Sunday, 31 October 2010

Prophets of Mercury

Once upon a time there was a young man who embarked on a journey to the Land of Web-Comics, with another chap who was the Samwise to his Frodo, or the Frodo to his Samwise, depending on who is telling the story.  Riches and internet fame beckoned.  The comic was called Prophets of Mercury, but for one reason or another only fourteen comics were ever published.  Now that the original website is defunct, it seems a shame not to give the comics a home, and so I'm going to publish a few here, along with a brief discussion about what I thought did or didn't work.  It's pure naval-gazing, of course, but that's what blogs are for...

Comic #1 is below, although I've completely forgotten the title of it.

"The first rule of web comics is that you do not talk about web comics"
The major plus point is that it isn't completely horrible, which is a positive result for a first comic that doesn't start in medias res.  It sets out the stall for the comic, namely geeky references and the main two characters, and could perhaps provoke a smile, although most likely because of the middle rather than final panel.  It comes dangerously close to breaking the fourth wall, and it's my understanding that breaking the fourth wall in the first strip is frowned upon in web-comic circles.

From an artistic viewpoint it's a bit of a mixed bag.  It was drawn a long time before any other comics, which is why the style still needs to settle down, and there are some terrible lines in there.  The font is a bit wonky too, mainly because the kinks in the procedure to get a comic from paper to computer to the finished product were still being worked out.  Unfortunately, for the first comic I inked in the text and speech bubbles, and then finished colouring the comic with my scruffy handwriting in place.  For later comics, I left the bubbles and text until finishing the comic on the computer, but in this case you can still see some of the old text.  I also think the colouring adds a lot to the comic, especially for the Banzai-style background in panel two and the computer screen glow in panel three.

Below are the original sketches as well as the comic with my handwriting in place:
Original sketches
Handwritten text

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Manga Studio

Below is my first real test of Manga Studio Debut i.e. knocking up a quick picture and outputting the results.



Things I do not like about Manga Studio:
  • Layers are exceptionally difficult to use when trying to use text and tones, in that it seems that tones must always overlay any drawn layers... which is terrible;
  • What you see onscreen is not what you get when you export, hence the missing sign box.  I have no idea where that pink blob came from!
  • The way it pixellates the image from the start, rather than allowing any sort of anti-aliasing, is dreadful;
  • Text layers are completely unwieldy, and there is no obvious and easy way to rotate the text.  That might be a case of RTFM.  Text always seems to overlay the image, and occupies its own, mysteriously hidden, layer.
Things I like:
  • It's pretty cheap compared to its competitors;
  • It's easier to use than some other paint programs.
I probably need to read the manual and practise with it.