Lt_Commander’s Other ComicsPacing and Speech Bubbles

In a forest, three rebel models stand immobile, one of them holding a rocket launcher. Lt_Commander stands nearby alongside his desk and greets the reader. He notes they’re working on a comic and offers to help out with a few of the finer points of comic making in Garry’s Mod, noting that he thinks he has a pretty good idea of what works and what doesn’t as he’s been doing comics in GMod since 2005. He adds you don’t have to do it exactly like him, but he figures it’s a good starting point if you’ve never worked in the medium before. He states that to the right of the panel will be any tips he has for the image at hand, director’s commentary, if you will. A message on the right states okay, you’ve made it this far, we’re going to start with how to make speech bubbles and move on to why they’re important later. The message adds that this is a Photoshop tutorial as Lt_C doesn’t use GIMP. Step one is placing your text in the scene, making sure to spell check, and a good reading size for the web is 14 pixels in a good comic font, with the one he’s using is Letter-O-Matic from Blambot. Be sure to check your spacing now and use a centered justification. He demonstrates how you want your text to have its widest point in the center of its body. Step two, use the ellipse tool to draw a white oval under the text, roughly shaping it to the right size. Once you finish up with all your text, fine-tune the edges and fitting, remember, there will be an inner stroke, so don’t put the text too close to the edges. Step three, rasterize the layer once you’re happy with the fitting, with Lt_C noting he uses simple tails that utilize the polygonal lasso tool. Select your first point inside the speech bubble, in the direction where the speaker is, make your second point at the end of the tail, traditionally near a mouth or radio, make your third point in the bubble again, making the triangle not too wide or thin, then just double click to close it up and you now have a selected triangle. Now paint the triangle in with the paintbrush or pencil, making sure the hardness is 100%. Step four, apply the following layer style: 85% opacity, inner stroke of 2 pixels and that’s it. Lt_C then switches topics to pacing, explaining that pacing is how fast or slow your comic is and it’s not commonly discussed in detail because this is, after all, a screenshots-heavy environment, where pacing is moot, but Lt_C points out pacing is essential for ease of reading for your audience. If they can’t read your comic at a speed you want them to, they might get overwhelmed or bored. Lt_C states in a bit he’ll illustrate with a little scene, noting that walls of text like this are pretty boring to read, which is why you don’t want to cram too much into one frame, and he’s ignoring that rule for now because, let’s face it, this is a tutorial and what he has to say can’t be conveyed in a few short sentences. Lt_C then recommends, if you want to apply pacing to interactive comics, don’t, you are wasting your time. Lord Hussie, he says, doesn’t do pacing and translations of his and similar work into GMod are almost always trite and awful. Lt_C then says he digresses and that, for a good indication you are going too slow, if you read your or someone else’s comic and have to think about using your scroll wheel or anything other than the comic, the pacing is too slow. Lt_C then offers an example of a scene that slows the pace of the comic to an absolute crawl for an attempt at a comedic effect. Lt_C adds that he’s not going to go into comedic timing, but this isn’t it. We see the three rebels standing in the river in front of a downed Hunter-Chopper. One of them is telling another to take out that hunter-chopper now. They then stare at the chopper, the one that was talking with his mouth agape. He closes the mouth, then lowers his arm as the rebel with the rocket launcher stares at him. He then says well then, good work and the other rebel smiles.
Lt_Commander yawns and calls the scene boring, pointing out that, as you can see, it took essentially forever to convey a single emotion and reaction. He calls it a waste of time and says let’s see how it looks with a smaller size, less repetition and some vertical cropping. Meanwhile, the message to the right of the comic asks why should you not make your comic huge, anyway, pointing out you worked hard on those screenshots. It then offers four main reasons: less scrolling, for faster and tighter dialogue and action, asking dryly if you’ve even been reading the main comic; hiding errors, as, if you’re inventive with cropping your shots, you can cut out all kinds of things that don’t need to be there or look bad; easier editing and JPEG quality, as the so-called JPEG quality 90 problem becomes a non-issue sized down, and editing smaller explosions means less detail to worry over and faster comic production; and finally, file size, as you don’t want to download a 50 megabyte comic if most of it is backgrounds and wasted space, especially when it’s a collection of single images. Switching back to the comic, the rebel once again tells the other to take down that chopper and it’s already down. They stare for a moment in surprise, then a medic congratulates the rookie on her shooting and she asks if that wasn’t something, then the other rebel tells her yes, it was, but let’s not waste time, there might be something we can use in the wreckage. A note points out it’s important to flesh out characters for your reader to believe them and everyone reacts differently to things, try to watch your friends and family for examples of personalities. A rebel asks about the pilot if he’s dead, to which the medic corrects him that it’s dead, yes, then comments he’s never seen one like this before. The other rebel states it looks like they were testing some new pilot variant and the rebel with the rocket launcher asks who cares. A message from Lt_C clarifies that he tilted the camera in order to fit everybody’s head into the frame, including the corpses, and suggests experimenting with angles and tilting as it helps to spice things up. The rebel with the RPG states a dead Combine is a dead Combine and the pilots look as easy to kill as most of them, the other rebel retorts there’s more to it than that and the medic agrees, noting they’re adapting to them and using their tech to do it. A message points out he’s using another camera angle that is nontraditional but not unrealistic and if you were a fourth man on that team of three, you could be seeing things from this angle. Lt_Commander then notes that’s the same amount of space as the previous scene and this is a great time to illustrate the importance of speech bubbles. He adds that, instead of explaining it, he’ll just repeat the scene using no bubbles, a different font and less regard for the order that the content is spoken.
The exact same scene as before is played out again, but with different fonts, no speech bubbles and different ordering. Messages to the side note that most people on the planet read left to right, top to bottom, so if you try to put text in a spatial sense near a mouth, the order it is read may not match the order you intend it to be spoken. White text directly on the background is also hard to read and the reply may come before the question depending on who’s reading. The message also notes the fonts used are bad. Who cares works as an opener for the shot after the change in order, but ruins the lead in for the next shot. It also suggests reading female-medic-male instead of female-male-medic, noting that it makes the entire scene different and changes the tone and interaction between characters here, pointing out just because you wrote it one way does not mean people are going to read it that way. To conclude, it sarcastically notes that super depth of field to force your focus to the background is subtle, as everyone but Lt_Commander is blurred on the final shot. Lt_C then says he hopes you learned something today and, more importantly, he hopes you can apply it. He adds who knows, it’s possible you picked up on something. A final note recommends reading your comic and getting someone else to read it before you post it publicly and, if they come back confused on something, chances are it has to do with ordering text, spelling and grammar, or a myriad list of little things that you’d easily overlook, knowing what you meant when you wrote it. Lt_C says see you later and have fun editing, then adds not, it’s the worst part. The end.

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