Why do I need a comics?
Comics is easy to create, but at the same time it is a great way to tell stories. Visual stories are easy both to produce and consume. That’s why comics is an effective means of communication, which is, in turn, is a key to audience. In terms of the latter, my target is to find loyal followers.
Some existing comic projects inspire me a lot. Florence is a visual gamified story. It is very beautiful and, moreover, it has been repeatedly awarded for its design and gameplay. As for me, this is a perfect example of modern storytelling. Weird Helga and Danny Casale are examples of funny comics. The characters are very popular and have loyal fans. WebToons is an open platform where creators can publish their comics. The platform has a huge audience in the USA and Asia.
I launched my comic project “Kyivskyi olen” as an experiment to understand how to gain interested followers. It has already achieved noticeable success (more about it below). Follow and like it on Twitter and Instagram!
How did I find my style?
It took me about two weeks to find the appropriate style. I created a challenge page in the English version of my website and committed to drawing at least one picture a day. Meanwhile, I tried different styles, from realistic (as far as it is possible, considering my drawing skills) to more simple, and I also tried working in 3D.
When I realized that comics is a long-distance race, I decided to try the easiest style. I didn’t understand whether it would be interesting to the followers and didn’t want to waste time on learning how to draw. So I decided to draw fast, which means that I would draw in the manner I am capable of. That’s why pencil or pen drawing and further editing, as well as messing with 3D and realistic style weren’t really for me.
In search for style. One Day, One Picture
As a result, I chose a cartoon style. It has transformed a bit as I was progressing, which is to say I made it simpler and created a lot of mockups. Now, two months since the beginning, I spend around 20 minutes to draw one comics.
During the first month, I have been drawing all comics in Affinity Designer. It is a great and a much faster tool compared to Adobe Illustrator. What is more, it has an app for iPad, which is cool, because I have long wished to learn to draw illustrations on iPad. It enables me to draw everywhere without a mouse, as compared to Mac.
The more I tried to grasp the comics industry, the more apparent the trends became to me. Popular comics are either in the process of switching to, or have already switched from pictures to short videos. That’s why I decided to come back to Adobe, and now I am using Illustrator for drawing comics, and After Effects for animation.
This is one of the key aspects in any project. You need to have a team, to communicate, exchange ideas, have mutual responsibility and aspiration towards the common goal. It is very important to understand that you are not alone.
Now I am working on the comics together with my sister and girlfriend, so we are having sort of a family business here. I draw comics and plan publication, my sister publishes comics and does SMM, and my girlfriend consults me in regard to communication strategy. Wanna join? Write to me!
Where do I get ideas?
Comics begins with a plot, script or at least a sketch. I am not able to write professionally, but I am can professionally create visual content.
Nevertheless, I want to create popular content, so I need interesting plots. That’s why I am looking for already existing successful scripts. I call it “reference system” where I borrow ideas from other creators and adapt them to my characters and topics.
Each step of production is fixed on a separate Trello board. There are 4 main stages:
- Collection of references
- Planning publications
Usually we don’t look for references purposefully, only in case of special occasions, such as holidays. I follow many comic accounts on Instagram, Facebook and an app called
WebToon. Sometimes I look them through and save successful examples in a Trello board.
Afterwards, twice a month I select examples based on which I will create next issues of comics. Then I plan publication using the Trello calendar.
In accordance with the previously set dates I then draw comics. Currently I create at least one new comics a day, so far only as pictures and not videos.
How to promote on Instagram?
We managed to get the first 1000 followers on Instagram within one month mainly with the help of mass following, hashtags, regular publications and remakes of memes.
Mass following is effective to gain followers. The most important thing is to find potentially interested followers. In order to do that, you have to first find popular content that is similar to yours and then follow people who like and comment it. Bear in mind that Instagram limits the number of accounts to follow per day.
Hashtags can help achieve a greater audience reach. Our most effective posts have reached the most followers thanks to hashtags. As of now, I don’t understand how to get a proper set of hashtags. Currently we are using all possible hashtags used by other popular accounts with similar content.
Regular publications remind our followers about the comics and help gaining loyal followers faster. In this regard, the content that has become a meme is a guarantee of success. So the most popular posts are naturally remakes of famous memes.
How I see further development
I need to find a more effective way of gaining followers rather than mass following. With 1000 followers, it is already good to have 10 to 50 new followers. During the last two weeks we stopped using mass following and the influx of followers decreased only to 5-20, which is a great news in itself. To achieve our next goal of 10000 followers in two months we need to come up with something more effective. I am thinking about collaboration with other comics, advertising, publications in the media, etc.
Apparently, mere enthusiasm doesn’t work in the long run. Currently we are considering two means of monetization, through advertising or product sells. The issue is under investigation.
Comics for different audiences
In this project, our main followers are Ukrainian teenagers. They are not the wealthiest followers of all. We have to try to target a more mature audience with clearer interests.
In general, it turned out to be easy to create comics. What remains hard is how to make money on it:) So far, I haven’t found similar projects in Ukraine, although the demand of audience is clear. To me, it is interesting to keep creating comics as I have a smooth workflow. The only thing is that as of now, I don’t grasp what it can possibly turn to.
Perfect video for social media
News feed in social media are endless and and overflowed with new information. It is hard to hold the full attention of a user on a post. In order to make Facebook users watch a video, show them your message before they get bored and continue scrolling.
