Behind the Scenes of “Writing Hell”, the Grand Prize Winner of Lezhin’s 2020 Comic Contest

Full-time writer and a part-time lecturer, Maria somehow finds herself in a sticky situation when she runs into one of her students, Toby, after having sex with his father. How is Maria going to get out of this situation? Will Toby blackmail her? Will Maria use his father? Or will she use this whole situation as a source of inspiration for her writing?

Grand Prize Winner of the 2020 Lezhin Comic Challenge, FairyDemon(Instagram, Twitter) finally launches her long awaited adult romance title on Lezhin, Writing Hell. This is her creative process.

Scripting and Storyboards:

I send my episode breakdown to Lezhin and I organize my scripts into chapters starting with storyboards. As long as my core ideas are held true, I’m really open to suggestions and changes from my editor to help my story fit in well on Lezhin Comics. Luckily, my idealism seems to fit right in with Lezhin Comics’ own.

My storyboards are just doodles, and sometimes they’re horrible, horrible scribbles. But as long as they show the composition and my main ideas, then… well, I guess it’s alright. I really hope Lezhin’s editorial team doesn’t mind checking this horrendous step.

Waiting, rendering Backgrounds:

While waiting for editorial to check my storyboards, I usually take the day off or cheat the schedule by rendering 3-D assets for backgrounds. They usually contain two parts: line art and a textured base.

Writing Hell isn’t my debut comic, so I’ve already developed my own style and visual identity. Part of which is using monochromatic backgrounds. This is actually how one of my seniors did his own comic and how I was taught, right before I launched my second comic. It helps the characters stand out in each panel, against the details of the rendered 3-D background.

The worst thing about rendering in 3D is waiting for my computer to render the images… and since I’m not very patient, I bought a new PC (which renders faster) with my prize money from the Lezhin contest. Goodbye money! :”)

Sketch:

After my editor goes through my storyboards, he sends them back with his edits. Then, I’m ready to start sketching the comic!

Some artists use 3D models to sketch out figures using amazing illustration apps… I’m kinda old school so I still use a primitive method: sketching the blockman!

Sometimes I’ll redraw a figure multiple times just to get the anatomy right. My figures aren’t always in the most natural position, but I just make sure it looks pleasing to the eyes of the audience and that the character doesn’t look awkward.

I still believe anatomy and gestures are the fundamentals of drawing; I’m still learning every day.

So when some of my artist friends suggest I use a 3D model, I tend to refuse because:

  • I sketch quickly and I’m mostly accurate,
  • It actually takes me longer to use 3D assets.
  • Look at this:

So yeah why would I wanna use that? o(—(  

Maybe in the future, I’ll be able to use 3D models to sketch. For now, let me be a caveman.

Line Art:

This is the best part.

Like I said in my previous sketch-to-screen post, I love doing lineart! I set myself to autopilot, and then at some point I suddenly have polished drawings! It’s pretty fun!

Lately, my line art has gotten more detailed. Ever since I started helping my partner color his comic, I noticed his passion in how he inks his work. And I kinda learned to apply it to my own work.

He’s been an amazing influence on my work process, and I can’t wait for his comic to release on Lezhin, as well.

Colouring:

My assistant does my base colors. It takes a few days, but I can take days off or work on other storyboards while I wait.

Once the flats are done, it’s my job to make the panels feel more alive. Shading, effects, bokeh, blush, depth-of-field, action lines and etc.

Sometimes, I’ll ignore the natural lighting of the scene and use a small amount of shading specifically to create focal points within panels.

It’s like saying, “Here! Look at this and focus on this specific area! Ignore the rest of the panel!”  And it’s a cheat code to lessen the amount of work per panel. But hey! It’s effective, right? Made you look.

Finishing and final check:

Once I’m done, I’ll reposition the panels to space them out and make corrections from my editor.

I used to write drama comic scripts for a platform in the past, which might explain why some of the dialogue is closer to what you’d expect from a novel (according to my partner, I can’t judge my own work). The problem is… I write in my own language.

I can’t lie. My grammar is rotten. In some of the narrative monologue and dialogue, I try to express how Maria feels in a poetic manner. Translating it myself makes it sound so awkward. That’s why when I read the edited version of my script, it feels like I’m using a cheat code. My editor’s writing makes it beautiful. They don’t just do grammar checks, but they help tone of the dialogue and narrative speech of my script (thank you so much!) o)—)

There are a few things I’ve left out of the process. It was a long journey back to being a comic creator, and I’ve gotten so much support from the people around me along the way.

I’d even say I’ll be making comics for at least another decade. After that, who knows?

For now… I hope you enjoy Writing Hell.

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