Thursday, 13 December 2012

"Terrible, Terribly Punny"

I know it's a little old now, but the 2011 release of Mortal Kombat still hasn't come out here to Australia yet, due to the lack of an R18+ rating. A friend of mine managed to bring the game back home from another country and well, for his birthday a bunch of us were in a hotel room, with beer, playing Mortal Kombat. It sounds sad but it was a lot of fun. After every fatality, we'd make a very retarded 80's style pun. Which is what this comic is about. Because it's so punny. Hilarious.

I've never really been a fan of Mortal Kombat, but I really enjoyed this game. The amount of graphic violence and gore is ridiculous, but it's pretty much on par with other games like Fallout 3 (heads blowing up in slow motion via V.A.T.S for example), so I'm struggling to understand why we still don't have it here. The storyline in the single player is completely stupid, in a "hey this is awesome to watch" 80's action movie kinda way.

Anyway. With this particular blog post, I thought it'd be a good idea to talk about the process of how our comic strips are made. I would love to go into more detail but this post will be a simplified process.

My brother and I usually begin by coming up with an idea either by ourselves or together, we consult one another on the idea, add and modify ideas etc. When we've got a solid idea, my brother usually plans the script and dialogue, followed by a text storyboard for me to follow. That's when I bust out the drawing... pardon me if these photos are a bit big, but they were taken right off my phone.

I've got a bunch of these pre-made. I made them myself using Adobe Photoshop CS5 and had about... maybe one hundred or so printed? It makes the drawing and sketching phase a lot easier.

I sketch up a comic like so. It doesn't matter what I use to sketch - pen, pencil, as long as I get the drawings right. In any case, if I stuff anything up, they can be fixed in the post production stage. Once the sketch is done, I scan it into my scanner, which I then import into Adobe Photoshop CS5 as a .PDF document.

When it's all scanned up, I use a WACOM Intuous3 graphics tablet for all digital inking, colouring and further drawing. I'd love to have one of those WACOM Cintiq graphics tablets, where it's like, a second PC monitor you draw on, but I don't have that kind of budget. A man can dream though right?
So as I mentioned before, I use Adobe Photoshop CS5 to do all the digital inking, colouring etc. I start off by making a new layer above the original sketch.This'll be the character line art layer. I chuck the paint brush tool usually on size 5 at 100% strength and opacity. The cool thing with WACOM tablets is they're pressure sensitive. Push hard with the pen on the drawing surface, the lines are thick and solid. Push lighter? They'll be thinner and, well lighter. So, in this stage, I just trace over my already drawn characters.
Just a note -  I always keep the comic at original size. I never down-size it until it is finished. The reason for that is because when at high resolution (or high definition, if you want to think of it that way) you can capture the most amount of detail possible. You can get really nice, clean lines and colours and when you finally resize it, it'll look very nice. So remember, when you're drawing, stay high resolution, avoid low resolution!
This is a fully "inked" comic strip. You'll notice that some things I do not ink, such as the fire in panel one or the ice in panel two. This is because I want to draw them mostly with colour.
This is the comic strip fully inked up, without any of the original in the background. After it's all inked up, I add a new layer behind the line art for colouring.
For good measure, I add a full brown layer behind the colour layer. This helps me if I miss anything when colouring. I used colour purely by hand, but that was actually a massive waste of time. To save time, I select the LA (line art) layer.

Using the magic wand tool, I select the area I wanted coloured (for example, the top of Scorpion's skull). I then go into Select, followed by Modify, than Expand. Then, I'll increase the expansion by about 2 pixels or so. I de-select the LA layer (but still keep the magic wand selection) then select my colour layer. Grab the paint bucket tool, the colour I want and bam, we've got a flat base colour for that area. When I shade or lighten an area, it depends on the size. If it's small, I'll do it by hand (and colour it myself), if it's large, I'll make a new layer above my colour layer and... well pretty much do the same step as above really.

Once the character's are done, I'll work on the backgrounds. Depending on the comic, I try to stick with simple backgrounds but I try to make it look nice and presentable. In all honesty, I'm quite inspired by backgrounds produced by DSLR photography cameras, the blurry background, the nice depth of field, almost looking like a painting itself. Those are how I like to make my backgrounds. Usually I'll use a lot of colours (no line art) for backgrounds, followed by the Gaussian Blur filter found in the Filters tab. Again, I don't always do this, it depends on the comic. Sometimes I'll draw a background exactly how I drew the characters.

Once that's all done, I add in any special effects (like the fire), additional lighting, speech bubbles and dialogue. I'll get more in depth into those another time. After a comic is finished, I keep two copies on me of the final piece. One original, high resolution comic (for the purpose of potential printing) and one lower resolution comic for the purpose of screen/web.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us -

-Cr33g (Craig)