Comic Book Wallpaper Tutorial

This is a tutorial for how I make my comic-book pieces (more exactly this piece). I guess I made it because it's not really like other wallpapers (not that all wallpapers are a like otherwise, but you get my point).

The resources I will be using are from Oxoniensis Art, Pretty as a Picture and Misplaced.

First I open up a canvas with a white background. Then I add about 12 screencaps (all from Pretty as a Picture). Now, what I do is I roughly re-size and crop them. However, and this is important, I don't really crop them, I use the rectangle tool to make a vector mask which I will later on change to fit the structure better. For now, I just want to get an overlook of how the piece is going to work, if the piece is going to work!
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Note: I suggest you really think of what is supposed to be said, by whom, in each frame. Make sure you've got enough room for all the text.

Now you neaten the images up, making the rows etc. fit together. Preferably by using the rectangle tool and vector masks (you can use regular layer masks but vector masks will make things easier further ahead).
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Now, hide the background layer. Then make a new layer (Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N), then press Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E to stamp the visible layer into the new one. (Now you can un-hide the background layer.) Duplicate (Ctrl+J) this layer and set it to screen. Which prosentage you have to use on this layer all depends on your caps, but about 70-80% is usually good.
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Duplicate both the original and the screened layer, drag the two dulpcates to the top and merge them (Ctrl+E), like this. Then duplicate this layer. With the now duplicated layer (I know, it's messy) you go Filter>Noise>Reduce Noise. I don't know what I would do without this filter! My settings are:
Strength: 10
Preserve Details: 8
Reduce Color Noise: 12
Sharpen Details: 51
We can name this layer "Noise-less".
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Next step is to sharpen it up a bit. Duplicate Noise-less and go Filter>Other>High Pass and set it to 0,5 px. Set this layer to Overlay 100%. Not a great difference, but a difference none the less.
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Now, Rory's eyes in the picture in the middle is bothering me, they look a bit funny. Therefore I use the Burn tool and the Sharpen tool to make the eyes a bit darker. This is a good time for small touch-ups in the images, if you feel that any needs to be done.
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Now, go and hide the background layer again and repeat the Ctrl+Shift+Alt+N and Ctrl+Shift+Alt+E. (Then un-hide the background layer). We're naming this layer Base, beacuse it's the base for the effects. Now, duplicate the Base and select one "box" (you can do this either with the Marquee tool or by holding in Ctrl and clicking on the vector mask belonging to the image) then go Filter>Artistic>Cutout. The settings differ from every image, it's therefore important that you do each seperatley, like this. The settings are usually between:
Number of Levels: 7-8
Edge Simplicity: 1-3
Edge fidelity: 2-3
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Now add a layer mask (the little square button below the layers with the circle in it) and mask out "disturbing" parts (faces and delicate details etc.) and set the layer's opacity to 80%.
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The next step is to yet again duplicate the Base, drag it on top just for now, and go Filter>Artistic>Poster Edges. I usually set my settings somewhat like this:
Edge Thickness: 2
Edge Intensity: 1
Posterazation: 6
Now drag this layer under the cutout layer and mask out the things you don't want (black spots in faces and the like).
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Here comes the most wierd one, hope you can follow me (and you should know, this differs from every piece, all depending on the images, so you may have to experiment a bit). Duplicate the Base, drag the duplicate on top and go Filter>Sketch>Photocopy. The settings I used:
Detail: 5
Darkness: 3
When you're done, take the same layer and go Image>Adjustments>Levels, settings:
Input Levels: 195; 1,72; 214
Don't think we're done... Now go Filter>Blur>Gussian Blur and set it to 0,5px. Set this layer to Multiply, about 70%. Again, mask out the things you don't want.
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Again, this is touch-up. Go through your filtered layers, mask out or smoothe an edge. Just, try to be content with the image you have before you, because now we only have text and colour left.

Select all of your frames/boxes, whatever you want to call them, like this. If you used vector masks, select one mask using the Ctrl method I said earlier, when you want to select the second mask press Ctrl+Shift. Now create a new layer, then go Edit>Stroke. I used the settings:
5 px; #FFFFFF (white); Inside.
While still selected, create another layer and go Edit>Stroke. Now I used the settings:
2 px; #000000 (black); Inside.
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It has now come to the speech bubbles. These can be fun, or they can be a pain. If you had planned when you picked the caps and re-sized them, the text won't be such a problem. To make a speech bubble you pick the Custom Shape Tool and select the shape of a speech bubble. Make sure you have the square with the four corner-squares, but without the pencil, selected because this creates a shape layer using a vector mask. There's not much more to say about the bubbles. However, I do have some tips if you want them. Firstly, you want to have readable text, i.e. swirly text don't work. I usually use Comic Sans or Arial. Secondly, try to make it feel more like a comic book by using exclamation marks, bold/italic text and the like. Moreover, I love thought bubbles, but it can be hard to think of any good/funny ones. Finally, there are *no* rules in comic books! Experiment! Now, I also add my background. Make a new layer just below Base and fill it with a colour, pattern or texture, whatever you want.
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Here comes the gradients! Basically, with comics I try to be careful when I use gradients. I don't exagerate and I try to keep things smooth. The gradients I used are from Misplaced and well, my self hehe.

This one is from Misplaced, I put this on Soft Light 80% opacity, just to lighten the piece a bit.

This one is my own. I put this on Soft Light 70%. Mostly, I picked this one because I liked the colours.

I made this quickly out of two colours and put it on Soft Light 60%. This was for getting some contrast and bringing out the black.

Mine again, Soft Light 40%. Again, to bring out the black and this time white as well.
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Next, I add this paper stock from Oxoniensis Art. I use this to get a bit of texture, and put it on Multiply 30% opacity.
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Wow! Almost done. For the final touch and an even more comic book feel, add a big flashy head text, name the comic. For this piece, I used the font Loverboy. First I wrote the title ("First Meeting"), then I duplicated it, changed the colour of the text and nudged it a bit to the bottom right. This creates a shadow-y feel and a 3D feeling. And if you're dying to find out, the Gimore Girls text is called "Poor Richard".
The Pilot.

I hope that was doable, I would love feedback, so if you could spare a minute more and write to me what you think, that would be very nice.