How You Can Make a Comic Book: Part 4 – Finalization
So far you have learned how to write a script, draft a storyboard and create a previzualization for a comic book. With everything working in your previz, it is now time to move on to finalization. Our comics are set up not just for books, but for animation and virtual reality as you will see below. We set up the comic book layout in Part 3 – Previsualization and we’ll need to finish it. However, we still have to put final images in and edit the copy.
The basics of final images are made up of the following:
Comic book output steps are:
- Packaging for Printer
- Convert to PDF, eBook, etc.
There is a lot to cover, so let’s get started.
Every object in the comic book needs to be made. While others draw theirs, we create ours as 3D models in Autodesk 3DStudio Max. In many cases, we find real-world dimensions and build props to match them. Part of our goal with modeling this way is for virtual reality. I find it easier to build a life-size set for you to experience in VR this way. While learning about previz, you saw how we built rudimentary shapes for props. That is the start to modeling. From there we manipulate the shapes, as we would with clay, to become the objects we need.
Characters are complex to model so we turn to the Daz3D software, which is free and amazing. We transform their models into our characters and then use 3DStudio Max to make them pose-able in our sets. This video shows you how to send a Daz character into 3DS Max.
Rigging is the process of putting bones inside the character body, telling the bones how to move and affect others, and creating controls outside the body so we don’t have to touch every bone to manipulate it. Yes, it is complicated. The following image will give you a visual idea. Once it is done, we can start posing our characters.
Shaders, materials, textures, etc. are all names for how an object appears. Is it red? Glossy red? Maybe it is glass – like a window pane. Do you need a piece of blue metal that has a wood grain and glows? To us, they are textures. Every object that has been modeled needs to give the appearance that it has some visual properties. The basics of texturing are easily understood when comparing them to a real-world object. Try it out. A variety of software can be used to create these, but we primarily use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator along with the Material Editor in 3DStudio Max. Our textures are usually not that complicated. Our art-style is to mix cartoon and realism together.
This is the most important step during this process. It creates sunny environments, mysterious shadows, gloomy buildings and more. It is a complicated process of choosing the proper light type, bulb shape, light color and shadow properties, to name a few. Even in traditional artwork, getting shadows right can be challenging. It is definitely a skill to develop with practice, patience and learning.
POW, WHAM, WHOOSH are examples of onomatopoeias. The definition from dictionary.com is ‘the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named’. They are easy effects to create in your comic book. Effects add sound and motion to your comic book. There are too many methods to make the effects you need for your scenes. They are often dependent upon your art-style.
Final Image Output
You have now taken the time to set everything up for your scenes, but you need all these steps to come together as completed images for your comic book layout. The software we use creates a final image by rendering. Dictionary.com says that render means ‘ cause to be or become; make. Your image may not be final until effects are added to it. While 3DStudio Max can make some of the special effects we need, Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects are also used. Once you have all your images, they need to replace the previz images in the comic book layout.
Comic Book Editing
Whew! Almost there. This is the nit-picking step. Carefully go through the text again. I am sure you did that when you typeset it during the previz step, but here is another opportunity to ensure it is correct. Another good practice is to ask someone else to edit after you are done.
Visually edit your images. Make sure hands aren’t going through any objects or other body parts. Solinox went through many edits and when we got a printed proof, we edited again. We still found things to fix. Can you find the glaring error in the image below? I won’t give the answer here, but you can ask me if you give up.
Comic Book Output
You have edited, edited and edited and everything is perfect. Right? The goal of this blog series is to create a comic book. If you want to hold one in your hands, you need to send the layout file to the printing company you chose and get their template. Some companies require the layout file, fonts and images all packaged up. Most modern companies simply require a PDF in a specific format. Once you get that information use your layout software to export the PDF with those requirements and supply it to the printer. A PDF can also serve the purpose of a digital version to provide with the print version or all by itself.
TA DA! Now the hardest part – waiting for the proof to arrive.
As mentioned before, edit, edit and edit again before fixing, re-uploading, waiting on another proof and finally ordering your final copies. We utilize Print-on-Demand companies who will print and ship copies without quantity requirements. If our customer wants one book, they get one book.
You have seen quite a lot during this blog series How You Can Make a Comic Book. These are intended to provide a glimpse into how we create ours. Our comic books take a lot of time to create and now you know why, but we love everything about them. Your workflow, art-style, software, methods, etc. may vary greatly from ours and we would love to see what you create.