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Old 09-19-2009, 12:22 PM   #1
Ronald
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Default Scanning/Shooting Large Artwork

Two years ago, I began writing stories and concepts for a satire comic book. I have a few stories entirely finished and found a great deal on high quality art pens. I haven't begun illustrating, however, because I'm concerned with how to get the finished artwork on my computer. My main goal is to have the comics online, but I'd like to create them so that, if desired, I could also print all of them in a book someday.

With this in mind, I believe they need to be illustrated at least 150% the actual print size. The original art, created with pens of various thickness, will be black & white with some shades of gray; color will be added in Photoshop and text will probably be added in Illustrator. From my research, either I could pay a company to scan my panels with a large flatbed, or I could buy my own camera and shoot them myself; I already planned on getting a new camera anyway. But I'm having trouble telling what mega pixels I'd need and what lighting (one woman said she shoots artwork outside in "diffused sunlight"). Maybe finding a company to scan them would be okay, but who knows how much that would cost?
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Old 09-19-2009, 12:43 PM   #2
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Interesting questions.

An ordinary flatbed scanner would probably be good enough for digitizing the black-and-white drawings, especially if you created each cel individually (to be assembled into frames later when you add the text and color).

I am pretty sure (though not certain, never having tried it) that scanning would give you better control and higher quality than trying to photograph drawings with a digital camera (for print production, the cameras are specialized for just that sort of work).

Another possibility — with some learning curve involved — would be to draw in Illustrator on the computer, probably with a Wacom tablet or something similar. The advantage is that Illustrator produces postscript vector objects, which are size and resolution-independent. You could produce the web images by means of its Save for Web function (leaving the original .ai artwork intact) and later produce appropriate images for commercial printing without having to rework the pages. Much, anyway.

   
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Old 09-19-2009, 01:18 PM   #3
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Interesting questions.

An ordinary flatbed scanner would probably be good enough for digitizing the black-and-white drawings, especially if you created each cel individually (to be assembled into frames later when you add the text and color).

I am pretty sure (though not certain, never having tried it) that scanning would give you better control and higher quality than trying to photograph drawings with a digital camera (for print production, the cameras are specialized for just that sort of work).
I considered digital illustration and intend on buying a Wacom tablet, but the style I'm aiming for would be a throwback to gritty, black & white indie comics of the '80s. So I'd prefer true, pen-and-paper drawing. It would have pages in typical comic book dimensions (something like 7"x10"). Not every panel illustration would be confined to an actual square panel. How I use the panels would be a matter of storytelling and dynamic emphasize (something dramatic could simply be in open white space, breaking the panel "chain" only to return to panels as the excitement subsides. I was thinking of using color to emphasize moments of chaos or psychedelia; hopefully that won't be so strong as to draw readers to it without reading what's before it.

With a small desktop scanner, I could scan small sections of the pages and piece them together on my computer; I just imagine that would be very time consuming, so I was hoping for an alternative. I would think a place like Copyworks would have a large flatbed, but I'd hate to see how much they'd charge to scan the pages.

I also live near a fellow, more much experienced freelance designer who has good equipment; he can even print large banners on heavy canvas in his basement. It's possible he has a large scanner.
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Old 09-19-2009, 02:02 PM   #4
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ronald: I believe they need to be illustrated at least 150% the actual print size.
Why?

When I scan old photos on my flatbed scanner (Epson 2450), if they are rather small--say...under 2"-3"--then I scan them at 150% - 200% (or larger) at (usually) 600dpi and I've found that allows me a great deal of flexibilty in tweaking the final size printing--I usually print my images on my Epson 4000 using 300ppi images so scanning at 600ppi gives me room to resize without creating pixelated images. I always scan RGB--even for b/w images--and then using Channel Mixer in Photoshop I create the greyscaling myself because then I can draw from each channel and I find it give me a better final greyscale image...

I don't know much of anything about the size of comic book images and the actual drawing of them so...a few questions:

1. Do you normally draw multiple images (panels) on a single sheet of drawing paper?

2. If so, is there anything to stop you from drawing single images on each sheet and then digitize these single images via flatbed scanner then putting them together (as appropriate) to create a traditional comic book panels using Photoshop or Illustrator?

In other words...do each drawing on its own sheet of drawing paper--no larger than your scanning bed--and put them together afterwords...

Is that a viable approach? I think that you could certainly experiment a bit with this?

