How I Make The Weekly Comic Page in Manga Studio, Illustrator & Photoshop
(Also posted on the Atomsplit tumblr blog)
This is how I make the Atomsplit weekly comic page. The first thing I do is write the script so I know what I need to draw. After that’s gone through at least four drafts between me and DJD it’s time to put the pencil to the page.
When I start drawing I read over the script and determine how the panes should be laid out. I then rule out all the panels. They might not be exactly straight or the gutters might not be exactly even but that doesn’t matter to me because it gets fixed in Illustrator, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself. Let’s back it up to the drawing.
After the panels are made I read the script again and quickly sketch it all out. Once I’m done with that I tighten up all of those quick sketches. I may even refer to the net for photo references for some things. Now, you may think this isn’t very tight and if I were doing this for someone else to ink and color I would put in much more detail, but I’m doing this for me and so to save time and keep the ball rolling I tighten up just what I need to be tight and ditch all the other details.
When I get done with drawing to my personal specifications I scan it into my desktop PC along with seven other pages for the month. I take one of the scans, in this case page 81, and put into an Adobe Illustrator file called Atomsplit & The Sonic Zombies Template. The template has the site, the copyright year, the name of the comic, and the number so I can change the number for each page.
It also has guidelines. On a separate layer from the title layer I use the guidelines to size up the comic. On another layer I make the panel borders. I use a 5 stroke for them.
On a forth layer I use the pen tool in Illustrator to draw out any straight lines. Sometimes there are no straight lines and I skip this step.
After that’s done I save each layer of the template as a separate PNG file. So the drawing is A, The borders and title are B and the line drawing, if necessary, is C. Once that’s done I recompile it in Manga Studio. The drawing, A goes on bottom layer, and the borders and title, B goes on a layer above the drawings. Once those layers are in I make the opacity on the drawing layer negative 50 and lock both of the layers down so they won’t be disturbed. Then I put the line drawings, C on a middle layer and rename that layer Inks if I need to and in the case of this page I do.
Once that’s done I start outlining everything including the line drawings I did in Illustrator with the G Pen in Manga Studio. I have this pen set to the highest correction so I can get pretty smooth lines.
After I have the outlines done I go in with a combination of eraser and turnip pen tools and start adding texture lines and crosshatching and cleaning up anything that needs to be cleaned up.
Once that’s finished I throw away the pencil drawing, A layer since I don’t need it anymore and it saves in the over all file size and the Manga Studio files can be huge. DJD and I had to free up some space on Dropbox because of them this week. It’s also helpful not to have that layer around because in the next step I will be using the magic wand and the pencils in that layer can mess up the selection area of the wand.
So, after I delete that layer I add in all of the special effects using the magic wand. In this case they include various halftone patterns and some speedlines. I also add in the Atomsplit A logo to any of the clothing if it needs it. I save it as both a Manga Studio file and a Photoshop file and then I close Manga Studio.
Finally, I come almost full circle back to Adobe Illustrator. I open the Photoshop file in Illustrator as a single layer. I lock that layer down and then make a new one. Here I add all of the word balloons and sound effects with various fonts mostly provided by the amazing and generous Nate Piekos at blambot.com. Once all of the text is applied I save it as an Illustrator file and then export it as a .JPG for the web. I then open the .JPG in Photoshop and make a smaller teaser that I send out to all the social medias and hopefully you Atomsplitters will click on the link associated with the teaser to read the comic.
So that’s it. Does it seem like a lot of work? I don’t know. It’s just my system for now. Maybe I can streamline it later, like I know you can make balloons and sound effects in Manga Studio, but I don’t know how, so, until I do and it’s faster to use those balloons this system all I got and I think it’s a system that’s turning out some darn good comics!