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Author Topic: Suuper's Writing Projects & Manga Stories  (Read 3932 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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Offline 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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Offline 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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