What is a colorist? (Hint... it's more than staying in the lines.)

Kurt Michael Russell
A free video tutorial from Kurt Michael Russell
Professional colorist & art instructor
4.7 instructor rating • 12 courses • 38,763 students

Learn more from the full course

A Pro's Guide to Digital Comic Book Coloring

Learn the entire process start to finish in Photoshop. Coloring is so much more than just staying inside the lines.

06:08:53 of on-demand video • Updated January 2020

  • Learn everything from the very basics of layering to finishing pages with special effects.
  • Understand color theory as it applies to comic art.
  • Master the art of storytelling as you learn about plane separation, strategic rendering, and the importance of value and contrast in your pages.
  • Learn effective techniques for adding color to line art in different styles from traditional lasso "cut and grad" style and more.
  • Learn which layer modes work best for different effects.
  • Learn tips on portfolio building, finding work as a colorist, and collaborating with other creators.
  • Save time with tons of tips, tricks, and shortcuts that are critical to working in production of comic art.
  • Students will be more confident in their coloring abilities and have a solid understanding of what color in comics really is.
  • Students will understand how pro colorists think about color in comics and sequential art.
English [Auto] All right so I want to do a short video just to describe a little bit about what a colorist does and is for those of you that may not be fully aware of how the colors fits into the comic book creation process here. So typically first of course a writer is going to write the script and then you're going to have to bring the bring the star to the artist and an artist is going to you know interpret that script into line art and pages and pages of art. So. And you'll get something like what we're seeing here is a page from a recent project I did drawn by a guy named Kevin Hart. And so usually a lot of books these days are still penciled in then. But more and more and more it seems like artists are inking themselves. So you make get two guys you know hands on between the writer and the colorist. But either way doesn't really matter once it gets to us either it's going to be inked or it's going to just maybe type pencils even the pencils are clean enough. They don't necessarily even have to be ink so. But you'll get a page like this and it's a colorist job to really enhance that page with color. So like I said this is of a recent project I did. I didn't get all that. Everything turned on here. And if you don't know what all these things are don't worry about it we're going to cover all these different layers and a little bit later in the course so. But it's it's our job to get the page to flow in and get your eye moving to the right places in each panel you know coloring it's not just will stay in the lines you know that's how a little kid colors a coloring book or a coloring book I should say but but in comics it's our job to help make sure that the right focus is in the right places on the right page. And to make sure that the eyes moving from panel the panel as it should. And you know what. In each panel is important. You know what's not important. You know for example and we'll talk about this in depth a little later but I want to give you guys kind of a taste. So this panel here and let me get something I can scribble on here. This panel you know if you're just looking at this in black and white it's really not clear what's important on this in this panel. Yeah you've got a guy sitting over here but it's not like he's drawing your attention or anything. You know that's what a Course does. Even with just the base colors with all the effects and everything you know sort of you know lit this guy up over here and and the whole panel is important. But now your eyes immediately drawn to the guy sitting there so that's a couple of things that are not obvious about the chorus does that I kind of wanted to touch on with you guys but setting the mood of the page setting the atmosphere clarifying scene changes from you know this is another book I did recently. You can use color to separate you know time passing or locations changing. You know we'll talk about that in a storytelling lecture because as a colorist you are a storyteller whether you realize it or not you know getting certain you know certain panels to pop you know getting them to get your attention more than the others if it's a moment of great impact you know so. So I just want to give you guys a brief taste of just a little bit of what we would be talking about him what a colorist does. Once the coldest finishes up it's typically sent off to the letter and he goes in and puts the boxes and everything on there. So but the other thing I wanted to mention is the things you get in this course you'll be able to apply into other areas and not just in comics but whether you want to do pen of art or cartoons or just color your own artwork you know so give you a lot of flexibility and we'll talk a little bit about color theory as well and that applies to all types of art whether you're painting or drawing or using pastels or traditional media or whatever it is so sweet way. That's it for this lesson. I'll see you guys in the next.