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The Making of Sunkissed: from Concept to Launch

How do you take a story from your head and put it out in the world for everyone to enjoy? Every creator has a unique method for bringing their work to life, but today I want to share mine! Sunkissed is a webcomic about a sheepish university student and easygoing local who end up bringing out the best in each other in a story of love, growth, and self-acceptance. But before then, it was a couple of silly doodles in an old sketchbook.

In 2012, my sister and I each adopted a betta fish. I had a blue fish that I named Des. My sister had a red one that she named Speckle. They unfortunately died not too long after, and I have personally vowed to never adopt anything that lives in a tank again because I am bad at caring for them. This is only partly relevant to the overall story.

See, I had the really original thought to draw them as people. And thus Alex and Stephen were “born”, with names and color schemes that were loosely based off of the fish. Alex was a smarmy pretty boy and Stephen was perpetually annoyed. They didn’t actually like each other at this point, until I drew them again a few months later and thought...what if they kissed. As they say, the rest is history.

In the five years it took to get Sunkissed launch-worthy, so much about their personalities and appearances changed. From their backstories to their color schemes, they’re hardly the same characters. (Thank goodness.) My method for developing characters involves imagining and drawing them in a variety of situations to figure out what they would say, how they would respond, and why they would feel the way they do. Answering those fifty-question memes is also fun, but if I'm being honest knowing how a character likes their coffee doesn't say as much as what they would do after failing an exam.

A few things have stayed consistent though, like Alex and his bedroom eyes or Stephen being very studious. It was also pretty early on that I figured out the setting of the story and the gist of how they meet and get along. Stephen enrolls in the University of Hawaii at Manoa where he meets Alex and they very quickly begin dating. (I have no patience for slow burn romance, so it was always a story of love at first sight.) Having solid groundwork like that certainly made it easier to figure out who the people in the plot really are.

I went back and forth with whether or not to create a comic from the story that I kept tossing around in my head. Did I have the skills? Was the story really interesting enough? How could I compact five year's worth of daydreams into a coherent plot?

Obviously I settled on just going for it and am now very grateful I did! In fact, I became so engulfed in the comic that sometimes I forget exactly what inspired me to create the characters I've dedicated nearly a decade of my life to. If I'm being honest, I much prefer to forget this goofy little origin story. But thanks to a terrible decision my sister and I made when I was seventeen, Sunkissed exists for you to enjoy. Fingers crossed it was worth it.

Read Sunkissed on Tapas, Webtoons, or Twitter.

Part two coming in two days! Stick around to learn more about my first big webcomic launch.


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