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The "Fun" Part; Tones

The "Fun" Part; Tones


  Tones are not fun; Don't say I didn't warn you.

  As cool as tones look, they take time to get the hang of; Even if you're a Photoshop master, Manga Studio 4 is a whole new horse. . .which means you're going to have to ride it to get the hang of it, and tame it to ride it in the first place.

  What I mean by that is, you're going to just have to bite the bullet, start toning using Manga Studio, and keep going; Your first results?  Perhaps even your whole first chapter?  Will more than likely like amaturish; The first chapter of Eternity Concepts doesn't look anywhere near as good as the second, and while, yes, my OCD urge is destroy chapter one, re-do it, and re-tone it, the comic won't get anywhere if I keep destroying it in search of some impossible defination of perfection.  I had to put up a chapter, or shut up, so I could get to the next chapter were things, especially tones, are highly improved.  I had gotten the hang of them on MS3, but found a varity of small problems that made upgrading better, so I had to tame a whole new horse.

  There's a famous quote that a poem is never finished, just abandoned; The same really does apply to all types of art.  You can always go back and toy with a page, a painting, a story, etc., until it's published in print; By then you can't change every page like you can with a webcomic, but by then someone's chosen to publish you, so maybe you're catching my OCD.  Watch out; It's contagious among artists!

  Now, I used the same image as the last page so I could talk about inking in blacks.  "Blacks" is just the term comic/manga artists give for places on a page that will be, drum roll please!. . .Filled in solid black.  It's not a complex term.  Now, can you use the pen tool to do this?  Sure, but it'll be a lot of extra work.  How about plain colors inside Manga Studio, do you need to use a tone?  I'm not sure; I find the safest bet is to stick to what works for me. 

  First of all, open Materials, and surf to Tones, to Default, to Basic Tone, to Screen, to Gray.  You can see there's hundreds of tones and you can use whatever ones you like; These are what I use, I'm writing this, so hence, that's the instruction I'm giving.  Use whatever tone you want, see what I care.

  For solid black, we need B100%, the "B" standing for "Black", I assume.  Select it.

  Now, to apply the tone, look at your tools; At the very bottom, you should see color options; Typical black, white, and transparent.  Below those three is a large box that, if you have B100% selected, will be solid black; This icon will show the full thumbnail of any tone, so don't be surprised if you select a design and then see a much bigger scene in that thumbnail; Most of the tones are big.

  Select that bottom box with the tone thumbnail.  Now you're coloring with that tone!

  Use whatever tool you like; A lot of artists, and I believe even the Manga Studio documentation, recommend outlining all the place you're toning with with the lasso tool, but I say it takes too long.  You can outline the places tone needs to go with anything; I used to use the Marker tool, but these days I prefer the Pen for getting tighter tones.  It's a matter of personal preference.  You can fill in these outlines with the paint bucket, so long as the area is actually completely outline; If your whole page fills, undo and try to make the area closed off.  Sometimes MS4 just doesn't want to fill the area for me, so I'm forced to go in by hand; I'm not sure if this is an error or not, as often times a lot of these places were isolated, so perhaps it's a glitch.  Regardless, move on to all the black spaces in the page, coloring them all in now.

  You'll notice, as soon as you apply the tone, it automatically makes a new layer; You can't change or prevent this, so ignore it; It's actually majorly helpful later on.  Remember, if you miss spots in a toneselect it's layer and a drawing tool and go to it.  If you re-select the tone, and go to apply it, it will make yet another new layer.  Since you cannot overlap tones for any reason, this can cause major headaches with a lighter tone, causing overlapping and darkening you're not out to get.  If you see something you need to add or change, just select the tone layer and a drawing tool, don't re-select the tone all over again.  If you do is after, say, numerous tones, this can get confusing, too, so it's best to do all tone work in a certain shade on the one layer you'll automatically generate.  Otherwise it overlaps, you'll have three tone layers with identical names, so changing things will be a pain.

What About White High-Lights?

