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HOW THE ONLINE COMIC STRIP IS CREATED
This page shows the process and software used to create many of the online comic strips. My process has changed over the years and continues to change to this day. The steps below give a glimse at the process as it looked back in 2001. -Steve

STEP 1: ORIGINAL ART
Each episode of Astounding Space Thrills starts out as a ballpoint pen illustration on standard white photocopy paper. The original ballpoint art for episode 262 can be seen below.
art
STEP 2: LINEWORK
software iconA scan of the ballpoint illustration is brought into the drawing program, FreeHand 5.5 (Macromedia's FreeHand program is now up to version 8 - I prefer the speed and interface of 5.5 and continue to use the 4-year old program, having purchased and very much disliked the the later upgrades of the software). Using that scan as a starting point, I redraw the image using a mouse. I've tried using tablets and don't find them as precise as I'd like. The final linework is below.
art
STEP 3: COLOR
software iconOnce the linework is complete, the FreeHand document is exported as an EPS file and imported into Adobe Photoshop. In Photoshop, the colors are applied to separate layers, giving me precise control over the opacity and colors of each layer. The color art is created at a much higher resolution than what you see online so that the art can be collected in print format later.
art
STEP 4: LETTERING, ANIMATION
software iconAll lettering and animation (if any) is done is Adobe ImageReady. I find the text for the word balloons is sharper when produced in ImageReady vs. Photoshop. Some sound effects may be done during step 3 if they require some of Photoshop's specific tools. The final file is exported as a GIF with an effort to keep the file size as small as possible (usually 40 to 45k).

Below is the final comic strip. - Steve
art

Other Comics By Steve Conley
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