I had a lot of fun drawing the details of the marina, but then found that when I colored everything in that the characters completely disappeared into the complexity. Thank goodness for layers. I use a bunch of layers for each drawing.

First I draw the blank lines for every subject. There is a layer for the content. Then there is a layer just behind that which holds opaque white so that you can’t see through what I just drew (why in a moment), and then the shading is a third layer between those two that use a cool little feature that Manga Studio has called “clip on layer below”. What this does is make it so that only those parts of the layer that are above a filled in part of the layer just below it will be seen. Why does that matter? This allows me to get smooth shading on an object and not worry about coloring over the edges. So three layers for content.

But Tam gets her own layer so that I can make her slightly transparent. She actually gets a set of three layers too. Since we can see the background through Tam, I have to draw the whole background behind her, and I almost always go ahead and draw the full background anyway so that I can arrange things after drawing if I want to, so the background gets its own set of three layers. Then sometimes the background gets split into two sets so that I can put the sky or the water behind everything. There is also the layer that contains the frames, and the layer that has the white page background.  Then we get to text layers. I put them all into a single folder that is above everything else, but there is a separate layer for every piece of text, and another layer for the speech bubbles. Not counting the text I usually have at least 14 layers, often 20 or more.

So the lower layer of the set of three is doing double duty in a pretty slick fashion. It both makes it so that the content layer is opaque, and determines where the shading of the set can be seen. It’s a Manga Studio feature that I feel like I can’t live without now.

And the point of all that is that when I thought that “Hey, that background is too busy, I can’t see the characters!” all I had to do was find the layer that had the background shading and make it invisible with one click. If I hadn’t liked the result I could have immediately brought the shading back, but I did like the result. I found that my line work had already implied enough shading that the grays were not missed, and now I could see the characters.

I do like working digitally.

Yay! The first book is done. By the time this text gets posted it will have been done for a month, but it feels good all the same. Hopefully by the time this is posted I’ll have book two done. I haven’t even started on that yet.  Posting a big buffer is occasionally disorienting. I am not sure I could do it at all without my family to provide me day-to-day feedback. Yay family!

↓ Transcript
Scene show Tam and Kay walking onto the dock of a Marina.
Kay: Is that who I think it is?
Tam: Yes it is.
Tam disappears, scene shows George with a gas can that Kay is holding in the foreground.
Kay: Hey George.
George: Nice to see you Kay.