One of the things that I always wanted to do was create a fairly realistic world populated with cartoon-y characters. One of my idols growing up was Herge, the creator of Tintin. His settings, cars, guns, props, etc. were all extremely realistic. This was due to a huge library of files he kept and drew from. Many of the drawings are flat-out copies of the photos, and no wonder. To draw a Citroen in 3/4 view racing down a Belgian street with other cars and people would be a drawing nightmare if you tried to do it from memory. He would often piece the various elements together to create balanced, superbly executed illustrations. As he became more famous, his comics improved amazingly, growing in depth and detail. He had a fine staff and a supportive publisher in addition to a huge network of fans.
I have none of this, but I do, fortunately, have Flickr and Photoshop.

I almost always substantially rework the photos using Photoshop filters, coloring and so forth. I also will add and subtract elements either in Photoshop or Mirage. The basic process is usually thus:

  1. Conceive of the idea and rough out the pacing (in my head)
  2. Surf around looking for the proper images
  3. Bring ’em into to Photoshop and play with them.
  4. Bring all the backgrounds into mirage and work them a bit
  5. Draw the characters in a foreground layer
  6. Export it to Flash
  7. Draw the dialog balloons
  8. Create the dialog. (This is really backward from the way I have ever worked before… the dialog is the LAST thing I do! Weird, eh?)
  9. Bring it into Fireworks and reduce the file size.

More on specific drawing and story techniques at a later date. Thanks for readinig!