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lettering programs?
johnson
post Jun 3 2008, 02:11 PM
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We know people are using illustrator as the popular lettering program but we have found that 'comic life' is a program that is far less complex and seems faster. What does everyone else think of "comic life" ?
We are thinking of using it for a submission we're sending out soon and need some opinions on what lettering program to use.
Thanks for your help.
johnson


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Mark Topolski
post Jun 3 2008, 03:17 PM
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I just read somewhere, where some letters are using photoshop because its pixel base so it doesn't give that crisp too clean look. Photoshop will give more texture or less perfect line? Not sure, since photoshop uses vector code for type, until the layer is flatten? There are other vector based programs out there too. I am not sure about comic life, can you export as a layer? Do you just open the whole page then place the lettering? Sounds interesting, but I have never really used the program.

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johnson
post Jun 3 2008, 07:46 PM
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From what I've witnessed of 'comic life' thus far, its fast. You just open the page and pick your bubbles or captions and type in the text. I'm not able to show any examples because its in my writer's computer but he did letter an entire page with voice balloons, caption boxes and sound effects in less than fifteen minutes. Everything placed and completed.
I'm curious why this wouldn't be more widely used being so damn easy.


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Mark Topolski
post Jun 4 2008, 05:28 AM
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("johnson":1nyqs8is)
From what I've witnessed of 'comic life' thus far, its fast. You just open the page and pick your bubbles or captions and type in the text. I'm not able to show any examples because its in my writer's computer but he did letter an entire page with voice balloons, caption boxes and sound effects in less than fifteen minutes. Everything placed and completed.
I'm curious why this wouldn't be more widely used being so damn easy.


The only thing I can see might be a huge problem is like using Microsoft Publisher... the files are a huge pain in the rear to get to print at a printers! Now, if you are not going to go traditional paper and go web based, then you might have something! Just remember, just cuz you can do it on a computer doesn't mean it will look good on paper!

The other reason why I can see it might not be a "industry" standard program is that it does take the creative process out of it. Lettering is not just typing... bad lettering can really make any well drawn book look horrible. Great lettering can also make an OK artist look great! A lot of people think that the computer has taken that away to a degree... I think like anything, the computer has made it easier to produce a comic, but the creative side still has to be there.


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johnson
post Jun 4 2008, 01:06 PM
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Thanks man, you bring up some good points we had overlooked.


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Mark Topolski
post Jun 5 2008, 05:56 AM
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("johnson":2ipb78gh)
Thanks man, you bring up some good points we had overlooked.


No problem, was a graphic designer and then Art Director for eleven and half years and you would be surprised what I had to do with electronic files made in Microsoft Publisher or Corel or some other goofy program. Those programs are great for home printing or whatever, but not to an actual printers or print shop, they will charge ya an arm and you third child to make it work :)

My best advice is to check out Adobe and their creative suites. Yes, they cost more than they should, but thats the industry standards and if you want to do print you have to be prepared to deal with that. Or you could always contact people like me and they can layout the book and do the preflighting and dealing with any file issues for you :) Not the actual art work, but putting the book together or making pdf's, jpegs or tiffs so you can send that off to a printers. Thats if you don't have the right programs to do it!


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johnson
post Jun 6 2008, 05:08 AM
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I appreciate your comments and we will keep you in mind if we end up needing your help with the files and such.
Thanks again.


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Casey Campbell
post Jun 9 2008, 07:45 PM
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Ummm...I got the comiccraft Zap Pack from Blue Line pro....its chock full of balloons,sound effects, and some cool fonts and totally compatible with photoshop. I've experimented with it on some of my own paneled work and found it fairly easy to use for being a lettering novice.

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Casey Campbell
post Jun 9 2008, 07:52 PM
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Did i mention the balloons are rasterized files....when you create them you choose the size and theres no fuzzy distortion...so far so good anyway.

Vermin
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johnson
post Jun 12 2008, 05:00 PM
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Hey thanks vermin. I'll have to look into that.


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Scott Story
post Jul 19 2008, 09:25 AM
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Some reasons why it's OK to use Photoshop to letter:

Your files are printed at 300 dpi, and know will know whether they were rasterized or vector at that point.

The original files were probably lettered in anywhere from 450 to 600 dpi, so actain so raster detail is going to show.

Comics used to be hand-lettered on bristol board, and those files got shot and printed, and I doubt anyone has said "Gosh, Conan no. 2 would have been better with digital lettering."

I've got lettering in Johnny Saturn down to fine art, with tool presets and custom shapes. I made all my own baloons and pointers, and they look great. I find it much quicker to work this way than use Illustrator, which is a fine program.

