If you make a comic strip on a regular basis, chances are strong that you have a standard panel template file that you use for all your strips. (And if you don’t, you should!)
On PC Weenies I have been using the same four panel layout for the past 4 years, with minor tweaks here and there.
Lately, I’ve re-examined my template file. While it works, it’s fairly rigid. There are occasions where I’d like to have a three panel strip, or maybe even a single panel comic (like the old days), but to create those formats, I’d have to make 4 separate templates (one for each format).
Instead of keeping four separate template comic strip files, now I use only one. This new comic strip template file lets me easily switch between a myriad of panel layouts.
In this blog post, I’ll show you how I’ve set my comic strip template and talk about some specifics on prepping your file:
If you’re making a comic online, you’ll want to consider print. Yes, you may never make a book with your comic – but you might – and it’s always a good idea to plan ahead.
Always work at the largest size possible. The dimensions for my Photoshop file are 7.5 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall, with a resolution of 600ppi. I work in RGB space.
Using guides, I measure off a square (shown in maroon, below), keeping in mind margins for all four sides. Next, I apply a 10 pixel inner stroke (via Edit > Stoke) around the maroon box. In my template file, I make sure to include the title, my website address and my name.
Next comes the “gutters” – the separators that make and isolate each panel within the strip. On a new layer, above the maroon panel, I use the rectangular selection tool (keyboard shortcut: M) to make a thin, vertical rectangle. Once I’m satisfied with its thickness, I flood white inside the rectangle (Option-Delete) add an inner 10 pixel stroke around this rectangle. (Inner strokes give you crisp, pointy edges.)
Above the “gutter” layer that I just created, I make two more rectangular selections, to cap off the borders that extend beyond the panel. I flood these selections with white, the results which you see below:
Make sure to label this “gutter” as Gutter1 or something along those lines. From here, all you have to do is duplicate the gutter layer (Command-J, with the gutter layer selected) and position it as desired. Here’s what my layer structure looks like, if you’re curious:
Feel free to download my comic strip template and tweak it for your own use. If you use it, a link back to pcweenies.com would be sweet.
And there you have it!