Thursday, February 12, 2015

How I Do My Online Comic Strip - The Software I Use & More

I recently began doing a weekly online comic strip called the comic strip. It features punk rock characters and can obviously be viewed on the website. All of it is put together on the computer and some have asked me what software I use to put it together. So that's what this article is about.

The first thing I did was create the characters. I created them all in Daz Studio. If you are not familiar with Daz Studio, it is a similar program to Poser but I kind of prefer it over Poser. You can find out more about Daz Studio by going to their website,

I basically set up each scene in Daz Studio first, using the characters I have already created. The beauty of the whole thing is that once you create the characters, you can use them over and over again in as many images you desire. I prefer to do each frame 800 x 800 pixels. That's larger than the end product but I prefer to lay it out in a larger size. It seems easier to do that way.

I try to make sure I create an image that allows enough room for the captions I plan to use for each frame. My preferred format is basically three frames to set it up for the punchline in frame four; which makes for four frames for each comic strip.

I use a program called Manga Studio from Smith Micro (same company that does Poser) for the captions. Manga Studio can be used to create comics from scratch if you want to do it all in one program. I will be honest and say that I am not very good at the program and I really only use it to add the captions to the images I create in other programs. After I add the captions to a frame, I export the image as a jpeg.

After I create the jpeg with the caption, I just import it into the G.I.M.P image manipulation program. It is an open source program and is available for free download. I use it to resize each frame from 800 x 800 pixels to 360 x 360 pixels.

Then I go into Windows Paint and create a blank image that is 740 x 740 pixels. After that I put in each frame. Then I add my signature,, on the bottom left and add the release date on the frame on the bottom right. So there you have the final product like the one displayed above.

It took some playing around and experimentation to develop a system but once I developed it, it became quite easy to do after a while. The 740 x 740 image size works perfect for adding a new strip to my website. It fits perfectly on the pages of the site. The only thing I do is just a slight reduction in size in the web development program, Microsoft Expression Web, which is available now for free download as well. I resize it in that program to 730 x 730 pixels.

So that's how I do it, for those of you who were wondering and for those of you who care.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Running the Numbers in Pursuit of your Goals

I was running some numbers just this morning regarding some of my goals. I have a number of goals but among them are my internet and website related goals. Much of which is regarding the amount of income I would like to be able to generate from my websites. However, the income I would like to generate is highly dependent upon a certain amount of traffic I would need to receive on those websites.

Just to get some idea, I went to a site that gives you information on any domain name you enter. the information you receive will be the approximate value of the site, the amount of traffic it receives and an estimate as to how much income the site generates as a result of the traffic it receives. So I entered in a domain name of a popular website and I calculated that the amount it basically received per visitor was .6 cents per visitor.

Now, in the real world, this amount could vary, depending on how well monetized your site actually is. But let's just say that a site that is adequately monetized generates, on average, .6 cents per visitor. 

So based on that number, I calculated that I would have to have half a million visitors a month going to my websites in order for me to generate $36,000 a year from my websites. Obviously, half a million visitors a month is a lot of people.

You see, we have to be realistic in our goals and in order to do that, we must have some somewhat realistic numbers to work with. We need to know exactly what we are up against. Once we determine that, we need to devise a strategy. The strategy itself is a different matter all its own and it would also involve a number of short term and long term goals. Then, occasionally, we must make assessments regarding our progress in pursuit of the goals.

So there is the initial running of the numbers as I have provided in my example above and there will be the occasional running of the numbers used to measure progress.

Now, to generate the necessary traffic to my various websites, there are a number of methods and factors you will need to consider. There are e-mail lists, blogs, collaborations with others advertising, online marketing, social network promotion and so on.

Realizing how monumental a task may be actually helps you in the sense that it forces you to pull out all of the stops and makes you more willing to give consideration to a number of methods and ideas one could use to pursue a goal. It may help to create a sense of urgency on your part and force you to not only work harder but smarter as well. I would place a great deal of emphasis on the smarter part, if you ask me.

So if you have some goals, you need to work the numbers and then devise a strategy. I'm not saying, though, that the numbers never change or that they are carved in stone. You may get updated information and have to use new numbers. But, at any rate, you need to run the numbers and you need to try to run numbers that are the most accurate numbers you can find. If you find more up-to-date information, run the new numbers and you may also need to modify your strategy as well. Just be sure to run the numbers in pursuit or your goals.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Making an Idea Become a Reality

There have been a number of times where I have developed an idea and then set out to make it a reality. Quite often it takes a lot of time and effort but  developing a well laid out strategy can speed up the process and make it easier.

My most recent example is a website I just created called The website features a comic strip that has some punk rock characters. The idea first came to me when I was playing around in a 3D program called Daz Studio. I use that program for a lot of my 3D artwork.

I was playing around and I came up with a cool looking character. I took a good look at him and decided to give him a few friends and before you know it, I had a four man punk rock band like the ones displayed to the left. After I saw what I created, I thought it would be a cool idea to do a comic strip featuring the characters that I had just created.

I knew that they had to have their own website of course and that meant that I needed to find a domain name to use. I thought that Punksters would be a good name for them. Unfortunately, was taken so I had to settle for That's almost as good anyway. 

Now that I had a name for the strip and the domain name reserved, I had to build a website. But what was I going to put on the website?  After all, the only idea I really had was just to do the comic strip. Well, I decided to put up some free downloadable desktop wallpapers. I figured that it would be a nice feature to add in order to drive people to the site and help to popularize the characters and the comic strip.

I thought another good idea might be to have a page that introduces the main characters. So I added that. Then I thought that it might be a good idea to create a blog for them. Since I was only going to do a weekly comic strip to be released every Sunday, I thought that it might be nice to do a blog about them and release a new blog post every Wednesday on the Blog. I also put an RSS feed for the blog on the main page of the website.

Another idea I had for the purpose of popularizing the characters was to take suggestions from people as to what I can do with the characters. That was one of the main reasons behind creating the blog for it. So I created a suggestion box on the website. It's a simple form people can fill out and send their suggestions in with. People can look over the page that introduces characters with a brief description of each one and try to get some ideas as to what they would like to see me have them do in future comic strips.

Then I decided to create some merchandise that featured the characters. I created posters, mugs, hats, wall clocks and T-shirts. So now everything was pretty much set up and created except for one thing. Guess what that was. It was the comic strip.

You see, I knew that before I even did the first comic strip that I had to set things up in a way to help make it more likely that the strip would become popular and that required some of the various features and things that are found on the site and the blog. So making that idea become a reality involved a lot of things and a lot of work.

I have since begun doing some of the comic strips and I actually am somewhat ahead on them. In other words, I have more made than have been released. That's just an extra precautionary measure.

So this is what it took for me to make an idea into a reality: I had the initial idea of the comic strip. Then I outlined what I think it would take to popularize it or to market it. Then I decided what features to include in a website. I designed the website and created a blog. So there is obviously much more to creating a comic strip than just doing a strip. There are other things to think about and how to promote, market it and popularize it are among those things.

The point of this article is pretty simple. In order to make an idea become a reality, you need to work out the details before you even set out to do anything. Lay things out on paper or in a document on your computer. Think of all the details you need to work out. Then decide what order you want to do things in. That's what I did and now my idea is a reality. Good luck with your ideas.