Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Dragging the GOP and My Photoshop Recipe

Here’s my new cartoon, with President Biden dragging the GOP doggie to places where it doesn’t want to go.

I get lots of questions from cartoonists about how I recommend that they prepare their cartoons for syndication. Here is the “recipe” we give to our CagleCartoonists. Some new CagleCartoonists are old timers without computer skills, so the recipe is very detailed about little details that are self evident to the tech savvy.

First, I do a line drawing on paper in pencil or ink and I scan it. It isn’t important that it is on paper; drawing it electronically is fine, the important thing is that it is line art. This recipe is for coloring traditional cartoons with black lines.  The point of this is so that the lines remain clean and crispy black, and don’t spread with the poor registration we often see in newspaper printing.

So, scan the art at highest resolution in Grayscale – the higher the better, usually scanners do 600dpi.  Open the art in Photoshop, straighten the angle if necessary (IMAGE > Image Rotation), draw a marquee rectangle precisely around the art, just where you want it cropped, and EDIT > Copy (Command C), open a new document, which will open at the size of the copied art, and EDIT > Paste (Command V).

Go to IMAGE > Image Size, deselect “Constrain Proportions”, select 1000 pixels/inch, Width 8 inches, Height 6 inches – or vary the height a bit if the art is a different proportion, 4”x3” is good. Click OK

Why 4 x 3? Because newspaper leave a wide rectangle as the hole for editorial cartoons, and if cartoons are square or tall, almost no newspapers will print them. This is frustrating for gag cartoonists, and others who like a taller format that works better on the Web. Cartoonists who fight the wide rectangle just don’t get reprinted in newspapers.

Go to IMAGE > Brightness/Contrast, turn the contrast to 100% and adjust the brightness to what looks nice. Repeat if necessary. Make it a little darker than you think is necessary because it will lighten up in the next step. Click OK

GO to IMAGE > Mode > Bitmap, with method “50% Threshold” – if it is too light, UNDO the transformation to Bitmap and repeat the last step on the Grayscale image, making the image a bit darker/denser with the Brightness, then select “Bitmap” again.You’ll get something like this:

Clean up any hickies and make any changes in Photoshop with the brush and lasso tools.

Save as a TIFF format file with LZW compression. The file should be around 2 megs in size.

Then go on to color …

Take the bitmap/line art image we just made, go to the IMAGE menu and change to: GRAYSCALE, then go to the IMAGE menu again and change to CMYK.

Open the Layers Window from the WINDOWS menu. Add about 20 transparent background layers (Command Shift N, twenty times), drag the line art image to the top layer

Select the top layer and select the black line color with the eyedropper tool. Then go to the SELECT menu and select COLOR RANGE, selecting only the black lines, then select the “black” foreground color in the tools menu and make the black: 0%C, 0%M, 0%Y, 100%K, then select the EDIT menu and choose FILL.

With the top layer still selected, go to the SELECT menu and choose INVERSE, selecting the white areas, and delete – it should show a checkerboard pattern meaning the background is transparent and nothing is there. Select MULTIPLY from the drop menu at the top of the Layers window, this makes the color in the layers underneath the black lines print under the black lines so there is no haloing in printing. What this does is print the color under the back lines, so there is no “haloing” with bad registration.

Select the bottom layer from the LAYERS window, Select ALL (Command A), Go to the Tools window and select the foreground color and make it 0%C, 0%M, 0%Y, 0%K (white) and select FILL from the EDIT menu.

Then add colors on the layers in between to your taste. Label layers as you go to make them easy to find and group similar colors together. Save a copy at 1000dpi for your personal files as a CMYK TIFF with LZW compression as a copy with no layers. Go to the IMAGE menu and select IMAGE SIZE and resize the image to 500dpi. Save as the file to upload to as a TIFF file with LZW compression and no layers – the file should be about 6megs in size.  You’ll end up with something like this.

Why CMYK? Most clients prefer RGB, which is best for the Web; they get photos in RGB format, and RGB files are smaller. But this recipe lets us have clean, crispy 100% black lines and if a printer can use a CMYK file, then CMYK is superior. In our system, editors have a choice of downloading the files as RGB, but they can only download CMYK if the file is originally created in CMYK.

In our system we have a 6.5 meg file size limit – that is because we often email cartoons and we don’t want the emails to be too big. We ask artists to make the images no smaller than 4,000 pixels wide. As a last step, reduce the resolution of the image so that it comes in under 6.5megs, and is 4,000 pixels wide. You should be able to come up with a TIFF file with LZW compression that is about 6 megs in size. Remember flatten the image so it isn’t huge with layers – but first, while you have layers …

Make a grayscale version …

We ask artists to make a grayscale version. Most newspapers still print in black and white, and it is nice to be able to control the contrast. When editors go to our site and select a cartoon they want in color, it brings up a preview page where they have a choice of a grayscale version. If the artist doesn’t prepare the grayscale version, our system creates it from the color cartoon, and that isn’t as nice. We also deliver grayscale cartoons by email to newspaper who want that. Better to control this and tweak a grayscale version.

Save Image with a new name. Select from the IMAGE menu: MODE: Grayscale. Adjust the Brightness and Contrast of the layers to taste.

Select FLATTEN IMAGE from the Layers window and save as a TIFF with LZW Compression – or save as a TIFF LZW compression copy with no layers and skip this step.

Why TIFF format? Because it is “non-lossy” and images should be saved in the best quality. Most artists prefer to save files in JPG format, and most newspapers prefer JPG formal also, since they get photos in that format. When editors download cartoons in our system they have a choice of JPG or TIFF. Saving an image as a 12 quality JPG isn’t “lossy,” but it may be bigger than a TIFF.

