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Essays From The Arm Chair: Color In Comics

super...super... __BANNED USERS regular
edited February 2008 in Artist's Corner
so i have started to write some about "ART" here is my first rant

here are my two cents on “color theory” or the use of color in comics. “Color theory” for the most part is a terribly vague subject with many contradictions and lose ends. Here is what I think people should keep in mind when using color in comics.

Eye movement
You need only look at the first page of Bone in B&W and color to understand how much color can effect how a readers eye moves not only from panel to panel but much more importantly from subject to subject within each panel. In the B&W bone the eye starts at the mountain’s shadow and moves clockwise around the panel actually reading contrary to the normal left to right direction until you reach the first word bubble. In the color bone the eye starts at the nap sack because it’s bright color stands out against the desert and catches the eyes attention first. Just as the eye is draw to the spot of white on a black page, the eye will be drawn to a bright color on a pale page and vise versa. Controlling a readers eye movement in this way makes a book easy to read.

Literal colors Vs non literal colors
Literal colors are colors that represent the actual color of the subjects portrayed in a scene. If a page has not been designed to read well with literal colors it can be difficult to read, this is why some comics that look really good can read like crap. Just like a B&W artist must make sure they are staging their characters in the proper positions in a panel to read correctly a literal color comic must be sure to stage it’s most noticeable colors in the proper positions in a panel. A master of literal color would be someone Alex Ross.
Popular with earlier pulp comics and import comics, non literal colors are colors that do not necessarily represent the color of the subjects portrayed in an image. This style of coloring generally relies on impressionistic sensibilities to chose what color things should be. It is generally easer to compose a comics page using non literal colors as you can adjust a subject’s color so that the eye looks at it in the right sequence. A master of non literal colors would be someone like Moebius.
Combining both types of colors is changeling but can prove rewarding, if done incorrectly it will leave the audience confused about why everything keeps on changing colors. If done correctly you wind up with compelling and dynamic imagery that reads well.

The problem with “Color Theory”
The use of rules pertaining to specific colors, hues, or saturations, lies much more in an artist choice of style or a time periods taste then it does in discovering some type of universal law of color. Over the years color theory has changed and morphed right along side the passing trends and fashions of the people who were making it up . Not that developing your own theory or use of color is a bad thing, just know that it’s really all up to your style.

lets make super thread about the use of color in comics... GO!

this essay was prompted by Web comics weekly 25

super... on
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