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
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…