The grayscale file should be about 3 megs in size, and looks something like this …

I know I overexplained this, but the questions I get from artists are pretty granular.  I’m afraid I can’t really overexplain it.  I’ll bookmark this page and give it to cartoonists everytime this comes up.

The cartoonists push back against being asked for higher resolution that they want to do. They push back against TIFF format, and CMYK. They push back against the wide rectangle format. Especially the international cartoonists. It never ends.

This comes up all the time.

Our reader supported site,, still needs you!  Journalism is threatened with the pandemic that has shuttered newspaper advertisers. Some pundits predict that a large percentage of newspapers won’t survive the pandemic economic slump, and as newspapers sink, editorial cartoonists who depend on newspapers sink too, and along with them, our site.

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Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Baseball Soup

Our legendary cartoonist, my buddy Randy Enos, loves kale soup with bugs.

Email Randy Enos
Visit Randy’s archive

In 1993, a former illustrator, named Pam Sommers, asked 84 well known illustrators to contribute to a book she was putting together called “Recipes for Disaster“. In essence, she wanted the illustrators to write out and then illustrate their favorite recipes. Some of the artists chose to take a conceptual approach such as a “recipe for a riot”. We had complete freedom to interpret “recipe” any way we wanted to but most of us did actual recipes of our favorite dish. I was one of those and I decided to combine my text and picture into one linocut illustration. The words became part of the picture.

My favorite food dish is Portuguese kale soup. It’s nickname is “baseball soup” because of the large baseball sized potatoes in it. It also blends the flavors of the Portuguese sausages, chourico and linguica with cabbage, lima and red kidney beans and soup chuck with the large bunch of kale. It’s a thick soup, almost like a stew sometimes although some people, like my Aunt Angie used to make a thinner watery version of it. My father and mom taught my wife, Leann how to make it and she does a PERFECT replica of the version I grew up with … except for the bugs floating in it. You see, we grew our own kale in a little garden in our yard and it was impossible for my grandmother, who lived with us and did most of the cooking, to wash out all these tiny little bugs that were embedded in the kale leaves. So, they got well cooked into the soup. When you were eating it, you could see the tiny little critters who looked like fruit flies floating in the lovely greenish soup. The first time Leann ate at our house and saw the bugs, she was a little put off by them. My father assured her that they were well cooked and perfectly harmless.

I love kale soup. It is truly the best dish I have ever eaten in my life… it’s heaven. And it is truly delicious the days after it is created when the flavors have mingled and steeped. We always make a very big pot of it that lasts a few days.

I decided to do my illustration in a whaling theme because the largest concentration of Portuguese immigrants are located in my home town of New Bedford which was the greatest 17, 18 and 19th century American whaling port in the world. I decided that I would depict whalemen trying to harpoon two large potato/whales. One whaleman shouts, “Baleia Branco”… which means “white whales”,referencing Moby Dick which was written by Herman Melville who shipped out of New Bedford on a whaling ship when he was 25 years old and later wrote probably the greatest novel ever written.

The water, in my picture, is composed of the wavy lettering that makes up the recipe text. White on black at the top of the picture listing the ingredients and black lettering on white in the larger bottom part of the picture listing the cooking procedure.

It was a lot of work and it was very very tiring cutting all those letters backwards… BUT, well worth it for KALE SOUP!

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Read many more of Randy’s cartooning memories:

Baseball Soup

The Lady with the Mustache

The Rest is History

Randall Enos Decade!

Never Put Words in Your Pictures

Explosion In A Blue Jeans Factory

The Garden of Earthly Delights

Happy Times in the Morgue

I was the Green Canary

Born in a Volcano

When I was a Famous Chinese Watercolorist

My Most Unusual Art Job

A Duck Goes Into a Grocery Store

A Day With Jonathan Winters and Carol Burnett

Illustrating the Sea

Why I Started Drawing

The Fastest Illustrator in the World!

Me and the GhostBusters

The Bohemian Bohemian

Take it Off … Take it ALL Off!

I Eat Standing Up

The Funniest Cartoon I’ve Ever Seen

The Beatles had a Few Good Tunes

Andy Warhol Meets King Kong

Jacques and the Cowboy

The Gray Lady (The New York Times)

The BIG Eye

Historic Max’s

The Real Moby Dick

The Norman Conquests

Man’s Achievements in an Ever Expanding Universe

How to Murder Your Wife

I Yam What I Yam

The Smallest Cartoon Characters in the World

Chicken Gutz

Brought to You in Living Black and White

The Hooker and the Rabbit

Art School Days in the Whorehouse

The Card Trick that Caused a Divorce

The Mysterious Mr. Quist

Monty Python Comes to Town

Riding the Rails

The Pyramid of Success

The Day I Chased the Bus

The Other Ol’ Blue Eyes

8th Grade and Harold von Schmidt

Rembrandt of the Skies

The Funniest Man I’ve Ever Known

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part One”

Read “I’m Your Bunny, Wanda –Part Two”

Famous Artists Visit the Famous Artists School

Randy Remembers Tomi Ungerer

Randy’s Overnight Parade

The Bullpen

Famous Artists Schools

Dik Browne: Hot Golfer

Randy and the National Lampoon

Randy’s Only Great Idea

A Brief Visit to Outer Space

Enos, Love and Westport

Randy Remembers the NCS

Blog Syndicate

TRUE Stupid Stuff 2!

Here’s another new batch of my old TRUE cartoons from the 1990’s – at least the ones that look like they could still be true. This is from a batch about government.