A Very Different Coloring Method (than mine anyway)

Colorist Tamra Bonvillain is a friend of mine, and she has a VERY different method of coloring than I do. I thought it was pretty interesting, so I thought I'd do a video to explain the basic concepts anyway. 

Tamra paints on masked "Solid Color" adjustment layers with a different layer for each color. She also does some things grouping layers and combining them with Levels adjustments layers that I do get into yet. I'm still figuring it out too. 

This method does have some advantages, and I learned a lot trying to figure it out! I won't be changing to this method or or anything, but I do think I'll be using parts of this method for certain things. It's always good to learn new tricks.

Anyway, enjoy the video!

Coloring contest!

Hey! To celebrate 12,000 YouTube subscribers, I’m doing a coloring contest! The winner will be enrolled in my coloring course and receive a full portfolio review. Second place also gets enrolled. Third place… steak knives… just kidding, there’s no steak knives and no third place.

If you aren’t familiar with my course, you can read about it here: http://learn.comiccolor.com/courses/coloring-comics-dl

It’s very thorough--10 hours of tutorials, and it includes all of my Photoshop presets, settings, brushes, etc. It also has a syllabus, so you know it’s legit!

I don’t want you working too long on this, so it’s just one panel for fun. You can download the image here (kindly donated by pro penciller and colleague Max Dunbar (LEGENDS OF BALDUR’S GATE, RED SONJA, SLASH & BURN): https://www.dropbox.com/…/ColoringComics-coloring_contest_M… Click the three dots on the top right to download it.

I’ll be looking for clarity and focus more than fancy lights and shadows. Storytelling is what coloring comics is all about. Highlight what’s important; minimize what isn’t. No script here, so just assume the girl coming through the door is the focus of the panel. Hair/skin colors don’t matter. I won’t judge on things like that.

Post your entry by uploading a link to the image in a comment on this post. Do not email them. (I’ll also be seeing if you can follow instructions!) :)

The contest ends on June 20, and I’ll decide a winner shortly after that. Best of luck!

Source: https://www.facebook.com/kmichaelrussell/posts/1196463170372277

New interview from Graphic Policy

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


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. :) 


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! 

New video and new (vague) project news!

Hey people! I uploaded a new video tonight. This is a time-lapse recording of a page from TRANSFERENCE #4 for Black Mask Studios. I'm filling in for my friend and fellow colorist, Tamra Bonvillain

The artist in this issue is Toni Fejzula (VEIL). The writer is my former HACK/SLASH collaborator, Michael Moreci (HOAX HUNTERS, CURSE, ROCHE LIMIT). 

If you are wondering what I'm doing with Photoshop in the video around 1:15, I'm using a gradient map. I made a video about them once here. I use them to shift the colors around in interesting ways on an adjustment layer, then set the layer mode to COLOR, then adjust the opacity. I then use that as a base to start adjusting my base colors. 

Anyway, this project sort of fell in my lap suddenly, but I do have three new projects coming in 2016 that I can't say anything about yet, but one will be at Image, and the other two, IDW. All are creator-owned projects, and I'm very excited about them! I expect they'll start getting announced sometime in January 2016. UGH. :) 

Talk soon!


New video up on YouTube! Critiques & tweaks.

There's a discussion section in my coloring course in which I provide feedback and critiques for anyone that requests it, and I feel like it makes me a better colorist too to have to explain myself! I have to figure out how to verbalize why something doesn't "look right." 

In this YouTube video, I go over a few samples to show how sometimes slight tweaks can really make a big different in how a page reads. I'm already getting requests to do another, so feel free to send in your sequential examples, and maybe I'll do yours in an upcoming video! 

A flatting tutorial!

By popular request, a flatting tutorial video!  Flatters, sometimes called coloring assistants, break up all of the elements on the page into separate colors. It's sometimes called color separations. The colors themselves are irrelevant, but they make the colorist's job easier by allowing them to just select the areas with a magic wand, as opposed to re-lassoing everything when coloring.

There are many, many wrong ways for a flatter to flat pages. I'm constantly hearing from fellow colorists that have a hard time finding new flatters that know how to do it properly.

So I made this video to try to rectify that! I'm sure there's more than one correct way to do it, but this is my way, and I know it works!