Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

How do you make a #2 pencil, a piece of computer paper, and a scanner look professional?
zaneeba_slave at 4:40PM, April 21, 2008
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Hello, friends.

I have this comic called “Zaneeba.” It is drawn with a #2 pencil, a sheet of computer paper, and then scanned on a very cheap scanner.

Go look at it! It's ghastly!

I want to know… How can I make it look more professional: preferably without having to change my very simple equipment?

Is there any photoshop techniques I can use? Please help!
I like to imagine myself as a goblin in a tuxedo. -Zaneeba_slave
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:54PM
lba at 5:29PM, April 21, 2008
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Well, you can always ink it by hand or using the pen tool on a separate layer in photoshop or GIMP to get clean lines and then remove the pencil layer from under it. Either that, or spend more time cleaning up your pencil work and making it look good with just pencils.

I use a cheap scanner myself and I can guarantee that's not a limiting factor really.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:29PM
zaneeba_slave at 6:35PM, April 21, 2008
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Awww…. tracing! Blah!

Ok, I'll do that. Besides, my comics arent that long. I wont be able to spew comics by the hundreds anymore… but oh well.
I like to imagine myself as a goblin in a tuxedo. -Zaneeba_slave
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:54PM
deletedbyrequest03 at 9:17PM, April 21, 2008
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It doesn't look half bad.

When you scan it next time, make the whole picture black and white (you should have a certain setting that allows you to do that). If you don't, get a free program (or something) like GIMP. You can play a little with the brightness and contrast to slim down the lines, or just clean them up manually.

Or, you can use a ballpoint pen (if fountain pens/marker pens are too expensive). They work just as well.

This year, school's full of BS!!!
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:05PM
arteestx at 9:26PM, April 21, 2008
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zaneeba_slave
I want to know… How can I make it look more professional: preferably without having to change my very simple equipment? Is there any photoshop techniques I can use? Please help!
I also use pencil, paper, and scanner. Here's what I do after I scan it in at 450 dpi:
1) use the select tool and click on a pure white area (play around with the tolerance so that you select all non-lines; you might have to adjust the brightness/contrast as well).
2) Ctrl-Shft-I to select the inverse (ie, the black lines are now selected)
3) in the Select Menu, Modify, and then Expand (I expand 2 pixels, but play around with it)
4) in the Select Menu, Modify, and then Smooth (I smooth 3 pixels to decrease the jaggedness, but again play around with it)
5) and then use the paint tool to fill it in with black

I'm still figuring out how to apply my artistic style with this solution, and some styles work better than others (I'm finding that using lines to denote shadows is not as effective as I thought it'd be). But maybe this will give you some ideas about some solutions that'll work for you.

One suggestion: I notice there are times when you use the pencil to fill in dark areas. I would suggest not doing that, and instead drawing a good solid outline around those areas, and then you can fill in that area with black later (I usually put an X in those areas as a reminder to fill it in).

Xolta is not intended for anyone under 18 years old.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:02AM
Skullbie at 10:33PM, April 21, 2008
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Do this and you road shall be paved to suck-less: ( lol get it! liek success? okay that was lame)

After drawing your pencil art-Go over in ink.(usemicron, not sharpies)
Get thicker paper for ink: The difference is amazing.
Scanning: 300 dpi- get your inks in there really good even if the image is greyish.
Go into GIMP/photoshop and fiddle with levels/brightness contrast.
—–Then put the white paint bucket tool onto saturation and white out.
—–Go in with white pen tool and smooth scraggles.
Use layers on multiply. Never use the paint bucket, it looks horrible. Use your brush tool and then erase it. It gets in the edges and has a great look.

…I'm gettin off track huh….lol
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:45PM
zaneeba_slave at 6:27PM, April 22, 2008
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Thank you all, but quite frankly, my scanner doesnt have a “black and White” button or any DPI or anything.

It is actually more of a printer with a built in scanner. So, I'll just take some of your advices. Thank ye.
I like to imagine myself as a goblin in a tuxedo. -Zaneeba_slave
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:54PM
mlai at 9:44PM, April 28, 2008
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If you'd rather stick with pencils and skip the inking step, then check out this DD tutorial:

http://www.drunkduck.com/tutorials/view.php?id=129

Don't know if your scanner can hack it, though.

FIGHT current chapter: Filling In The Gaps
FIGHT_2 current chapter: Light Years of Gold
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:06PM
Daiconv at 10:43AM, May 1, 2008
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buy a lightbox or use tracing paper and retrace your drawings.
without buttcheecks, it's just a hole.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:03PM
mattchee at 8:01PM, May 2, 2008
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pencils as clean as you possibly can. One way would be to do your construction very light and you finishes very heavy. Another method (and probably the best way to go) is get a light box or tracing paper, as suggested, and do you finished pencils on a clean piece of paper (basically inking them with your pencil.

Yet another option is to do your construction base drawing with a non-repro blue pencil (or any light color for that matter) It'll show up in the scan, but it will also be easy to take out.

Since you mentioned photoshop, I'll assume you have it. Scan it in at 300 dpi (minimum if you ever plan on printing it at some point). Once in photoshop change it to grayscale: image>mode>grayscale (at least for this step, you can change it back to RGB or CMYK or whatever your planned output is later– i find this works best in grayscale). Then go image>adjustments>levels and it will open the level adjustments. This requires some tinkering but you should be able to figure it out from there.

Basically you've got a histogram, and beneath it a black slider, midtone slider, and a white slider… just bring the white slider over until all the light gray underdrawing (if any) fades to white, then bring the black slider over to make the blacks rich and dark… you might have to tweak the midtone one a bit to get rid of any artifacts. Boom Done!
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:55PM
Pineapple at 11:23PM, May 3, 2008
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Do what I do. Tell people that it's your “style” and that you meant to do it like that. Everyone will be impressed.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:43PM
Ditch at 7:07PM, May 6, 2008
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Pineapple
Do what I do. Tell people that it's your “style” and that you meant to do it like that. Everyone will be impressed.

