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Graphic Workshop
The LSH Art Gallery Graphic Workshop gives a behind-the-scenes peek at how the artwork of the Legion of Super-Heroes makes its way from the comic page to the virtual walls of the gallery.

I recently dug up my well-worn copy of Superman and His Incredible Fortress of Solitude, the classic oversized comic written by Roy Thomas and drawn by Ross Andru and Romeo Tanghal in 1981. The comic features guest appearances by Mon-El:

"He doesn't belong in there with those other do-baddres... and I'll never give up trying to find a way to free him from the Phantom Zone...."

and Supergirl:

"'Supergirl!' It's a name that's been good enough these past several years since she arrived from a last surviving fragment of Krypton--but one of these fine days it's going to have to be changed--to Superwoman!"

I selected a panel depicting a battle between Superman and Supergirl for the LSH Art Gallery. What follows is a step-by-step description of how the panel became part of the Supergirl Display.

How to Create a Graphic for a LSH Art Gallery Display

Step 1 First, I scan the panel at 300 dpi as a TIFF, much, much larger than is pictured here. I open the TIFF in PhotoShop and make sure that Supergirl is oriented the way I want (and she is) before proceding.

I note that a word balloon floats over her cape, which means that I will have to "reconstruct" part of her cape at some point.

I begin by "cutting away" all the parts of the panel I don't need, ie, all the non-Supergirl parts. The scene has a fairly dark background, which is always bad news when trying to seperate the figure from the rest of the picture (unless the figure is completely surrounded by a uniformly dark background).

Using a selection tool in PhotoShop, I select the green smoke in the picture and easily cut it out of the graphic (as it is a uniform color). The rest of the cutting away will be tougher.

 

Step 2
Step 3 Next, I use the eraser tool to painstakingly erase everything around the figure of Supergirl. This is the longest part.

In some cases I use the paths feature of PhotoShop to create a path "around" a figure. However, in most cases erasing takes less time and effort.

When I'm done erasing, I use the clone tool to "hide" the word balloon fragment that hangs over Supergirl's cape.

Then, I select all of the non-Supergirl parts, following the trail that the eraser left for me, and delete them.

Once I have the figure of Supergirl, I work on the colors. Because this graphic was scanned from an old comic, it appears dingy. I start by selecting all of the black in the graphic and creating a new layer on top of the old graphic, a layer now containing a black line-drawing of Supergirl. Then, like a coloring book, I fill in the colors between the lines using bright primary colors.

When I'm done, I have a very, very bright graphic layer with a lot of contrast; it is too bright, in fact. I use this layer as a "filter," setting it to 50% opacity so that the original dingy Supergirl partially shows through. Then, I use the brightness and contrast tools on the original layer to brighten her even further.

Step 4

Supergirl

When I'm done, I resize the graphic to 208x250 at 72 dpi (as you see it above) and save it as a GIF. And I'm done!

If you look carefully, you can see some of the original texture of the paper and faded colors, particularly in the blue of her outfit and the peach color of her legs. This is why I use the "filter" method instead of just recoloring the graphic myself; I want to preserve as much of the original look as possible while still making it vibrant for the gallery and for the web.

If you have questions about the process or suggestions for making the graphics better, please send me a message. I would love to hear from you.

Mirror Lad
LSH Art Gallery

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