There are some other reasons, mostly post-press issues around avoiding compositing programs and including fonts for printers and crap like that, that I prefer to keep the whole thing in Photoshop.
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Mark Topolski
post Jul 19 2008, 10:09 AM
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Great points Scott! As for the font issue, once the lettering is edited and is ok, you can just outline that page and not have to deal with embedded fonts. But using one program can be less than a hassle then say three, illustrator, photoshop and InDesign or Quark to do a whole comic. That process can become time consuming and sometimes even challenging to just learn those programs.


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Scott Story
post Jul 19 2008, 03:00 PM
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Yeah, I think we are pretty much in agreement, Mark.

For me, it's a big time saver, and no one can tell the difference.
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Anthony Hochrein
post Jul 19 2008, 03:52 PM
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Aren't printers now able to use PDF versions of your files now? Which could save you a step or two? I know a writer that used Photoshop to do all of the lettering on a black and white indy book.


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Scott Story
post Jul 19 2008, 05:31 PM
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Most of the printers I've used take PDFs, but I think the standard is still layered vector lettering over rasterized pages, because they tell you to include all fonts used with the file.
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Mark Topolski
post Jul 22 2008, 05:10 AM
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("Scott Story":4ua2hkkz)
Most of the printers I've used take PDFs, but I think the standard is still layered vector lettering over rasterized pages, because they tell you to include all fonts used with the file.


Actually the standard is pdfs, most printers hate "live" files, but talk to your printer before making or sending them any files. The more a printer has to mess with your files, usually the more it cost you! There is a wonderful setting in most layout programs for making a pdf, just remember to embedded the fonts, have a bleed present, crop marks should be present, but some printers don't like to have them because they will end up having theirs once they place it in their pdf layout program. The normal pdf setting once exporting out is pdf X-1a or pdf X-3, but ask your printer first. I believe X-1a is a printing standard approved by the industry. But again, talk to the printer or printers you might want to work with, it will save your a load of problems that could happen :)


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Tim Tilley
post Oct 6 2009, 08:20 AM
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Hands down I believe that Adoe creative suites are the way to go. I use CS3 myself.
I used 400 Dpi files and the book I printed up looked great. Here is my method, it may
work for you or perhaps it won't, there is no one set way of doing things.

I had scaned in my original art at 1200 DPI (yes it's crazy but I wanted to make sure I
could re-size it to any size and have it look great.)

Next, I re-sized it to 400 Dpi and colored it, then saved that as a flattened Tiff file with
LZW Compression.

Following that I opened illustrator (into a 400 Dpi portrait file) and "placed" the
artwork into the page using the linked option. Afterwards I began lettering it, once
I was happy with the results I saved as both a EPS and a AI file. Why two versions?
Well I wanted to ensure that I would be able to save time if the printed decided to
use EPS files because at that time they never really gave any information as
to what file types they prefered.

Once saved, I used the FILE-EXPORT option and exported the page(s) into TIFF files.
I then improrted those to photoshop to crop the page to the desired size. (At this point
the file is a bitmap rasterized file, but to be honest at 400 Dpi there isn't a huge loss
in quality at all.) From there I used photoshops Automate-PDF presentation to
create a single PDF file with all the desired pages (24 in all.)

I took that single file to our local print shop and used it to print our book. Overall just in the
"Proof" it looked amazing, it really did and that was just a proof, not even the final product.

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Gonzogoose
post Oct 6 2009, 11:21 AM
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The reason Illustrator is preferred to Photoshop for lettering isn't just about the quality of vector vs raster, it's also because Illustrator is much more versatile and flexible in creating balloons and tales. Photoshop is very, very limited in what you can do. It was not created for the kinds of tasks that Illustrator, or other vector-based programs were. While it is possible to letter in Photoshop, it's very difficult to achieve the same level of overall quality (not print quality, lettering quality) that you can with Illustrator. And this is coming from a guy whose first lettering was using Microsoft Picture It! So I know a little about testing with programs to find what works best. smile.gif


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Cary
post Oct 6 2009, 06:19 PM
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Actually, the reason Illustrator owns Photoshop is ALL about vector and raster. Photoshop cannot produce the crispness that Illustrator can. It simply can't do it. PS is a raster program, giving you more versatile editing to pictures, but far more pixelated as well. Illustrator is vector based, and has sharp crisp letters, balloons, and art. Whiel you don't notice it in web graphics you can absolutely tell the difference in print. Learning illustrator is fully worth the time and trouble.


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