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Machines and Activation

posted Apr 10, 2015, 3:47 PM by Jacob Evans   [ updated Apr 17, 2015, 8:34 AM ]
Hey everybody!

I've got two updates for you this lovely evening: up first, the second half of Activation's first chapter -- say that three times fast (or send along better wording). I think I might start posting the full text in the blog post starting with the next chapter. Let me know how that looks in the comment system we'll hopefully have by then.

Up next, we've got a special, almost-double-length edition of the Machines (which I just realized I probably could have split into two parts. Ah well, it works better this way). These things take me a long time to make so hopefully this makes it worth it.

In fact, I think I said I was going to expound on my (current, broken) process and why, exactly it takes so long, so here's a short version:

(Note, I'm actually working on learning a bit of comicking and improving/streamlining this process, so this is really just posted so you can laugh at the meandering course the comics take through two mediums and three different art programs. If you do have any suggestions, I'm always happy to hear them though, though you'll have to use the site email at the moment.)

Step 1: Line Art
Draw everything in mechanical pencil on computer paper because you've forgotten everything from your portraits class. For bonus points, draw every panel on separate sheets and don't worry about layout or any of that stuff until later.

Step 2: Layout
Scan each sheet, import it into GIMP, clean up/darken the line art because the process of inking somehow mystifies you. Jam it all into the biggest file you can and organize it into something approaching layout. (This part takes time and sucks, I think I might start looking for a line artist/inker sometime soon because it's one of the main quality sticking-points, and the lack of layout planning probably damages the flow of action.)

Step 3: Pre-Coloring
For this one and probably some in the future, I added several textures from cgtextures, under the color layers. Piecing them together, and getting the light and perspective right took more time than I was expecting, but I'm pleased with the result, it's a little more scifi and a little less oil-painty.

Step 4: Coloring (AKA the best part)
I fking love coloring. I don't know why, it's just my favorite part of the whole process save perhaps for writing. My only formal art training, aside from that portraits class, was an oil-painting course, and that was tremendous fun, though coloring has the added bonus of providing nice lines to work in, so I can focus on light and color and not worry about the figures ect so much, so maybe that's why. For this step I import it into Artrage, as it's by and far the best painting program I've found to date. I do most of the color using the oil painting tool (scifi theme of the comic be damned) and the paint scraper, along with the airbrush, which is probably my new favorite at the moment. When the color's finally right, I export the flattened image and move on to the next step.

Step 5: Lettering (and layout, again)
For this step I've been using Manga Studio, since it seemed like the best way to create comic panels, speech bubbles/boxes, ect. Basically I cut the original comic with it's drawn-in-GIMP panels up and make a nicer layout, before adding all the dialogue, sound effects, and narrator boxes.

Step 6: Cleanup
At this point we've come full circle back to GIMP, where I do any touchup work and resize for the internet. And this whole, thrilling process only takes a couple months.

So yeah, that's the process at the moment, I'm working on improving it in the future, so we'll see how it goes. Hopefully we'll have some more of these up soon!

Good night, and as always, thanks for reading,