School Spirit, Colouring Technique 1Today we will have a condensed look at how each School Spirit panel is coloured and put together. On average, each strip is made up of four panels, and each panel is its own separate file. It begins as a straight line art picture, scanned in such as the one here with Jackson and Chastity. The white space in this image is actually transparent, with a white background for the colour to splash across.

Several steps need to be taken to take the line art image to a fully coloured, bordered panel complete with any dialogue and effects. Usually the order is anything black first (eye pupils, darker background fills, shoes, dark hair) and then everything in the background. The sky is (currently) just a gradient fill from a sky blue to a white, and the various greens of background trees, foreground bushes and grass are a set two colours, the only thing changing being the value of the fill for each colour. Foreground bushes are a full fill, background trees are at 50%, as is the grass of a lighter colour.

School Spirit, Colouring Technique 2Here the colours have been added. Once the background a foreground colours have been added (note there is rarely any added shading in the backgrounds except maybe closer buildings, tree trunks or other objects), the characters get their turn. Usually the darker blue of their uniform is done first, then the shading. The shading of the colours is usually, though not quite always, the default colour two shades darker in the palette, painted in at 45%. Not sure why, it’s just the way it’s always been done!

The lighter blue of the uniforms is done next, followed by hair and various other colours of their clothing or items they may be holding or using. All of these colours are painted onto the same layer, named Colour, unless I’ve made a mistake and coloured it onto the Cartoon lineart layer. If I’ve done that, it usually stays there because it’s too much bother to redo it all!

School Spirit, Colouring Technique 3The kids’ skin is usually last, but that is coloured slightly differently, and we’ll go into that next time.

Once all of the colour is in place, the border is placed around the whole image on a separate layer on top. Then, each piece of dialogue is typed in, and all are placed in speech bubbles. The speech bubbles go onto a layer named Bubble which sits between the text layers and the Cartoon layer. The dialogue is then usually shifted back and forth to centre it into its respective bubble.

At this point, the panel is completed so it is only a matter of saving it, resizing it down to 1000 high and saving it as a jpeg, then resizing that file down to 300 high and placing it into the strip template and saving that again as a finished piece as stated in last week’s topic.

It’s a bit of work, but after 920 regular strips, it’s rather streamlined now and takes nowhere near as long as you may think!

That’s it for this week. Any questions are more than welcome. Next week, we’ll have a closer look at how the various kids’ skin colours are handled.

Till then, cheers.