Knowing where to go
Fortunately there are open source alternatives to the rather expensive Adobe programs: There is Inkscape which is a good alternative to Adobe Illustrator, Gimp which is the open source alternative to Photoshop, and Scribus which does a lot of things which have done be done in InDesign.
I haven’t done anything in Gimp yet, but I have been using Inkscape, and just now I am putting together my first illustrated story with Scribus. When I drew the first cat cartoons I only had a vague story in mind. However with each cat cartoon I drew and coloured the story became clearer and clearer. Unfortunatly the first illustration I had was one which had to be inserted at the end of the story. It seemed that I worked from end to front.
It seemed that it was time to put them together in the right order, and the tool for that is Scribus. You can easily insert pages, you can insert images, move them around, change their size, write paragraphs around them.
I must admit, that all that hasn’t been a planned process. I’ve watched a lot of videos about graphic novels in the meantime, and all of them tell you to write down the story first, then do the thumbnails and then do the drawing and colouring. I very much did the opposite: I began with a detailed drawing and illustration of something which now is the final scene. I had only a vague idea of the story. I had no thumbnails. I’ve got a mixture of hand-lettering and lettering done in photoshop. I’ve got a mixture of colouring with pencils and markers and digital colouring. I got a written story, and inserted in it, illustrations with captions. Seen from a professional view I severely failed.
BUT: I had and I am still having a lot of fun. A long time ago I had fun telling little stories. Then a time came when I had fun drawing, painting and colouring. Now, it seems that I’ve found a way to combine the two things I like to do – storytelling and painting/drawing/colouring. There’s always time to learn and get better – once you know where you want to go. Now I know.