I tried to add this to the tutorial section, but I got a message saying... tutorials have been temporarily disabled. This functionality should be fully restored by Monday, 12/14/2009 @ 8:00 AM PST
...so I'm putting it here.
In trying to get my own name out there, I read and comment on a lot of amateur comics. One thing I've noticed is that many of them have a hard time effectively making a nighttime or otherwise dark setting appear both dark and legible at the same time. If you are one of those people, this tutorial is designed to help you.
This tutorial will help you make underwater or moody suspenseful scenes too, with minor modifications.
I have broken it down into eight easy steps that, depending on your pages mood or suspense level, you may not even need to follow all of. This tutorial assumes you have a decent editor with layers and should work with any of them. This will not work in MS Paint.
Steps 1 & 2
I took one of my brighter, sunnier strips to use as an example. In this tutorial, I used a finished image. It does not matter if you do this above or below your text layers, unless you have colored text bubbles and don't want them shaded blue.
If you do not have a general working knowledge of your editor or layers, consult its help section (or the internet) on how to access and manipulate layer properties. Once you have done this, you can proceed with the rest of us.
Step 1: The completed day image.
You have completed your basic page and maybe even added your dialog, as I have here. You are now ready to turn your day image* into night.
*note: If your entire page is being converted, you won't need to take any extra steps. If you are only converting select panels on your page, you will need to do either block the panels before you start, or block out unaffected panels later. I'm going to asume you know how to do this. If you do not, refer to a blocking guide, then return here to continue with the rest of the tutorial.
Step 2: Bucket fill new layer.
Create a new layer on top of all your art layers. (Unless you have any highlight layers which you want to preserve in true color, do this under those.) Pick a shade of blue that you like, it doesn't have to be this one. If you are making an underwater image (dry for wet) instead of night, pick a shade with green in it or a green with some blue in it... or just green. If you are going for mood, any color you want will work. Red is good for suspense and danger.
Select your bucket fill tool and color your layer. If you want a gradient, you have two options.
Option a: Make this layer a gradient.
Option b: for more control, make a separate gradient layer using greyscale.
I opted not to use any gradients here, as I included mine in the day image.
Steps 3 & 4
Step 3: Changing layer properties.
Every layer has about 20 different options for interacting with other layers in your image. These are called 'modes'. The mode we want for our blue (or green if this is dry for wet) will be either 'color' or 'hue'. They are similar to each other, but for this comic, color turned out to be a better fit. Choose whichever you feel is better for you.
For some of you, this is as far as you need to go, especially for underwater. Your day comic now looks like night. Others are thinking, "This isn't dark enough for me." Those people need to keep reading.
Step 4: Bucket fill new layer.
If you've come this far and feel your image needs to be darker, make a new layer between your blue layer and your art layers. Change your tool color to black.
Select your bucket tool again, if it isn't already. Fill this new layer and watch your whole comic turn black. Do not despair, we are not done yet. (you probably already know this, but I'm trying to keep less experienced artists from panicking.)
Steps 5 & 6
Step 5: Adjusting layer properties.
Take your black layer and switch it's mode from 'normal' (Default) to 'overlay'. If this is too dark, you can fiddle with this levels opacity. You might be satisfied and stop here. If, like me, this still isn't dark enough for you, keep reading.
Step 6: Bucket fill new layer.
Above your blue (or green, underwater people) layer, create another new layer. If your tool is not set on bucket fill, make it so. If your tool color is not black, make it black and fill this layer black. Your comic will disappear again.
Steps 7 & 8
Step 7: Adjusting layer properties
In your layer properties tab, change this second black layers mode to 'overlay', same as the last black layer. For those of you seeking suspense or a dark mood, you are done. If this is too dark for you, as it is for me, keep reading. We are almost done.
Step 8: Adjusting layer opacity.
If you're like me, everything up to the last step was too light and the last step was too dark. In this case, to get it to look like my finished example, I changed the opacity of the second black layer I made (the one above the blue layer) to 50%.
That's it. You're done.
If you're using this tutorial to make an underwater scene, the deeper you go underwater, the darker you want to make it. Also keep in mind, underwater, stuff thats close up doesn't lose all it's color, only stuff further away, so you may need to make cutouts in your fill layers for items that are close to the reader.
I hope this was helpful. Let me know if it was.
Thank you for reading.
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