Instructables

Making a Web-Comic: Scanning, Cleaning, and Publishing Lineart

Good day, and welcome to the second of my "Making a Webcomic" series of tutorials.

This instructable deals with another of the useful mechanics of webcomics production: how to take a sketch on paper, and make it into a nice-looking image for web - and possibly print - presentation. The process I use cribs parts from a dozen other webcomic processes, and of course doesn't apply to work drawn entirely on the computer, say using a tablet. I do that also, and will create an instructable for my fully-digital production methods if you folks would like to see one.

So let's get started! I am going to scan, clean up, and color the artwork I drew for the first tutorial in this series. For other resources related to webcomic creation, I recommend checking out the links in the intro to that Instructable.

Onward!

UPDATE 12/29/2008: after reading this tutorial, do yourself a huge favor and check out the flatting photoshop plugins from BPelt. It is a tool that helps you do much of what this tutorial is about, and you will probably be VERY HAPPY to use it instead of having to tediously flatting your comic by hand (as this tutorial sort of shows you how to do).

If you don't use Photoshop, you can always try the PS plugin with The GIMP by using the PSPI Gimp Photoshop Plugin plugin, another one of my own tutorials. I will try it myself and report back.

Tony Piro taught me something today... I need to re-learn color flattingg and update this tutorial. Whee!

UPDATE 1/23/2009: I love the Open Source community.
I tried the PS plugins above in the PSPI plugin for GIMP, and they didn't work. And so I posted about my plight to a GIMP scripting wiki about needing help replicating these plugins in the scripting language that is native to GIMP.

and someone came through. Hopefully his script will be accepted into the official GIMP Plugin Registry as Flatting Tools, until then if you would like to try the script yourself, let me know and I'll see if I can redistribute it to you. Thank you, Rob!

UPDATE 2/12/2009: The GIMP plugin is now part of the official registry: http://registry.gimp.org/node/14051

This is the best GIMP plugin ever. Thank you Rob and Saul!
 
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jbrick1 year ago
This is the single most useful instruction set on cleaning up and scanning line art I've seen, and it's helped me improve my comics more than anything else I've read. Thank you SO MUCH for posting it! <3 Jess.
technosapien (author)  jbrick1 year ago
Thanks for the comment, I am happy to share what little I know about the art. I probably should read though and update this thing with any new tips/tricks I've learned in recent years....
indivara5 years ago
I'm no expert on the subject, so this would probably seem stupid, but why not draw directly on GIMP rather than draw on paper and spend time cleaning up the scanned image?
technosapien (author)  indivara5 years ago
Good question.
I have done both, actually. A lot of artists like to have the original paper comics, for any number of reasons. I started out drawing the comic on paper before I really knew what I was doing with GIMP, so I hold fast to old habits.

There are times when I draw comics digitally from start to finish. For example, This Comic is drawn entirely in GIMP, no paper. It really depends on what I think I may do with the comic; some comics I do most or all of the work on paper, including color, like this one (which contains only a few digital coloring tweaks to the original pencil and inkwork).

I plan to do an additional instructable on my processes when I digitally draw start to finish, since it is a horse of a different color.

Thanks!
While I was reading this Instructable I was going to ask a question just like indivara and expand to a story just like yours, technosapien. I can appreciate that this was an older piece that you brought in later to clean up. Looks like you and I went through some of the same growing pains in transferring art.

I had (and still have) a tough time giving up on traditional art methods, working digitally is similar as rugby is to american football, they are completely different sport but use the same basics. Somehow I can be expressive doing either, but trying to take an almost finished piece and redoing it digitally too away all the enjoyment of creativity.
For web comic (and other work you want to be digital) I'd just layout more of an outline by hand then scan it in, doing all the details, colouring, shading and other finishes to be handled by the same method. I find it just creates a more finished look. Though there's plenty to be said for artwork that has that gritty feel to it using jagged line weights is definitely one of them.

