Hello, Silverline Family! I had the pleasure of chatting with industry newcomer Sid VenBlu. Sid is a fantastic colorist working on Trumps. Already possessing an outstanding portfolio and it won’t be long before she has a fantastic career in comics. In the following article, Sid talks about the first steps she takes when she opens up a brand new page to be colored.
The first steps are always the most important ones.
Coloring sequential pages is a little more than just coloring in the lines. I learned that not long after I officially entered the comic book industry. Color has to contribute to the linework, making sure it doesn’t overpower it, but also adds to the storytelling. Coloring has to be able to give the proper environment and make sure that the reader focuses on the right spots in each panel such as where the light should shine brighter or shadows should cast deeper shadows.
But before jumping into adding any special effects and knockouts, it’s really important for me to understand what has to be done in the first steps after opening the comic page in the coloring program. More than once, I’ve found myself having to redo a whole bunch of work because I made a sloppy start in the file, so in order to avoid that I made my own system that I’ll explain.
Before anything I want to make sure that all my needed files are open, that being the script, page and one or two already colored pages (I use Clip Studio, but this can perfectly work with photoshop and other programs). Once I start working I do not want to cut my flow. It is also the same when making sure that you have all you need in your work area, coloring takes time and consumes pretty much my whole day, so If I want to get things done, I’d better not interrupt my workflow.
Now that I got all I need I analyze the page and notice the important parts of it. If the page has a big character reveal then that would be the most important panel and it’s what you want to highlight the most. In a layer below the inks I make a layer only dedicated to the flat colors, and for that, I use a sharp brush tool, with anti-aliasing to the minimum or just disabled, That way the edges of the colors will be sharp and won’t blend together, so I can grab the color I want to work on without missing pixels or having odd borders. Choosing the color palette right now is not my main priority, since what I want to do first is to figure out what should be brighter or darker depending on the focus point on each panel, and for that, you can go with just gray tones.
It’s also important to go from macro to micro. For example, divide the sky from the floor; then the people standing on the floor, then the clothes of the person and then the facial details, that way you make sure there are not loose pixels here and there, and it’ll help you keep track of the flats on the page. Once I consider the flats done and all the elements properly separated I can start the next step of coloring. More than once I’ve had to go back to the flats layer in order to better separate a character from the background. Doing this has helped me skip unnecessary steps more than once.
Flatting can be a very tedious job, it takes time and figuring out all the different pieces of each page, as a colorist I am always eager to add the magic touches and those fancy glows over metal surfaces. But when having to work with several pages and open files, proper setup and flats are what has been keeping me from having to color pages all over again.
These first steps are very important to me considering I am in my first steps as a colorist in the industry. Learning has been constant trial-and-error, but I’m always taking a step forward.