This will amuse and horrify my more tech-savvy art friends. Let’s make today’s issue of Shotgun Shuffle No.76!

 I used to make these the traditional way, with bristol board. I’d then get out the T-Square and get my panels drawn with my measurements, and all the other tedious stuff. I eventually found the most productive way to get my art drawn, especially on lunch breaks, trips and so on, was to grab a sketchbook and have each page be a panel. So this is me, taking my Nikon, and photographing  4 pages of said sketchbook. I then compose it in photoshop (usually over the last strip I threw together.) Original demensions of 3900 x 1670.

 I don’t have a tablet. I gave up that dream when I decided to have two kids.

So you’re asking yourself, “how can this person redraw these lines with only a mouse? and did i eat lunch twice yesterday?”

Yes with a mouse, and in MSPaint. It’s painstaking. Now you’re probably asking youself : “MSPAINT!? THEY MUST WORK AT NASA!”

While I understand MSPaint is technology 5 years in the future, as well as my version of Photoshop 7, I work with what I got. And that’s usually on a hobo’s budget.

You’ll see in the image, I go over the lines with the thickest, most luxurious, of 5 lines weights MSPaint has to offer. Then I go back with white to give the lines different weights and flows. Having all the lines the same thickness leaves the drawing’s dynamic quite dull.

Use photoshop>select all black>invert selection>delete.

Now we add some flat colors. Pretty simple… this is where I catch my line art mistakes. Added some fries in the last panel/fix face errors, Noel’s (drivethru girl) neck got less thick…

Now everything gets a gradient and shaded. So I select Ellie’s uniform. I then add a 7% black gradient to it. Half gradient, half transparent. The black will come from wherever the shadows are. I then copy and paste as a new layer. I then select over the portions of that layer I want shaded (or even highlighted, depending.) I adjust the lightness for shadows to -25. These can always vary depending on the scene. If highlights are needed, it’s +25 (minus Ellie’s hair highlights at +40)

The darker the original color, the more extreme the adjustments end up. The opposite is true for the lighter colors. With Barrel’s pants (the manager) which are almost black, the lighting adjustment was about-10 to add a shadow. Adding shading to Ellie’s teeth, which start as white, can end up being a -50 or more.

Now you can see I played with some hues and landed on colors I’m satisfied with.

Now I’ve colored inner-lines and background lines. I select all black from the background layer, and color over with a 60% opacity. If I’m selecting Ellie’s face, for instance, I’ll sample the shadow color within it. This will be what fills any inner lines. Depending on how intense the gradient is in the area, this color may need to be resampled a few times.

This is a critical step for how I want Shotgun Shuffle to look. It’s not ALL colored lines, but only the lines that are distant/in the interior of a subject/wet/glossy/shiny/or generally not defining of the outline of a character or item. Eyes and mouths excluded. In essence, Ellie’s hat is a self contained item. Any lines within are colored. Then her hair. The hair outline stays black, but all lines within are colored.

Silly to some, but this was a huge decision (with a series of trials) when I first tinkered with idea of a webcomic. I wanted it to be very soft on the eyes, but still detailed. Like your eyes are taking a buttermilk bath, but the buttermilk is like a rainbow of colors. That doesn’t sound stupid, does it??

Now we set up the lettering. I have merged all cells, and saved as a new file. Don’t lose those old layers! You may done fuzzed up and have to fix something someone points out to you later.

And we finish up with word bubblage. This is yet a new layer, above the background, and below the text layers. I use straight ellipticals because I lack originality. If you’re making your own webcomic, I can’t stress enough making an effort to recenter your text into the new word bubbles. I’ve seen even the most professional comikers forget this.

Fill in solid white, then I add a stroke of black to the exterior (5pts.) Merge all cells. Shrink image so it looks better.

BOOM. Done.

Now for 30 minutes of staring into space trying to think of a title for it I will never be satisfied with…