For those who are interested or just plain curious, I explain my tedious manga translation technique for non-Japanese speakers, share some of my Photoshop techniques, as well as some handy C# programs I wrote for personal use!
Hi, I’m Floating Sunfish! Thanks for showing interest in my translation process for Mitsudomoe. Before we begin, we must first address a very important issue with your Taskbar.
First, it must have the Language Bar (the “EN” I marked in a red box):
Also, when you click it, JP Japanese (Japan) must be available.
If your Taskbar is the same as mine, you can skip to the next section. If not, read on.
To enable Japanese Input:
- Go to your Control Panel
- Go to Clock, Language and Region
- Click Change keyboards or other input methods. A new window should pop up.
- Under Keyboards and Languages, click Change keyboards… Another window should pop up.
- Click Add…
- Look for Japanese, click on its Plus(+) sign, and put check marks on everything except Show More… (Note: Don’t worry about Ink Correction if it’s not available.)
7. Click OK, and you’re done!
Now that your keyboard can convert Alphabetic characters to Japanese, the next step I would recommend is that you get a good Text Editor or Word Processor. Personally I just use Notepad++, but you can also use MS Word or any other program of your choice.
Now, let’s try entering a few Japanese characters, shall we? First, open up the program you intend to enter text in, and with it being the Active Window (meaning it’s the last thing your mouse has clicked on), click on EN on your Taskbar and select JP. Your Taskbar should look like this whenever you click on your desired Text editor:
Now, click on your Text editor again and this time on your Taskbar, click on the “A”. You should see the following choices:
For those of you not familiar with the Japanese language and JLPT N0’s like myself, Hiragana means the basic characters of the Japanese alphabet that are commonly used for Japanese words. They look like this:
Meanwhile, Katakana are basically the same as Hiragana, except that they are commonly used for borrowed foreign words, or words that don’t come from any particular language (like made-up, foreign-sounding ones). They look like this:
These will be our bread and butter for translating manga. I don’t recommend trying to memorize them since you will be familiar with them soon enough as you use them in your translation work. Application is the best kind of practice, after all.
Now then, click on Hiragana (the “A” should change into an “あ” symbol) and let’s get back to our Text editor. Let’s try typing something easy, like “Syousei wa tsukareta na…” (Man, I’m tired…) [Note: don’t press Space yet!]. Try to get something that looks like this:
You’ll notice that I used “Ha” (は) instead of “Wa” (わ) in the sentence above. That’s because in Japanese sentences, “Ha” is pronounced “Wa” when used as a particle. Anyway, press Space and it’ll change into something like this:
That’s the power of Window’s Japanese Language Bar. With it, you can type any Japanese you want in either Hiragana or Katakana (it doesn’t really matter which one you choose, but Hiragana is definitely the easier choice), press Space, and watch it turn into the proper Kanji!
(Note: Kanji is the hardest part of learning Japanese, and since there are literally thousands of them, sometimes even students don’t know how to read them! That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try, though. Japanese may be hard, but worth learning if you plan to go into Translation.)
Of course, life isn’t perfect so it won’t always pick the correct Kanji to show. Let’s try choosing which Kanji we want next. Try typing “Syousei wa tsukareta na…” again and press Space, but this time, look at the lines under the sentence:
That’s right! It can detect individual words, too! Let’s move the cursor over to the last word, 疲れたな, and press Space.
Now we can choose which Kanji we actually want for our sentence! With these techniques, we can literally translate every Kid’s Manga on the market.
Yes, you heard me. Kid’s Manga. There’s a reason this technique won’t work for manga for older audiences (especially doujins), and it should be rather obvious:
Notice those tiny Hiragana characters next to the Kanji in the Kid’s Manga? They’re called Furigana — characters placed next to Kanji to help younger readers understand how to read them. Without these Furigana in the Doujin image above, translating manga for older audiences will be hard work for amateurs like ourselves. But you can always head over to Jisho.org and utilize its Radicals feature like I do to build the Kanji piece by piece — or study Japanese for a couple of years. Whatever works for you.
