The Rogues of Clwyd-Rhan storyline Sauna Opera has been remastered. Read it starting with this episode: Finnish and Clwydian bathing cultures meet.
I expected this remaster to be very straightforward: 20 pages that were already in the can from my first attempt at revising it in 2006. All I needed to do was flatten the pages, export at a size where the width was 648 pixels and the height was whatever it came out as, run the pages through pngout and upload.
Of course it turned out to be anything but straightforward. Some master files were missing and I had to dig into some very old back-up CDs to find them. Then some were in different file formats, and different master image sizes, and there were a lot of issues with ragged boundaries and sloppy inking that were pretty much invisible in the original publication, but which had to be fixed before the images could be shown at the much larger size they are now. And this was actually one of the better-organized of the older stories. The others from the same year are a lot messier.
Back in 2001, I decided to write Sauna Opera as a tightly-scripted story of exactly 20 pages, draw them at a larger size than before and scan and process them with the possibility of print in mind. The black and white line art was scanned, as best as I could, at 600 DPI. However, I did not have the computer capacity at the time to colour and letter images at that size with multiple layers. I used GIMP and Paint Shop Pro at the time, and both were big memory hogs that couldn't handle larger images well. So the colour versions and the lettering were done in GIMP at an intermediate size, roughly 1100 x 1600 pixels. What's more, I only coloured some of the pages. Colour at the time was a bit of an extra for me. I took the time if I thought the art was worth it and would be reused for promotional purposes. Finally, I replaced the hand-drawn borders with straighter borders done in GIMP before final export.
In 2006, I made my first attempt at remastering the story. I used Photoshop to colour all the pages that I had originally left in black and white, and did so at full resolution using a layering approach that I'd learned in the mean time. I intended to export at 550 pixels wide, because that was the image width for The Rite of Serfdom and Feral at the time, and in a change of preference, I decided to go with the original, hand-drawn panel borders because they looked more natural with the contents. However, for the pages that I'd coloured in 2001, I used the GIMP files to master directly from, without further conversion. I exported the files at 550 pixels wide and used those on the Drunk Duck mirror, but never got around to uploading them to the main site.
So here we are, almost seven years later again, and the time has come to fix up the 2001-era archives after working on remasters for The Corby Tribe, The Rite of Serfdom and Feral for four long, frustrating years. During those years, however, the archives for those stories that were in the same basic format (vertical pages, six-panel grid) have had yet another size upgrade, and now the target width is 648 pixels. Oh, and I have fully standardized on Photoshop and only use GIMP to convert files in GIMP's native format, XCF, to PSD. So I had to do that, and then fix all the mistakes that were mostly invisible at 418 pixels, but seriously distracting at 648. In the end, the remaster work took two days: one Sunday and the Saturday after that.
And while the final result is a lot more consistent and is pretty much a textbook example of what I do these remasters for—eventually, all comics made after 2001 should be in colour, and all of them should be in one of three formats: 648 pixels vertical, 800 pixels horizontal or 850 pixels vertical with text captions in HTML—I will still have to do more work on these if I ever do prepare these episodes for print.
Plus, in 2012, the type on these comics looks huge. Then again, that is probably an advantage on tablets.