Two years of living Graphic Novelly – 3
Using Sketchbook Pro and Adobe Photoshop CS6.
There is so much to learn about using these programs at a professional level, but it is easy to get started with the basics and add on skills as you go. When I am doing my graphic novel work, I start with sketches and final drawing that I may make an ink copy of using a transparent paper and then scan into the computer. I like to use Sketchbook Pro for inking the drawing because you can shape the brushes to provide tapered lines like you would normally get using a brush with ink. You can’t get that line with Photoshop although Illustrator does have those features for changing the look of lines.
Sketchbook Pro just has a more natural drawing feel and you can keep doing a line until it is right. I love this program and they have just come out with a new version that has perspective tools and other additions that are fantastic. They also addressed that pesky canvas size problem that was a pain in the earlier versions. This program is inexpensive and easy to learn. Oh, that is another problem. There is no real manual for Sketchbook Pro, however, Lynda.com does provide an excellent course on this topic. Lynda.com is a fairly inexpensive program with courses for learning how to use Adobe products and practically everything else in the universe. For $25 a month (the last time I was signed up) you have the basic access to a host of programs that are top quality. The instructors are excellent. I recently discovered that the local library has Lynda.com resources for free on their website. I have accessed a training course for Adobe CS6 Illustrator through the library e-services for free. You sign in through the library to the Lynda.com programs they host. This is an unbelievable gift from the library to its patrons. I can’t thank them enough. I have found Lynda.com invaluable for learning how to properly use Adobe Bridge and Sketchbook Pro. As well, there are a host of good people on the internet who give tips on using these programs. I wish to highlight the following website for instructions on how to set your Sketchbook Pro settings to get a good inking brush:
So, on with the process. After inking in Sketchbook Pro, I transfer the images to Photoshop for tweaking, sizing and arranging, perhaps melding figures with background and so on. In Photoshop you can automate various actions such as darkening your sketches to make them even across items you may have imported separately and because of size differences have line thickness differences you wish to deal with. Also, you are advised to use the Channels feature to automate a black copy process so your inked sketches are not only copied to a floating top layer but are slightly darkened and increased so that you don’t have problems with edge colours later.
If you just fill colour into your drawings, there will be a bit of an uncoloured edge. If you try and increase the fill size it will cover your ink. The solution is to create a floating transparency of your ink that sits at the top of your layers and is locked and you do not colour in. Later when you are done you can compress the layers to keep your inked edges clean and beautiful. See The Digital Art Technique Manual for Artists and the DC Comic guides mentioned in Part 2 of this blog for more detailed information on these problems/solutions.
Once these issues are taken care of then the fun of colouring and creating backgrounds comes in to play. Photoshop is a beautiful thing!