of trying to micromanage before I even start.

Also one other major factor is that I have to accept that this project is a failure from the start - that is, I don't expect to be able to churn out high quality work straight away even though that is the target. And so I've been struggling with trying to accept this fact. Once I can fully deal with the fact that I'll make so many mistakes in the project, then I'll probably make better progress in it. Probably my perfectionist streak coming out, I thought I had that under control but maybe just because I got used to my normal art quality I forgot that I do always have high targets for myself. It might even be embarrassment to write/draw certain stuff that's cheesy or whatever, so a bit too self-conscious as well perhaps. Definitely need to forget about how things look for a while. Like all the typical romance lines and stuff. "my world changed when I met you!" etc. I just gag on it, even though in practice it works well, it just sounds stupid. That's part of a larger topic regarding "unrealistic realism" that I have yet to ramble about. Basically, tropes, I guess?

But I think once my time management comes back into control, which I think it is, slowly, then I'll be able to actually allocate some time into the project and then I'll probably gain direction. So probably lack of time is the most critical factor at the moment.

So I'm trying to gain momentum with my normal art, and hopefully I can slingshot into this project and keep the momentum high. Unlike my last manga project I want to have a good mix of studies and non-project-art time, which will hopefully give me stability and skill growth.

So stay tuned and hopefully, hopefully, I'll be starting this project soon.
But, it's going to be a train wreck. But once it's over I'm hoping I'll have levelled up a lot.
« Last Edit: April 23, 2023, 02:18:12 PM by Suuper-san »
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