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Art Pipeline! The swell of pride.

Today I thought it would be interesting to look at the production pipeline for comic book art.  A production pipeline is basically the steps which a piece of art goes through from conception to completion and is an important process everyone working together should be familiar with to make sure things go smooth.  In comics it's possible to have separate people working on each phase of the pipeline but in my case I'm doing it all myself.  I think it's important to understand each of the processes even if you don't plan on pursuing them professionally just so you can work better with others as a team.  Anyway enough talking lets look at some examples.  

I'm going to jump in at the penciling stage but before you start drawing on your expensive comic boards you should have some kind of outline or thumbnails which you are working from.

In this page you can see my pencils which I've started to ink over.  I was using a .9mm pencil and micron pens.  The tighter your pencils are in the first stage the easier inking and all the following steps will be. 

Completed ink ready to be scanned into the computer.  

Once you get your scanned picture into the computer you can start the coloring process which begins with "flatting" your picture.  A flat is a solid color and the purpose of this step is to separate all your colors and objects so they can be quickly selected and edit in the future.  At this point the colors are arbitrary so I like to use this time to feel out different color options and ideas.  The picture above shows the flat colors without the line art.  

I use the polygonal lasso tool and the paint bucket in photoshop to make my selections and fill in my flats.  When flatting it's important to make your selections inside the boarders or the original line art so there won't be any gaps in your coloring.  Separate you're line art and turn it's transparency down to 75% to easily work inside it.  

After you've done your flats you can create a new layer and begin to apply your real colors, shading and all that other good stuff.  I'll cover that tomorrow so for now get your line art into the computer and get your flats ready, the real fun starts soon!

Tip of the day -  When doing your flats start with the background and work your way to the front.  It's a lot easier to to lay down a solid square of color for your background then tracing around all the objects in your panels!

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