Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Wednesday Surgery: Time is Fleeting

Just a quick organizational suggestion for Wednesday's surgery. This tip has honestly put about 15-20% on my productivity.

Lettering a page essentially has two parts: the boring part and the interesting part. The boring part involves transferring the text from the script to the Illustrator page, placing the artwork and positioning it correctly. In an ideal world, you could stick all this on an Action, and be done with it but, unfortunately, you can't!

The interesting stuff is the actual lettering, which has pretty much nothing to do with anything of the above.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I find there's a time of day when I'm not at my creative best. For me, it's later in the day -- after eight or more hours sitting staring at that monitor, I'll admit that I start to flag. For many other people, it's the earlier part of the day.

If you have the luxury of planning your work more than a day in advance, then use your less-productive hours to do the part of the job that requires little or no creative thought: prep a whole batch of files so they're ready to letter. Because I do this last thing in my working day, I can have a day's worth of worked prepped and ready to go for the following morning. If you've got a laptop you can do the prep work sitting in front of the TV having a nice glass of wine and pretending to listen to your wife/husband.

Trust me: the pretending to listen to your partner part is solid gold. :-)




  1. Hi Jim,

    I just discovered your blog today on and spent the past 5 hours blissfully reading all your posts.

    I am an aspiring comic artist and have a few questions regarding Photoshop and Manga Studio (I have CS4 and EX, respectively).

    1. As I spent the past 5 months learning on Photoshop, it was only the past month I discovered Manga Studio. The brushes I had made in Photoshop were modeled after Freddie Williams' suggestions in his book "Digitally Drawing Comics". For instance, he suggested working in a 300 dpi project 11 x 17 inches and doing contour lines at 6 or 8 pixels as a starting point. Now I have these and many other brushes that I know I can't bring over to Manga Studio. What I want to know is what would be the conversion when trying to figure out pixels to millimeters (the unit sizes in Manga Studio) so I can replicate as best as possible my brushes? For instance, what would be the millimeters of an 8 pixel or 3 pixel Photoshop brush in Manga Studio (if page size and resolution affects the brushes at all - which touches upon my next questions - then please assume the page size and dpi would be the same in both programs)?

    2. In Photoshop, are custom brush pixel sizes at all project/dpi dependent? In other words, if I create an 8-pixel brush in a 300 dpi project that's 11 x 17 inches and then want to work at say 600 dpi, do I have to remake that brush? Will it's resolution/thickness be identical in both?

    3. Lastly, along similar lines (no pun intended), in both Photoshop and Manga Studio, does the size of the page affect how the same sized brush will look when its reduced to printed size (i.e. if you work at a larger 11 x 17 versus say 6.875” x 10.438”). I'd imagine that if someone were to draw an 8 pixel brush line in an 11 x 17 inch canvas versus an 8 pixel brush on a smaller canvas, it would look different when reduced and printed. If so, how does one "do the math" to determine how their brushes designed for the larger 11 x 17 should be adjusted if they decide to work at actual US comic book page size - and want the same look they were happy with at a larger canvas size?

    Thanks in advance for all your help.


    Kyle Jones

    P.S. One last question please ... (I feel like Columbo)... in Photoshop on my computer it was very difficult to digitally draw and ink anything much bigger than 300 dpi, but since Manga Studio handles larger dpi projects much better (and can easily handle 1200 dpi without slowing down), is there any point of overkill (or is bigger always better)? If one's computer can breeze through the 1200 dpi setting in Manga Studio, is there any reason to go less? (assuming it will ultimately be colored in Photoshop at a lower dpi)?

    Again, thank you very much.

  2. Wow! Good stuff, Kyle! Rather than bury my reply in the comments section, I'll carry this over to the Sunday Surgery post, since I'm sure some other readers will be interested.

    Delighted that you're enjoying the blog so far!