Methods and Madness

One of the things my instructors at school have told me on several occasions is there are several ways to skin a cat. I’ve been discovering that over the years of working on Kota’s World and The Errant Apprentice. Originally, I was just futzing about in Photoshop. I’d just color right on the line art and pray to God I didn’t go over the lines. I started duplicating the art and setting it to multiply and coloring below it. Finally I hit on It told me how to make the line art a transparent layer. The site claims the tutorials there are old and stupid, but frankly I find they’re just as informative as always. By the time I’d hit Errant Apprentice I was doing things I was very happy with and was convinced I’d keep using it for ages.
Then they showed me Illustrator. Michelle and Susan showed me the things I could do for drawing and coloring and I decided to give it a shot. I toyed with inking on the computer, but the time it took to do a comic went from four hours to eight to ten! I’ve started hand inking again and coloring in Illustrator.

Currently my method consists of scanning my inked art at 300 DPI and moving it to the Mac. In Photoshop I adjust the curves into and “S” shape to brighten the whites and darken the blacks. From there it’s straight to Illustrator. I run livetrace and set it to “inked drawings. I adjust the path fitting to around 5 or 6 and check ignore white. It makes it all a bit cleaner.
After that I use the expand feature to shoe the paths and points. I copy the line art and paste it into a template I use from Ka-Blam and color on a layer behind the line art. The color is just shapes. I can apply effects and the color ends up much more even and is easy to manipulate.

All this being said, I keep buying these books about how to color comics. I notice that everyone keeps coloring with Photoshop. Am I the only one who’s using Illustrator like this? I know Jeph Jacques from Questionable Content uses Illustrator to completely draw his series. I’d love to see the guy work but I never really get to watch Ustream stuff. Actually, I wish I knew some other web cartoonists who worked digitally, but that’s another rant all together I suppose.


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