Add tones to your comic art

Tones – dots that rep­re­sent shades ­– are a key fea­ture of comics. Learn how to add them in Manga Stu­dio with PJ Holden

ImagineFX - - Issue 108 May 2014 -

More Manga Stu­dio skills, with PJ Holden.

Known as Le­tra­tone in the UK, Zi­pa­tone in the US, or to use its orig­i­nal name, Ben-Day dots are a uni­form se­ries of dots that are used to rep­re­sent shades of grey on a printed page. This dis­tinc­tive print fea­ture was orig­i­nally named af­ter Ben­jamin Henry Day, who came up with the tech­nique in the late-1800s, fact fans.

1 Start by cre­at­ing a pure tone

I’ve pre­loaded an im­age of mine that I want to add a tone to, so now I just have to gen­er­ate the ap­pro­pri­ate tone. Se­lect­ing New Layer>Tone in Manga Stu­dio, I’m pre­sented with the Sim­ple Tone Set­tings di­a­log. These en­able me to set up the tone as I ini­tially want it. Don’t worry about get­ting this stage wrong, be­cause these set­tings can be al­tered at any time.

2 Quickly edit the shape of the tone

Hav­ing dropped a tone layer on to the page fea­tur­ing my im­age, I now need to chip away at the ar­eas of tone that I don’t want, such as most of the back­ground. I find it eas­i­est to blank all of the tone (press­ing Backspace will quickly clear a layer) and then, us­ing any of Manga Stu­dio’s draw or fill tools, I sim­ply draw the tone in place as though I were draw­ing with a nor­mal brush.

3 Take con­trol of the tone lay­ers

Now that I’m happy with the ar­eas in my im­age that fea­ture tone, I can go back into my art­work and al­ter the den­sity of the tone, us­ing the layer’s tone set­tings. I find that set­ting the tone lines to 30 gives the most pleas­ing re­sult. You can also add more tone lay­ers: as long as the tone lines re­main the same for each they won’t moiré and you can then have mul­ti­ple shades of grey.

Mod­ern tech­niques mean that print is more able to re­pro­duce greyscale us­ing dots so small they’re naked to the hu­man eye. Yet there’s still a cer­tain amount of charm as­so­ci­ated with the re­peated pat­tern of black dots rep­re­sent­ing a 25 per cent shade on a page that are big and bold enough to be ob­vi­ous.

Here’s the process of adding tones to your page in Manga Stu­dio…

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