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Author Topic: Lettering a strip  (Read 2065 times)

SIP

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Lettering a strip
« on: 03 May, 2016, 11:31:55 AM »
Hi all,

I'm currently working on completing a comic strip that I started many years back with Paul Von Scott for Omnivistascope. I was due to complete a fourth installment of the story but life well and truly got in the way and sadly I never finished it.

I later reworked all of the existing artwork to update it and correct all the drawings that I didn't like the first time around but, due to deadlines, didn't have time to fix.

Well, I'm now about 85-90 percent through the last new pages, and I'm then thinking of compiling the whole thing into a stand alone comic (once I've had a chat with Paul to check he's still okay with it).

The next stage I need to consider is lettering the whole thing from scratch. Lettering really isn't my thing. First time around I lettered the strip using photoshop and it wasn't the best.

Does anyone have any advice on the most cost effective way of doing a decent lettering job. This is a one off comic and I don't have any intention of doing more lettering in the future so don't want to break the bank

Any advice greatly appreciated.

Cheers,

Simon.

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #1 on: 03 May, 2016, 12:01:49 PM »
Does anyone have any advice on the most cost effective way of doing a decent lettering job. This is a one off comic and I don't have any intention of doing more lettering in the future so don't want to break the bank

If you have Photoshop (but don't have Illustrator) there's no reason why you can't letter it in PS. Type-handling isn't PS's strongest suit, but it's do-able. What version are you running?

Cheers

Jim
Stupidly Busy Letterer: Samples. | Blog
Less-Awesome-Artist: Scribbles.

Bolt-01

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #2 on: 03 May, 2016, 12:08:00 PM »
Ooh, new strip from PVS & Penter.

I'm already sold.

Actually- I'd be able to find time to help with the lettering if you like.

However, if you want to do it yourself, I'll just let Jim help with advice- he's far more knowledgeable than I.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #3 on: 03 May, 2016, 12:12:17 PM »
Is Inkscape a decent option, Jim? I found it very good for vector graphics artwork but, not being a letterer, couldn't vouch for it on that score. Inkscape is free and open source and touts itself as "a professional vector graphics editor for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux." I certainly had no complaints with it (strictly as an amateur, of course).
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Jim_Campbell

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #4 on: 03 May, 2016, 12:29:52 PM »
Easiest solution:

Actually- I'd be able to find time to help with the lettering if you like.

Get someone who knows what they're doing to letter it for you. :-)

Cheers!

Jim
Stupidly Busy Letterer: Samples. | Blog
Less-Awesome-Artist: Scribbles.

SIP

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #5 on: 03 May, 2016, 03:05:22 PM »
Thanks for the response folks.

Dave - really appreciate the offer of help but i certainly wouldn't ask anyone to take this on as it would be around 25-30 pages that need lettering once I'm done.  This is the continuation of "lubatek" that ran in OVS , I have reworked pages and replaced various panels that I disliked (read hated) - and am working on the final short strip (7 new pages I think) that was never published. It should have appeared in OVS 4 i think. The idea is to collect it all together to run as a single story running over 30 ish pages. It's a constant source of regret that I didn't finish it, so I'm making a final push at it now.

Jim - I'm using photoshop elements currently. Haven't tried to letter using that. Previously lettered in photoshop 7 I think, which wasn't great.
« Last Edit: 03 May, 2016, 03:07:23 PM by SIP »

Jim_Campbell

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #6 on: 03 May, 2016, 07:25:47 PM »
Jim - I'm using photoshop elements currently. Haven't tried to letter using that. Previously lettered in photoshop 7 I think, which wasn't great.

I have no specific experience with Elements (and none at all with Inkscape, Shark, although a quick glance at their website suggests it's probably good enough if you're not worried about the finer points of pre-press) but I'm assuming it works pretty much the same as regular Photoshop…

The real key to good lettering is handling the type well. Pick a good dialogue font (there are loads free on Blambot), manually insert returns to 'turn' lines and form attractive blocks of text, and keep the leading (line spacing) tight. Gappy leading is one of the real signature errors of the amateur letterer. Watch for your crossbar Is. A lot of what I say in my Part 1 and Part 3 of my lettering tutorials is still applicable.

I'm assuming Elements lets you create vector shapes, so you can create an ellipse for your basic balloon shape. If you use the white arrow (Direct Selection) tool, you can select the top point of the ellipse/circle and use the arrow keys to nudge it down; select the bottom point and use the arrow keys to nudge it up — the process is the same as in Illustrator (described here, if you scroll down a bit).

You can use the Pen tool to create tails, and then use Layer -> Combine Shape to merge the tail and balloon.

All of this is with the proviso that I don't have a copy of Elements to check — this is how I'd do it in PS CS6… fingers crossed you've got the necessary tools/features!

Feel free to ask questions if anything isn't working and I'll see if I can work out how to help!

Cheers

Jim

Stupidly Busy Letterer: Samples. | Blog
Less-Awesome-Artist: Scribbles.

SIP

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #7 on: 03 May, 2016, 10:37:03 PM »
Thanks for the help/advice Jim - appreciate it. When i get a little free time i will have a closer look at what photoshop elements can do and report back. Cheers.

Bolt-01

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #8 on: 04 May, 2016, 11:41:08 AM »
I might be wrong but I don't think elements supports layers.

SIP

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #9 on: 04 May, 2016, 11:54:21 AM »
Hi Dave, it does support layers from a drawing perspective, though I have never attempted to letter in the program. My problem in photoshop 7 was I couldn't produce the balloon shapes with a black outline. I used to have to produce all balloons with a red outline then manually edit them to change them to black!

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #10 on: 04 May, 2016, 01:12:57 PM »
I usually letter in PS on a bitmap layer.
Use the elliptical (or rectangular) marquee tool (start in the center of your block of text and hold down shift while dragging the marquee tool outwards), fill with black, then select>modify>contract by whatever line weight you think is appropriate (3-5 pixels is usually fine) then hit ctrl+i to invert the black in the center to white - this will get you a speech balloon or caption box suitable for most occasions, but you can also hand-draw your balloons with the lasso tool, as long as you remember to smooth off the jagged edges with select>refine edge before contracting your selection and creating a line.  I usually do tails on a separate layer above the balloon layer, and the polygonal lasso tool will get you through in most cases - though I've seen a couple of pro letterers who apparently use nothing else - and getting crafty with the elliptical tool will get you curved tails if you need them.

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #11 on: 04 May, 2016, 01:18:56 PM »
Quote from: Professor Bear
...fill with black, then select>modify>contract by whatever line weight you think is appropriate (3-5 pixels is usually fine) then hit ctrl+i to invert the black in the center to white - this will get you a speech balloon or caption box suitable for most occasions...

Why not just use a stroke layer effect?

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #12 on: 04 May, 2016, 02:25:25 PM »
Oh you mean sorcery?

I only use PS for colours/letters these days, and my process tends to be caveman-level basic for both.

The Legendary Shark

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #13 on: 04 May, 2016, 05:06:18 PM »
Just had a quick play in Inkscape and you can definitely do lettering and create bubbles with it.
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SIP

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Re: Lettering a strip
« Reply #14 on: 04 May, 2016, 10:49:50 PM »
Thanks for the advice everyone - I shall certainly be putting it to the test. Cheers! Shall post a couple of pages when I'm up to speed.