Working with tablets is something that has taken me a while to get used to, I don't think I really got the hang of it until after about a year. If you're having trouble with yours just stick with it, it's an art in itself.
Since tablets can get kind of expensive, some advice for anyone interested in getting one ask yourself just why are you getting it? If you don't have the fundamentalswith pencil and paper then getting a $300 tablet will not magically make you a better artist. If you're seriously thinking about a tablet for drawing I recommend you draw solid on paper for a while and make sure you're committed to your craft before you commit, or you can just drop the money on it.

one think though unless you have handwriting that looks like tyope DO NOT HAND LETTER nothing will tick people off more than a comic being illegable
Eh. I love hand lettering my comics. It's good enough for me, which depressingly, is the only person I seem to be drawing them for at the moment :(.



-Y
technosapien (author)  Ward_Nox5 years ago
Handwriting doesn't necessarily have to look like type to be legible.... It just has to be very legible. One of my favorite comics, Rice Boy, has obviously hand-done lettering but is quite legible.
This really boils down to personal preference, and style. I've read many decent comics that turn out looking bad because they use a digital font. If you do decide to use a digital font to letter a comic, be sure you spend the time to find one that fits well with your comic. Try both hand and digital lettering, and decide what you like best!

But yes, the comic definitely DOES have to be legible.

Anecdote: Scott Adams of Dilbert fame used to hand-letter all of his comics, until a wrist injury forced him to use a digital font... fans noticed the difference, didn't like it, and he had to make a digital font from his hand lettering. This is another option if you like, but can be expensive to purchase software if you're not familiar with how to make your own fonts using free software. (I'm not....)
Wow, I started reading rice boy... it's awesome! I can't stop reading it, and I love the art!
technosapien (author)  technosapien5 years ago
(Says the comic artist with often bad handwriting and poorly-selected digital font use.... Should practice what I preach, eh?)
technosapien (author)  mikeasaurus5 years ago
Couldn't agree more! The Loomis books are great.

That $300 tablet a very nice-looking piece of technology, but I'm not up to that yet. I'm still at the $100 tablet level, which so far has done very well for me.

All I'm waiting for is a good reason to justify the $1000 tablet. ;-)
if you are really going to get a $1000 tablet, get a tablet pc. I have had my HP TX2500z for half a year now, and I love it. it's fantastic for graphic design and photo manipulation. plus it's good for just brainstorming - open windows journal and just draw and sketch and write, and its really easy to erase and make changes and save different copies of things. well worth the money, at least for me.
There is really no reason to abandon pen and paper. Digital is different, it isnt "better."
technosapien (author)  technosapien5 years ago
Also, I know several comic artists who have a small but reliable revenue stream from selling the original artwork, which you can't do if you don't have original artwork to sell.
David Willis, Scott Kurtz, Dave Kellett (lotta web comic artist named dave LOL)
mbear4 years ago
Nice Instructable! Inspiring me to break out the pens and go to work.

In step 3, you say that scanning your file with compression is a bad thing. OK. No problem. But in case your software doesn't have a "None" or "Raw" setting (which is weird) you can use the TIFF file format. That should save all the information in an uncompressed format.

On another note, if you're looking at a Cintiq, you may want to get a TabletPC as RedSeo and berky93 suggested. But be careful: I have a Toshiba Tecra M4 convertible laptop style TabletPC, and when I'm using it as a tablet, I can't get to the keyboard. Do you know how much of a pain in the neck it is to use PhotoShop without keyboard shortcuts? It's ten different kinds of suck! So a slate style or hybrid style TabletPC may be a better fit for you. Or you could just use an external keyboard.

Here's a more in-depth discussion of the highs and lows I've had using the Tecra M4. Maybe it'll help you (or someone else) make a decision.

technosapien (author)  mbear4 years ago
Thanks!  Berky and RedSeo look like the same person, heh.  I've thought about tablets, I'm waiting to see what the next generation offers, but since I'm on a limited budget now anyway....  As for TIFF format, you're right -- but I thought I mentioned that?  Odd, if not.  I knew about that trick.  Thanks for pointing it out!

RedSeo4 years ago
if you are really going to get a $1000 tablet, get a tablet pc. I have had my HP TX2500z for half a year now, and I love it. it's fantastic for graphic design and photo manipulation. plus it's good for just brainstorming - open windows journal and just draw and sketch and write, and its really easy to erase and make changes and save different copies of things. well worth the money, at least for me.
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