Introduction: Full-Color Comic Strip
Hola, Amigos! Today we will be creating a Full-Color Comic Strip that you can share with your family and friends.
The strip I will be using for example is one I did in my Sophomore year of High School for my school paper.
Please note that making comics is totally flexible and there are hundreds of ways to do it! I will be showcasing maybe just two particular methods that work really well for me. You can make a comic strip without spending a ton of money on supplies or cutting-edge graphics software. No two cartoonists make strips the exact same way.
Now, eh, some ground rules I feel the need to explain...
1) Instructables has a "be nice" comment policy, which I think is a great idea! Please use it.
2) If you don't understand the instructions and end up assembling a nuclear bomb or any other kind of mishap that I could potentially be responsible for...I'm not responsible for it. Oddly enough by stating that in the introduction that makes me legally clear. I guess.
3) THAT'S ALL I HAVE TO SAY LET'S GOOOOO!!!
Step 1: PAPER!
Get some paper!
Question: Do I need some fancy high-tech paper to draw my cartoon?
...If you want to you can, but seriously, it's not necessaryat all.
I'm going to draw my comic using generic, 8 1/2" x 11" white computer paper.
Lots of cartoonists use higher-quality paper like bristol because it's tougher, lasts longer, works better with their markers, etc. That's good and all, but we just want to make a funny cartoon to share with our friends. And because of that, any paper will do.
Step 2: WRITING UTENSILS
This part is going to be a little different for everyone: What materials are you going to use to draw and letter your comic?
Here are some suggestions:
Generic (Mechanical) Pencil - The most basic writing utensil of all time. You can get a pack of 20 for a dollar. Even if you don't use it to actually draw your strip, I still recommend using it for test sketches or tracing or stuff.
A big disadvantage of a pencil is that it produces graphite, not ink. Every great-looking cartoon in a newspaper is always drawn with ink. The technical difference is that ink produces a strong black line and graphite produces a light grey line. This is actually a very big deal, especially later when we color it, because the lines will be significantly less prominent and can actually visually confuse the reader.
ANOTHER NOTE: IF YOU ARE GOING TO DIGITALLY COLOR YOUR COMIC, PENCILS WILL MOST LIKELY FAIL. DO NOT USE PENCILS IF YOU WANT TO DIGITALLY COLOR YOUR COMIC. COLOR IT WITH MARKERS OR COLORED PENCILS INSTEAD.
Inking Pens - This is what I used to draw my comic. I recommend getting some various sizes (thin, medium, huge) for various purposes in your comic. Faber-Castell is a pretty good brand, so is Prismacolor. The disadvantage of these pens is that they are actually quite expensive. But they will last a good, long time and can be used for things other than drawing comics.
Sharpie Pen - I love using Sharpie Pens for both writing and sketching. (Geez I sound like an advertisement) But seriously, this produces a great-looking line and handles very well in your hand. The only truly sucking point about this kind of pen is that it has a ridiculously short lifespan, about 5 days if you draw and write a lot with it.
Paper Mate Flair M - The Flair M is a great pen because its tip allows for both thin and thick lines. The only problem is that these have an absolutely atrocious lifespan. With all seriousness I can drain the whole thing of its ink in a few hours. That really stinks, but it is a well-designed pen otherwise.
Wow, WHO KNEW LEARNING ABOUT PENS COULD BE SO MUCH FUN!!??
I apologize because I know that to some people pens aren't very exciting (I'm not one of those people). So let's MOVE ON to SOMETHING MORE INTERESTING--COLORING!!!
Step 3: COLORING
To color my comic, I used computers (As totally not shown by the example picture I used above).
After I had drawn it with a pen on paper, I scanned it into the computer and colored it with my mouse. This will get kinda technical later and I will talk about this more in another step. (Step 8)
If you don't believe in computers or you don't feel like assembling the technology, you can always use colored pencils or markers. Prismacolor Illustration Markers are great, but kinda pricey. I got them after creating this particular comic and have been using them ever since.
Should you use computers, you need a SCANNER and some GRAPHICS SOFTWARE.
Any generic Scanner will do. I honestly don't know what to say. If it scans, it works. Congratulations.
Adobe Photoshop is where graphics editing is at. It takes a bit of a learning curve to understand, but once you get it, you can pretty much take over the world with it.
But Photoshop costs money, and for that problem there is GIMP. What is GIMP? It's a powerful, free graphics editing program that's a step below Photoshop but still works great. I used GIMP to create this particular comic.
OKAY WE HAVE ALL OF OUR USELESS JUNK NOW LET'S DRAW SOME COMICS!!!!!!!!!!!!! YEAAHH
Step 4: WRITING & IDEAS
Everyone assumes the most important aspect of cartoons is art.
You are very, completely wrong.
It's the words, the writing, the story you are trying to tell that truly counts.
The art helps convey that, but if you have great art and a mediocre idea, the whole thing suffers. (My example: Marmeduke) You can have mediocre art and great writing and have something fantastic (My example: Pearls Before Swine)
In this particular comic, which came out a week or so before my dreaded final exams, I thought it would be funny to over-exaggerate the obsessive fear of failing. That was kind of funny, but then I pushed it further by cramming in the fact that seniors don't have to take final exams (a tradition at my particular High School) to add to the stress.
I often throw around ideas in my head and then draw a "visual script" with pencil very quickly. If you read it carefully and compare it to the final thing you can tell that almost all of the dialog is different in the final thing.
