Digital Magic

For a long time, I didn’t want to use Photoshop with my comics because I didn’t want to rely on it too much.

But a few years ago I fell in love with how nice computer lettering looked.  I also liked how I could simply click on the paint bucket icon and fill in the night sky without having to spend 15 minutes painstakingly using a brush to get the same effect.  I know it’s not *really* the same effect, there’s nothing like inking with a brush, but still.

Then I started to draw the panel borders with Photoshop.  Soon I stopped using Wite-Out altogether (almost) because I could just clean up the panel after I scanned in.  These days I spend almost the same amount of time Photoshopping a page as it took to ink it in the first place.

But that’s…okay.  I’ve come to peace with this…demon in a box that makes life and comics easier.  It’s not as much fun to look at my original art anymore because part of me knows that I can be a little lazy (well, maybe lazy isn’t the right word) because I can, as my film friends would say, fix it in post.

I haven’t done one of these posts for a while, so I thought it’d be fun to show the life of a panel from pencils to coloring.

Our volunteer for this week’s blog is panel 2 from page 159.

But before I get started, I want to give credit to the artist who inspired this panel.  Frank Quietly drew this awesome panel in Batman & Robin #1:

B&RI love this panel.  I love the layout, I love the perspective and I love that it’s a silent panel.  It’s so great.  When I saw this for the first time years ago, I knew I wanted to draw something like this.

So here’s the penciled panel:

159 final pencils

POW!  This will also be silent panel, except for the POW!  If you read The Retros, you’ll know how rare it is there is a panel without dialogue.  After I penciled this page, I couldn’t wait to ink it.

And here’s the inked panel:

159 final inks

So yeah.  It’s not as nice as I thought it’d be.  Fly-Girl’s neck looks weird, the first attempt at her right arm wasn’t was cool as I thought it’d be so I added a new one a little higher than the first arm.  Also, her hair doesn’t lay on her head the right way.  This panel is a bit of a mess.  I COULD redraw it but I don’t know if I could recreate the energy the first attempt had.  But I knew I could fix this stuff in Photoshop so I decided to see how it looked after it was scanned.  When I have things to fix in Photoshop, I’ll scribble little notes to myself next to the panel such as the note you see here.

I scanned it and played around with this panel for a while and I liked how it turned out.

159 final b&w

I erased the bad arm, fixed her hair and fixed her neck.  One thing I really like in this panel is seeing the robot getting destroyed.  The side of the robot Fly-Girl hits isn’t really damaged, but the side Zoo hits is destroyed.  There’s a huge piece missing from the robot’s torso, there’s parts flying everywhere…it’s awesome.

And finally, the colored version:

159 final color

I like working in color.  After over ten years doing black and white comics with Uptown Girl, it’s fun to do something a little brighter.  After I colored the panel, I touched up the POW a bit.  I didn’t realize the O wasn’t finished.  If I didn’t color this panel, I probably wouldn’t have noticed that until I spent a lot of money printing copies of the book and having this panel annoy me for the rest of my life.

So, that’s that.  The page this panel is from won’t be online for like six months, so..spoiler alert?  In six months Fly-Girl and Zoo punch a robot.


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