Welcome to the archive of the John Barleycorn blog, produced by Howard Gayton and Rex Van Ryn during the process of creating their graphic novel John Barleycorn Must Die. As part of that process, you'll find discussions of magic, of creativity, and 'Around the Table' discussions with a range of internationally known artists, writers and film makers. The graphic novel was printed in a limited edition, so if you managed to get one, good for you! Although this project is over now, we're leaving this blog online as an archive and as a snap shot in time.

Friday, 13 January 2012

Magnifying glass?

R - Howard, why have you made me bring a magnifying glass over?
H - Because I need it!
R - But why do you need it?
H - I’m glad you asked that, Rex.
R - Because...?
H - Because I want to talk about the process that I’ve been going through this week to get your artwork into the right format for Kablam (the print-on-demand company we’re using) so that we can then begin our third draft.
R - All right.
H - I’ve been learning to use the Photoshop Elements program, because we need to take the scans of your new artwork and merge them.
R - Merge them?
H - Yes. The new scans we have are in two halves because the art was drawn on A2 paper, which is larger than the A3 scanner we’re using. So the pages were scanned in two passes, and the images now need to be ‘merged’ together. Thankfully there’s a tool to do this in Photoshop which works on most of the art. Occasionally it doesn’t work, and then I need to merge the pages manually -- which can take rather a long time, as I need to match the two pieces up in layers and then ‘feather’ the join.
R - Feather...? Are you using a feather to join them up magically, like a shaman?
H - Yes and no. Mostly no. ‘Feathering’ is where I use another tool in Photoshop to blur the edges of the join so that any obvious join marks disappear…like magic!
R - Wow.
H - Then I have to ‘flatten the layers’ so that the two scanned halves become one piece of art again.
R - Do you use a rolling pin to flatten the layers, like some kind of magical pastry chef?
H - Yes and no. Mostly no. I press a button, called ‘flatten layers,’ and the computer does it…like magic.
R - Wow.
H - Once I have the picture as one piece, I then import a template which has our Kablam guidelines on it for the ‘trim,’ ‘bleed,’ and ‘live’ areas which we were talking about last week...and which I didn’t understand, in much the same way that you don’t understand computers. So Rex, do you think that computers work by magic?
R - Yes and no. Mostly yes. I have objective proof that computers are the creation of devil.
H - Where is this proof?
R - I just know it to be true, and I will reveal the evidence at the appointed time.
H - You always say that. What I think is that you don’t understand how computers work, and therefore you fear them; thus you project your fear onto a medieval personification of evil, called the devil, to deny your inability to come to terms with modern technology. Now, isn’t that the truth?
R - No!
H - Anyway, devil device or not, the computer is helping us to create our graphic novel.
R - The computer? All I recall is drawing endless pages with ink and brushes and pencils and hard labour...sweat pouring off my brow...hunched over a drawing board in a freezing cold attic, with nothing to warm me but a candle and a god given talent!
H - I told you last week, Rex, you really need to lay off the Kool Aid.... 
R - I can’t help it. How can something that tastes so good be so bad?
H - And I can’t help thinking we have somewhat wandered off the point.
R - Sorry.
H - So getting back to what I was trying to explain to you: After I have aligned the artwork up with our guide lines, I then export the picture as a .tiff file, which we can then import into Comic Life. That’s what I’ve been doing this week. A rather time-consuming task, I’ve discovered.
R - But you still haven’t answered my question, Howard. Why did you ask me to bring a magnifying glass over?
H - Because when I’m going through my files trying to find the various halves of artwork to bring into Photoshop, the images are so bloody small I can’t see them properly. It’s been taking me ages to find the correct halves to match up. Computers are great, but sometimes the old fashioned way of doing things is better. I can’t enlarge the tiny images on my computer, but your Sherlock Holmesian magnifying glass will do the job wonderfully.
R - Let me ask you a question then, Howard. Are you the devil?
H - Yes and no. Mostly no.
R - I knew it!
H - Unbelievable!

Top half of a prologue page...

Bottom half of the page...

Abracadabra: Two become one!

1 comment:

  1. This sounds a lot like a typical day in my studio. :)

    I can't wait to see the final result of all your hard work!