Thursday, January 15, 2009


One of the things I've had to decide about the webcomic has been how often and how much to post. No two comics seem to post the same. PVP updates a single strip 5 days a week. Schlock Mercenary updates like a newspaper strip, with single strips six days a week, and a larger one on Sundays. Girl Genius updates full pages three days a week. No Need for Bushido and Atland update once a week.

For Hero Go Home, I made the decision to update single strips three days a week, Mon-Wed-Fri. This comes out to approximately a page a week, which is a schedule I think I can handle. This week, I seem to be ahead of schedule. The last two weeks, I penciled Tues-Wed, inked Thu-Fri, and colored Sat-Sun. This week, I finished inking last night (Wed),and I'm ready to scan, letter and start coloring tonight.

Inking has been a challenge, but I'm hoping that I've about solved it. The first week, my inking was totally random and haphazard, which I justified internally by telling myself I wasn't really working on a real strip, just testing a concept. The second week, I was more careful, but still sloppy.

The common problem I had both weeks was that I tried to ink according to the traditional model of putting down the thickest lines possible. With normal production practices, oversize artwork is shrunk down to its printed proportions through a photostatic process. Lines that are drawn too fine will simply disappear.

However, the computer scanning process I've been using tends to thicken up the lines, so I need to work counter-intuitively and draw the lines as thin as I can. At least, I'm hoping that inking with thinner lines will give me a better result when I'm done with this week's strips.

I'm also debating about what tools to use. I'm currently using Faber-Castell PITT artist pens, which supposedly use an archival quality ink. I see other technical pens recommended by manga artists, but I don't know if switching would give me any better results. When I first tried inking, I used the traditional crow-quill pen with India ink, but that scritchy sound of the nib scratching across paper put my teeth on edge, as bad as fingernails on a chalkboard, plus it was really slow and prone to blotches if you pressed the nib down too hard. But now I'm looking at on-line inking tutorials like this one and wondering if I should give the crow quill another shot.

I've also experimented with inking digitally in Inkscape with the graphics tablet, which could potentially give me the cleanest result, but I'll need more practice before I can do that with any chance of staying on schedule.

Meanwhile, I'm still trying to solve my lettering problem. The balloons and letters look great in Inkscape, but look awful when I output to .png and paste them into GIMP. But I learned that GIMP can also import the .svg files directly. Perfect, except that for some reason, GIMP uses a default font in the balloons and won't let me replace them. If I white out the letters and retype them in GIMP, they look a little better, but still not very good. Maybe if I made them bigger, but it's hard to tell what size to make them in Inkscape. Or if I typed in the text, then converted the letters into paths, but that seems like an awful lot of steps for what should be a straightforward process.

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