Michael Dellheim, creator of the RPG webcomic Prepare to Die takes the hot seat.
What’s your webcomic Prepare to Die about?
In the simplest terms, “Prepare to Die” is a webcomic about three tabletop roleplayers who somehow get sucked into their own gaming campaign. Inside the game we find a world that was created by Mike, the Game Master, for his two friends Bill and Manda to play in… however the world they enter isn’t exactly the way that it should be, and over time the details of the original campaign continue to change.
As the plot progresses, the story is also about the NPCs native to the campaign and how they deal with the changing world around them.
I think of it a little like ‘Alice in Wonderland’ but with more puns and geek references than true madness.
Prepare To Die’s art style appears to be a collage of techniques. How do you create the comic?
When developing the style of the comic, I created what I call a “puppet” in PhotoShop, which is essentially a poseable figure made of different body parts created in layers and grouped in folders which are then colored and shaded using Layer Styles. That way, whenever I move or rotate a body part to pose one of my puppets, PhotoShop will automatically create the bevels and shading for the overall figure for me on the fly. When the pose looks right, I then save out a “sprite” and move a copy out into the main strip scene. The addition of edited photographic backgrounds, special effects for light and shadows, and text bubbles complete a comic.
Some people have asked me how I make my webcomic. So when I did the Valentines Day bonus page I used a free screen capturing programme called CamStudio to make a video so I could show you. It wasn’t a 1oo% sucess, so unfortunately you cannot see the whole process from beginning to end. It should give you a pretty good idea however.
What you see is me scanning in the hand-drawn page of the comic into photoshop. It’s not perfect so I make the lines sharper by increasing the brightness and contrast by 30, then I clean up any mistakes or fuzzy edges. Once that’s done I select the black lines and use them to create two new layers, one called ‘linework’ the other ‘colorfill.’ Then I bucketfill the colorfill layer, saving various selections as I go to make things easier when I get to the shading. Once this is completed I reload the selections one at a time and add shading using various brushes and the dodge and burn tools. That’s pretty much how I make Epic fail!
Anyway, I hope you find the video useful/interesting. Hopefully I will have better luck next time I make one.