That's what I do too, although of course anything you draw on your own IS your style.

But I'm in the same boat, I sketch up my comics and shade, colour, ink them in Flash 8. I think it makes them look good, of course in comparison to my old comic I could vomit into my scanner and it would look fantastic.
Edit signature
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:12PM
zaneeba at 9:02AM, May 10, 2008
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the most obvious choice is to give up like i did and use microsoft paint
If you dance naked through the streets once a day nice things will happen to you. Live by that code.
last edited on July 14, 2011 4:54PM
ChazWolf at 2:42PM, May 27, 2008
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Don't use computer paper.

Draw on the best paper you can afford (within reason) - it's worth it. (Saying that, I draw on cheap crap these days bought from the corner shop. But then what I'm actually drawing looks like cheap crap anyway, so I guess that's kind of appropriate.)

Or you could do what I did…am doing…in the process of doing…get a Wacom graphics tablet? I'd recommend the Intuos 3 as a model that won't break the bank (because my bank is pretty broke most of the time) and is a joy to work with. Then you can keep using your cheap-ass computer paper, scan it, and BING!! coupla hours later you'll have a beautifully-inked and rendered thingy in Photoshop/GIMP/software of choice. (As you may notice from my own stuff, I haven't really made it to ‘beautiful’ yet, though I am working on the ‘inked’ part.)

There, my two Vietnamese dongs' worth.
“I set my standards pretty low, so I'm never disappointed.”
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
JoeL_CQB at 7:41PM, May 28, 2008
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for what you're doing now.

i'd say scan the line art. In photoshop, crtl+shift+u, to desaturate it. This makes it black and white. And then crtl+L to bring up the levels menu and play around with that. I don't really like using the brightness and contrast thing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 1:10PM
Sapphaholic at 12:34PM, June 19, 2008
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ChazWolf
I'd recommend the Intuos 3 as a model that won't break the bank (because my bank is pretty broke most of the time) and is a joy to work with.

There's also the Bamboo and the Bamboo Fun from Wacom, which is a line meant to kind of replace the old Graphire line. There's 512 levels of sensitivity as opposed to double that in the Intuos, but it's still quite good. I personally use a Wacom tablet as the Intuos was more expensive at the time. I'm not sure about prices now, though.

In any case, always go for a Wacom tablet. Their quality is the best among all the competition out there and the styluses don't require a wire nor any batteries.

Then you can keep using your cheap-ass computer paper, scan it, and BING!! coupla hours later you'll have a beautifully-inked and rendered thingy in Photoshop/GIMP/software of choice
Be aware that using a tablet takes a lot of getting used to. Because your lines aren't appearing on the same surface as where your pencil is placed it can get a little disorienting. It took me a long time to get to the point where I was drawing decently with my tablet. Others adapt faster, of course, but it does take time. For me the trouble comes when drawings things where I would normally turn my paper.

So, OP, if a tablet finds its way into your future, don't be discouraged if things don't look the same way as you normally draw at first. Practice a lot to get used to it and you'll be painting well in no time.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:22PM
gio at 2:55PM, Jan. 19, 2009
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zaneeba_slave
Hello, friends.

I have this comic called “Zaneeba.” It is drawn with a #2 pencil, a sheet of computer paper, and then scanned on a very cheap scanner.

Go look at it! It's ghastly!

I want to know… How can I make it look more professional: preferably without having to change my very simple equipment?

Is there any photoshop techniques I can use? Please help!

I'd switch to number 2H or 4H hard lead. If you want to make nice slim lines, use a .o3 mechanical hardlead pencil. Less smudges and really slim shading lines when you pencil. Great for manga style inking and crosshatching to create gradient inks with depth to them :) Adjust your levels in Photoshop then use the dodge and burn tool to get rid of smudges and darken and get rid of unnecessary lines. When you're done with that, you can even take it to Illustrator (any CS version) and use the Livetrace function to turn your inks from pixel to smooth vector :) Great for the web and great for print too :) Or you can use the Cutout plugin on Photoshop to take away the pixelation in your cleaned up pencils. Just be careful on adjusting the settings on the Cutout filter. things can get all distorted and screwey if you go overboard with it lol. Well, that's what I do to do my graphic novel/webcomic. Hope this all helps you out! :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:36PM
CharleyHorse at 7:08PM, Jan. 19, 2009
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zaneeba_slave, as you can read from all the advice given, there are many different ways to improve the look of your art work. The difficult part is to find the way that feels right according to the way that you work and think. So have patience and begin reading up on various tutorials. DrunkDuck has a supply and there are countless others available across the Internet. There is a sticky in this very forum pointing the way to various tutorial sites.

I've noticed that you do not seem to understand the fundamental capabilities of your graphics package, whether it is Photoshop, the Gimp, or some other package. I say this because most of these packages can perform the tasks that your scanner cannot.

After some time spent reading various tutorials it will all begin to make sense to you. Oh, and I looked over your stuff. Don't sell yourself short. You have a good deal of talent.

last edited on July 14, 2011 11:40AM
roidvoid at 3:50PM, Jan. 29, 2009
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I know a few guys that make amazing art out of those same tools.
the difference between them and you is that they spent more time learning about the tools they use.

understanding how photoshop works and imaging in general will help your work so much.

basics to know

dpi
raster vs vector
setting levels.
layers
channels

if you learn a bit more about these things you'll be in business

oh and read a lot! how to's are all over the place
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:09PM

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