My old pal W!n Wiacek has long been the Chairman of the Comics Creators Guild. Recently, the CCG needed a cover for one of their membership publications and so W!n penciled a piece and asked me to finish it off.

Over the next few posts I’ll walk through each of the steps taken to produce the final cover image.

Here is W!n’s original pencil art featuring the Golden Age Atom versus Solomon Grundy.

W!n's pencil art

This, then, represents the raw material that a finishing artist —  or “embellisher” if you like — has to work with. We have to turn this into something that can easily be ‘read’ by the eye of the viewer, and more easily printed. Pencil art is fairly low contrast, while the printed article has to be contrasty, with strong blacks, to give the image some ‘punch’.

Not all papers take an ink line equally. I decided I wanted to transfer the art to a more suitable paper. To do this you just scan the piece and print it out onto a new sheet of paper. For pencil art, scan at a resolution between 450 – 600 dpi. Set the scanning mode to greyscale. Scan and save the file.

No scan is perfect, so first you’ll want to adjust the ‘levels’ — I’m assuming here that Photoshop is being used. Alternatively, you can adjust ‘brightness/contrast’ until you’re happy. Then, go into the ‘Filters’ menu and select ‘Sharpening’ and ‘Unsharp Mask’. Set the percentage slider to around 80% and click OK. Save the file.

Now, you can either spend a while cleaning up and erasing any stray pencil lines using various brushes… or you can take the easy option.

In the next post, we’ll take the easy option.

The Atom, Solomon Grundy ©2007 DC Comics