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Creating Comics! by Paul Gulacy, Spencer Drate, Judith Salavetz

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Title: Arcadia Jones
Client: Self-published
Medium: pencils, inks, Illustrator, Photoshop
Next, in Photoshop, I enlarge the rough to a
10” x 15” (25.4 x 38.1 cm) image area (standard
for American comics), increase the lightness
until the image is very faint (normally about 70
percent), and print this out on 11” x 17” (27.9 x
43.2 cm) Strathmore 300 series Bristol board.
This saves a lot of time traditionally spent trac-
ing the drawing onto the board.
To ink, I first use a marker or ruling pen to
trace the panel borders. For almost everything
else I use a Winsor & Newton Series 7 #3 or
#4 round brush with Higgins Black Magic Ink.
When I’m done inking, I scan the page at 600
dpi, adjust the image to look as crisp as pos-
sible, then reduce the dpi to 300 and the image
size by 67 percent (print size). I can now drop
my lettering overlay back on top.
If it’s a black-and-white project, I’m done.
For color, I change the mode from gray scale to
RGB. I separate the line art to its own layer and
color on layers underneath. I use the selec-
tion tools to select the individual shapes in the
drawing, and I fill them with flat colors for my
basic color decisions. This is my flat fill layer.
I leave it as is, and do all my rendering on
other layers. For example, darks go on a
shadow layer set on “multiply,” and highlights
go on a layer set on “hard light” or “screen.”
Special lighting effects can go on layers over
the line art. When I’m done, I convert it to CMYK
for print (and always back up my files).
Title: Arcadia Jones
Client: Self-published
Media: Pencils, inks, Illustrator, Photoshop
Creative Process
My process of producing comic art has come
together through many years of trial and error.
Photoshop has become indispensable. Still, some
things are best done the old-fashioned way, so
I’ve tried to apply what I like best about both
worlds. Normally, I work from a detailed story
outline rather than a full script. I start by breaking
down the outline into tiny thumbnail drawings
of each page, using only stick figures and basic
shapes. I’m also writing the dialogue at this stage
while deciding on staging, acting, page layout,
and camera direction.
When I’ve thumbnailed the entire outline, I use
them to create detailed roughs. Everything that’s
going to be on the final page is here. I work at
print size on regular typing paper on which I’ve
printed a template made in Illustrator that shows
all the guide marks. I use a Sanford Col-Erase
Blue pencil, which feels comfortable to me.
I scan and save each rough at 300 dpi, and
in Illustrator I begin lettering, working from the
dialogue on the thumbnails. There are many
resources that discuss lettering techniques (my
favorite is Comicraft’s www.balloontales.com).
I save the lettering out by itself as an overlay
element. Frequently, the dialogue will cover im-
portant parts of the drawing. Once I can see the
problem areas, I resize and reposition the art in
each panel in Photoshop to better accommodate
the lettering.
M
ichael Cavallaro was born in New Jersey.
He grew up reading the comic books at
Maurice’s Barbershop on Main Street,
drawing some of his own, and playing guitar. He spent
two years at the Joe Kubert School of Cartoon and
Graphic Art, but then dropped out to travel with his band
and wash dishes. Eventually, he began working in the
New York comics and animation industries, in which he’s
remained active for the past fifteen years. Michael has
drawn and painted for Valiant and DC Comics, MTV Ani-
mation, and Cartoon Network. In 2002 Michael began
self-publishing his own continuing comic book series,
66 Thousand Miles Per Hour. In 2005 Penguin/Puffin
Graphics released his 144–page graphic novel adapta-
tion of The Wizard of Oz.
Michael is currently at work on numerous animation
and comics-format projects. He still finds time to play
guitar, although his new apartment comes with
a dishwasher.
Michael Cavallaro

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