Here’s where Candace ‘n’ Company goes from low tech to high tech. I start out by scanning the cartoon, turning it into two PNG files. My comics are always drawn at 13″ wide (4″ tall for dailies and 6.25″ tall for Sundays), but the scanner maxes out at 11″ wide. So here’s where creativity comes in handy. I scan each cartoon in two parts. It’s easiest for me if I leave the scanner lid open while doing this, so I always wait until nighttime to prevent outside light from negatively affecting the image. It reminds me of old fashioned dark rooms people use for developing analog photographs!
Using Photoshop Elements on my P.C., I take the two halves of my cartoon and put them together onto a blank piece of digital canvas. It takes a few minutes, as I want to make sure the pieces fit as closely together as possible without any overlapping artwork (or gaps). After this, I trim away almost all of the blank white space surrounding my strip and use a drawing tablet and stylus to clear away any ink smudges that might’ve escaped my notice at the drawing board. Annoying white specs often appear in black areas, and those, too, need to be taken care of. Once this is all done, I create a PNG file of the new image.
After “priming” the strip, as I like to call it, it’s time to put down the colors. I create a blank white background behind the line art, and do virtually all of my coloring onto this bottom layer. Afterwards, I use slightly darker and lighter versions of colors I’d previously used over areas for shading and highlighting effects. Obviously, white areas cannot be highlighted and light gray is used for shading. I like to leave solid black areas completely black, without any highlights. This is generally because I prefer not to tamper with my original line art, created at the drawing board. Just like in Step 7, I finish up by creating a PNG file of what I’ve got. So the end result is three versions of the same cartoon: The original hand drawn art, a black-and-white PNG file and a colored PNG file. The latter two can be used as copy masters whenever I am compelled to produce JPEG images.