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Old 06-29-2017, 10:01 PM   #1
Stewart Vernon
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SJV Coloring and Flats

Sometime a while back I started working on coloring the correct/preferred way, in Photoshop. In the past (and probably still with some things in the future) I've done most of my coloring along with the artwork in Illustrator because that was more natural to me... and then hand-drawn artwork I was coloring by hand. But, in order to explore more flexibility with my own work and enhance my ability to work with others, I started down the road to learning the accepted practices of digital coloring.

I'm still working on the more advanced stuff, but for a while now have felt I was pretty much nailing the flatting work... so I decided to go ahead and start a thread here in the coloring forum and start posting my work. I'll begin with a couple of recent samples of flatting that I've done.
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Old 06-29-2017, 10:03 PM   #2
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From a while back, when the Digital Webbing X-Men collaboration was going on... Rob Norton inked a Phoenix illustration penciled by Renae de Liz, and I snagged the hi-res source of that to use for coloring practice.

Here are the composited inks + flats as well as just the flats by themselves for comparison.



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Old 06-29-2017, 10:05 PM   #3
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I think it was last year there was that art and coloring competition... I snagged the hi-res source of the Jane character, but never posted or entered that contest back then. I wish I could remember the original artist's name so that I could give proper credit in this post.

Again, for comparison, the composited inks + flats followed by just the flats alone.



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Old 06-30-2017, 07:49 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stewart Vernon View Post
Sometime a while back I started working on coloring the correct/preferred way, in Photoshop. In the past (and probably still with some things in the future) I've done most of my coloring along with the artwork in Illustrator because that was more natural to me... and then hand-drawn artwork I was coloring by hand. But, in order to explore more flexibility with my own work and enhance my ability to work with others, I started down the road to learning the accepted practices of digital coloring.

I'm still working on the more advanced stuff, but for a while now have felt I was pretty much nailing the flatting work... so I decided to go ahead and start a thread here in the coloring forum and start posting my work. I'll begin with a couple of recent samples of flatting that I've done.
First, lets be clear, PS is a tool, and there is no correct or preferred way.

If you can provide interesting and quality coloring on time, with anything else, including finger painting, no one will stand in your way.

PS is just "standard" because it allows the need output, in file type, size, etc, and allows a diverse output, and allows it to be done so, in an time efficient manor.
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Old 06-30-2017, 07:59 AM   #5
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A quick look at the flats. Every colorist has specific wishes really. so, no two will ask for exactly the same needs.

Random colors vs correct/similar.
The jean grey for example. by picking the green/yellow outfit, and orange flames, you've influenced the color choices of the colorist. So, some colorists will ask you not to do this, to avoid this.

Hairline.
I'm not sure what others think here. do they rather fix it themselves?

overlapping cloth, features.
This is generally agreed upon. separate them. Her left hand. The sash should have like 5 colors. every time you see front/back. 2 colors. every time it folds over itself, another color.
The background flames as well. I'd make those two spikes above her separate. and the flames in front of her, that curl off to our right one as well.
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Old 06-30-2017, 09:26 AM   #6
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Thanks for the feedback!

When I was getting started, I got some definite vibes on best-practice process. Not just on tool preference (Photoshop) but on how to do the flats to create minimal glitches in the final work. I did see several different ways to setup the file, and a few different processes beyond the flatting for producing final colors... but most seemed to agree on general principles for flatting. I have Photoshop, so that's what I used. I know it is possible to color with other tools, though.

On the color choices... I've seen some flatters go neon or really random to be clear they aren't in any way choosing final colors. IF I'm working with another colorist I would ask them their preference before I started for just the reason you note. When I'm working for just myself, and especially as I'm planning to go back and use my flats to practice more advanced coloring finishes, it helps me to pick closer colors as I flat my samples.

The hairline... I didn't wonder about the hair, but I did wonder about the eyebrows and lips. Those weren't particularly closed in the Phoenix picture (the lips on Jane weren't either really) so there was some guesswork involved. I would have had to ask if the colorist wanted me to flat those or leave them alone. Good to know to ask about the hair as well.

Overlapping cloth and flames... I thought about it for the flames. That's another thing I would have asked if I was working with someone else. Depending on finishing technique, my breaking those flames into smaller segments could make it easier or more difficult, so I'd definitely ask. The cloth, though, is the one I really wish I had gone back and separated out more. I first thought about the overlapping part, for the bit on her right hip that goes behind the other part... and I did wonder about the folds. IF I were working with someone else, I'd definitely have broken the overlapping bits into their own colors by default. I would then have asked about the folds/twists. I've seen some colorists who just shade everything over the same base flat... then I've seen others who, as you suggest, apply their f/x work over flats of different colors for the different sides of the cloth. It's a case of making the work as easy for the colorist as possible, so I'd ask.

I basically have a working short-list that I would ask another colorist before flatting with them:

1. Do you want semi-appropriate colors for flats OR semi-random ones to not influence your coloring decisions?

2. Do you have style/color guides for characters to help guide the level of detail on costumes I need to breakdown to different colors?

3. For cloth folds, do you want visible opposite sides flatted a different color?

4. For less-defined areas (hairline, eyebrows, lips, etc.) what are your preferences for me to handle those?

5. Do you want the Photoshop PSD file or a hi-res TIFF?

6. Do you want the Inks/Blacks on an Alpha Channel or as a Layer?

The list keeps growing as I get feedback and discover new quirks.
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Old 07-01-2017, 10:29 AM   #7
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In a random twist of fate... I just yesterday was corresponding with someone over doing some flatting and asked my pre-setup questions...

