Hi ho art friends!

Today is my second test of the PhotographyBB ComicBook Maker Photoshop Action.

I created slideshow video in Keynote, ComicBook Maker test video. However, WordPress is not allowing the video to be embedded or uploaded directly, probably due to the song I used by the Chameleons. It’s a super cool post Punk song from their first studio album, circa 1983. The band is defunct but the song remains in copyright. YouTube and the copyright holder are allowing me to use the song, with commercials. Please check out the video, it’s short, but I think the song is very effective. The song has also been added to the Takashima playlist.

The Test

I created 5 pages, using templates with different numbers of panels, the default settings and previously created story images. There is one panel with draft text. The goal of the test was to see how the action affected my previously created imagery. Also, as I was writing this post, I realized I haven’t written the dialog, so that’s an item for the task list.

The images used in the Teaser slideshow were jpg format; these were Place Embedded in the template. One of the city backgrounds was a png file. The two unedited images were Place Embedded as Photoshop files. I didn’t deep dive file formats but since it’s a Photoshop action, I’m guessing that any files Photoshop uses will work with these templates.

Image 1, single panel layout with text
Image 2, 2 panel layout, one style
Image 3, 4 panel layout
Image 4, 3 panel layout
Image 5, 2 panel layout, equal sized panels

My impressions

The action is pretty simple to use. There are nearly 50 templates with a wide variety of panels to choose from.

The panel settings are completely customizable, but for this test, I wanted to spend enough time with the actions to get the hang of it and see a few different templates.

I like the ink style the action generates. However, my grungy photo style gets a bit lost in translation, particularly for smaller images. I feel most of the composited background images turned out rather well.

Image 3 shows two images where the dolls are simply extracted from the background. I was curious how the action would handle these images. Plus, I wanted to test just using the extracted image for emphasis in smaller panels or panels with a lot of text.

The very last image needs some work. If it was the image to be used in the story, I would need to adjust the contrast, levels and/or curves. Possibly add a burn layer to bring detail to the hand.

To extract the dolls, I used Photoshop’s Select Subject function and added a layer mask set to reveal selection. The background of each doll images was set to an obnoxious pink to make cleaning up the mask easier. Photoshop does a pretty good job selecting the subject, but the fur wigs most of the characters require a bit of editing.

Given what I’ve learned from this test, I will slowly build up my composite images and leave out the grunge layers for complex backgrounds or add a light grunge layer for subtle texture. I’m undecided if I like the moire layer, which is visible on some of the images. Sometimes the pattern provides emphasis, other times, it’s a distraction.

One minor complaint I have with the templates is that moving a panel layer up or down the stack does NOT change it’s position on the page. As I said, it’s a minor complaint but it means re-organizing the images on a page will be a bit tedious. By no means a deal-breaker. As mentioned, I like the look of the action overall and I appreciate the many page templates.

Although I’m tempted to fiddle around with the settings on these 5 pages, it’s nearly August and my completion goal is September. I’m going to press on with my project to do list.

Next steps

  • Set up a folder for the Photoshop files. My test images were scattered around. The working files need to be in one spot.
  • I purchased a few fonts from Design Cuts, with commercial licenses. Install them in Photoshop and decide which one to use in the story
  • Continue compositing images
  • The action allows the user to embed the Photoshop file, so I don’t need to export png or jpg files. That’s a time-saver!
  • Write the character dialog
  • Assemble the graphic novel
  • Send Version 1 to my proofreaders

I haven’t worked much with smart layers, so there may be more time-saving features. I’ll share more tips as I continue toward the goal line with this project.

Happy creating!