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Interview with Patrick McEvoy
How To Remove Pencil Lines
News for June
How To Remove Pencil LinesAsk an Artist
by Annie Rodrigue
This month, I decided to do this column a little differently. I'm scraping around a little bit to find interesting questions and topics, and I figured it might also be interesting to share questions and problems that I have had to attack recently!
A few months ago, I decided to tackle a rather important comic book project. I had done very little sequential art before and never really had finished any comics in my few attemps. We could pretty much say I knew nothing about it and had to read a lot on the subject. But books (while they can be filled with treasures of information) don't hold every single technique out there, and most of the time, will cover a very specific technique done by this very specific artist (the author). And so, once I started, I had to learn paneling, layout, inking and computer screen toning. As with every new medium or artistic endeavour, as we go, we get a little more comfortable with it and once that kicks in, we develop our own techniques to get where we want to go.
But unfortunately with comics, I quickly found a major flaw in my process: I wanted to ink with a pen and nib on Bristol paper. To be able to ink, I needed my paper to stay smooth and not all wrinkled, dirtied or ripped. The problem turned out to be that if I wanted to keep my paper in good shape, I needed to pencil lightly and couldn't work roughly at all. And the truth is, I am a rough artist. I like to push on my pencil, work my volumes, erase, redo and move stuff around. So my first 5 pages, turned out dull, too light, and not very compelling for the reader. Oh, the paper was in good shape for inking alright, but at what cost? There was no way I was going to let this take over my story, so I asked around. What COULD I do to be able to work my composition without feeling stressed about my pretty Bristol paper? I certainly didn't want to redraw the pages twice just to transfer on my Bristol either! Too complex, too much work, not enough time. (I like to see myself as a lazy artist in a good way, I hate doing extra unnecessary steps. I try to find solutions to get the that goal without being sidetracked)
That's when saying a problem out loud next to artists friends can turn out to be a great learning experience. One of my comic artist friends shared this trick with me! Photoshop is amazing really! Hopefully this is something that will also be useful to some of you!
Step 1: Work on regular paper to sketch. Now that made me happy! I could work on whatever paper I like to sketch my panels! I could cut paper around, move characters. Scrap parts of it, keep other parts. It was messy, just the way I liked it! What's great about this is that you have no limits to how expressive your work can be when you are in a comfortable environment. And paper is a workspace. If this is what you like to work on and what inspires you, then keep using it! (yes, I do believe that the right tools can be a drive for an artist!)
Step 2: Scan and change hues. Once the page is ready to be inked, simply scan in Photoshop at high resolution (ideally 300dpi or more). Then adjust the hue so the lines are light blue.
Step 3: Simple. Print on your lovely Bristol paper!
Step 4: Ink. First make sure that the printed material is really dry. Let it sit for a few hours if you can before inking. Once the Bristol is ready, you can ink your page.
Step 5: Remove the blue. We go to the scanner again. Scan at high resolution, in color. Now we are going to do a little trick in Photoshop to remove everything but the black lines. Go to the channels window. Now if you play around, you can hide some of the color channels and end up with only black lines, like this:
Once the right channels are hidden, you can delete them. Only the inking remains! All that is left is to convert your file back to grayscale mode first, then to RGB or CMYK depending on what you need! That's it!
Here is a little extra for that comic panel! Finished with screen tones!
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