  White, W100% under the tones, is the only W--% you'll probably need.  I'm not entirely clear of the differences between, say, B20% and W20%, except I've found B20% is the lightest tone that will show once you export the page.  Feel free to play around with the W's, but keep in mind to Export your page at some point to see it's finished result; MS4 displays images differently than they will appear when exported.  Often times the images, especially if you open up a page you've finished, have a lower resolution than they when you export them; Don't be surprised if white high lights, especially, look grainy; They won't when you export.  If it's confusing, it's okay; After you export a few times, you'll start to get a hang of what tones work and show up, versus what don't.  I've never felt the need to play around in the W set aside to get bright white, but I've found B10% doesn't show up when you export the image, after trial and error with toning and exporting.

  I honestly don't recommend playing with these W's; I'm not sure what makes them different, but unless your page have a black background, I don't think these will show up.  I fear you, dear reader, will put in a lot of work with these tones to export them and see a blank page; My guess is these W's are intended for pages with a black background since Manga Studio will let you make pages with a black background instead of white.  If you have a white piece of paper, use B--%, and if you have a black piece of paper, try W--%.

There's All These Other Types of Tones; Can I Use Them, and Why Don't You?

 When I think of manga, I don't think of pop-art paintings.  You know the paintings made out of dots, sort of how images in the newspaper are?  Typically the people in said paintings are cartoonish in the Mary Worth sense of things.

  The dots are because, surprise!  When a newspaper, or when older comics, published, all the images were made up of dots; These are called Ben-Day dots, and Photoshop can let you make images just like these paintings---they also were used for most comics in 1950/1960, and are different from half-tone dots in the fact they're always the same size and space apart.

  But while tones in manga are made up of these dots, the dots aren't as easily obvious; You'll have to look much closer, probably with a microfying glass, to see the millions of dots that make up the tone.  My guess is the dots are smaller and closer together than they were in 1960's American comics.  Since I consider my work closer to a manga than a standard, US comic, I use the tones I do.  You can use whatever floats your boat, just remember to export the file to see the actual finished result.  I chose the grays as, in my own expirence reading manga, this is one of the things that makes it manga, to me, these tone shades will the very small dots; Maybe the manga you like doesn't use tones like this---I went off a comic that had a toning assistant on the job, some one who's only job is to apply tones to a page with results I liked; This was Sorcerer Hunters for me, but go with the results you personally want to get.  There's no one way to make comics, and there's no one set of tones to use.


Shadow with Tones

  Tones are commonly used for shadows, backgrounds, and clothing; The most popular, along with difficult and time consuming, is shadow, so we'll cover that.

  By now, I've been at this a while where I know, off the top of my head, what shade of tone I use for what.  Julian's eyes are B70%, some of the darkest tone in each page besides black.  His hair is shadowed with B20%, as it's the lightest "B--%" that shows up when the page is exported.  His skin has a light shadow at B30%, with the darkest skin shadow being B40%.  

  In the image provided, I've applied the ligher shadow (Lightest, actually) that I will to the skin.  I freehand my tones, as I find the shapes created with the Lasso Tool are somewhat too non-organic in shape.  Now I want to add in the second, deeper shadow.

  By now, maybe you went ahead and toned the whole page.  Don't.  Under no circumstances can tones overlap.

  Screw Xexilia and her long-winded, step-by-step bullshit, you think, I'll show her how easy this really is!  She's just trying to make it harder by claiming I can't overlap tones, that's bullshit--I don't see anything wrong!

  Then you export the images, and somewhere, I laugh myself to sleep, at you.  Why?  I'm not trying to make things harder; I've even come up with an easier method the avoid the Hell you may see, called Mori, if you do overlap, than MS4's documentation gives.  And what is mori?


Mori: Not the Moon Hitting Your Eye, Like a Big Pizza Pie, but Squares That Want to Eat Your Children

  You know what, I think I'm funny, that's who.

  Anyway, old 1930's music references aside, onto mori.  Mori hates you and wants to destroy everything you love.  What it is, is the name for an odd, weird square pattern that turns up only in tones that overlap or overlay onto each other.  While black and white tones are kind of excused from this, so long as whites are on the top tone layer, so, as these are solid colors, not made up of dots, mori shouldn't show up for them; This can be handy at times, as you can apply a tone to give a room atmosphere and not have to worry if it overlaps black; Because the black isn't made up of dots, nor is the white, mori won't happen.

