So here we are at last, the final step! By this time I’m psyched to have gotten to this phase. Throughout this process, I’ve scripted, thumbnailed, penciled, inked twice, colored and by now I am so relieved to be here adding the finishing touches on the computer. Before I dive right in, I’m going to warn you that I’ll probably get a little technical so hopefully you’ll have some familiarity with Photoshop and Illustrator.
I scan the page for print in CMYK at 600dpi. In Photoshop, I’ll add a levels layer and a hue saturation layer and make the appropriate adjustments. The aim is to find a nice balance of tones as well as give the colors a small boost using the hue/sat adjustment layer. During the scanning process, the texture of the blank paper gets lost to white so to bring that back I take a previous scan of the paper texture and add that as a separate Photoshop layer. I use the layer properties to make the paper texture visible only where the image is white and that restores the look of the actual page. Unfortunately it also gives the page a bit of a yellow cast so I use some more hue/sat adjustment layer(s) to bring the greys closer to a neutral color. Speaking of hue/sat adjustments, the very first thought balloon’s color underwent a number of changes. At first I tweaked the color to be more like the teal color of some of the other balloons but after looking at it again I decided to change it to match the rust color of the balloons from Page 25. You may also notice that the thought balloon in the third image has also been darkened. I used a multiply layer to darken it so that the letters would have enough contrast to be legible.
Sometimes, I’ll adjust the drawing itself. Page 26 was one of those occasions where I added some new elements. For the ‘panel’ where I open the fridge door, I added some shaky lines around the arm and by my head to carry over the shakiness of the other images. Lastly, I added a few more ’stars’ around some of the thought balloon edges. This is what it looked like at this point.
Now that the image is done, it’s time I sorted out the letters. Originally, I don’t think I had any intentions of having any dialog for this page. I was just supposed to straggle over to the fridge with a buildup of tension until I finally opened it with the ‘CHUK!’ sfx. After looking at it some more, I decided to play with some internal dialog to slow down the reading of each image and to make more clear what was going on with me internally. The shaky lines around the character are one indication of some of the symptoms of a low blood sugar reaction but the casual viewer might not pick up on this so I added some redundancy by having the words, “feeling shaky” drawn out over most of the page. The idea was to have the words stretch out time so that it would elevate this mundane moment into something special. That inspired me to actually manipulate the text itself to visually give the cue that my ability to process language has slowed down as well. I did this by first laying out the text in Illustrator and then applying a flag warp to the type. When I was satisfied that they looked good, I copied them as smart objects into Photoshop. Once in Photoshop, layer masks allowed me to create the illusion of the words swirling behind some of the scrit legs and later to subtly vanish into the atmosphere in the second-last thought balloon. This is an important detail because it integrates these purely digital elements into the image. Whenever I see lettering in comic books where the sound effects and text all clearly float above the art, I get a little peeved and taken out of the story. Having no real script for a lot of these pages requires that I keep things open in the lettering phase. Adding the text digitally is therefore a must but it doesn’t have to be obvious! That’s why I take these measures to try and bring the analog art closer to the digital elements. Here are the finished letters.
And there you have it! Phew! It’s been quite a journey to get here and it always feels great to finish up by flattening the image, scaling it and prepping it for the web. Once it goes online, I feel a great sense of relief and accomplishment and then it starts all over again! But before that happens, come back tomorrow for my final post where I thank all the fine sites that have linked to this series of posts and those who have shown their support to this project along the way. See you then!