Towards a More Integrated Coloring Process

At SPX, I was talking to Brendan Leach, and after we had covered the topics of beards and the sad state of our respective baseball teams, we began to talk about coloring. Coloring (along with design) is one of my least developed skills. While I have been playing with black in on white paper since high school, color is something that I have only begun to really work with in the last five years. I think I have gotten to a point where my coloring is acceptable.

But as can be seen with this drawing of Steel, my coloring is mainly an afterthought. I am only filling in  blocks that I have made with my lines. It looks good, but this is really coloring on the coloring book level. What I would really like to do is get to a point where the coloring is a much more active part of the creative process. My skills are not there yet, but I am working on it.

And here is a little practice:

First I took a photo with photo booth.

Then I created a new layer and using the photo as a guide did some four tone coloring using the lasso tool in Photoshop.

Then I hid that four tone green layer and created a new layer. This time I just did some line work using the pencil tool in red.

Hid that red line layer. Drew a blue line layer.

Hid that blue line layer. Did a darker blue line layer with some heavier blue lines for my hair.

Then hid that darker blue line layer, created a new layer, and used the polygon lasso to create some color blocks.

Hid that color block layer, created a new layer and hit my lips up with the polygon lasso and a little pink and purple..

And then made all those layers visible and start playing with the opacities until I like the way it looks.

I like the results, but there is a definite lack of control in terms of what the final image looks like, which if this were to be applied to the coloring of a comic would be a serious problem. Also, in my mind, using a photograph is cheating because the photorgraph (which was taken by a computer) is guiding me a great deal. Ultimately, I would like to be free of any reliance on an outside image.

But that will take practice.