  Mori technically isn't an error of any program, printer, or even your screen; What happens is, as each tone is made of itty-bitty dots, they have a pattern that, being so small, we don't really see unless we blow up the image.  When you overlay or overlap one tone with anothera pattern of small squares suddenly becomes easily visible; Why?  Your printer/screen/program is take one sheet of dots and, just like you told it to, putting another sheet on top, overlaying this one pattern with a second pattern.  As a result of putting one pattern ontop of another, a weird, new, unintended pattern of squares shows up; And you can't fix it once it's printed like that.  You're only choice is to avoid mori from the start.  Sure, yes, you can reopen the file in MS4 and fix it from there, but it's going to be a lot of bullshit.  To show this, I'm providing an image done wrong with the tones overlaid.

  Now, right now, the mori isn't showing, because I took a screen shot, instead of exporting the way you'll do at the end of a finished page.  The tone I overlaid is B40%, but you'll notice it's much, much darker; Being overlaid, it makes the resulting tone darker than you want, so one more reason not to overlay.  If I exported it, the areas, all of them, that overlay would be filled with squares that make your eyes go funny, like so many optical illusion images online.  That's mori, and it's weird on everyone's eyes; Your readers aren't going to care you were pressed for time, just about the end result.

How to Avoid Mori

  The best method I've found is as follows; There's a billion methods, I'm sure, but I've found this works best for me.  A lot of others, some of which Manga Studio itself recommends, take up a lot of computer resources by selecting each tone area individually by outlining it first with the Lasso Tool, and then filling these in, and then selecting them again with the Lasso to tone around those.  It takes a long time and steady hand to re-lasso the same shape, doesn't it?

  I instead chose to go onto the pervious tone layer, in this case I went to B30% as a layer.  I used the Magic Wand tool and selected the white space, not the tone.  You'll end up like with what I have, with all the areas around that tone selected.  That means if you draw, image will only appear in that selected, white area, but not on the tone, even though it's the only object occupying the layer; You have selected the white space surrounding this.  If, for whatever reason, you aren't sure you did this right, test it; A mark should appear on the white areas of page, but anything in that dotted line remains untouched.  If you get, somehow, the tone selected, and see a mark showing up inside that dotted area, go up to Selection, to Invert Selection.  If you did this the way I said to, you won't need to.

  Next, select your next tone.  I tend to do shadows dark to light; I go from solid black and work my up the tone ladder until I hit the lightest, but I'm doing it backwards in the example as just an example.  My next tone is B40%, so I'll select it, and with the image still selected via the Magic Wand tool and dotted lines, I apply this tone; Because only the outside areas of the tone below are selected, only they will have tone; Everything inside the lines can't be touched!

  As you can see, I can get into tight areas, like the one on Julian's chin, without worrying about overlapping; They can't!

  Again, I free hand this.  When you un-select (Or 'clear' the selection), you may notice you missed spots and streaks; It happens.  Just select the lower tone layer with the Magic Wand tool, making sure to select empty space, and then go back to your new tone, and work on it with the pen/marker tools.  You have no need to select the tone again via the Materials window.

  When it's done, you'll see it:


  Looks nice so far, but didn't I want to add some shadow within the first one?  For that, we will need the Lasso tool.  Go to the B30% layer and select the area, with the lasso, in the exact shape you want.  Be anal, as this is about as easy as this is going to get; You could erase out an area, but you'll probably get streak-y, scratchy results or small specks of tone left behind.

  Because the tone doesn't extend past Julian's face, it will make a edge smack up on the image when you're doing selecting.  Consider the nature of shadow; Things aren't darkest at their bottoms, for example, so I don't need to go to the edge of Julian's chin; Shadow wouldn't.

  Delete any tone inside this area.

  At this point, go back to the B40% layer while this area is still selected. Again, don't go back through the Materials, use your layers.  You can simply use the Fill Bucket Tool and fill this area in.

  Yes, you can do this by hand, but the selection tools let you get a nice shape without weird nooks and crannies to fill.


  Ta-dah!  Julian cast in shadow.  There's places I can fix, yes, but remember what I said about that quote on a poem not being finished?  