This particular person wanted me to go ahead and pick appropriate colors as much as possible, not do the multiple visible sides of cloth as different bits, and said go ahead and take a stab at things like hairline.

So, you never know... who you're going to work with, when doing flatting... and what will make their job easier... which is why I keep building my list of questions to ask so I know if I need to do something differently for one colorist than another.
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Old 07-07-2017, 05:39 PM   #8
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Since I have permission to talk about it... not in detail, but just that I'm doing it... This week I've been flatting various pages for several different colorists working on the Tellos Mike Wieringo Tribute project. It's fun, but really hard work... lots of intricate and complex pages.

I can't show any samples right now or talk about details... probably when it gets published (Volume II out in September) I'll be able to post sample pages of what I've been doing.
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Old 07-18-2017, 12:42 PM   #9
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I've started keeping a layer of just the character silhouettes. One colorist specifically requested I do that, and I thought about it and since it just takes a few extra seconds to duplicate and lock/hide that layer... I made it part of my process.

Some colorists will use that to apply lighting/shading effects to the whole character as well as some level of individual detail to the other slices. I thought it was a good enough idea to just keep doing it for everyone and they can always ignore/discard that layer if they want.

Meanwhile... this week I got 4 more pages to color for the Tellos project. This time a new twist on the flatting. Not only was I asked to use appropriate colors as much as possible, but I was given lots of character reference to sample those colors and flat with the reference.

It goes to show you, asking the questions is worth it because different colorists have different needs and wants.

Whenever (assuming if ever) I am able to actually show the pages I've worked on down the road... it will be interesting contrast to show the pages I did with semi-random colors mostly and then these few from this week that are basically mostly appropriately colored and just lack the shading/lighting F/X work.
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Old 07-27-2017, 07:53 AM   #10
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I do often make new layers myself or that sort of thing. planes(forground, midground, background, extreme background). Figures.

Ask for more money, if they are asking you to do that.

I'll make a post showing that. wont put in your thread though.
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Old 07-27-2017, 08:51 PM   #11
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In this case, everyone (writers, artists, colorists, letterers, etc) were donating time... so pay wasn't a thing. It was well worth it for the contacts, the experience, the professional credit when the book comes out, and the coolness of being part of a tribute for a cool group of people in honor of a guy I really liked and was sorry to see pass...

But, yeah, my experience on the project taught me that IF I was pricing this kind of work for future paid projects... there has to be a range for it because some requests and some page content was quite a bit more complicated than others. It's not all equal value at the end of the day.
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Old 08-27-2017, 11:23 PM   #12
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So, while I wait to be able to show my work from the Tellos book... I realized I have a bunch of untapped line art that I could be coloring... and most of it is artwork that literally only a handful of people have ever seen. Some background...

My father, Edward Vernon, was a talented artist. He drew a lot of things, some of which are lost to time... but a lot of it I have and it needs to be scanned in for archiving and for showing to people. Many things he literally only drew for me or my mother so almost nobody has seen them.

He did work for many years as a Technical Illustrator, but I could never talk him into actually trying to make a run at professional comics work. I tried a bunch of times over the years... but then he passed away late in 2013, so that is never going to happen unless perhaps one day I'm able to be notable enough that I can publish a book of his works for the world to see.

In the meantime, tonight is the first of many. This is a picture that I'm pretty sure only myself and my mother (also passed away) have ever seen. When I was a kid, and my father was away on business, he would write letters home to me and to my mother... and often he would include special drawings for me.

I now present to you Video game Girl! First picture is inks + flats by me, and the second picture is just my flats.



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Old 08-28-2017, 05:10 PM   #13
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Here's another pin-up by my father (Edward Vernon) from when I was a kid. This one also incorporates a mini-letter to me as well. I'm pretty sure I did none of the things he asked me to do back then, though.

Kodakman! was partially inspired by insanity, and partially inspired by my father's job at the time with Eastman Kodak.

First picture is my father's inks + my flats together... second one is just my flats.



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Old 09-07-2017, 03:20 AM   #14
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FYI, did a paid gig yesterday... Can't talk about it or post it yet, but it's pretty cool. Might be a week or two before I can share the work as it is for something that hasn't been announced yet and I need to wait until that before I can talk about my bit.

On a bookkeeping note... I'm not going to say what I've charged for some paying work... but I am curious, especially about flatting... what people think is a fair rate. It's a LOT of work, but usually the colorist gets the lion's share of the pay and the flatter gets only a small bit.

I'm curious... assuming standard sized comic pages... how much is fair to ask for flatting:

1 average sequential page
1 pin-up style page
1 splash page (i.e. 2-pages that form one picture)

And.. do you vary your rates according to complexity of the pages? Especially if just doing 1 or 2 pages vs a whole book where the work might average out... Also, would you charge more for a cover or poster?

Just trying to get an idea on if I've been asking too much or too little. Sometimes I intentionally underbid things I want to work on or for a good cause, but I want to firm up my regular price points for other stuff as I get more going.
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Old 09-22-2017, 03:16 PM   #15
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I can finally start posting my Tellos flats now. Actually, I got permission a week or so back, but I told them even though the book was shipping already I wanted to wait until this weekend since they are doing some promotions this weekend at Baltimore Comicon, and I wanted to wait until that.

So, this weekend I'll start preparing pages to blog about and drop them in this thread as well.
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