Sunday, November 05, 2006
A thought about Color...
Before I go into my thoughts on WW #2 I wanted to say something about color. Color is really where the artist in me comes from. I love just amazing at how color works and am always experimenting with color especially on the computer.
Now you say with so much interest and experience with computer coloring for comics how come some pages of WW's #1 and #2 printed dark?
Rich Friend e-mailed me a week before the book went out, he was reviewing his advanced copies (I hadn't gotten mine yet) and informed me that the colors were dark for #2 and it was hard to see his inks. When I finally got my copies (two weeks later) I had to apologize to Rich and agree. So it was off to conferencing with Wendy the colorist and comparing our monitors with the actual printed comicbook pages. So we used that information to look at the color for #3. In #2 the blues were getting too dark and saturated (but looked fine on the monitor) and the reds were turning slightly grey and muddy. Unfortunately there were few blues in #3 to compare so final adjustment on the blues will have to wait til probably #4. #3 should be fine.
Now this may sound all kinda in exact...well it is. There are some standards in the industry and some benchmarks to check to see if colors are gonna get too dark BUT there are too many variables to be exact and precise everytime. The main culprit is the paper.
In the Image days (when money was like confetti) we got printers proofs which were one off prints of the books before the full print run was started. Therefore we could check things like if the black lines were matched with the color but more importantly to see if the colors printed anything like what they looked like on our computer monitors. Like I said the problem is paper. Paper is a finite resource and must be regulated or there soon will be no more paper. So paper quality is constantly changing. Now we may get use to a certain paper grade and the colorist has adjusted (thru months and months of comparing their files to the printed book to adjust their colors) then all of a sudden the paper changes and we have to readjust again. Nowadays we have no idea what paper is being used to print our books. Wendy was never informed what paper WW's was gonna be printed with. Now thats not an excuse that's just a reality.
The second culprit is our monitors. Go to look at expensive Plasma TV's standing next to each other and you'll find that these thousand dollars screens none of them have the same color and black and white contrast. More so for cheap computer monitors. There are calibrating devices out there but they cost alot of money and you have to constantly recalibrate them. I know of some advertising companies that calibrate everyday. Comics, let alone freelance colorist working out of their homes cannot afford that. So what do they do? They adjust...Alex Sinclair is so use to his bad monitor that he can look at it and it looks dark and muddy but he knows thats just his monitor and the book should print fine. But then again every now and then he gets a book and it doesn't do what he expected and its because a new paper was used.
Anyways, so what we are left with is like the old X-Men days where we do the best we can and then when the book goes to print we compare and adjust for the next issue and then compare that printed issue with how we adjusted and adjust again. Meaning it is a long and non-exact business.
Now to complicate matters more there's this thing of me loving to experiment with computer coloring. I was part of the three musketeers (Brian Haberlin, Alex Sinclair) that figured out how to use Photoshop to color comics. I am also a painter having been trained by Joe Chiodo. So I am constantly adjusting the way we color comics now to reach that as yet unattainable goal of replicating the painting technique in comcs. Nowadays it can be achieved (I mean the painting look) but not yet in such a standard that you can teach it to any new aspiring colorist and have them do it consistently day in and day out.
Now painting means giving the illusion of 3-dimensional form. To do that you must use a mix of saturated color to form the deep sides of an object, then you need color with little white added to it to give the illusion that the tops of objects are in your face. Unfortunately when you add white (or black) to a saturated color it starts to deaden the color and it gets flat. Primarily comics are colored using these flat colors, because they are so light that they allow the black ink lines to show, but because they are flat the overall effect is a flat object. I have found that the bigger the contrast between colors in an object the better the illusion of 3D form. Meaning if there is a big difference between the darkest color and the lightest color the more the overall realness of a drawing is. Unfortunately again the saturated colors needed for that contrast tend to be dark and cover up the ink lines that alot of people want to see. So it is a balancing act to say the least and the only way to test it, to perfect it is in the final print.
So yes it is ultimately my fault for all the pages that printed dark because I dictate the direction artistically this book goes. We are on this end trying everyday we can to adjust and adjust so that one day you'll all see exactly what I am seeing in my head art-wise...