Blog posted by Ste Pickford on Sun, 09 Nov 2014
Subject: Plok comic strip
Now I added the shading to the background. This is usually my favourite part of the process, as the slightly ugly flat colours have a bit of light and dark added to them, and the whole thing starts to look more solid and 3D.
My process here (which is the same as with the comic itself) is that I create two adjustment layers altering 'brightness/contrast' above the flat colour layer, and below the inks. One of these is called 'darken', where I drop the brightness by about 50 (in magic Photoshop numbers), and the other is called 'lighten' where I raise the brightness by the same amount. I can then paint into either of these two adjustment layers, adding brightness or shade to any area of the image, without touching the underlying colour. I can then go back and alter the colours without altering the shading, and vice-versa, with is really handy later on. I can also add and remove the shading, or alter its strength, as the adjustment layers aren't a permanent alteration to the colouring.
I did the big strong shadows cast by the characters as a third adjustment layer, separate from the darker shading, just so I could alter the strength of this independently, or remove it entirely if I didn't like it (I wasn't sure if it would work or not).
Drawing in all the shading around the craters and detail on the floor took bloomin' ages, and all the time I was doing it I was cursing myself as I knew most of it would be covered up in the finished cover. Idiot.
Finally, I tweaked the ink colours of the rocks and soil, making those inks lighter browns and greens, rather than black. I only left the characters' inks in black to make them stand out a bit from the rest of the background.
Now at this point I decided that it was all a load of rubbish, and it looked terrible. It didn't look like there'd been an explosion, the rocks didn't look like debris that had fallen onto the earth, and the tracks on the ground looked really stupid and artificial, and the colours were awful, and the whole thing was crap and I can't draw and I'm an idiot and everything is stupid.
I stopped working on it for about a fortnight because I couldn't face carrying on, and neither could I face throwing away all that work and starting again.