There is the rule of thumb for the majority of videos on the internet-the shorter, the better. As this research shows, after two minutes the quality of our attention becomes significantly worse. This is why you should aspire to even shorter videos. Ii is good if it is less than one minute, but less than 30 seconds or around 15 seconds is perfect. Facebook recommends using video advertising with the duration less than 15 seconds.
It doesn’t mean that long videos shouldn’t appear on social media. TEDx, interviews and lectures on YouTube are great examples of the opposite. As a rule, such videos are published on the relevant platforms, not on social media, where these videos will be shown randomly or in accordance with a certain algorithm.
YouTube or your website are great places to immerse deeply into a certain topic, interview or a web-seminar
Here are some features of a successful video for social media:
- It’s short. Perfect duration is 5 to 30 seconds, up to one minute maximum.
- It attracts attention in the first 2 to 5 seconds. You should made users look at the video so that they stop newsfeed and focus on your video. Use analytics to experiment with it.
- Text in it should make people curious. We are interested in different things. Research of your audience will help you identify what the majority is interested in. Short and appealing text will help you hold the attention of viewers.
- It calls to action. It can be a call to buy a product/service or follow a link to know more.
- It is equally good with and without sound. It is very likely that people will watch your video muted. Use subtitles if there is a background speech in the video.
To sum up, the perfect video for social media can be watched during a very short timespan when a person has unlocked their phone. Users should notice this video in a mottled newsfeed. It has to be interesting, dynamic and should be highly informative.
There are many online platforms to check the look of an app showcase. I don’t use them as they aren’t integrated with the main graphic design tools (Photoshop, Sketch, Figma). It’s important to see the final result right away and not to upload draft versions multiple times. Currently I’m using mockups for Photoshop that I’ve promptly created for myself. They are not beautiful but serve me well.
In this post I’m going to share about my first try to make this mockup neat without losing its main function.
The mockup was created in Figma. It’s a conditionally free tool that fully functions in any browser. It’s useful to create interface and prototypes similar to Sketch. In contrast to Photoshop, it’s much faster. Figma works on Windows and iOS, while Sketch only works on iOS.
I decided to start with Figma so that the mockup could be used not only by designers but marketers.
The mockup is build with components, which are equivalent to smart objects in Photoshop. This allows to instantly update an icon regardless of its location. It works with screenshots, too.
Preview of the main pages graphics on App Store for iPad and iPhone
The mockup can show a preview of an app page, search page and an icon on the desktop for iPad (Pro, Air) and iPhone (7, X). You can use an old-fashioned way and send the preview pic to a chat for approval of add a user and discuss certain aspects of design directly in the layout.
Comments inside the layout
Export of graphics in accordance with technical requirements
The mockup enables you to export the graphics so that you can upload it to App Store. It’s handy if you create graphics using Figma.
You can modify the mockup, change the color of the device, the composition of the preview. The distance between screenshots is proportional to those on the app page. It’s handy when you need to draw pictures split on several screenshots.
How to use
Open this link, sign in/sign up, copy the mockup.
How to use Figma: export, components, layers panel
At Playcus, we test out video commercials. One of the options of such tests is the aspect ratio of a video. It is difficult to specify clearly which format will work in which case. Besides, different platforms require both vertical and landscape videos depending where they will be shown. In order to find out which format works better we need to work with as similar videos as possible. The only thing that might differ is form factor. Therefore, we need to create videos in several formats right away.
The main formats we work with are 1:1, 9:16 and 16:9. For Facebook and Instagram news feed we mostly use square and vertical videos. Landscape videos are better suited for videos at Google Play. This is the current situation in our case. Some changes are likely to happen over time.
Facebook Help page
Simple background is best suited for adaptation of very short and simple videos. In this case, homogenous background (color, gradient) fills out the whole area of the format, surrounding an animation enlarged to maximum extent.
When I work with this effect, I take square format as a basis. Then, I fit it into other format and fill empty spaces with certain effects (blur, glow, etc.) or nameplates with marketing materials (logotype, platform stickers, text or appeal).
This is a quick way to change the aspect ratio, you only need to choose a proper effect. Contents is the main thing for every video, so you don’t need to overload it and distract audience. I try to use the effects that direct a viewer's eye to the central part where the main action takes place.
Manual adaptation is the best way to change aspect ratio in terms of integrity of a video.
In this case, I create animation layer-by-layer, using precompositions: background, main action, text and marketing materials. I create the most suitable composition for each format. In this case, time is the price for high quality.
Sometimes I combine methods and manually prepare two formats while using a quick way to create the third one (see example below). Here we have a vertical video with a square surrounded with filling.
This way requires you to create a universal layer with the main action. Main elements should remain on the screen in different formats without changes. The layer with marketing materials should be created separately.
In order to better understand which part of the main animation will be cropped in all formats, I create a separate precomposition with the main animation. I put a grid with boundaries of all the three formats on top of it.
If video is dynamic, the audience will not notice the cropped interface and the out-of-frame logotype. The main rule is to keep action visible, closer to the center.
It is hard to predict which video will turn out to be more appealing for the target audience. Often the results of analysis are surprising. There is no universal way to change aspect ratio, as only one of them works out in each individual case. I try to create and cnahge videos as fast as possible to save time. However, in some cases manual adaptation works way better.