How to Illustrate your Movellas
a blog by sakura
With Movellas adding more illustration-based competitions, and with the update on their Creative Commons policy, you might be inclined to start illustrating your own Movellas, or using your own art to create your own covers!
If you create digital art, then digitizing your work really isn’t an issue - simply save it in the format or size you need it! But if you’re someone who works in pen, pencil, or paint, you might be unsure of how to get your work from the tabletop into your online story.
There are really two ways to digitize your work: either photograph them, or scan them. I’m going to go over how to digitize and edit your work to put in your stories, based on my own experiences.
If you work in colored pencil, oil paint, acrylic, watercolor, or work very large scale, then photography is usually best. Something with a shiny surface, such as oil paint, is usually going to cause the light from a scanner to reflect back onto the painting, so you’ll get white areas where there should be paint. For colored pencil, acrylic or watercolor, I find that scanning them either picks up the texture of the art and creates unnecessary shadows, or completely washes out the color.
Now, you may not have access to a really nice camera. That’s totally ok! A smartphone is just fine for quality, and for many of my illustrations for my stories, I just use my iPhone to quickly digitize it, and then email myself the photo. The thing to remember is to try and get a photo in good light, and as straight on as possible, not at an angle (although the camera lens will distort the shape no matter how straight on you try to photograph it). To avoid camera distortion, usually I leave a sizable white border around my paintings (which also helps with color correction). Try your best to make sure that you’re not casting a shadow on your work either, as you stand over it to photograph it. You’ll see why, later on, when I talk about color correcting.
If you work in marker, pen and ink, or pencil, especially black and white art, scanning is usually the best way to go. You can adjust your scanner settings so that your colored pieces are as true to color as possible, and the great thing about scanners, unlike photographing, is that your image’s sides won’t be distorted by a camera’s lens. You can also scan directly to your computer. If you don’t have access to a scanner at home, you can try either at school or at your local library. Be sure to bring a flash drive, because scanned file sizes can be big. Also, if you’re scanning your work to be physically published in a book, or reprinted, you’ll want to set the DPI (dots per inch) to 300. I found this out the hard way when I won the Young Graphic Artist Prize on Movellas a couple of years ago. After I had moved to Japan, the publishers wanted a 300 DPI version of my illustration, but all I had was the lower quality scan, and the original was back somewhere in the US. So I had to redraw, and rescan my illustration!
So now you’ve transformed your work from physical to digital. Now, you can upload it into your movella! But if you want to take the final step in fine-tuning it, you can edit it in a photo-editing software. I especially recommend this, because it will make your illustration stand out from the rest in any competition or movella. You can use the photo editing tool on Movellas which is great for adjusting saturation, or adding cool filters fast, but if you really want to make your work look good, you can use photo editing softwares. I use Photoshop, which is quite expensive, but there are many free resources out there on the internet where you can upload and edit your photos for free. Pixlr.com is a great resource, and has all the functions of photoshop.
Basic Image Editing
Whether you work in black and white or digital, color correction is extremely important. For me, the tool I use most often is called “curves”, and it’s under the adjustment tab for both Photoshop and Pixlr. You’ll get a screen up with a graph, and some eyedroppers that are black, white, and gray. Use the black eyedropper and click on the blackest part of your drawing and do the same with the white for the whitest part of your drawing. If you work in black and white, your drawing will now be color-corrected nicely. But if you work in color, you can play other adjustment tools like hue and saturation, or contrast to try and get more true-to-color.
Since I make many mistakes with my drawings as well, I also use photoshop to erase them and clean up any splotches or smudges. Here’s a before/after example from one of my stories. I took the photo with my iPhone, and all I did in photoshop was use the curves adjustment, and erase my mistakes, so you can see how powerful photo editing is.
That’s all for now! I hope you all feel inspired to illustrate your movellas.
Thanks to sakura for writing this helpful blog and designing the banner :-)