YES! You can have a black line surrounding your comic. YES! You can have a white background. YES! You can do what has been done to death!!!!
But it doesn’t have to be that way. Panel backgrounds can be in color and be outlined in more than just a thick black line. If you are working in Photoshop – as most of us are, you have such powerful tools that you don’t have to settle with the usual. On my first outing with web cartooning, I began with dingBeans – with over 600 posts – I wanted to surprise and delight. So, I decided to create a bevel edge and a pale green background to frame Roy and his random thoughts.It was at that time I did copy everyone else and added the important information. This included a date and signature to the right hand side, my website address and copyright info to the left. The hardest part was deciding where to put these things so that they did not interfere the message or the art of the comic. dingBeans is an abstract sort of single panel cartoon – go look at it to understand it.
I did the same with Mann in School but this time I put in an orange background to go along with a pop art style – which works!!! I encourage you to go to the site and see how the panels flow.
When keeping the black outline of the comic pure, put it on it’s own layer and lock the pixels so it can’t be altered. This video uses the character Samyaza from Code of Edoc to demonstrate the simple and important Photoshop element.
Make every photo-cartoon a painting to fit the mood of the message.
A photo-cartoon is static in itself. Without some filters, some camera trickery, the image is simple and direct – which might be what you want. Let’s get real, the overuse of some Photoshop filters and gradients is making a bad name for webcomics. So why not spread out and do something unexpected. You can create a specific style by experimenting with mixing and matching filters or change subtly from panel to panel and take your audience for a ride.
Filters like ARTISTIC give you options like cutout / film grain / neon glow / palette knife / poster edge and sponge, SKETCH gives you charcoal / conte crayon / halftone pattern and torn edge, the STYLIZE option provides emboss / glowing edge and solarize. You can explore so much more in BLUR / BRUSH STROKES / NOISE…………it goes on and on!
I use filters for Wildflower Patti for every panel and I am amazed how I can manipulate my pictures to match the moods I can’t get with just my camera.
Example 1 – filter: under Brush Strokes I used Accented Edges.
Example 2 – filter: under Artistic I used Dry Brush.
Example 3 – filter: under Artistic I used Poster Edges.
Example 4 – filter: under Artistic I used Sponge.
Now what you really need to do is to not only apply filters, but also manipulate the sliders of each filter to refine your style and if you save between filters, you can apply filters on top of filters. On my parting shot – write down what what filters and settings you used and in what order – in case you have to reproduce it in the future!
Don’t be afraid of experimenting! It’s your photo-comic, make it really your own!
When you create your web comic, don’t feel stuck in the original concept and design. Once you get your webcomic up and running, don’t feel trapped. Yes, give your audience consistency. Yes, create a solid story line and characters. Yes, warn your audience that you are trying out new things and that you want feedback. Then have some fun.
The story is plotted out in 24 Junctures (chapters) and when the characters travel to a new Juncture (this case dimension) – they will appear different. This difference will take place by using a new cartooning style, set of colors / textures and backgrounds. I plan on exploring Steampunk, manga, animation styles and more. Juncture 1 is online now, in Juncture 2, I plan on getting inside Sophia’s head and playing a dream world. I will be using a super deform size of three heads high – like a Chibi! Here are some examples of sketches and try outs for my re imagining!
Edoc – the shape shifting key to the whole mystery!
Sophia – created to open the portals between the dimensions of the multi-verse!
Samyaza – determined to close the portals between the dimensions of the multi-verse!
Iam – Sophia’s guardian and mentor in her journey from creation to destruction!
Take an “other world” adventure. Explore your artistic talents. Excite your audience! Re-imagine!
Blaster is a re-imagined character for Code of Edoc! He is a super deformed character three heads high and being introduced in the 2nd Juncture of the story line where we go inside Sophia’s brain. This video is a quick look at the coloring process – specifically the importance to use three colors as a minimum and adding a texture to draw in some interest. This is part one of five – more characters and techniques to come!