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Old 09-19-2009, 02:46 PM   #5
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I don't know much of anything about the size of comic book images and the actual drawing of them so...a few questions:

1. Do you normally draw multiple images (panels) on a single sheet of drawing paper?

2. If so, is there anything to stop you from drawing single images on each sheet and then digitize these single images via flatbed scanner then putting them together (as appropriate) to create a traditional comic book panels using Photoshop or Illustrator?

In other words...do each drawing on its own sheet of drawing paper--no larger than your scanning bed--and put them together afterwords...
Thank you, Terrie. So you're saying I could probably draw them the same size as they would be printed, just scan them at 150% - 200% and at 600dpi?

As for scanning the panels/pages, I'd like to illustrate whole pages. This would allow more comfort and independence in rendering/visualizing the overall page layout. For instance, if a character is making a dramatic pose, he may stand in open space (not confined in a square panel) and his limbs may overlap the surrounding panels slightly. Although, if needed, I could resize, crop, and place him over the panels as I piece together panels to render whole pages on the computer.

Comic pages today usually aren't as simple as they were many decades ago. Panels range dramatically in proportion and can overlap one another. For example, an explosion could take up half a page and a smaller panel inset/over top of that could have a person's face expressing shock.

But if what you say is true (that I only need the original art to be the size of the final print) then a whole page would probably fit on a desktop scanner.
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Old 09-19-2009, 04:46 PM   #6
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ronald: So you're saying I could probably draw them the same size as they would be printed, just scan them at 150% - 200% and at 600dpi?
Exactly!! Or at an even higher dpi...I'd probably experiment a bit to see what settings would work best...you might find that scanning at 100% at 600dpi gives you what you need. Downsampling (resizing an image by going from a higher dpi to a lower dpi) is generally not a problem, it's upsampling that can get you in trouble if you try to make the smaller image/dpi larger...


>>For instance, if a character is making a dramatic pose, he may stand in open space (not confined in a square panel) and his limbs may overlap the surrounding panels slightly.

Yes...I understand exactly what you are saying...


>>Although, if needed, I could resize, crop, and place him over the panels as I piece together panels to render whole pages on the computer.

Yes...you could. Layers (and layer masks too) make things soooo much easier and more flexible...I consider myself the layer queen...I have some images that have 60-70 layers (or more)--although that's more in Painter than in Photoshop...'-}}


>>Comic pages today usually aren't as simple as they were many decades ago. Panels range dramatically in proportion and can overlap one another. For example, an explosion could take up half a page and a smaller panel inset/over top of that could have a person's face expressing shock.

Right...it's been a while since I've read a comic book but I know what you are talking about--I used to spent a lot of my allowance money on X-Men...'-}}


>>But if what you say is true (that I only need the original art to be the size of the final print) then a whole page would probably fit on a desktop scanner.

I do think that it will work but I'd definitely do some testing. Do you currently have a scanner? If not, I'd be happy to run some test scans for you from your drawings if you wanted to try it so then you'd have a better idea of what scanned output would be like...

One other thing you want to test is the drawing paper...the scan will pickup everything--that means the paper texture too--so that's an additional thing to consider...

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Old 09-20-2009, 12:40 PM   #7
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Thanks for the advice, ktinkel and terrie. I trust what you're suggesting, terrie, and I'll definitely test out scanning as you said. I need to reinstall my printer/scanner before playing around with it, so in the meantime, I'm still asking around and researching on this topic to come to a stronger consensus on exactly how to approach the comic book project as a whole.
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Old 09-20-2009, 01:01 PM   #8
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Sounds as if you have some experiments to make.

Do keep us posted on your progress — it all sounds interesting.

   
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Old 09-20-2009, 03:45 PM   #9
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ronald: I'm still asking around and researching on this topic to come to a stronger consensus on exactly how to approach the comic book project as a whole.
Do keep us posted on what you find out and how to end up doing the work...

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Old 10-11-2009, 03:21 PM   #10
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This isn't exactly referring to scanning art, but a few weeks ago, I bought a bunch of cheap, smooth cardstock that I figured would work just fine for pen illustration. However, I know that bristol board is the most commonly used comic book drawing surface. Is bristol board very special or different from regular cardstock - so much that I should consider buying bristol - or should my cardstock be fine? I'm willing to buy bristol; I just don't want to spend a ridiculous amount in a specialty art store.

Regarding drawing & scanning, I emailed a man from GoMediaZine, an excellent illustration/graphic design site, and he explained that comic art is typically drawn on 11"x17" stock, scanned at 300dpi, then colored. Then it's shrunk to about 6.75"x10.5" but kept at 300dpi for printing. This allows the illustrator to be a bit sloppier with the large drawing.
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