Another Star Wars comic? Why not? It’s in the news right now and it’s good to kind of dust off some old nerd jokes before we’re deluged with Star Wars coverage next May. I thought the idea of a Star Wars fan club sounded funny and ran with it. Expect a continuation of today’s strip on Friday.

I’m kind of trying something new with how I’m rendering the background and the environment the characters reside in When Theater Hopper started, it was pretty much just a couple of characters in front of a colored background. Eventually, I moved up to gradients. Then evolved toward putting two gradients together to form the illusion of two walls meeting at a corner. Sometimes I would toss in a window to complete the effect.

But I’ve always felt that that background should be more realistic. Or, at least as realistic as the characters in the strip to create a wholly realized situation. So I’m experimenting a little bit.

I took digital pictures of my kitchen and family room last night and used them as a point of reference when drawing Tom and Cami. Later, I went into Adobe Illustrator and used the pen tool to create the shelves, cabinets and walls in the background. It didn’t really turn out the way I wanted to. Everything looks slightly skewed. Not as tidy as I hoped. I think it was a mistake to outline everything in black. The colors should look more natural, like its part of the bigger background piece. I ended up blurring it to try and create depth, then scaled back the colors because it was competing too much with the foreground.

Obviously all of this is a learning process, but I need to find a way to create more realistic backgrounds more efficiently. I know some of you are saying “Why don’t you try drawing them by hand, Tom.” And in the past, I have. But it’s often too time consuming and not as clean as I would like it to be.

I know some people have complimented me for the use of photos in the backgrounds, but that’s always felt like a cheat to me and lazy. Plus, it becomes inconsistent with other comics in the archive. Sometimes within the same comic!

I know other artists sometimes use 3D rendering programs to help them grasp the clean lines and perspectives of walls, buildings, windows

↓ Transcript
Cami you gotta help me!

Jared needs a place to host his Star Wars fan club meeting and his in-laws are in town.

He asked if he could host it here.

NO WAY! I don't want a bunch of sweaty nerds ruining the upholstering on the sofas!

They're gonna get Cheetos dust everywhere!

Cami, c'mon! Be a good sport.

These guys are CONNECTED. Jared said if we really impress them, they'll hook me up with an autographed 8 by 10 glossy of Peter Mayhew!

Fine. You can host it here.

Any chance I can get you to slip into Princess Leia's "slave girl" outfit before they come over?

Goodbye, Tom.