Editing traditional comics for digital publication - help?

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Editing traditional comics for digital publication - help?

Postby K-cho » January 19th, 2019, 2:34 pm

Hi people! This is my first time making a post in this forum and I'm a little unsure if this is the right place for the advice that I'm seeking, please move or delete if I'm wrong. :)

Basically, I have a comic that I've been drawing for around 8 years, and I have also not significantly changed the way I draw or edit my pages in 8 years. I have 2 concerns related to this:

1. The earliest pages look really rough to me now. Redrawing them isn't completely an option for me, but I'm considering possibly tweaking them so they at least look marginally more consistent and polished? I think one of the biggest issues is that the tones aren't consistent so that solid black areas look patchy on a bunch of pages.

2. Just in general, even for my newer pages I'm not sure if my technique is ok and if my pages are looking as good as they could be? My basic process is: Scan image, convert to black and white and adjust with levels and curves in Photoshop until I think it looks okay, tidy up any art errors and add text...is that the best way to go? Anyone else who does traditional art (especially black and white inks), how do you edit your drawings?

As an example of cleaning up old pages, here's the original version of a page from 2010, plus the same page that I edited again just last night. I adjusted the black areas, and also re-did the panel borders with PS because they looked kind of thin and shaky.

Original version:
Spoiler! :
Image


New version:
Spoiler! :
Image


For comparison, here's a much more recent page:
Spoiler! :
Image


Do things look okay? Is the difference between the original + re-edited versions of the old page big enough that it would be worth it to go back and re-edit 200+ pages? (I realize that is kind of a subjective question, lol.) Does the page size and font choice work for you? (I've been thinking for a while about changing the font to a more typical "comic" font, but I'm on the fence.)

Thanks for reading, and sorry for the long post! Any feedback welcome, though for the purpose of this thread I'm more interested in advice about editing/general page appearance than art critique. (Even though I know I deserve art critique too. :P )
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby eishiya » January 19th, 2019, 3:50 pm

The newer version definitely looks better to me, but I don't think it's worth the trouble for that amount of difference unless you're preparing to sell the comic.

One particular lack of change I want to note is your lettering. You're still using a font that doesn't match your art well, and you're still varying its size a lot, which makes the pages look more amateurish than they otherwise would.

The sizes are fine, by the way! Some of the text feels a bit small, but that's due to the font choice rather than the page size.
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby kayotics » January 19th, 2019, 5:03 pm

I agree about the font: You should consider looking for a new one that matches your art better and keep the font the same size on the page unless it's for effect (like someone whispering and making the text smaller, or someone shouting and making it larger)

As for your process, that's essentially what I do. I've moved to doing color pages now, but I still do all my inks on paper, so the beginning part of the process is the same. What I do is this: scan in at high resolution > convert to black and white and adjust the levels until it looks right > tidy up any errors. The only differences in my process is I hand letter my pages (so all the text is already in the art) and after I edit my lines I go and add colors.

I also agree with eishiya about the new pages. They look better, but don't edit them unless you're planning on selling it/printing it.
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby K-cho » January 19th, 2019, 8:22 pm

eishiya wrote:One particular lack of change I want to note is your lettering. You're still using a font that doesn't match your art well, and you're still varying its size a lot, which makes the pages look more amateurish than they otherwise would.


Yeah, I can definitely see that! I have such a hard time looking for new fonts, but I think it's just because I've used this one for such a long time that that anything else looks weird to me. :?

I actually also did a version of the re-edited old page with a more "comic" font:
Spoiler! :
Image


To me, something like this also feels kind of like it doesn't match the rest of my comic? But on the other hand, I think it might be easier to read, and like I said above my perspective is really biased here so who knows.

You also make a really good point about font size - it's mostly my fault for being careless w/ speech bubble size and shape. I think I've gotten somewhat better about that over time, but I'll keep trying to be more aware of it, especially if it's something that stood out to you.

Thank you both for the feedback!! If it's an okay use of this forum, I might pop back here in a day or two with more possible font examples. :)
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby eishiya » January 19th, 2019, 8:38 pm

K-cho wrote:You also make a really good point about font size - it's mostly my fault for being careless w/ speech bubble size and shape. I think I've gotten somewhat better about that over time, but I'll keep trying to be more aware of it, especially if it's something that stood out to you.

I think that font works better! I can imagine it's hard to get used to a new font, but it probably is just a matter of habit. I've been using my comic's font for years (and three comics), and my next comic's got a different one and it feels hella weird to use even though it's a better fit for that comic.

