Saturday, March 28, 2009

Scribus and Linux and Comic Strips!

I've been wrestling with the fact that I'll need a new scanner sooner or later. A cartooning friend Adrian Sinnott gave me a really nice used Umax 2200 scanner and it has worked wonderfully well with Linux! I mean, I just pulled it out of the box, plugged in the power cord, plugged it into my computer's USB port and TA-DAA!! The scanner came alive. No disk to insert, no drivers to install, and no rebooting like you often experience with a Windows machine. all I had to do was make sure that Xsane was installed.

The problem I'm running into, though, is it appears scanner manufacturers aren't making legal size scanners like they once did. (More on this in a future blog!  And it's good news!) I had a Microtek scanner that scanned an 8.5 inch by 14 inch area. And, it too, worked wonderfully well in Linux. But, over the years, the calibration and alignment failed and my scans really looked lousy. Which is why I switched to the Umax scanner.

The Umax scanner only scans a slightly larger than letter size area. Approximately 8.5 x 12 inches. Since I draw my comic strip 4 inches by 13 inches, I have to scan both ends of the comic strip and then piece it togehter using gimp. This is not problem as Gimp makes the task quite easy.  But, I'm getting a little tired of scanning twice and then digitally stitching.  So, I've decided to simply draw my comic strip a bit smaller to accommodate the size of the Umax scanner.

Enter Scribus!  Scribus is a terrific open source desktop publishing program that can do any kind of page layout. Scribus has a nice selection of vector drawing tools (rectangles, circles, etc.) I simply design the comic strip using Scribus' drawing tools.  I use rectangles to create comic panels, text tools to lay in the title and copyright, and other rectangular drawing tools to create light blue lettering guides.

Then it's a simple matter of inserting paper into my printer and printing out the template.   I can adjust the size of the "panels" and print out two templates at a time. I then cut and trim with my paper cutter and viola!  A comic strip template all ready to draw the latest George comic strip!

I remember in the "old days," I had to rule up the borders and lettering guides for each and every comic strip.

Now, with Linux and Scribus, I can let my computer do all this boring work. This allows me to do all the fun drawing stuff!

And the best part is, Scrubus and Linux are both free!  Free as in "Freedom." Free to use and keep and free to give to others.

Get Linux!

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