The continuing adventures of my Tom Sawyer Blog
Matthew: It is most certainly an intentional device on my part. It’s color theory, and studying it makes doing my job so much easier. Knowing how to choose colors that will do what you want them to do, to direct a reader’s eye, to frame a scene, or elicit a certain response is crucial to good coloring. Good color theory can even make up for other shortcomings, like being inexperienced at rendering (adding textures, highlights and shadows to define form).
The biggest mistake I often see in aspiring colorists’ portfolios is their focus on rendering before they have a good grasp of color theory. I went to art school and majored in “Sequential Art”, which is a fancy name for a degree in comics. (I think it’s to get parents of perspective students in the door. If you called it majoring in comic books they’d probably never let the kids anywhere near the school.) Of course, I took a color theory class as part of my foundation classes, and then as required by my major, I took a “computer coloring for comics” class.
I don’t remember the exact number of assignments, but we weren’t allowed to do anything but color completely flat for the majority of the class. The professor wanted us to be able to tell a story using only flat colors. So, without the aid of lighting or texture or gradients, you had to choose your single flat color for each background, or each face, very wisely to get the most out of your choice. I remember I practiced on a lot of Mignola Hellboy pages and studied a lot of Dave Stewart’s flat colors on that book.
Anyway, the point is that the importance of color choice was made very clear to me when I first started coloring comics on the computer. Looking back, it was important to limit myself in a program that had limitless colors and tools to distract a novice colorist."