Sunday, August 1, 2010

Alive, and a book exists!

Dang, keeping up with the internet and doing comics stuff gets kinda crazy sometimes. Here's a breakdown:

1. The book is done and exists! It premiered at San Diego Comic-Con a week-and-a-half-ish ago. The nice folks at SLG set Joe, Lauren and I up each day with a spot at the SLG booth for a few hours. Each day passers-by could take a peek through A Friendly Game, talk with us, and pick up a book signed by all three of us if they wished. Thanks again to everyone who stopped by, and to SLG for being so rad to us newcomers!

2. It looks like A Friendly Game has been taken off the pre-order list on Amazon, so you can order it now from there as well! Not sure on the status of other online and physical stores, but we did get a nice compliment from a fellow in Canada who has it in stock and enjoyed it...Whether it's in stock everywhere will probably change in the next week or so.

3. We were interviewed by Tim O'Shea from Comic Book Resources for his column Talking Comics with Tim. You can read the article over here.

That's the quick rap-up. Again, thanks to everyone who stopped by to look at and get a copy of A Friendly Game at San Diego, and to SLG for having us there!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

and then there was a movie...

just cus i'm tired, i will say... watch whip it. dont watch valentine's day and karate kid is still awesome.

whip it is a total "girl power" raise of the underdog with a secret from her parents to follow her dreams" type of movie. it does every turn expected and and the characters are as generic and flat as you could get. HOWEVER. as a director, i was quite surprised by Drew Barrymore's perception of the script and the performances, all-around are quite cute. YET i do not say this with negativity, rather quite the contrary. ITS A MOVIE ABOUT ROLLER DURBY GIRLS. it's just fun. if the movie doesnt strike an interest within the first minutes, it is most likely that it will be a bland experience. BUT if given the opportunity... it's a very enjoyable flick. AND of course.. because it's my scratching comfort...
the soundtrack is really good.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Printing Blue-lines (or red, if they need be)

Long overdue, it's time to reveal the secrets of printing out pencils in blue lines to ink on real live papers. Here's what I'm workin' with here:
  • 400 lb Vellum Strathmore brand Bristol Board. I enjoy the texture of Vellum, but you can print on Smooth if it's more your thing. I usually buy a lot of it when Dick Blick has a reduced-shipping sale for around $10 a pad or less (11 x 14 size).
  • HP 9800 large format printer: This fellow was over $300 when I first invested in him a few years ago and getting this particular one is probably much cheaper now. I'm not sure what the latest model number is. This guy can be really fickle about grabbing the paper, and you will have occasions of yelling. I believe they can print up to 13 x 19 inches in size. Friendly Game ink pages are at 10 x 15.
  • Adobe Photoshop CS2 for Windows: Not sure if the settings I'm using have gotten moved around in CS3 or CS4, or if they are different in prior versions. You probably will be able to find them based on the screenshots
  • The pencils that I'm working with are scanned at 300 resolution and saved as TIFs. You don't want to go below that resolution, or you'll get pixely printouts that will make you go cross-eyed.
  • I couldn't shrink these screenshots too much without loosing Photoshop button readability, so they will be a bit on the large size when you click on them.
  • Since I'm printing this page, I'm using CMYK colors in the color picker. Ignore the RGBs.
Here we go!
1. First step is to open up Photoshop and grab your penciled scan. Depending on your computer's memory, the size may slow it down. Cropping in close to the border will slice the size down a bit and help it print faster. I usually only blue-line and print one page at a time to be safe. You'll need your image mode to be Grayscale for the next step.

2. At the top, go Image > Mode > Duotone (or Grayscale if you need to first). The Duotone menu will pop up, and clicking on the square of color will open the color picker. A lot of artist have different settings to get the light blue(Cyan), and you may have to try a few settings depending on how bright your monitor is. Mine's like the sun, so mine looks pretty light but will print darker.