It may be better to leave too much space around some of the text than scale it up to the bubble shapes, I think it would be less distracting than inconsistent text sizes.
Leaving appropriate space for text is challenging. I usually wrote out the text in full (i.e. basically hand-lettered in pencil) to make sure the bubbles were sized correctly. If even doing that doesn't help, perhaps you could draw the bubbles digitally - plan for the approximate space they'll take up and account for it in your panel compositions, but draw everything underneath, and add the bubbles in later. If you hand-draw them digitally instead of using ellipse tools and such, the styles should still fit well together.

If you struggle with finding fonts you like, try making your own! There are a bunch of tools out there that will automatically convert samples of your hand-lettering into fonts, though fonts made this way generally require some hand-tweaking of bearing and kerning to be good (this is all doable with free tools).
Or, consider hand-lettering your comic. It's more time-consuming, but nothing goes better with one's art than letters drawn by one's own hand, and it prevents the sizing issue entirely since you can letter before you ink.

If it's an okay use of this forum, I might pop back here in a day or two with more possible font examples. :)

Of course that's okay!
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby Eightfish » January 19th, 2019, 11:06 pm

I agree with you that the new font looks doesn't look like it fits your comic. It's better than the old one but doesn't fit the mood.

Like eishya said, I think you should make your own font like http://trippingoveryou.com/ did or hand letter like http://www.praguerace.com or http://ingress.smackjeeves.com/ does. Both of these comics have fonts that fit seamlessly with their art (or I think so, at least). And hand lettering will be easier for you than it would be for most people here because you draw your comic traditionally.

I made a font for my own comic, using https://www.calligraphr.com/en/.
My review of that site:
Doesn't do a good job just uploading the template. I had to do a lot of editing to get the program to recognize just the letters and to position them correctly vertically. A lot of the useful features are hidden behind a paywall, too, like adjusting kerning for each letter individually, or including symbols.
It's a frustrating website, but overall, the final product I think looks pretty good and fits my art. And it's a vector font so it scales well. The slight kerning issues do still bother me though.
Last edited by Eightfish on January 19th, 2019, 11:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby kayotics » January 19th, 2019, 11:09 pm

Yeah the new font fits a lot more with your lines than the other font does! But yes, it's not quite right yet. I think trying to find something that's a little thinner would help. Good luck finding a font!
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby K-cho » January 23rd, 2019, 12:13 pm

Okay, who wants to look at fonts with me? :D

Since everyone liked the different example in my last post, here's 2 more "comic" fonts I got off Blambot. (Digital Strip and Letter-o-Matic fwiw.) I went back to a newer page example this time since it's more representative of what things will look like going forward.

Spoiler! :
ImageImage


I like these both better than my example in the previous post. I actually like the second one a little more, but I think the first one might be a little easier to read? Let me know what your reaction is.

There's some slight issues with speech bubble size in both examples, but that's something I can keep an eye on going forward. (I've been doing the thing of writing text in as I draw the page more often recently, and that's been helpful.). I think this is generally the font size that I tend to use in comics, though, so definitely let me know if anything is too small.

I also did make a font of my own handwriting quickly on Calligraphr! It was very easy to use, though I did notice the drawbacks that Eightfish mentioned. I think what I came up with doesn't work great as a regular comic dialogue font, and tbh I don't feel like tweaking it until it's more suitable at the moment, but I do kind of like it anyway and may use it in one way or another in the future. :)

Spoiler! :
Image


Of course that's okay!


Great! I wasn't totally sure if this was more art advice territory or comic review territory, haha.
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby eishiya » January 23rd, 2019, 12:51 pm

I also prefer the second font. I think it would be plenty readable if you increase the leading (space between lines) a little. That should be an option in your image editor, you don't need to tweak the font for that.

I like your own font! I think the worst problem is that you might've drawn the letters too large, so when you use the font at the intended size, the letters feel too fine and a bit out of place with the art, which mostly uses thicker strokes than that.
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby Dave Hornet » January 23rd, 2019, 3:23 pm

I draw on paper
Scan and save as original
Import on Autodesk
Trace on another layer
Attachments
Page 126-1.jpg
It comes out good
(584.02 KiB) Not downloaded yet
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby K-cho » January 24th, 2019, 12:12 pm

eishiya wrote:I think the worst problem is that you might've drawn the letters too large, so when you use the font at the intended size, the letters feel too fine and a bit out of place with the art, which mostly uses thicker strokes than that.


Hmm, that is an interesting observation and I'll keep it in mind if/when I decide to play around with making my own font some more.

Dave Hornet wrote:I draw on paper
Scan and save as original
Import on Autodesk
Trace on another layer


I still can't draw digitally well enough to do something like this, but I'd like to get there someday! :)
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Re: Editing traditional comics for digital publication - hel

Postby Dave Hornet » January 24th, 2019, 3:49 pm

Alright, lol
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