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How a comic panel is constructed

Some panels in The American Rabbit Wakes Up are just a modified version of a single comic book panel, but many panels are composites made from two or more separate sources. Below is page 43 of the comic, a single large panel composited from seven different sources. Mouse over or tap the image to see the 3D effect.

Page 43 used as an example

A search of the database for words such as crowd, money, vendor, and car is how the compostion starts. The main character is on the left. Her face, hair, and coat are all found by searching for keywords specially assigned to her and her wardrobe. 

There appears to be a total of seven artists contributing to images found in the seven sources used for this panel. Precise credit for artists is difficult in many cases, and credit for inkers can be even more difficult. Credits for every fragment of art are at the bottom of each page of the comic.

Each image is edited in Photoshop. Added layers of colors and lines make each image more sharply defined, and unwanted elements are painted out. The colors are chosen for contrast, and are usually unrelated to the colors in the finished work.


The clarified images are processed into vector images so the colors will be flat and smooth. Also, the lines become very sharply defined.

The images are combined into a rough panel layout in Adobe Illustrator. Colors and lines are adjusted.

The panel is exported from Illustrator, so it is no longer a vector graphic. It is now a large raster graphic, so it goes back into Photoshop.

The image is composed of many separate layers, most containing a single object. In Photoshop, objects are cut into addional layers to add depth, and then the timing of the 3D animation is set. A separate article describes how to make 3D images in Photoshop.


When the panel appears roughly complete, it is reduced to actual web publication size

The finished panel is placed on The American Rabbit website and art credits are added. 

The animated image is exported and viewed. Corrections are made to the large original, and then it is reduced and tested again. This process repeats until the animated panel is satisfactory.

Though public domain art does not require credits, the many great artists involved deserve this respect. For some odd reason, people think comic book art is less important than a canvas by Monet or Renoir. I have no idea what they're talking about. These are some of the greatest artists the world has ever known. The source of all art for the comic is the Digital Comic Museum, which is a repository of thousands of public domain comics. 

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