Monday, January 17, 2011


So I've been lucky enough to make comics for a few people, starting with of course, my good friends over at PaGaLGuY, who I am indebted to for giving me my first break.

Now when I was first asked to make comics, I bravely tried using PhotoShop. Trust me, I tried.

I failed. I failed more miserably than a lifetime Apploholic trying to use MS-DOS. I failed more than the supporters of the world-famous #Sreesanth502 campaign to drum up support among South African locals. I failed. I spent an hour trying to figure out how to draw a frikkin' box with rounded edges. And let's not even get into callouts and stuff yet.

I gave up on PhotoShop and decided to revert back to the one software I was comfortable with - Microsoft Powerpoint. Yes, yes, I know our dear ol' tool has been the victim of much satire - ranging from those by him, to him. But I swear by it, being a marketing MBA who is now into internet marketing, I average around 2 Powerpoints a day. On slow days.

So it was only natural that for making comics, I employ my tool of choice too. Makes sense, no? Now, a few people (2 nos.) have asked me how I go about doing this. And so, here we are.

1. After coming up with the idea, I draw the thing on paper.

2.  I take pictures of the images using my trusty Nikon D5000, and my 50mm/1.8 lens in black and white. Keeping things to minimal colours helps during editing since I use only outlines. Basic cropping and contrast adjustment is done using that highly under-rated tool, MS Picture Manager. After all this, the photos should end up looking like this.

3. Now I have a Powerpoint template for each set of comics that I make. Seen below is the template I use for the PaGaLGuY comics.

4. Now's the actual time-consuming part - putting the images into the boxes, filling in the blurbs, etc. Powerpoint has some excellent features that allow me to make comics - including the callouts, boxes of all shapes and sizes, and options such as crop and 'send to front' which are invaluable. Resizing images and tilting them to angles is a breeze. Photoshop can kiss my @r$3.

I usually devote one slide to one panel. The dimensions of the panel depend on who I'm drawing for and their requirements (eg: PaGaLGuY has a width limit of 450 px). After putting all the comics together in different slides, things look something like this:

5. I have one master PPT template which has the same width but maximum height. This allows me to 'size up' all the panels together. This makes things really easy so that panels are all aligned properly.

6. Then I do a select-all+copy and dump things into... (as a final act of snubbing Photoshop) MS Paint. Seriously. Of course, it's imperative to save as PNG since saving as JPEG will cause information loss, and will generally look smudgy.

7. I send it over to the kind folks at PG who then put it up.

Now to some of you this might seem painful and would recommend doing everything together in Powerpoint or some comics-making software, but for me this works best. After ideation, the final product takes just about 2 hours.

So yeah. I don't know if anybody else uses (or wants to use!) Powerpoint for comics-making, but if anyone needs help, let me know.

PS: The comic that is shown up here is this one.


Daniel D'Mello said...

Thanks, this is really helpful stuff. Always wondered how you guys do your comics.

Btw, next time, you might want to close the Torrent and internet browser before taking screenshots :-)

krist0ph3r said...

photoshop is the wrogn tool for the job. powerpoint works well because it's a vector based tool. try otehr vector based tools, like flash or coreldraw...although i must say, powerpoint has done the job for me on many occasions when i need some quick vector art done :)

ps: next time use alt+prtsc instead of prtsc for taking screenshots :D

fantasia said...

Loved the post, especially since I am also a fervent stickler to MS Picture Manager, Paint & Powerpoint.

Grondmaster said...

Let me chop off one step for you: The MS Pain(t) one.

The reason that I don't like MS Paint is that it pixelates every now and then, esp. when trying to save things I want clean. You seem to have better luck.

What you need to do is this:

1. You mentioned that you have a master slide where all frames come together in one linear template. Use this.

2. Got to Office Button -> Save As -> Other Formats.

3. In 'Save As Type:', scroll down to and select 'PNG Portable Network Graphics Format'.

4. Click Save.



Anju said...

Awesome!! I love Powerpoint & MS Picture Manager. But I really want to teach myself photoshop!
I sketch, scan and then photoshop in the text and all. I can't be bothered with frames. Which is probably why they don't look like comics. hmm.

Deepak Gopalakrishnan said...

@Daniel: Well spotted. Thanks!

@Kris: Thanks for the tip, mate!

@Fantasia: The combo is brilliant, no?

@Gronde: I owe you for this, pal.

@Anju: I suppose PS should be used for what it's meant for - photos. For making comics, it doesn't work. At all.

G. Ch. said...

Ouch.. almost feel bad for Photoshop. While I could harp about its multi-functionality, I don't see that achieving much.

Come Photoshop.. we'll go elsewhere, where people love us, and more importantly know how to wield us...

Powerpoint.. please don't feel bad about that.. I'll keep coming back to you as and when I need you.