3. A curveball here: I'm printing this particular page in red. The reason being is that if you're using a tri-color cartridge like the 9800 has, you will eventually suck down that one color. To have it last longer, I switched between Magenta-heavy colors instead of Cyan. If you can find a large format printer that has individual cartridges instead of tri-color, go for it. You can also save these color settings for later from the Duotone Options box, which is a great timesaver.

4. From the top, File > Print Preview. Your page will not fit, but that's fine because we're getting ready to tell the computer all about the size and printer. From here, click Page Setup.

5. By default, your printer will probably be at Portrait, but check to be sure. Choose Printer, then select the HP9800 from the dropdown if it's not your default. Next, click Properties.

6. Under the tab Paper/Quality, you can set the printer to take the large-format size. 10x15 size is close to Tabloid, and you'll want Other Brochure Paper, since that's a thicker paper type. You can also save your settings for this screen as well like I have (Comic Page). Click Okay.

7. Now the screen will look more like it's supposed to when it's printed. Hit the print button, and stay close by to watch that the paper is grabbed correctly from the tray.

Sometimes the page prints fast, and sometimes it'll take 20 minutes. Again, this will depend on your computer and if the printer likes you. (No, really.) The computer and printer I used for printed Friendly Game pages usually enjoyed thinking about printing for 10 to 15 minutes, then spit the page out in about 3 minutes afterward.

Additionally, I've found inking over a page printed with red ink is sometimes a little more strain on the eye as opposed to the blue. It's all about what works best for you when inking the page and will let you use as much of the ink from that wee printer cartridge as possible.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

so, the lettering and the toning are going better than assumed and we're looking at a good schedule to finally have this book finished, however, i'd like to talk about something i've been observing. working on films as a storyboard artist, i've noticed a few key differences in the language and i think it has to do with with the... facts that comics are drawings, films are real people. i know that sounds dumb and obvious, but it is the predominant difference.
the simplicity makes the difference. live-action films tend to be straight-on shots, as oppose to comics, where it's insisted that shot compositions are designed with dynamism.
in terms of shot-labeling, 3/4 profiles, medium shots, medium close-ups and so on, are not the same in one medium as they are in the other. live actions tends to be more distant, where in comics, medium shots are closer in to characters. even if the drawings are realistic or cartoony's funny how it makes a difference...

Saturday, February 6, 2010

lettering: full speed/engaged-all systems-GO! operative 5.37xv-post-206---
toning: readings-reveal/top-secrete alt+0.4= crank-up the awesome knobs and switch-a:^_^

let the wOrK be done.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Speed coloring Basics. Tips for getting it done

Coloring for comics these days is usually about knowing color theory and being able to apply it when your handed a 20 pages a weeks later than you expected them. It took me a while to learn what worked for me in order to effectively use my time and get what I had to done. These are some basic things I have learned and hope they help you speed up your processes

1. Setup the Pencil Tool

On your photoshop tool window you can select either the "Pencil" or the "Brush" tool to color in your line art with. The difference between the two is in the edge of the brush. The pencil tool is Aliased- meaning there's a jagged quality to the edge of your marks. The brush on the other hand has Anti-Aliased edges-meaning the edges are blurred in order to give a more smooth appearance to your lines.

Alised edge (left) VS Anti-Alised edge (right)

The aliased edges of the pencil are made for the selection tools to easily grab around right along its edge. If you select a mark made by a brush tool you're unable to grab the shape right up to its edge, on account of its blurred effect.

Selection tools grab onto alised edges easily

Why does this matter?

Shading with Pencil Tool

Shading with Brush Tool

Well lets say you're shading a face of a character. You've found that the shadow isn't the right shade you want. It needs to be changed. Instead of shading the face again, you select the color shape to change its color on the fly.

Selecting shapes made with the brush tool

Offset Fill

When you select the shading you made with the brush tool, its offset on account of its soft blurred edges. Therefore when you re fill this shape with a different color you get these off set fill edges of the color you've just tried to get rid of.
By using the pencil tool. you're able to select the entire shape without it being off set. Then select and fill it with no problems. Fast and easy.

Selecting shapes made with Pencil Tool

A clean fill!

