Science Friction (New Year Comic)

Pencil on paper, digital colour · 1 Jan 07
Attention!  You are viewing a resized version of this drawing.  There is a larger version available, which is of better clarity.  Click on the image below to view it.
Science Friction (New Year Comic) — Art by Karthik

About this drawing

Since 2002, it's been a tradition for me to put up a custom-made New Year card on my site (gives a more personal touch than sending an automated mailer from a greeting card site), and for the 2007 New Year Card, I did this comic.  This definitely involved lots more effort than any of the previous cards, so I think it deserves a more detailed behind-the-scenes write-up.  It is also a place where I can give credit where credit is due.

I decided to do a comic for this year's card on December 31.  I had the overall story and dialogues all planned out, but when I actually set out to draw the panels, I had no idea about the style I was going to adopt.  This wasn't a serious story like my previous comics so a more realistic approach wouldn't do.  Finally I settled on the present cartoonish look for the characters (this took a very long time).  After drawing the individual images in pencil on two sheets of paper, I scanned them and pasted each image as a separate layer in Photoshop (so that I could move them about freely).  The lettering was done in the Letter-o-Matic font by Nate Piekos of Blambot.

Science Friction - Pencils   Science Friction - Colours

I'd have stopped at this stage, but only having the pencil work and lettering on the page made it look very dull.  So I decided to colour the whole thing.  This definitely was a big improvement.  But even with the colours, the piece wasn't looking interesting as there were lots of white areas on the page.  This is where Les McClaine's tutorial came in and saved the day.

Science Friction - Halftoning   Science Friction - Texturing

A couple of months before, I came across this tutorial on "How to Colour Like a Little Old Lady".  Remember those old Archie Comics digests you used to read?  The aged look of the pages, the dotted look of the colours on them?  Well, in this tutorial, the author shows us how to achieve that very same look with Photoshop.  It was pretty amazing stuff, so I decided to use this in my comic as well.  I skipped a few steps in the tutorial, but the paper texture I used is a modified version of the one he put up on his site.

Science Friction - Off-register

The image I was working on was an 84 MB PSD file (with all the layers), sized at something like 2000 by 4000 pixels.  Finally, after merging the layers together, I went into the channels and then nudged them by a couple of pixels in different directions.  Then I resized the image, and that is what you see in front of you!  Above, is an image showing off some details from the large-size comic.

By the time I did all this, it was about 11:30 PM on January 1 (I was almost too late!), so I quickly uploaded the thing and then mailed people so that they could have a look at it.  In retrospect, I'm pretty happy with the way this turned out (some people have told me it's my best comic so far), though in the next comic I should really fine tune the style and be more consisted with the way characters are drawn.  And needless to say, inking the piece would actually make a world of difference.

A few more points to note: the idea behind the time travel device here was inspired by the "Gravity Drive" in the movie Event Horizon.  I fact, I was going to explicitly refer to "Weir-Eisner Gravity Drive" (Weir is Sam Neill's character in the movie, and Philip Eisner is the movie's screenwriter) in the comic, but due to space constraints simplified things (hence, just particle accelerator).  Regarding the other fonts used in the comic: the text "a very Happy New Year" and the subtitle, "Because Life is Random", is in the typeface Rehr by Johan Cedmar Brandstedt and you can download the font from his site.  The font used for the title "Science Friction" is called Engebrechtre, and the words "New Year Special" are in a font called Rockwell.  The other titles are in a font called Virtue.

Date added 4 Jan 07

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Karthik Abhiram

27-year old Taurean (birthday 15-May-82), Assistant Manager - HR at Tata Consultancy Services Ltd in Hyderabad, India.  Previously, did Post Graduate Diploma in Management from T A Pai Management Institute (2003-05) and before that, Computer Science Engineering from Sree Nidhi Institute of Science and Technology (1999-2003).

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