New interview from Graphic Policy

Graphic Policy did an interview with me on coloring and my course! Check it out here: 

https://graphicpolicy.com/2016/05/12/an-interview-with-colorist-k-michael-russell/

New tutorial series starting: How NOT to Color Comics!

I'm starting a new tutorial series on YouTube called How NOT to Color Comics! 

I'll be talking about a lot of common mistakes--most things I used to do at some point.... haha... 

Check out this week's video here on AIRBRUSH EVERYTHING MODE! :) 

Answering an FAQ about breaking in as a colorist

Since the announcement of a new Image Comics project I'm coloring, GLITTERBOMB, with writer Jim Zub (THUNDERBOLTS, WAYWARD, SKULLKICKERS, et al), I've been asked a few times about how to "break in" with Image. I need a post to point people too. :) 

I'm no grizzled vet or anything myself. I'm still a relative rookie compared to a lot of other colorists, and there isn't really a formula for "breaking in" of course, but this is my two cents.

First off--a little background... 

Image isn't really one thing. Their books are owned by the creators of the respective titles, and Image (the company) doesn't really put teams together or hire colorists directly--or at least not in my experience. 

Usually the creators will put together a team themselves and pitch the book with the team already in place. So there's no one single place to submit portfolios or anything.

Back in December of 2013, I didn't have many credits under my belt at all. My friend, writer, and former collaborator Mark Bertolini posted on Facebook that Jim Zub was looking for a colorist for a new creator-owned project. Mark and I did a pitch together once.

Jim had posted about it on Twitter and his blog. The post is still up here: http://www.jimzub.com/colorist-wanted-coloring-notes/ 

And the Twitter post: 

I barely even used Twitter at the time, but I sent my portfolio (along with about 100 others--I later found out). Shortly after that, I was selected to work on this pitch! I was actually his second pick, but the first pick's schedule didn't work out. That was my introduction to Jim Zub. 

The pitch wasn't picked up unfortunately, but I stayed in touch--checking in every few months. Jim's long-time letterer Marshall Dillon forwarded my name to Jim again in September 2015 to work on the GLITTERBOMB pitch. 

Every series I've ever worked on started the same way.

I colored a four page short for Tim Seeley for Black Mask Studios in late 2013 on the recommendation of a penciller I'd worked with previously on... yep, another short. I colored yet another short written by Tim for IN THE DARK after trying out for Rachel Deering. I wouldn't have known about that project if it weren't posted on Facebook by one of the first writers I ever collaborated with -- Magnus Aspli. I started coloring Tim's HACK/SLASH a few weeks after all that.

Another four-page short I colored led into a on-going monthly series. This hasn't been announced yet. More on this soon.

So it's a small industry. Everybody seems to know everybody else. I guess the moral of the story is that no job should be too small. You never know where it might lead. Befriend other creators. Hit your deadlines. Be nice. Be patient. 

If it takes you five years to work for a major publisher, are you still interested? That will separate most beginners that "make it" from the one's that don't. 

I hope this helps someone! Best of luck. :) 

 

New project announcement: GLITTERBOMB

Hey people! I just closed on a new house on Monday, and I'm in the process of packing and moving, but I wanted to take a second to announce my new project! 

It's called GLITTERBOMB, and Image Comics will be publishing it! Jim Zub is writing. Djbril Morisette-Phan is drawing. Marshall Dillon is lettering, and I'm coloring! 

Here's some articles on the project: 

AV Club
CBR
Bleeding Cool
JimZub.com
Hollywood Reporter
Geekdad.com
Down The Tubes

Here's some of the promo images. 

Here's a quick YouTube video on GLITTERBOMB and a new option on my coloring course... live classes! 

Anyway! I have to get back to packing! 

Want critiques? Do sequential pages!

If you are coloring for fun and have no interest in becoming a colorist, that's great, and this post is not for you. Color whatever you want! :)

Coloring pinups is fun and easy, and I remember practicing on them when I first got a tablet, but they can't show how well you can tell a story, and that's what editors want to see. That's what coloring in comics is. A pinup is a single image, by the way... like a cover or splash page or just a single drawing. Comic book pages are generally made up of sequential art... pages with multiple panels.

I actually like giving critiques. Weirdo, right? I wish I received more of them early on myself. If you've asked me for a critique, and I didn't give one or you got a very short one, I was either really busy at the time, or you sent me a pinup. NOTE: I can't do critiques for everyone that asks anyway, but sending a pinup guarantees you won't. 

There's actually very little one can tell about a colorist from a pinup. As long as your lighting is passable, that's pretty much it. Rendering styles just aren't that important in the big picture.

Can you create focal points on a page? Can you minimize what isn't important? Can you highlight what is? Can you create drama? Can you evoke a mood? Can you clarify scene or location changes? Can you highlight an important moment? Can you create depth and atmosphere? Can you separate your planes (foreground, mid-ground, background)? Are you consistent from page to page? That's what someone looking to hire you needs to see! 

Anyway, this isn't a knock on anyone here doing pinups for fun, but they are useless in a coloring portfolio, so why not work on something that CAN go in a portfolio?

And don't mean for this to come off as a rant, but after the 3rd tweet, email, or comment this week wanting critiques on a pinup, I had to reiterate this somewhere! :)

Happy colorin',

KMR

A common question: How many pages per day do you color?

Hey people, 

One of the questions that I get often in YouTube comments, emails, or from students in my coloring tutorial course is: 

How long does it take you to color a page?

I probably average between 1.5 - 2 hours per page. There are always a few outliers that go faster or even way slower, but that's probably pretty close to my average. 

Many people usually respond to this and get discouraged at how they don't think they'll ever get that fast. The speed comes with time. It's not something that you can rush. I've been coloring comics with Photoshop for over ten years now, and I'm still finding shortcuts all the time. 

Many beginner colorists also feel the need to render everything on a page with an equal amount of detail. This will slow you down dramatically and is rarely necessary. Focus your rendering where it's important! Faces, hands, focal points. Keep everything else relatively simple. That's not saying to not render at all, but if you think I'm going to spend as much time rendering the flower pot in the window in the background as I do on the face of a character, you'd be wrong. :) 

I might do a video on this soon, but I hope this helps someone! 


Post-Pensacon 2016 photo dump

Pensacon 2016 was great! Met a ton of great people. Did many sketches! Rocket and Groot were very popular this year. I saw tons of VIP t-shirts! Lots of top-notch cosplay. 

Here's a bunch of pictures: 

Hopefully, Pensacola figures out the local politics in involved, so we can do it again next year! Here's Pensacon's post on the situation.