I know the lack of liquid smooth edges that you loose by using the pencil tool is a concerned for a lot of artist going for a specific look. But you know what? When you aren't zoomed all the way in and actually view and image at the PRINT size. Aliased lines look pretty defined. They save you a lot of time. After a piece is finished you can go back and blur things out again with a filter.

Before you continue using the pencil tool while doing a page, you have to make sure your eraser and selection tools are also aliased. Its a simple as just un-checking a box up at the top of the screen labeled "Anti-alias"when you have the magic wand/ eraser selected.

Switching your Eraser tool to "Pencil" Mode will give you an aliased edge. This is located up at the top right next to the "brush size selection"

Selection tools can be made aliased by un-checking the box at the top of the screen next to your tolerance setting.

2. Extra selection tips:-Contigous/ Tolerance:
When using the "Magic Wand" tool there are several options and settings that are good to be aware of.

Tolerance is the sensitivity of your selection tool. If you have two colors that are very close to one another in hue/ value, the wand may not recognize these as separate fields of color at first. You can change how "picky" the magic wand is by lowering the tolerance. The lower the number, the more the tool will differentiate between the minute details in your colors.

Contiguous is a command that sets your Magic Wand Tool to select just one shape at a time. If this box is unchecked, the Wand will pick up ALL shapes of the same value (based on your tolerance setting). This makes selecting whole groups and changing them much quicker. Otherwise you'd have to go though and select all similar colors by hand one at a time.

With Contiguous unchecked you can select multiple shapes with the same color value all at once. Contiguous is located next to your Anti-Alias option and tolerance setting at the top of the screen when you have your "Magic Wand" selected

3. Know Hot Keys

Hot keys are key board commands that do an action automatically without having to navigate a to a separate menu or click away from a tool you're currently using.

Normally to fill in a selection you would use the paint bucket tool. But why waste the time? By pressing the key stroke: ALT/OPTION and DELETE key your shape will automatically fill with whatever your top swatch is.
The key stroke: APPLE and DELETE fills the shape with bottom swatch

While using your brush tool you can automatically flip between your eye dropper and back again simply by striking the ALT/OPTION key. This enables you to switch your colors quickly without bothering with swatches or having to go back to your tool window.

4. Pick a Palette.

Picking those exact colors to use for a page can be a great time waster. This is something for the most part just gets easier and easier to do over time. As selecting colors depends on your own personal taste and aesthetics. As well as the style of the piece you may happen to be working on.

HOWEVER- It is important to stick to a palette of limited colors to keep a page consistent. Inspiration for palettes can come from a variety of sources. Look at nature. Observe. Ask yourself...if i was to recreate the color that road/ apple / street lamp. what would I mix together? Keep and download images of pages and colors you think are successful.

Color Lovers is a online community of people who are interested in color theory. There are millions of palettes and swatches posted by users. If you're stuck- its a good place to go.

5. Rinse. Repeat.

Speed ultimately comes down to practice- just like anything else. The more you practice you're own methods the more you get down your process to a science.
Keep your layers down to as few as possible. Nothing is a bigger waste of time than trying to find that ONE layer you put that ONE skin tone on.

Keep your eyes open to learn what others are doing and try to apply it to your own working methods. Half of the things I've shared are things I learned from other colorist. If you can pick up one tip or trick to make your own process go smoother its worth sitting through a live stream or breezing though a tutorial on deviant art.

Happy Coloring!


Sunday, January 17, 2010

i want to thank Dan Vado for the ery informative conversation we had last thursday. now Lindsay, lauren and I are picking up
the pace and finishing things as fast as we can. lauren has been doing a great job at toning. and lindsay, as always, the ever responsible has just finished what we hope to ve the final cover fo the book we've been working on for so long. i on the other hand occupy my time with freelance work, personal projects and... at some point, a personal life.
in the mean time. i will simply say that it is late, i am tired and i am glad to be working with such a team.
just becuase there;s booze int he ssystem i will say a big shout out to the periscope studio, the entire norris hall and those who have been supportive and hopeful to our
its been a long road, and it seems surreal to be at this point.
thaks again...