Color and Shading on various monitors

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Color and Shading on various monitors

Postby Sandusky on Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:50 pm

I have been receiving some e-mails from one particular reader in regards to my comic strip, Sandusky. While he seems to enjoy the strip itself, his lengthy, rambling e-mails describe the strip as very dark (in regards to shading, not content). He points out various individual strips amongst the bunch that he feels are "much darker than the others". He claims these particular ones are dark almost to the point of not being legible. This alone confuses me, as I have developed a pretty foolproof system of coloring and shading. Whether the strips are colored and shaded consistently bad or consistently good, they should, at the very least, be consistent. :wink:

Sandusky seems to have developed a pretty healthy following pretty quickly, yet I haven't received any complaints from any of my "regulars" on shading issues. I pointed this out to my e-mailing friend and suggested he may have an issue with his monitor. That was a stupid mistake on my part, as he immediately shot me down and proceeded to brag, ad nauseam, about his expertise in monitor settings. :roll: Basically, he's saying I should take his word over the contented silence of the masses.

Most people would just write somebody like this off, but the situation is a little bit different in my case, as I'm quite colorblind. I know what it is that I am seeing on the screen, and I know that the strips are perfectly legible to me. However, there's always this nervous sector of my brain that makes me think I might be making a complete fool out of myself when it comes to coloring and shading issues.

I would like to get some input from all of you as to whether or not you are seeing any issues with Sandusky along these same lines. Also, any tips, tricks or hints that might help improve the quality of my work (within my colorblind limits) would be very much appreciated. Thanks![/i]
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Postby Swikan on Wed Oct 25, 2006 2:59 pm

You already know I love Sandusky. I went a ways back in the strip and, while I saw some where the backgrounds were more darkish than I would be comfortable with (the vet visit ones I am thinking of.. as the vets office is usually all white and flourescently-lit), I would never ever say illegible.
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Postby Kilre on Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:19 pm

Some strips are darker than they should logically be, but I don't see how that would detract from a pleasurable viewing. You'd have to be extremely picky to let that get to ya, but your emailer, and Swikan, does have a point: indoor scenes would need to be a little lighter, except when the lights are off.

I think it might be a personal preference, but I find the strips to be generally as light/dark as they need to be, albeit a little dull in color (compared to the bright colors I usually see). Your coloring/shading scheme is pretty consistent, so no problems there.
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Postby Joel Fagin on Wed Oct 25, 2006 3:49 pm

Surely colourblindness doesn't make it look darker/lighter?

Anyway, yes, it's a little dark. Not excessivly but given it's not meant to be night, more than it should. If your reader has a dark monitor, he'd very likely have problems.

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Postby Sandusky on Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:38 pm

Thanks for the quick responses!

In regards to colorblindness and "too dark"... My goal with the backgrounds is to try and give them some sort of a gradient, so as to not look flat. I will typically start with a "darker" color than most, because I can hardly see any difference between white and ivory or white and a really light blue (differences which would actually be quite noticeable to others). Then, to compound the issue, I typically end up shading the backgrounds too much. I want the characters to "pop", and they don't really pop to me until I have "muted" (darkened) the background enough. I suppose I need to learn to just trust in the RGB numbers that Photoshop gives me rather than depending on my own eyes to notice when it has become "light blue" or "ivory".

I thought I knew what I was getting myself into when I decided to color every strip, but it has turned out to be even more difficult than I'd imagined. I can certainly tell the difference between a colorful, vibrant strip, such as Catena (http://www.catenamanor.com) and my own. It's just trying to get to that point that is difficult.

I guess you could liken it to a tone-deaf person trying to hit middle C. :)
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Postby Sandusky on Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:45 am

OK, after some careful study and reflection upon the comments I'd received, as well as some experimentation, I have (hopefully) come up with a better coloring and shading system for Sandusky. Only the most recent strip (Oct. 30) reflects this change as of right now, but all future strips will be shaded similarly.

This method is a little more time consuming, but I'm confident that it is an improvement and is worth the extra time. If I can see a difference, then it's probably even more obvious to others. ;)

I'd like to hear your thoughts again. Thanks!
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Postby Swikan on Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:50 am

Sandusky! I was fixing to write you and tell you that I noticed that the strip was abit brighter. I don't see how it should take up more time unless you start out dark and lighten, but I definitely noticed the difference and I like it a lot.
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Postby Sandusky on Tue Oct 31, 2006 1:46 pm

Thanks! I'm glad to hear that it's noticeably improved. I think I'll eventually be able to make up the difference in production time, but it'll be slower for a while.

Why is it slower? Well, I am now using the lasso and feather tools to distinguish between shaded and unshaded areas. Previously, I had simply selected the colored areas with the magic want and went to town in a more general "this is probably where the shadow should go" manner. I'm also shading using darker colors on a second color layer at reduced opacity, rather than just using the dodge and burn tools like I'd done before.

I wouldn't be surprised if, six months from now, I'll be using a different method entirely. ;)
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Postby Kramerthebird on Tue Oct 31, 2006 8:26 pm

There are a few instances when the color of a word balloon coupled with the bold text make it a little difficult to read, but far from illegible. This problem seems to have disappeared with the newer comics anyway.
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