Like I said before: The writing is too important. You can never fix it too much.
Step 5: DRAWING 101
I am going to go out on a limb and assume that 75% of people reading this are concerned about their ability to draw well.
Like I said before, the drawings aren't that important as long as you have a great idea.
But, if you're looking for some extra credit, here's my advice:
You know those "How to Draw Cartoons" books you find in every craft and book store ever?
Those are the stupidest things ever to exist. Don't buy them, don't read them. You can't learn how to draw cartoons from them. They're too confusing for beginners. They imply that cartoons are made by drawing shapes, erasing them, thickening lines, erasing those lines, filling it in with pen...
Those are how cartoons are ANIMATED, which is an extensive business operation involving literally hundreds of people drawing tens of thousands of images that need to all look consistent, which requires extra needs like more attention to detail and junk. What you're trying to do is draw ONE cartoon on ONE sheet of paper.
If you actually want to learn how to draw cartoons, I would advise googling pictures of your favorite cartoons, and trying to draw as many characters as you can. Over time you will notice patterns of how they look, and the laws of cartooning will grow on you.
If you don't have a series in mind, Spongebob Squarepants is an excellent example in my opinion of something that is pretty simple and fun to draw.
That's my drawing advice for the day. I promise there will not be a test. Let's move on.
Step 6: DRAW YOUR COMIC
Get a nice, clean table and start drawing your boxes.
The boxes that separate each scene are called "panels" and are usually drawn against a ruler to ensure straight lines. I have become good enough at it that I usually don't need a ruler, and you're just drawing squares so it shouldn't be that tough, but if you want it to look nice, a straightedge is the way to go.
Next, I would draw the dialog. Most cartoonists like to draw pencil lines where the dialog would be and erase them later to help them orient their lettering better, but once again I have done it so much that I usually don't do that, I can just write and it's pretty legible. The reason we're doing lettering before drawings is because sometimes the drawings can take up too much space, and whereas the drawings are flexible, the text is not. Also, our "visual script" we did earlier in pencil should help us figure out the text-drawing ratio for each panel.
Lastly, draw your pictures. I pretty much said everything there is to say on the previous step. Don't worry if they aren't fantastic. I still like you. A lot.
Step 7: REDUCE YOUR COLOR COUNT
Scan your drawings into your computer, and here we go-- TECHNICAL STUFF!
1) Open up GIMP.
2) Locate the file of your drawing and place it in GIMP.
3) Go to IMAGE > MODE > INDEXED (Image 1)
4) Click on "Use black and white (1-bit) palette" then CONVERT (Image 2)
What did we just do and why?
See, when you scan a black and white drawing, computers see more than the 2 colors you used. They see hundreds of shades of white and hundreds of tints of black. We only want 2 colors right now: One Dark Black and One Bright White. This makes coloring infinitely easier.
I hear a ton of people screaming at me right now that I chose a bad method to do this. Well, yes, the method I used to change the amount of colors is not without its flaws, It can have some trouble detecting where your lines are, if you used pencil it will think the grey is white, (that's why we used a black pen), it'll be blurry at some spots, etc. For what it's worth, I felt like this was the method that'll be easiest for people to understand and remember. It's not perfect, but that's just a general computer flaw that we have to deal with.
However, we want our comic in full color. We just set it so that it will only use 2 colors, black and white.
5) Go to IMAGE > MODE > RGB and it will let you use colors on your image again while keeping the smooth black and white lines.
Step 8: COLOR YOUR COMIC
Depending on how well your colors compressed in the last step, you might be able to just use the paint bucket tool and fill in each area with whatever color you want. (In GIMP you hit Shift + B to activate the paint bucket)
However, if you are less fortunate and that does not work, as it did not with me, (I rarely close my shapes while drawing, so it often just doesn't work anyway) you will have to...
1) Go to COLORS > COLOR TO ALPHA (Image 1)
2) Click "OK" (Image 2)
You should have changed all white pixels to a transparency
3) Create a New Layer (Ctrl + Shift + N)
4) Click "WHITE" (Image 3)
5) Click "OK" (Image 3)
6) (Ctrl + L) to open your layers
7) Drag "White #1" below your transparent scanned drawing (Image 4)
Sorry for how bizarre that all sounds. Your image should look like you haven't done anything to it, but in reality you have created a transparent window where all white used to be and now you can color in your drawings on layer White #1 without worrying about drawing over your original black lines. If that makes any sense. I'll draw a diagram (Image 5) which will hopefully explain it better.
Unfortunately, this means you have to essentially trace all your objects with the pencil tool (N) to color. If you have a mouse (which I did) I beg for your patience. It'll be great in the end. If you have a graphics tablet or touch screen, I would highly recommend you use that instead. It's faster and easier. But it's not impossible with a mouse. My example: My comic.
Step 9: FINALIZE
CONGRATULATIONS! YOU MADE A COMIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Now for some LAST, VICTORIOUS CLICKS TO FINISH THE JOB:
1) Save (Ctrl + S)
2) Export (Shift + Ctrl + E)
3) Choose a Saving Location and Save Your File
4) Drink some VICTORY ORANGE JUICE!! YOU MADE A FULL-COLOR COMIC!!!
Step 10: SHARE IT!
Now. The Most Important Step: Share it.
What was the point of making it if others won't read it?
I'm sharing mine via this Instructable, and as of course we all know, the Internet is the best way to share your creations to a large audience.
Thank you, I'm outta stuff to say, have a great night.