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Tuesday, March 01, 2016

The Saddest Man In the World

I've decided to go back to putting the dailies on the blog – mainly because I'm not using it for anything else right now, and also because it's sometimes appropriate to add a few notes.

Today's strip, for example, is the first one I've done 100% digitally. I drew and lettered it in Manga Studio (actually Clip Studio Paint, which is the same software with a different name, but I'll persevere with calling it Manga Studio for now) and coloured it in Photoshop (I know MS can do colour now, but, you know, one battle at a time). I've used Manga Studio a few times in the past to ink an illustration, but this is the first time I've ever generated a page of comic art with it from beginning to end.

My God, it was a battle. It took me a couple of hours to figure out the most basic stuff, like how to do panel borders with a normal-sized gutter and save my daily strip layout as a template (the out-of-the-box defaults give you different gutters for horizontal and vertical borders, and they're unbelievably small; presumably that's a manga thing), and how to save the lettering font as a, what do they call it, "material"? A pre-saved setting, anyway. I wanted to get these things saved as defaults to save me time in the future, so it was time well-spent, but it was a palaver just figuring out how to do it, the "how-to" books I bought being very little help in this regard.

Then the actual drawing. I'm not happy with the final result, struggling to get anything out of the software that looks like it was drawn by a human being. I have some of Ray Frenden's Manga Studio brushes which were a big help here, and some Kyle T Webster Photoshop brushes for the colouring which went a long way towards saving it, but I'm still a long way from anything I would go so far as to call "good". In the past I've got results I'm happy with by working incredibly slowly; but that's not desirable with the dailies, which are supposed to be a dashed-off warm-up before starting my actual day's work.

Given my druthers, I would never go near it again, but I'm going to be travelling in a few weeks and won't have access to a scanner, so I want to get to grips with it in order to be able to produce strips digitally and keep updating regularly. So... I'll persevere for a few more days. If my one-hour strips keep taking me six hours, obviously this won't be a feasible arrangement, and I'll have to figure out something else.

Things I hear are helpful, which I don't have: a Cintiq tablet (still plugging away with my venerable Intuos 3); years of practice working with the software; blistering raw-hot drawing talent. So I'd love to hear any suggestions that don't involve any of the above.


  1. Nice work, and i appreciate the details of your process. Thanks for the daily tidbits, I always look forward to them.

  2. I could not tell there was no real pen here; you're probably half way into years of practice with the software (there is no experience as useful as experience); can we call this guy General Malaise?

  3. This guy may have been responsible for the book you read:
    We young people learn everything from youtube

    1. Yeah, Hills wrote one of them, for an earlier version of MS than the one I've got; I also have one by Elizabeth Staley, which is more current. I struggle with learning from videos. I forget what I've just watched half the time. I like to have things written down so I can refer to them, because running through a thing once is never enough to make it stick for me. Also, watching a video takes SO MUCH LONGER than consulting a textbook! You have to sit through so much waffle to get to the bit you need.


The spam filter is back on because it just goes berserk if I switch it off. Sorry - I'll get to your comments ASAP!

About Me

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London, United Kingdom
Eisner and Harvey Award-winning cartoonist responsible for The Muppet Show Comic Book, Thor the Mighty Avenger, Snarked! and Fred the Clown. Would like to save the world through comics.