Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thoughts On Color

So you know what I've been really into lately? Color!

Paw Prints Sample 3

I feel that in the past, coloring drawings has mostly been more of an obligation for me than something I generally enjoyed. I mean, don't get me wrong, I do like when things are in color, and coloring has never been a huge chore or anything. I've even often been fairly happy with the end results. But until recently I've never really gotten into the act of coloring a drawing the same way I've gotten into the act of drawing it. And now that's started to change.

There are probably multiple factors that contribute to this shift, but I feel like one of the big ones is the fact that I've been getting really into Dave Stewart's coloring on BPRD. In the past, when coloring something, I've known that you probably want to have a baseline color for the object, and a darker shade of that same color for the underside and the parts that might be covered in shadow. Stewart takes this a couple steps further though. It's not a matter of just base color and shade - he'll often have a base color, a shade, a darker shade, and a separate shade for the light reflecting off of it. On average there is always at least three different levels of shades to an object at a given time! And this is different then using a gradient or anything like that too. Each level of shading constitutes a solid object unto itself. This is shading in layers! And it looks awesome!

Yes, I realize this is pretty much just an interesting shading technique. But it strikes me as embodying an approach to coloring that makes a lot of sense to me. It's like sculpting with color! Coloring by degrees. And it makes the whole coloring process a much more deliberate affair. I think the reason I haven't enjoyed coloring as much in the past is because all I've been doing is putting color on the drawings - which themselves are already completed. I haven't been sufficiently involved. With this approach, however, it's not just adding color, it's adding something to the drawing itself! You're adding further depth to it (both figuratively and literally). And the act of coloring thus becomes something closer to a continuation of the act of drawing, not just flatly coloring it in, but giving further life to it!

Anyway, I'm not sure if that fully makes sense or is exciting to anyone else. Maybe I'm just pointing out something super obvious, that I'd somehow never noticed before. But still it's exciting for me. And it makes me actually want to color things more. So I figure that overall, it can't be all that bad a thing.

Paw Prints Sample 4


  1. I think that framing it in terms of sculpting colour is pretty cool, and that has me thinking differently about shading technique...and while it likely won't increase the colouring that I'm doing, I can think of friends of mine who might find themselves inspired to do more colouring based on this different thought context.

    I'd also like to gently remind us all:
    Polar bears - they'll eat you alive.

  2. Yeah, haha, I keep going back and forth over whether what I'm getting excited about here is genuinely innovative and interesting or not. But I think the way it serves as a new way to frame an approach to color is the key. Different thought contexts, you hit it right on the head.

    Heh, and yes. This is why I wake up every morning happy that I am safe in my bed, instead of in the killing grounds of Churchill, Manitoba.

  3. I'd take you more seriously if you learned how to spell colour correctly. :P Too many years in an American school, I guess! You are improving every time I check out your blog. Awesome and congrats!

  4. Haha, you have no idea how much time I spent trying to decide how I was going to spell "color" in this blog post. I think I ultimately went for the American way because it's shorter. I *still* haven't decided whether I'll be using American or Canadian spelling of words for the graphic novel I'm currently working on. Because it's set in the States? But there's at least one Canadian character? Decisions!

    Heh, also thanks! :)

  5. Well, depends on who you think your target audience is going to be. If you are trying penetrate the American market, it might not be a bad idea to spell things in the American way OR you could have two sets of graphic novels, one going to the US market and the other going to the rest of the world (the Americans, to the best of my knowledge, are the only country that spell like that). Just an idea!