Hello! My name is Liz Staley and I’m a long-time user of Clip Studio Paint (I started using the program back when it was known as Manga Studio 4!). I was a beta-tester on the Manga Studio 5 program and for Clip Studio Paint, and I have written three books and several video courses about the program. Many of you probably know my name from those books, in fact!
When I was creating my (now defunct) web-comic, there weren’t many good options for hosting a creator-owned comic. Especially not one that was geared more toward telling a longer story instead of comic strips that focus more on telling jokes or short story arcs. The best option for these long-form story comics was usually to buy your own domain and web-hosting, install Wordpress and Comicpress, and figure out how to format, upload, and promote all on your own!
WEBTOON is a comic publishing portal started in 2004 by Naver Corporation in South Korea. Webtoons themselves were most popular in Korea until recent years where they’ve gained popularity internationally. The service originally was named “LINE WEBTOON” and was launched world-wide in 2014. In 2019 the name was changed to WEBTOON for the English service. That’s just a brief history of the WEBTOON service that is gaining popularity with comic artists who have a story to tell.
In this article we will cover the following topics:
Benefits of Using WEBTOON
Do’s and Don’ts
How to Plan Your Story
Promoting your WEBTOON series
Let’s learn more about WEBTOON!
Benefits of Using WEBTOON
WEBTOON is a website and mobile app where comic fans come to read new episodes of their favorite comics. There are two “categories” of webtoons on the site - Originals and Canvas. A Webtoon Original is a comic that has been chosen by the WEBTOON editors to be featured and are sponsored. An Original gets PR and marketing support from WEBTOON, and readers can support the comic creator by using Coins to read episodes ahead of where the general public can read.
WEBTOON Canvas is where any comic creator 13 years and older can submit their story. It is possible to go from being a Canvas creator to an Original creator if your comic is popular enough, high-quality, and gets the notice of the WEBTOON editors, but there are no known set metrics you have to achieve to get featured.
One of the biggest benefits of posting to WEBTOON is that there is a large fan-base of comic readers that are already coming there to read comics! If you can catch their eyes, you can gain subscribers and fans of your story much easier than if you are hosting your comic on your personal site. WEBTOON already has traffic that comes to the site, so instead of having to drive your own traffic, you can concentrate on making a great comic and sticking to an upload schedule.
Another great benefit is built-in support if you have a problem. When you are hosting your own comic, you’re pretty much on your own if something breaks in the web-site code and you need to figure out what’s wrong on your own. WEBTOON has a robust help section that posts answers to all the frequently asked questions and has a Customer Care form you can fill out if you have an issue that isn’t covered in the Help section.
WEBTOON also has an Ad Revenue sharing program for its creators. If your comic reaches over 40,000 US Monthly Pageviews and you get over 1,000 subscribers to your series, you can apply to the Ad Revenue Sharing Program. After applying to and being accepted to this program, you will receive a 50% shared of ads placed in your series content each month. If you start a series that is particularly popular this income could be a viable revenue stream!
Another way you can get paid for your work on WEBTOON is to make a great comic and get featured as a WEBTOON Originals, which we talked about a little bit earlier in this section. Originals creators get paid to make their comics! Of course you’ll need to create an amazing comic that gets a lot of attention and is noticed by the editors at WEBTOON, and you’re competing with the other artists on the site as well, but this is definitely something that could happen if you have an amazing, well-executed story.
Finally, comics on WEBTOON take advantage of the “infinite canvas”, meaning that comics are laid out in a long vertical format so that users can scroll down easily to read the comic. The general rule of thumb is that one panel should be visible at a time as the reader scrolls down. This format means that instead of uploading one page of a comic at a time, users upload “episodes” that consist of a long strip of comic images that are read from top to bottom. This format makes a comic mobile friendly for those reading with the WEBTOON app on their phone or tablet. This format means that you’ll have to think about how you’re going to present your comic a little more before creating your art, and that will lead us into our next section...
Do’s and Don’ts
Before you start planning your story and drawing, here are some general Do’s and Don’ts you should think about.
DO research how to format your files for WEBTOON. Because of the “infinite canvas” style format, you will need to think more about how to lay out and format your files. My friend Walter Ostlie has a great video about how to split a long file up in Photoshop for proper formatting on WEBTOON.
DON’T start your artwork without researching the file format first. WEBTOON files must be less than 800 pixels wide and 1280 pixels long and each section of your image can be a maximum of 2MB. Only JPG file formats are accepted. Knowing all this beforehand will let you avoid the headache of having to redo your art!
DO explore the site before starting your own comic. See how other creators in your genre are handling formatting for the infinite canvas style scrolling. Take a look at the popular comics to see what’s resonating with readers.
DON’T start up a comic just to make money. Yes, it is possible to make money creating comics! But if that is your only reason for starting a comic you may be disappointed. You should have a real passion for the comic medium and be passionate about the story you want to tell. Comics aren’t a money making scheme, they’re an art form that you have to be passionate about.
