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Comics 101 for 02/03/2005
Designing Star Wars Aliens!
Episode Five: Photoshop. An elegant program for a more civilized time.
The next phase of the project was for me to scan each line drawing and begin coloring them using Photoshop in my Macintosh computer. Here's the break down of the various steps of the coloring process...
1) First, I scan the artwork as line art in bitmap mode and make sure the resolution is 300 dots per inch.
2) Once each drawing is scanned I convert them to grayscale (Menu bar>Image>Mode>Grayscale) save them as TIFF files in Photoshop.
3) Next, I have to go to the menu bar again and convert them to RGB files (Menu bar>Image>Mode>RGB), which allows me to render this line art using full color.
4) Now I use my Layers pallette (Menu bar>Window> Show Layers) and double-click the layer entitled 'Background'. A new window appears entitled 'Make Layer'. I name the layer 'Line Art' and click 'ok'
5) I go back to my Layers pallette and click the small black arrow in the upper right hand corner of the pallette and drag down to highlight 'New Layer'. In the 'New Layer' window I rename the layer 'Color Art' and click 'ok'.
6) Back up at the menu bar at the top of the screen, I click 'Edit' and drag down to 'Fill'. In the 'Fill' window I select 'White' and make sure the 'Color Art' layer is still selected in the layers pallete.
7) After I fill this entire layer with white I click the 'Color Art' layer in my Layers pallette and drag it down under the line art area which allows me to view my line art again.
8) I double-click the 'Line Art' layer in the layers pallette which creates a new window called 'Layer Options'. In this window I select the 'This Layer' line that says 255 and drag it slightly to the left until it says 254. Then I click 'ok' which makes the white areas on the line art layer transparent but the black line solid.
9) I select the color art layer in the Layers pallette and begin to render underneath the line art layer using color with the Airbrush tool and adjusting opacity in the Options pallette. I also select a variety of brush sizes for the Airbrush tool by using the Brushes pallette. This of course it the longest step since I'm completing most, if not all of the rendering of each character here.
10) For rendering the water in the Iskalonian illustration and the smoke in the Zeltron illustration I paint directly on the ink line. I select the line art layer and I draw a rough selection around the ink line representing these shapes using the Lasso selection tool from the Tools pallette.
11) I then go to the menu bar and click 'Select' and drag down to 'Color Range'. With the Eyedropper tool I click on the selected black line in the preview image of the 'Color Range' window and click 'ok'. This masks off the line work on the line art layer and allows me to paint only the selected pixels.
The following set of illustrations are the final full color artwork as it appeared in issue #1 of Star Wars Gamer.
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