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Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Webcomics Cheatbook

As a few of you may have noticed, I have started to work on a new comic blog, Comicrophone. One of the major problems that I faced with the comics were in bringing them from the analog (sucky) domain to the digital (smoking hot) domain . Since I couldn't afford a tablet or an e-pen of any sorts, let alone a scanner, the only option available to me was to click pictures of my doodles. This process consistently resulted in images that were a shade of gray, like so:

We should use Ujala to make this comic strip white

Now for most readers(barring myself), this image would be unacceptable. They would keep coming back to your blog in pretty much the same way Chetan Bhagat would try blocking someone again on twitter. In simpler words, never again. Unfortunately, we now have a gray and dull looking comic that, coupled with zero experience in using Photoshop or any of the other advanced photo editing software, is hurtling towards Comic Strip fando(o)m.
Which is when our hero, Paint.NET, makes a colorful entry to save the day. Quite simply, this tool is one of the most user friendly image processing applications out there. That Paint.NET is freeware, makes the whole deal sweeter. Download it now, as you would need it to carry on with the remaining few steps.
Now that you have downloaded the software and installed it, the important step is to start it up (Duh). This is usually accomplished by double clicking on an icon that says Hot Nekkid Girls* Paint.NET. Next, open the snap for editing by Paint.NET. Once this is done, we must select the Magic Wand (Shortcut key: S) from Tools. On messing around with this tool I realized that instead of following the broken lines that we doodle, its way more easier selecting the empty space that we DON'T want. My trick is to select all the white space using the magic wand tool, and then invert the selection to give us our doodle, our daily spread. The settings that I use for the magic wand tool are:
Selection Mode: Add (union). Essentially we are collecting all those regions that we don't want in our final comic. In this comic, for instance, there was a tiny spot of ink that came about while sketching: The poor sucker did not stand a chance to the Magic Wand. Hah.
Flood Mode: Contiguous. I have no idea why I use this, but it works.
Tolerence: 26-30%. This setting is subjective. If we increase the tolerance, there is the risk that parts of our drawing may get selected, especially the shaded regions. If the tolerance is reduced, even minor differences in the gray regions will have to be selected manually.

Dude, I think we got selected

After I had selected the region that I didn't want, I used the 'Invert Selection' (Shortcut key: Ctrl+I) option found in the Edit menu to get me the doodle, the whole doodle and nothing but the doodle.

Whitespace: the final frontier
Once we have our selection, getting a clean white doodle is as easy as selecting the 'Paste into New Image' option. This way, one does not even have to be aware of the complicated 'Layers' mumbo jumbo. However if you are comfortable working with layers, Paint.NET has the ability to separate an image into multiple layers.
Fair and Lovely FTW!

As you can see, the end result is pleasing on the eye and would also make life easier if you want to color your comics. I hope this walkthrough has been of some help to you and your webcomic. Do write in and let me know of the tricks that you use in your webcomic.

*-Oh come on, we all know that you have it on your desktop! *Wink*
P.S. As always, blogger throws my images' aspect ratio out of whack. Please click on the image for a larger version.