Saturday, November 6, 2010

Working 1.3 Manga Studio Prep Work

Now that I have all my thumbnails completed it's time to get started with the rest of the work. My first job will be to import my thumbnails into a story using Manga Studio. The methods I use can also be emulated in other programs, but Manga Studio's soul purpose is comics. And it's full of handy tools to keep myself organized as I work.

I'll start by creating a new story using a page layout I created with specific specs. My thumbnails will fit with in those specs, that once finished will be the same specs Tokyo Pop uses for OELs. I haven't bothered to see if they updated their specs or not, since I don't plan on sending them anything. But it's the specs I've gotten use to using over the years, so to be consistent with what I'll do, I'll stick to them for now.

In Manga Studio I opened a new story with 20 pages ( the reason 20 is because I want those black areas to fill in later for a Cover, Back Cover, and inside flaps in case I want to print out a finished copy later that reads like a real comic book ) With a complete layout of all the pages, I then go one by one and place the thumbnails in the proper order.

Manga Studio saves both the Story and Pages as separate files. Since my computer is really old and slow, working with this many pages open at once, and at 600 dpi really pushed it. It will only get worse when I add my pencils, inks, and everything else. After they are placed in the proper order I save it all and close. Now I can go back and open each page on it own and work from there.

Zoomed in you can see how my thumbnail almost fills up my safety area. It's close enough for what I'll use it for. I also have my pages numbered on the thumbnail so I didn't lose track while importing them. Now that I'm working on one file at a time I can begin penciling over my thumbnails. I'll drop the Opacity of the thumbnail and use the sketch layer to start building up my panels. But before I do that I'll make my panel layer.

Using the panel ruler layer I create my panels. Once finished I Rasterize it and place it over all the other layers. This is a technique you can do in Photoshop as well. Notice how the area of my panels is transparent and the rest is opaque with white. This can easily be done in Photoshop with a separate layer and using either the blending options ( recommended for tinkering ) or the line tool.

Manga Studio also uses Panel Folders. Now I use to think these were great because it made a folder for every single panel, with all it's contents staying with in it. But it created too much clutter for me. Also when I zoom in and out like I do most of the time, it always went to the center of the panel, not to the area I wanted to zoom in on. Some people like them, but I prefer to use as few layers as possible, because it's going to get crazy once I start adding the dialog.

With my panels already determined ( I saved the Ruler Layer in case I want to make changes later ) I'm ready to get into the process of fleshing out my thumbnails. As I progress, the original thumbnails will disappear and my digital pencils will take over. I just roughed this out for now to illustrate the concept of how I'm working on this. I use a variety of pencils presets that I customized to have different opacities so I can build off my basic figures with a light pencil and as I progress move on to darker ones for the detail.

The key to doing this digitally is to not rush it. Use the same methods as you would on paper and take your time. The two panels I did need to be gone over again, but at least I'm getting an idea of what I want, adding and erasing as I got along.

Since I don't plan on using anymore than 2 pens when I ink ( That's what I'd use if I did this traditionally ) I plan to take my time on the pencils to make sure everything is the way I want it. And since this is done in Manga Studio once my pencils are finished, I can Ink and Letter this page before moving on to the next if I so desire.

Manga Studio was made for this kind of work because it's loaded with all sorts of handy tools. Such as perspective rulers and symmetry rulers. You can also quickly flip and rotate your canvas just like I heard you can in the new edition of Photoshop.

For now I just wanted to give a taste of how I go about tackling a comic book page in Manga Studio. The next entry I make will be with it finished. But don't worry, I'll make sure to break that down as well to show you how I got there.

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