Job Description:Simply put, the colorists job is to apply color to a comic book. This is easier than it seems though. Typically, the job is broken up into two parts, flatting and coloring. In the flatting process, the basic areas of color are blocked out so the colorist knows what spaces to color what. In the coloring stage, the colorist applies not only the color, but adds lighting and shading to help give the three dimensional feel that comic books are known for. The colorist helps the comic book to become a finished piece of art, and is an artist in their own right, needing very different kinds of skills than the penciller and inker need.
- Knowledge Of Color – The colorist needs to know how to use color. School training is helpful, but not necessary as many colorists learn as they go. You need to know what color looks like and how it changes under light and shadow.
- Artistic Mindset – A colorist is an artist, no question about it. It requires patience, practice, and some level of artistic skill. Knowing the theory as well as how to use color to get what you want will only make you a better colorist.
- Speed – The colorist is one of the last in the assembly process. Because of this, if there is problems in earlier stages, the colorist may have less time to complete their work. They are often required to keep the comic on the deadline and will need to develop the speed and endurance to finish work quickly, but maintain quality.
- Technological Skills – Nowadays, comic books are having more and more of the process done on computers. Almost all coloring is done on computers using complicated software programs. This is going to require the colorist to be comfortable with computers and software programs. Not to mention that the colorist doesn’t actually physically touch the art, but does it all with a scanned piece of artwork. These kinds of skills with technology are becoming more and more necessary.
Equipment Needed:Basic Equipment
- Computer – Most coloring these days are done on a computer, and a Macintosh computer at that. That isn’t to say that a Windows machine can’t serve you for your coloring needs, but the industry standard is the Macintosh. Knowing how to use a Mac will only help you get further in your career.
- Software – Since most comic books are done digitally and you will need a computer, you will also need the software to do the actual work. The most common one used today is Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. These programs are very powerful in what they can do with color and texture to the page. They are a must have, but are very expensive. Some free versions have come out recently, such as GIMP and Paint.net, but aren’t exactly the same thing.
- Wacom Tablet – Although this is probably a “must have” for most colorists nowadays, to get started you don’t have to have one. A Wacom tablet is a tool that allows you draw with a penlike stylus where the strokes are captured on the screen. This makes it very much like doing actual painting and drawing.
- Website – Having a way to sell yourself is key in the business of freelance work. A website will allow you to easily show potential clients your work. It will also enable you to network and keep in touch with others.
Some Comic Book Colorists:Dave McCaig