When people talk about taking a short cut, it generally comes with a connotation that it's a weaselly or cheap action to pull. If it is a case where doing so is bending or breaking the rules than a short cut is understandably frowned upon (I'm looking ay YOU Wario Stadium in Mario Kart 64!). Although for making a comic page it seems like the only rule is 'have a finished page' and there aren't really any rules that are pertinent to achieving this goal. Like the Metroid Prime tag-line said; "Use everything at your disposal, dispose of everything." That is if 'disposing of everything' means finishing comic pages (What is it with the video game references today?).
With the rise of digital technology, more ways of taking short cuts have become available for us. With this, the term "Cheating" has been used for taking advantage of these tools. Now, if you only use physical pencils/inks/paints/dyes and use them to maximum efficiency and the desired quality, then that's totally cool, but I don't think that using a computer trick should be viewed as cheating any more than using a q-tip to spread ink around more quickly than your #2 brush.
When it comes to comic art, there are two realities that we have to accept;
One: We can't spend an eternity on each piece we do.
And Two; It's better to spend more of our energy on the creative aspects of a project than the tedious parts.
I can see the argument that comic art/literature can be viewed as a fine art that an artist could spend copious amounts of time pouring his passion onto every page, but from my personal perspective, doing it that way is pretty unreasonable. It can take a couple years to make enough content to create one graphic novel and I don't see why I should spend more than that instead of moving onto the next new idea. While working under deadlines can feel like hell, I could argue that it forces one to be more creative to get the desired effect in a limited amount of time.
Now to explain my second point, let's go back to what I said about the "long way around flatting" that I brought up in the first paragraph. For anyone unfamiliar with this digital technique, flatting is where the colorist lays down flat colors on a layer underneath the line art so the different elements of the piece are separated and organized before the shading and rendering happens. Now selecting the base color for a given subject can take mere seconds, but for the longest time, these flats needed to be applied manually. Whether it be using the pen or free select tool (which I don't find very efficient) or painting them in with the brush or pencil tool (slightly more efficient). Either way, doing it this way leads to several hours being spent on just 'placeholders' for where the real creativity will happen. Through my internet browsing I came across a plug-in called 'Multi-Fill' which automatically finds closed off shapes to drop in random colors throughout a line art piece. Then once it's done you can just use the Paint Bucket to fill each spot with the color you want. I stared using this filter on page 42 and onward and it has been a huge time saver. I used to spend much more time in the flatting process then I did on the shading and rendering, and thanks to this automated filter, that has now reversed. So now I can focus more on the artistic part of the coloring rather than the utilitarian part.
To sum things up, if taking short cuts is wrong, then I don't want to be right (groans at the cliche saying). Making art like comics is a lot of work and if there is something that you come across that can help take the weight off your shoulders, You shouldn't feel bad about using it to your advantage. And with that said, this discovery makes the beginning of chapter 3 feel a little more exciting.
Thanks for reading,