A lot of webcomics are drawn by hand then scanned. Others are drawn, scanned, then coloured using a computer (the process we use for ‘Monsters, Inked‘). Yet others are drawn directly in a program like Photoshop or The GIMP, often using a graphics tablet to provide the artist with much of the same control they would get with a pen and paper.
‘The Greys’ is different. It’s one of a small minority of comics that are drawn as vector graphics. Many vector comics are created using Adobe’s Illustrator software, but we’re in an even smaller niche by creating all our comics using the Free and Open Source application, Inkscape, which saves in the SVG format – an open standard that is supported (to a greater or lesser extent) by many other programs.
Why did we decide to occupy this tiny niche of a small minority? It’s because we don’t just want to produce a webcomic; we want to show other people that they, too, can create something with their computers rather than just consuming content. We want people to download our SVG files and learn from them. We chose Inkscape because its free cost and open license lets anyone download it regardless of their financial position. To encourage a little exploration and discovery, we hide Easter Eggs in the SVG files of all our Greys comics as a further incentive to download and dig in.
Vector graphics uniquely allow you to move and modify every part of an image individually. When you open one of our SVG files you don’t just get a flat image of the comic and Easter Egg — you get the individual characters, props, backgrounds and speech bubbles to modify as you see fit. Think you can improve on our comics? Have you got a better joke or punchline? Or can you draw our characters better than we can? Or perhaps you would like to translate your favourite comic into another language? The software’s free, the files are free, and the license is pretty liberal, so why not give it a try?
Of course, when your characters inhabit a world of vector graphics, things aren’t quite the same as in the real world. Our characters are permanently in a Matrix-like environment whose shapes and objects are really just lines of code. If one of our characters could see the Matrix itself, it wouldn’t be the columns of glowing characters from the films, but rather a representation of the underlying vectors that make up everything around them. Welcome to the Vector Matrix.
Neo: I understand the truth now...
I can see the Matrix itself...
Neo: I see the very fabric of reality!
[Scene shows the view from Neo's eyes, with Agent Smith rendered as a join-the-dots image]