  Neither is this.  There's always things you can fix and there's always going to be other artists who point out a billion flaws, and with manga, which doesn't and isn't supposed to look life-like, attracts a lot of this, by people trying to tell you how to draw your characters with perfect, life-like realism, which doesn't lend itself well to comics, firstly (It will take you a long time for each page; Consider some black-and-white, plain pencil comics take some artists eight hours a page, and most perfect, masterpiece works of paintings and art?  Longer), and it the life long obsession of many.  If you read and follow and research art pieces and methods, you'll discover thousands of painters and illustrators online constantly going back and re-doing/updating/reworking pieces as they've just learned some new, helpful trick to help them get photo-realistic results.  Some of these same people, in fact, many, went to art colleges for years and years, and are still learning and still trying to produce "perfection" by means of the perfect, exact-to-life ideals of old, master painters; It's sort of funny, considering that, with the invention of the camera, it allowed many artists to express themselves for the first time, instead of having to produce said results to be considered worthy, and used for record-keeping purposes, making the artists of old more akin to a historian than the artists of today, with our freedom from having to to this.

  Anyway, onto backgrounds, which are pretty simply, I think, by this point, and then some advanced toning techniques.


Backgrounds and Advanced Toning

  By now, I hope a background is obvious in how to apply.  If not, go back and read, because you missed something, because you do it the exact same way as any other tone.

    For the background, here, I want to communicate Julian is in a darkish area, with light coming in from his left, away from the viewer.  To keep things interesting, I decided to use a tone to give that lighting and atmosphere, rather than drawing in the hallway Julian stands; You'll see it later, you've seen it before, and the manga will become just as dull and tiresome to read if I show this every damn time as it would if I wrote "Julian stood in the room with the window and banister" each time he came in; I'd change the words around if I wanted to mention it again, so in this case, I change the imagery around, trying on the tone instead of lines.  Like I said, in another shot, you'll see the hall itself; It's not interesting.  The atmosphere the tone creates is, but would get just as tired if I did it every time for this room.

  But wait; This tone doesn't have the granulate I want; I want light coming from Julian, so a center, and going out to the images.  There's no tone of this type of this pattern; I'll have to improvise if I want to use it.  You can see in this case, I made a new layer and, working with the tone as it starts, fill in a triangular area.  If the tone starts weird, like you begin putting it down and it's at a light spot in the tone instead of the dark you wanted, use the Move Layer tool and move the tone, since it will only show where you've placed it, until you see the part you wanted.

  To get my effect, I'm going to have to make multiple layers of this same tone; If I make another triangle and move the layer to get the part of the tone I want, I'll move all the tone on this layer.  I'm trying to composite this one tone into a new and different thing, so this won't work; It's original pattern won't do what I'm after.

  So, for the first time, re-select the same tone and apply it, so it becomes a new layer.  Now go to the Materials and double click the tone itself from there.  A window saying Properties should pop up, a la the one to the right.

  You see, also, where I've applied this next part of the background to composite it together.  Your Properties window will have tabs; Select Tone.

  You have to do this after applying tone to the right areas you need it to appear, because the options you need under the Tone won't show up if there's no tone on the page to have the options for.  Anything you do here will only apply to the tone currently on that page and layer, so don't worry about these changes being permeate; Under the options I'm telling you to use, they aren't.

  You should see, options like those in the picture, only under the Tone tab and not greyed out.  There you'll see the same small, dotted-circle-with-an-arrow.  That's the Rotate Tone tool.  Use it, and rotate the tone to the right angle you need, so it makes the image and flows with the rest of the tone; You may need to select the Move Layer tool before or after to get the exact results you want.  




   Again, no overlapping.  Select these tones the same way I mentioned for normal toning, if you need to, to prevent this.  

  I have no idea what 99% of those other options are for; Play with extreme caution.

  Bear in mind, some tones just can't be composited together; If you look super-duper close, you could see, yes, the exact lines of each hatch don't match perfectly.  It's close, though, and being in the same nature and style as the hatch, so to those unaware, they have no idea this tone was a mash-up.  You do because, well, once you know how it's done, you'll notice it.  There's a reason magicians take an oath; Once you know, you can't unknow.

  Additionally, when it comes to skin/hair/etc., remember the tones you use each and every time and keep them identical, as far as shade goes.  Giving two characters with different colored hair the same shade, or even same shade of shadow, can confuse readers into thinking they both have the same hair color.  It happens to me frequently, especially with manga with blue and blond haired characters.  Keep things different when they are, and identical where they are.  Shade is your color in manga; Treat it like so.

  Now, you can see the finished result; Julian lit from his left side. 




  And from here, we need to add the actual text.

  Next, Text and Word Bubbles.


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