Anyway, now that we can replicate the Japanese text exactly as they appear in the manga, we can now head on over to Google Translate (I know, it’s not perfect, but let’s make the most of what we’ve got) or Jisho.org, paste the results in and hope for the best:
Try to play around with the word groupings and see what gives you the most coherent meaning. Google Translate can usually handle everything in one line, while Jisho is best used for translating individual words. Let’s say that we managed to decipher the cryptic results above and came up with this:
“Which means you’ll have to give me lots of free service!!”
With the translation in our hands, we can head on over to Photoshop (or any image editor of your choice — Photoshop just makes things way easier), add a new Layer, cover the Japanese text with a little white paint, and we’re good to go!
But what if the text just doesn’t fit in the panel, or it HAS to be in a large font size or it won’t have the same impact?
Simply select your Text layer like so…
Click on Photoshop’s handy Layer Effects icon at the bottom of the Layers Tab…
Select Outer Glow…
And use these settings:
Voila! You’re done!
Well, that takes care of the easy stuff, but what about panels that look like this?
Well, shoot… We can’t just cover THAT up with white paint… We’re gonna have to try something else. That’s where Photoshop’s Clone Tool comes in.
The Clone Tool
The Clone Tool is a very handy tool; a must-have in any Digital Translator’s arsenal:
With it, we can replicate a portion of an image and use it as if it were paint in a paint brush! But first, select the Clone Tool and make sure its settings are like the ones below:
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that Aligned is unchecked (if it isn’t, you’ll slowly be repainting the image from where you take your sample, so just keep it unchecked). With this, we can Select a portion of an image by hovering over it with the Clone Tool (you can resize it with the “[” and “]” keys), holding the Alt key so it changes into a target icon, and while still holding down the Alt Key, click on the part of the image you want to use to cover up the text. Once you have your “sample,” you can let go of the Alt key and proceed to cover up the text with individual clicks (dragging your mouse to Paint over it like a brush is not recommended). I advise you to change samples depending on what area of the image you’re trying to cover up. You should end up with something like this:
And with that, you can now proceed to add your text with an Outer Glow to it so it doesn’t blend too much with the background.
Alright, that’s all for today. Keep on reading for a couple of useful apps I wrote for personal use that might come in handy in your translation work or life in general!
Miscellaneous C# Apps
Hunspell Hyphenation Tool
First up is what I feel to be a must-have for anybody doing English translation work: a decent offline Hyphenation Tool.
I used to head on over to Ushuaia.pl to get my English words properly hyphenated (fitting those things into panels meant for Vertical text is not easy, lemme tell you… Plus, I’m quite OC with my grammar, even with hyphenations), but after losing my internet connection for the umpteenth time (and searching on Google for an offline alternative, but to no avail), I got fed up and decided to write my own Hyphenation program for times when my service provider fails me yet again, or I’m at a place without any Internet connection. It’s based on the Hunspell spell checker (the one Libre Office uses, if you’re familiar with it).
You can get it here:
You just type in the word and hit Enter or click on the Big Button:
Battery Alarm 40-80% Version 3.0
Next up is a handy little app I wrote on Valentine’s Day for those working on a laptop like myself (man, being single sure is fun). It has since been updated recently to Version 3 which lets you use your own custom Alarm sounds as well as disable them. Please note that it only accepts WAV files at the moment, and also to keep the duration of your sounds to just a few seconds, as there is currently no way to stop playing long songs.
You can get it (including the source code) over at Codeplex.
It helps keep your laptop’s lithium ion battery healthy by alerting you when it’s 80% while charging, or 40% while on batteries (you can adjust these numbers as you see fit, but 40 and 80 are considered the best ones). Also, it will notify you when your laptop is at 100% so it doesn’t get overcharged — and since the alarm won’t stop ringing every ten seconds, there’s a Shut Up feature that you can tick so it’ll stop making so much noise until you find a charger handy.
Man, was that a long post. Hope this helps anyone looking on how to translate manga without much knowledge of the Japanese language, or just showed you what translating a manga for a complete amateur is like.
Alright, that’s all from me for now. Time to work on the next chapter!
Floating Sunfish out!
One thought on “Translation Tutorial, Photoshop Tricks, and C# Apps!”