19. TRUE CONFESSIONS: “I Was Guilty of…(Gasp! Sob!)’ARTIFACTING!!!'”

Hip Place
Hip Place

(Note: The doodles in this posting were pretty much chosen at random and if they have a connection with the subject of the post, I don’t know what it is.)

The first two times I submitted my comic, “Multiverse Comics and Stories” to comiXology, it was rejected because of “artifacting.” I had never heard of the term and the comiXology message said it was a “stained glass” effect that affected the crispness of lines in the work.

You have to realize that although I have a Masters of Fine Art, my courses were mostly confined to drawing and painting, with a few color theory and printmaking thrown in and a whole lot of art history. I had never taken a graphics course of any kind.

Chimera of some sort
Chimera of Some Sort (with creased trousers and wing-tip shoes)

Decades after I got my arts degree, my father-in-law generously subsidized computer purchases for all his kids. So Cameron, my wife, got a brand-new Mac and I began to wonder for the first time about using it to make cartoons.

Dragon Bot Drool
Dragon-bot Drool

I did take one rudimentary computer graphics course at the Corcoran School of Art, which is now a part of George Washington University. I learned a little about Adobe Illustrator. But most of my knowledge of computer graphics I’ve gained “through the seat of my pants,” on my own, in other words. So when I got rejected for “artifacting” I was completely clueless.

Writer's Block
Writer’s Block

I finally realized the trouble was in the jpegs, the compressed files that I invariable used. I always used them to conserve space on my ancient desktop. I should have realized that because they are compressed, they discard data. A musician friend of mine used to complain about how compressed music files were inferior. But I hadn’t connected the dots. Jpegs were degraded picture files. What’s more, my research indicated that if you worked on a jpeg you’d already saved, then saved it again, that degraded it even more! The other couple of comics I’d self-published were made from jpeg files. The problem wasn’t apparent in the printed copies. Zooming in to the pixel level, you can see the havoc that the file compression causes.

So what to do about it? I researched the problem and found a sort of a fix described, but the results weren’t too wonderful. What could I do except start from scratch all over again (heaven forbid)? I had one hard copy of the comic, most of it printed on a high-speed color laser printer in a local copy shop. I scanned the entire comic in page by page at the highest resolution I had available (1200 dpi) saved each page as a noncompressed tiff file, then resized the files according to comiXology’s specs. Then I made a .pdf of all the files and went through the whole submission process again.

The third time was the charm!


What comic am I talking about? Multiverse Comics and Stories, of course. Find out more here>>

NEXT: A news flash!

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