Resolution Challenges

In my last post I talked about remastering/relettering the Makeshift Miracle pages to get them ready for printing as a book. Let me explain in a bit more detail what that means.

When I first did Makeshift I was still learning about HTML, Photoshop and everything web-related. I’m still learning a ton, but I’ve gained quite a bit more skill, especially with Photoshop.

Each page of Makeshift Miracle was hand drawn and then scanned in at 300dpi (dots per inch). That’s a standard print resolution. For lettering and coloring those pages though, I’d downsize the line art to 72dpi (standard computer monitor resolution). It made the process way faster on my slow computer back in the day and meant I didn’t have to fiddle with details, but it also meant that the pages were less than 1/3 as sharp as they needed to be in order to be cleanly printed as a book.

Using those original files now, even with Photoshop trickery, it would still print quite fuzzy.

The good news is that I saved almost all the high-resolution line work scans. Since the coloring and lettering is on separate layers in Photoshop, I can upsize the layered PSD files and swap out the low resolution line art.

At the same time, I’m also using the lettering knowledge I’ve gained while at Udon to improve the readability and give the whole thing more consistency. Fixing a few typos, awkward sentences and grammatical errors doesn’t hurt either.

Here’s a small section of Makeshift Miracle page 25 at 100% resolution for printing. This one is scaled up from the web-sized version:

Not bad, but fuzzy. Here’s the same section with high-rez line art applied. In particular, notice the sharpness of the lettering:

Some pages are a simple switch, other ones require a lot of digital mucking around to synch up properly. On some pages I didn’t back up the high resolution line art, so I’ve had to dig through boxes in my closet to find the original art. There’s also about 4 pages that I’m going to redraw almost completely, as they were severely rushed and very subpar. 172 pages of reformatting is looking to be quite the task. After about a week of busting away at it, I’m only on page 39.

I’ve got a couple Photoshop tricks I’ve been using to help me format the whole thing, which is saving me even more headaches. I’ll post those up as tutorials later this week so that you artsy guys and gals can make use of them on your own.

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