Creating Tonoharu #9–Computer Stuff

Pictured: Adjusting the levels of the artwork. What fun! 

This is the ninth post in a series describing the creative process behind my graphic novel Tonoharu. This installment offers an account of all the computer related stuff I do once the artwork has been inked. I’ll try my best to avoid technical jargon, but to explain this in a totally layperson-friendly manner would make this entry way too long, so I’ll occasionally use the technical terms (with wikipedia links for those that actually want to know more about some of the technical stuff) and hope that the accompanying pictures make what I’m talking about at least somewhat clear. Note: all artwork shown is from the work in progress, Tonoharu: Part Two.

I do all the computer stuff using programs from Adobe Creative Suite 2. First off I open Photoshop, and scan the piece of artwork in at a resolution of 1200 dpi (dots per inch), in grayscale mode. I then reduce the image size down to 40% of its original size.

That done, I zoom in. It’s still possible to faintly see the pencil lines at this point, so I adjust the levels until it appears as pure black and pure white.

Above: Before adjusting the levels. Below: After adjusting them.I then change the image mode from grayscale to bitmap (i.e., from an image mode that has shades of gray to one that only has pure black or pure white), save it as a TIFF image file, and then close down Photoshop.

Then I open up Adobe Illustrator, a vector-based graphics program (as opposed to Photoshop, which is a raster-based graphics program). It’s in Illustrator that I add all the background colors and the text. I start off by importing the TIFF image file. I then create a new layer, and put the image file on the topmost layer and lock it, so I don’t accidentally select it again. Then it’s just a matter of adding the second color (the light blue color found in the book) to the bottom-most layer, using the pen and shape tools.

The reason the second color is showing up as yellow instead of the light blue that’s found in the book is because it’s easier for the book printer that way. The yellow I use in the computer file is the “Y” channel from the CMYK color model. Designating it as a standard CMYK color as opposed to a spot color makes it less prone to hiccups when the printer is converting the files into printing plates. Sorry, that’s a lot of jargon, again… oh well.

The greenish color is 100% yellow and 20% black, which appears as the grayish blue color in the final book. Once I’ve added all the yellow and green, I finish off with the white accent “color” (it’s actually just ends up being the color of the paper in the book).

Above: Adding white. Below: How the colors look without the drawing on top of them.

Once all that’s done, I unlock the layer with the image file on it, and combine the image file and background colors by using a clipping mask. Then on top of all of that, I add in the words, and adjust the word balloons and tails.

Above: Messing around with the word balloons. Below: The end product. 

Once that’s done, I save the Illustrator file, and export that into Adobe InDesign, which is a page layout program. It’s there that I finally see how all the panels work together.

The red arrow shows the panel I was working on. The yellow boxes are placeholders for panels that haven’t been drawn yet.

And that’s pretty much it. I only have to do all that about 400 times, and I have a book.

Well, almost. I actually do some final edits to it before I consider the work to be truly and totally complete. And next week I’m finally bring the Creating Tonoharu series of posts to a close with an entry about that. Stay tuned!

Creating Tonoharu–#1: Laying The Groundwork
Creating Tonoharu–#2: The Idea
Creating Tonoharu #3–Writing the Script
Creating Tonoharu #4–The Design (1/3)
Creating Tonoharu #5–The Design (2/3)
Creating Tonoharu #6–The Design (3/3)
Creating Tonoharu #7–The Drawing
Creating Tonoharu #8–Inking
Creating Tonoharu #9–Computer Stuff
Creating Tonoharu #10–Final Edits

  • Kevin

    Very cool! I had no idea there was such an extensive computer design process after the actual inking.