of Amulet - Flatting
is a tutorial on the flatting of an Amulet page. Flatting is the process
of preparing the page files for the coloring, and it makes image area
selection easier. This particular page was flatted by Alan
Beadle, and now I'll use it as an example of how to do this right.
THE PAGES - First, we will need to clean the pages.
Begin by opening the 600 dpi linework file. These pages are scanned
in on a cheap Epson Perfection 2400 scanner and are done in pencil,
so there are plenty of unwanted artifacts on the image (eraser shavings,
paper texture, etc).
These first few steps may not be necessary for your files. I clean
most of the pages when I scan them, so only do this if the file is
still very dirty. This is something that may happen later on down
the line as things get hectic. For now, concentrate more on the color
a large soft round brush, select the color white, and set the brush
mode to "color dodge" (above left). This is what I call
the dust buster, a trick I learned from
my friend Khang Le. It's a brush that will eliminate any grey specks
but will preserve the darkest blacks. You want to avoid getting close
to the linework, of course, but this is an easy way to get rid of
large swaths of artifacts without completely losing the original lines.
cleaning up with the dust buster, using a solid white eraser or brush
will help get rid of the pure black specks. Make sure to SAVE
the file as a grayscale image at 600 dpi.
this file aside and leave it at 600 dpi. In the end, you will have
two files. One grayscale linework page at 600 dpi
and another CMYK flatted page at 300 dpi. When saving the linework,
save it without a version number. The flatted page will be saved with
a version number to differentiate it.
- Since working at 600 dpi will be asking too much of most computers,
we'll have to shrink the file to 300 dpi for the color work. Set the
Resolution to 300 pixels/inch, set the image mode to CMYK,
and save the file in a separate folder with "_v01" added
to the file name. For example, this page will be called "amulet_039b_v01.psd"
LAYERS - Double-click the background layer to turn
it into "Layer 0", and then change its name to "linework".
Turning the background into a regular layer allows you to move it
up and down the layer list. In its original state, the layer is locked
and other layers cannot be placed beneath it.
PANELS - Make a new layer below the linework layer
called "bg" and go back to the linework layer. Use the magic
wand tool to select the area outside of the panel borders. Press Ctrl+Shift+i
to inverse the selection so that it is the material inside of the
panel borders that are now selected.
- Change the linework layer to a multiply layer by selecting from the
drop down menu. This will make it so you can see through all of the
white space on the page, leaving only the blacks showing.
LAYER - Now select the bg layer and fill it with a
color (to select colors, use refs). Not only does this layer serve as
the home for the background images but it will also serve as a great
selection tool when working from panel to panel. A shortcut for filling
a space with the selected foreground color is Alt+Backspace.
For filling with the selected background color, press Ctrl+Backspace.
I use these shortcuts regularly. And when I talk about foreground
and background color, this is what I mean:
TEXT BUBBLES - Use the linework layer again to select
the word bubbles using the magic wand tool. Be sure the magic wand is
set to "contiguous" or it will select everything in the same
color range as the selection. You can find this option at the top of
your screen, just below the menu bar, when you select the magic wand
a layer called "text bubbles" and fill the selection with
white. Again, use Alt+Backspace or Ctrl+Backspace
the word bubble selection leaves the text areas unselected, we'll
have to fill in the blanks. Turn off the linework layer and with a
solid white brush, fill in the areas that are left open on the text
finished word balloons should look like this.
- This is where the real work begins. You'll find that even though the
information above may sound complicated, you can get through all of
that in a matter of minutes. However, it is the flatting of the character
and object shapes that takes the most time.
you want to create a new layer just above the bg layer. We'll call
it "c1". Since there is often more than one character on
the page that overlaps, be sure to only put multiple characters on
this layer if they do not overlap. If they do, we will just
create a new layer to accomodate them. Fill the character shapes with
a single color, preferably their skin color (see color ref).
- Once the character layer is blocked in, click on the "lock"
option for the layer in the layer panel (looks like a grey checkboard).
This will allow you to paint freely without leaving the areas that have
already been painted on, working much the same way as masking tape.
Select the proper local colors for the characters' clothes and eyes,
and with a solid brush, apply accordingly. Remember to keep this on
the character layer. Do not create new layers for the clothing. Having
too many layers can slow down the painting process considerably.
Also, leave the hair color alone for a later stage.
MORE CHARACTERS - When faced with overlapping characters,
just add new layers for them. I generally recommend doing this before
the local color stage, so this is just slightly out of sequence.
- Hair gets its own layer because selecting it is always a pain in the
butt. Create a new layer for the hair, and fill in the areas accordingly.
One quick tip would be to use the character layers as selection tools.
While on the hair layer, hold down the Ctrl button
and left click the character layers. You will remain on the layer you
want to work on, but the characters will be selected. Hit Ctrl+h
to hide the ant trails and continue working.
quick tip: Hit Ctrl+d to deselect any time.
LAYERS - The final stage in the process is to add the
objects in the environment. Generally, I like to keep the background
elements clustered together, but there are always some things (such
as the bannister above) that tend to get in the way of coloring characters
and such. For cases like these, and for more obviously defined objects
such as the flashlight, be sure to create a new layer. There are often
2 to 3 object layers per page, depending on where these objects are
located. In this instance, there are two. One for the foreground elements
and one for the background elements.
all is said and done, the page should look like this. The page
is now ready to be colored. Be sure to save the file!