This is where every strip starts. They all begin with me opening Illistrator 10, and then opening “Character Studio.ai”. A big haunkin file with all the characters and props ever used, all organized and neat (hey, I am boarderline OCD remember).
Each character has at least two poses (facing left and facing right) and some have many. If they have done a strip where their hands are in the air (Victor) or on the phone (Vera) those are saved as well. Or if it’s Winston (a unique example) because of his glasses, he has 10 poses total.
Each strip starts with one of the three templates (either one panel, three panel or six panel). Here we will be designing the strip for November 2nd, 2002 so I will be using the 3 panel template.
Since this will be a weekend strip the following will be in color, but the process is identical for a black and white strip. The first thing I do is grab my characters from the ‘Character Studio’ I mentioned on page one. After they are placed, I grab props and put those on their respective layer (forground props or background props).
Since this strip required a new prop to be made (crystal ball) I not only create that prop, put it on the forground layer, but also add it to the character studio so I have it for later use. After all the characters are placed and the props are set, it’s time to move on to adding the dialog.
Adding dialog can be a rather tedious venture. It starts off by figuring out what you want to say. Then comes the task of fitting all the text you want within a specific panel. Then of course designing unique balloons for each bubble, and lastly making sure that the balloons look correct. Sometimes a strip easially adds text in, othertimes it’s a fight the whole way.
We’re nearing the end, just a little while longer! Next step is to add eyes. I have a assortment of eyes (and therefor emotions) in the ‘Character Studio’ so I go, pick ones out, and place them appropreiatly. Much like one would do with changing the facial expressions on a clamation doll. I also posed Kay.
Since I wanted her to be “pointing” at her two minions, I moved the crysal ball to the center of the table so that you could see her raised arm.
The final streach. Last thing to do is add in the background, which is either unique to each pane, or traverses them all (as in this strip).
Lastly, I do a “save for web” command, save it as a 64 color GIF. And viola, you have the November 2nd, 2002 strip! See, now was that so hard?