Sunday 29 May 2011

The Eagle May Soar…

… but no weasel was ever sucked into the intake of a jet engine, as one of my favourite aphorisms has it.

So… no, I didn't win the Eagle Award for Favourite Letterer, a fact that should come as no surprise to anyone who noted the lofty company amongst which my name was nominated.

In the end, the gong went to the multi-talented Richard Starkings, pictured here alongside a TPB of his creation, Elephantmen (graced with what looks like another fine cover by Boo Cook, unless I'm mistaken).
(This photo shamelessly thieved from CBR, and specifically this article by Caitlin Holland.)

It's hard to overstate Rich's contribution to the field of modern comic-book lettering and this is in addition to his prodigious abilities as a writer and an editor. One has only to visit the Comicraft website to get a small taste of that contribution. Congrats, Mr Starkings -- a well-deserved win.

You can find a full list of the results here (pausing only briefly to gloss over Paul Cornell's win as Favourite Newcomer!) and I'd like to offer congratulations to all the winners, who can feel justifiably proud.

Onwards and upwards!

Friday 27 May 2011

Burns Victim!

Blimey… it's all go here at Campbell Towers at the moment, hence the relative lack of blogging.

The main culprit is Classical Comics' gorgeous-looking adaptation of Wuthering Heights, painted by veteran British comic artist, John M. Burns…

John's career dates back to the mid-60s, and he has been a regular contributor to 2000AD in recent years, doing some excellent Judge Dredd stories and, perhaps most notably, sharing the art duties on Nikolai Dante with series co-creator Simon Fraser.

I was fortunate enough to say hello to John at the Bristol Comic Expo earlier this month. Unfortunately, I didn't have the cash to make an offer on any of the stunning pages of fully painted artwork he had on show, but John was gracious and friendly in the face of my slightly awe-struck gibbering.

Amazingly, this isn't actually the first time John has worked on an adaptation of this very novel, as Lew Stringer's excellent blog details. Even more astonishing, for me at least, is that John also worked on an adaptation of Great Expectations, the Classical Comics version of which was my first professional lettering gig!

Saturday 14 May 2011

Bristol Comic Con 2011…

…I'm there. Lots of lovely comic people, pros and fans, and a splendid time is being had, if not by all, then by me, at least. Notwithstanding the prices in the Ramada bar, from where I am typing this very missive.

Blog post with actual content will resume next week, in the meantime, I'd direct your attention to this post on balloon placement from Jim Shooter's blog, brought to you via Nate Piekos (@blambot) on Twitter.

Must dash… this beer won't drink itself, you know!

Friday 6 May 2011

You See Right Through Me… Illustrator CS5 Tip

During the course of my Illustrator tutorials, I briefly mention transparency effects and advise against relying on them, since I have found that they can output unreliably.

There is one exception to this, which is when you are outputting final lettered TIFF files of the pages yourself, since you will have the opportunity to review the finished bitmap image and will be able to judge for yourself if the effects are working correctly.

However, although I do this for a number of clients, I still rarely use transparency effects, mainly for the following reason…

Here's a panel from Matthew McLaughlin and Matt Soffe's story "A Pleasing Symmetry" for FQP's Something Wicked #6

I wanted the effect to be ghostly, but it really needed a stronger stroke to help the legibility:

To the best of my knowledge, the easiest way of doing this was to have one copy of the effect with a transparent fill but no stroke, and then another copy directly on top with no fill but a white stroke:

(I've separated the two elements here to show you what I mean…)
This is all well and good, but it can make selecting the bottom element a bit fiddly, and if you wanted to mask off part of the effect then you have to group it, create a mask, and the whole thing quickly becomes more trouble than it's really worth!

However, changing the opacity from the Transparency palette only allows you to apply a global value to the whole object, right?

Well, not quite. Create the SFX with both a stroke and a fill and leave the opacity at 100% in the Transparency palette.

Instead, now go to the Appearance palette…

…and click on Fill.

Now, if you go back to the Transparency palette:

When you change the opacity value, only the opacity of the fill changes, meaning that you can set the opacity values of the stroke and fill independently of each other.

Maybe I'm the last person on Earth to figure this out, but I genuinely didn't know you could do this, so perhaps this hint will be of use to somebody out there!