Previously we quickly ran through the very first renditions of the original five School Spirit comic strips. From now we’re moving on to the first strip properly released onto the website. The process used here is very much the same as has been used on every strip since, with the inclusion from about #160 onwards of full colour. For today though, we’ll just concentrate on the sizing and layout and talk about colouring later.

For a regular, four panel sized strip, it is drawn across two A4 sized pages. Below is the original page containing the first two panels. Clicking the image will take you to the finished strip on it’s current page.

School Spirit, the original page of panel artEach panel is scanned separately and saved to it’s own file, resized to a height of 2800 and a width (for the regular panel sizes) of 1950. At this size, it is shaded (later ones coloured), the transparency colours of the spirits and their glow added, and the dialogue and speech bubbles added, usually all on separate layers. These are saved as original working files before being resized down to a height of 1000 and saved as jpegs. Not sure why that still happens, but it was part of the process and it just hasn’t been changed since!

The smaller jpegs are then resized down to a height of 300, which is the size they are then placed on the School Spirit strip template and positioned into place, usually over the panels of the previous strip. Saved again as a finished piece once the strip number has been changed and the date has been altered, they are finally saved one final time again as the png file that makes the website.

The process is quite probably a little longer than necessary, but in the end, it allows us to have both an original working large copy of each panel, are smaller version of each for faster loading, a finished working save of each finished strip, and the final saved finished file that goes online. Plenty of safety steps to limit losing finished files in case they’re needed later.

Unfortunately, that hasn’t been foolproofed. Every now and then, although fortunately very rarely, there has been the odd save over the previous file and we’ve had to go back and redo an old strip panel a second time. Much grumbling follows.

Then there was the day the hard drive exploded and we lost about 160 finished strips because we had forgetten to back them up on CDs… those are lost for all time, alas…

More about the Great Hard Drive Asplode of 2006 later…

Hopefully this has proven useful, or at least of interest, to some of our readers wanting to know a little more of how the comic is put prepared. Next week, we’ll look a little more closely at how each panel is put together.