Coloring Comics on YouTube

Learn Comics Coloring on YouTube from a Pro

Colorist K. Michael Russell has an excellent channel on YouTube devoted to his profession, comics coloring.  As someone who reviews comics, I think they’re a must watch.  If you want to discuss the many facets of putting a comic together, you should know some of the techniques and technical details at each step along the way.

Comics coloring has always been a bit of a black art, in large part because there are so many different ways to do it.  Yes, most professionals use Photoshop, but after that, it’s pretty wide open, technically.  There are just as many techniques as there are styles.

At the core, though, there are certain fundamentals that can help your coloring. If you’re a reviewer, they’ll help you spot the problems in the coloring of a specific comic.  In his latest video, “How NOT To Color Comics – Part 4 – Lack of Value, Contrast,” (see below) Russell covers an issues I’ve seen a lot of over the years, mostly in less seasoned colorist’s work. It’s the tendency to color everything at the same level.  Things look muddy because everything looks too close together in colors.  Russell goes a step further, talking about the differences in value and contrast that a comic needs to be readable.

It’s one of the first things they teach you in photography: The eye is drawn to the area of greatest contrast.  The same is true in comic book images, and often that contrast is created in the colors. THAT’S why the colorist is a key part of the storytelling; having the right one to do the job well is so important.

Watch this 11 minute video to see Russell using real world examples to illustrate his points.  If you learn nothing from this as a creator, learn this: Convert your final colors to black and white to see how they look. It’s as important as an artist flipping a page horizontally to see how it looks. It’ll reveal a lot you might not expect.


More on How NOT To Do It

If you like that one, I’d also recommend the following videos for the theory, all from the “How NOT to Color Comics” series:

Just go ahead and subscribe to his channel.  It’s informative from start to finish.  He has lots of videos where you can watch over his shoulder as he colors, too, all sped up. He has some very technical tutorials, too, from watching your light angles to how to flat an image to how to set up your layers.

Finally, avoid the muddy colors, though this technique isn’t as handy if you aren’t working in CMYK:

(Hint: Everything is relative.)

Some On-Line Comics Coloring Classes

I’ve not taken any of the following classes.  I don’t even own Photoshop, to be honest.  I can’t personally vouch for any of them, but here are some available on-line comics coloring courses you can purchase today. If you know of any more, please tell me.  Use the comments below, drop me an email, or tweet at me.

If you’d prefer a dead tree publication, by the way, Hi-Fi has a whole book on the topic.  (Yes, that’s an Amazon affiliate link.)


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