DO think about an update schedule for your comic. Readers like it when they know when to expect more of a story, and sticking to a schedule will help build loyalty and trust between you and your audience. BUT…
DON’T be unrealistic with your schedule! If you’re one person doing every aspect of your comic, you may not have the time to upload a new episode five days a week. Some creators upload once a month, twice a month, or maybe a time or two a week. Be realistic about your lifestyle and how much time you have to devote to sitting down and working on your comic.
DO check out the WEBTOON Creator Resources section, linked below. It has great articles and videos on getting started posting to Canvas, interviews with other comic creators, and downloadable resources like a “Before You Publish” checklist, Character design sheet, and more.
DON’T rush in without planning out your story! WEBTOON readers seem to like comics that have a well-defined style and character designs from the start, as well as a well-paced and planned story. Take the time before you start doing your comic art to design your characters and also to follow the advice in the next section.
How to Plan Your Story
There are as many ways to plan and write a comic story as there are people who create comics. Some people plan out every event in their story meticulously before they write a detailed script. Some comic creators write out a basic overview of their story with general story beats. And some fly by the seat of their pants and just draw out whatever comes to mind!
I don’t recommend “pantsing it” with webcomics. If you suddenly find your story is stuck, it’s much harder to fix it when you’ve gotten past the planning phase and have started putting your story out there for the public to read. So I always recommend at least some level of planning before getting started with drawing your story! It will save you headaches and probably tears later. So what should you have planned out before you start your comic?
WORLD: You should know the type of “world” you want to have your story take place in. Is your comic a coming-of-age story that takes place in our modern world? Is it a Historical Drama set in 16th century France? Does it take place in a fantasy world where magic is an everyday occurrence? Will your story take place in a world like ours but where people are born with superpowers? Whatever the setting of your story, you’ll need to flesh out the rules of that world and have those set before you start your story. This is especially true when creating a fantasy world or one that is very different from our own Earth.
CHARACTERS: Who are your main characters going to be? What are their personalities? Knowing your character’s goals are also very important so you can ensure they are active participants in the story events. You will want to know what they look like, dress like, and their general personality before starting to draw. A shy character will stand and emote very differently than a confident character, so take body language into account! Doing character turnarounds and expression sheets can help you explore your characters and also nail down their designs before starting your comic. The following image shows a very old sketch for the main character of the comic I used to make!
STORY BEATS: Now that you’ve figured out details about your world and your characters, it’s time to get into constructing your story. The method of doing this varies by creator, but I think that some planning is necessary when telling a continuous story instead of just making comic strips that tell a joke. When creating a longer story you need to be aware of the sequence events happening so they make sense and also are well paced. Whether you make a general outline on a piece of scrap paper or sit down and write out a full script with dialog and scene descriptions is up to you, but make sure you have at least the major points of your plot planned out. This will also help you figure out your beginning, middle, and end for your story.
Okay, so you’ve gotten your world built, characters made, and written out a script. You created a WEBTOON account, read and watched everything in the Creator Resources, and have laid out and drawn your first three episodes. You created your series on WEBTOON, made a fantastic thumbnail, selected the genres that best describe your story, and made a great description to entice new readers. Now what?
Promoting your WEBTOON series
It’s very unlikely that you will hit publish on your first WEBTOON episode and see immediate success, unless you already have a large audience of people that follow your work. So what can you do to promote your comic and get people to come read it? Here are a few ideas for promotion!
First, get out there and ENGAGE with people. Find a forum, Reddit board, Facebook group, or another community where comic creators or comic readers hang out. Talk to people and get to know them as people before you hit them with self-promotion though! There is nothing more annoying than getting a random comment or message from someone you don’t know and have never interacted with, begging you to go look at their content. It looks desperate and will turn most people off. But if you find potential readers and interact with them without shoving your URL at them, they may be more likely to give your comic a try.
Social Media is a great place to build a community for your comic. Whether you use a Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or any of the other social media platforms is totally up to you and what works for your comic. You may need to experiment with different platforms to find the one that you get the most traction on. Whatever platform you pick, remember the above advice about engaging with your audience and with other people instead of constantly spamming your URL. A social media account that posts nothing but promotion won’t get many followers! Share other things that interest your audience and sprinkle your comic link in.
Another great way to promote is to make friends with other comic creators! Create fan art for the comics that you love and send it to the creators - they might share it with their audience if they like it enough! If you become good friends with some of your artist peers, see if they’d be willing to do a crossover event or something fun like that to cross-promote your comics and drum up more interest.
Finally, if you have a local comic shop or artist group, go meet people there! Some comic shops have bulletin boards that will allow you to put up a flier with information about your story. They may also have events at their shop and allow you to bring promotional information and meet potential readers (or sell books, if you choose to publish your comic!).
These are just a few of the ways you can promote your WEBTOON comic. Be creative and try new things, just remember not to spam!
WEBTOON is an amazing site for anyone who wants to try their hands at creating a webcomic, but it requires a bit of research and planning before diving in. But it’s a great way to share your story with an audience while not having to deal with hosting your own site.
A friend of mine, Walter Ostlie, is a featured creator on WEBTOON and has a bunch of videos on his YouTube channel about how to create a comic and how to use the WEBTOON service, so if you’re looking for more information I can’t recommend his channel enough!