What I have been doing for the past six weeks

I have been really busy. First I finished printing and cutting and binding HellBound it should go on sale shortly. I have been working very hard on comic pages. I will post more on that in a minute. I was at MICE over the weekend. It was great. Sold some comics and one HellBound Collectors Edition. I will have some pics up of the finished book with in the next days. I will try to post more frequently over the next 6 weeks, at least once week but today I am going to talk a little about color theory. I have been teaching color theory for a few years now and I think that it is about time that I apply what I know about it to comics. This is an example of what I call the old masters pallet. If you look at following Rembrandt painting you can see that Rembrandt is using a very limited pallet.

He is using a very dark red like a Alizarin Crimson, a warm Yellow Ochre, Lamp Black, and Lead White.
Now In my Color Theory Course at the New Hampshire Institute of Art this is the first Pallet that I have students work with in order to figure out how to use color effeiciently. I recently scanned in a copy of the pallet then I used the select tool in Photoshop to remove texture and flatten the color.

This Pallett consists of Magenta, Yellow Ochre, Lamp Black and Titanium White. All of the other colors you see are a result of mixing all these colors in various amounts. This pallet relies heavily on color relationships, and black as the optical blue. If you look at the gray at the top of the pallet you will see that it looks almost blue. This is a result of color relationships. All these ideas are based on the theory of Color Harmonies by color theorist Faber Birren and Simultaneous Contrast By Michel Chevreul. If you use Simultaneous Contrast you place colors next to each other in order to effect how the appear. If you put a Red- Orange Color on a Red it will look more like orange, or Vice Versa. Color Harmonies rely on the the use of limited color with wide variations in tone (hue+gray) Tint (hue +white) Shade (hue+black).
Now, most people (like me ) use the Photoshop default palletes when they first attempt to color comics. And I have noticed that when I started to color comics almost completely forgot how relationships worked It seemed that I just saw that pallet and though “ Hell Yeah! No more mixing paint!!” But in reality the mixing paint part help train your brain to intuitively see color relationship. I have learned that if you just “pick” the colors laid out for you. As a result we have a tendency to choose poorly, for example:

In Box Brown my, first attempt at coloring comics, I went crazy with the color. I was very specfic in choosing local color, ( local- the actual color in or around the area) when the sky is blue, I make it Blue. If the grass is Green I make it Green and so, on. So with some soul searching (because It took a bit to realize that I got it wrong on Box Brown). SO I did what all teachers would benefit from doing all the time and what I should have been doing.
I scanned in a pallet of colors mixed from the old masters pallet and used it. And used it to color the following page.

The moral of this story is, be creative and use your color efficiently. Practice what you preach.

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2 comments on “What I have been doing for the past six weeks
  1. Yes! Yes! Yes. Wonderful to see the Rembrandt colors. This is awesome.

  2. Alice L says:

    Loved this! It seems so obvious, but only after I read it!

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