Nov 18 2009

Prospective Colorist #1: Emily

Published by at 6:17 am under Art,Making Art

Emily is the first of three prospective colorers that I’m evaluating for my comic book series. What do you think about this page?  (Note: if it’s cut off, just right click it and hit “View Image”). 

Below, I’ve included the script for the page.


Panel 1. Gary frowns at a prominent sign that says…
WELCOME, VISITORS. DO NOT PROCEED WITHOUT ID TAG– YOU WILL BE SHOT. Fine print: (And/or immolated, irradiated and disintegrated as necessary).

Panel 2. Gary sits down at a chair near the corner. He’s holding a book and briefcase.

Panel 3. He starts reading his book. The title is “Surviving in a New Workplace.”

Panel 4. We’re reading the same page he is. It’s a mushy list of tips for the first day:

  • Show up on time (this is checked off).
  • Introduce yourself to everyone you meet. Don’t forget to rehearse.
  • Practice makes perfect!
  • Remember to deliver a crisp and firm handshake!
  • Visualize your success!

Panel 5. Gary tries rehearsing his introduction.
Note: this should be from the same camera-angle as panels 6-7, where Agent Orange lowers himself upside-down from the ceiling and surprises him from behind. Part of the surprise is that Gary is sitting in a place where he should be able to see anyone coming.
GARY: Hello. Handshake. I’m Gary. I’m very enthusiastic to interview for this accountant position.

Panel 6. Same shot. However, this time, we see Agent Orange upside down right behind Gary. He’s lowering himself down from the ceiling on a rope, ninja-style. Gary does not notice.
GARY: Although I did not investigate any violent crimes at the IRS, I’m a fast learner and I’m eager to take the next step in my career.

Panel 7. Still upside down, Agent Orange taps a claw on Gary’s shoulder. Make Gary look a bit confused to show that he feels it. He’s definitely not expecting a tap given that he’s sitting in a place where people shouldn’t be behind him.

Panel 8. Gary turns around and sees the mutant alligator hanging right behind him.
AGENT ORANGE: Greetings, prospective accountant!

23 responses so far

23 Responses to “Prospective Colorist #1: Emily”

  1. Beccaon 18 Nov 2009 at 2:53 pm

    That looks very, very good. Very professional and polished.

  2. B. Macon 18 Nov 2009 at 2:59 pm

    Thanks for the input. Anybody else?

  3. Ragged Boyon 18 Nov 2009 at 4:10 pm

    This is nice, but I’m not a big fan of how grungy some of the colors came out (particularly Black’s suit and hair). The best panel in my opinion is 4. Something about the the whole page feels heavy and maybe it’s my computer, but there is an odd darkness to this.

    Sorry this was so negative. On the upside, I’m very proud of the progress being made. 🙂

  4. B. Macon 18 Nov 2009 at 5:01 pm

    Don’t worry about being too negative. I’d rather have blunt honesty (which would help me fix any problems that might arise) than flattery. When you say the suit looks grungy, how do you think I could fix it? (I think the hair will be harder to fix).

    I’m not sure if it’s a computer issue either. On the first computer I used to look at the page (the library), it looked fairly bright. The wall looked like more of a light blue than anything else. On this computer, it looks more like a grey.

    The look I was going here was a somewhat eccentric office. (IE: yellow chairs and light blue walls rather than more subdued colors– I want to reinforce that this isn’t your typical office and that Gary looks a lot more like a staid businessman than someone that would fit in here).

  5. Lucas Irineuon 19 Nov 2009 at 8:41 am

    Walls look blue to me. I think that there are a few things that could be improved but its pretty good. The page is not dark over here as well.

  6. Banana Slugon 19 Nov 2009 at 11:39 am

    Hmm…I actually like this a lot. I think it has more depth than the first one you showed us. I particularly like Agent Orange’s coloring here. The shading looks excellent, too.

    One thing, though: I always imagined Agent Black’s hair being browner and less blond. I don’t know how to say this without sounding strange, but I think it looks odd how his hair doesn’t contrast his skin half as much as his clothes do. I look at him and think “SUIT!!!” Perhaps I’m just picky about weird details, though.

  7. Luna Jamniaon 19 Nov 2009 at 11:58 am

    The walls look fine to me,
    I think Agent Black’s hair could be a little more red/brown; definitely, or his skin less pale. It may be the color settings on the computer but I think he looks just a teeny bit pasty.
    Otherwise, love it! 😀

  8. Luna Jamniaon 19 Nov 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Oh yeah–his eyes are green, right? Or did you want them to be blue, B. Mac?

  9. trollon 19 Nov 2009 at 2:08 pm

    Are you going to add dialog later?

  10. Lighting Manon 19 Nov 2009 at 3:00 pm

    I think it looks very professional for the most part, but I find myself wondering about the lighting in several panels. For instance, the first panel, his left arm casts a shadow on his suit which typically would only really happen with a relatively strong light source to the left of him, since the light emanating from the right or above (one of which I presume to be the main light source in the scene) would cancel it out, but we see the majority of the wall and it provides no light sources beyond reflecting whatever light is cast.

    The setting implies that the primary light source would be from the ceiling, since florescent lighting is most often associated with offices, even reception rooms. The primary light source being to his right or from the ceiling is reinforced by the second panel, but conflicted by Agent Orange’s lack casting any sort of shadow on the sixth and seventh panels (which would enhance the brightening effect around Gary’s head after being tapped) but this is just my opinion.

    I think the shading and colour choices are great beyond that, the office has a very off-beat look and Gary looks very plain, as intended. I think Agent Orange could use a touch more yellow to his green flesh, because as it stands he is a bit too green in my opinion, he is more separated from gators and crocodiles by that, but it is a great choice given the contrast with the brown of the coat.

  11. B. Macon 19 Nov 2009 at 3:54 pm

    A few responses…

    Luna, his eyes are green in the header, but I didn’t have a strong opinion about it as long as the color was non-brown. (If I do something like zooming in on a character’s eyes, I’d like Gary to look distinct from Lash, the black guy in the header*).

    I’ll also look into making his hair more reddish– that would be an interesting alternative to brown and blond.

    Troll– yeah, I already have a sample with the dialog done, but I didn’t want to include anything that would distract from the colors.

    Banana Slug, I agree that the reptile’s shading* here is very well-done.

    Lighting Man, I think that’s an astute observation about the lighting. The lighting was more or less the only reason I wasn’t smitten with this. In particular, this is a concern for me because I have a bad eye for lighting and won’t be able to identify the problem every time it comes up. (For example, on this page, it feels like the light source changes location based on where the camera is).

    I did a few experiments with making the reptile more yellowish and figured that yellow-green didn’t contrast with the trenchcoat too well. Real alligators are typically a very unsaturated, murky green on top and a muddy yellow on bottom. That’s not too surprising, given that their top half needs to blend into swamp water and their underbelly needs to blend into swamp brush. If I ever address Agent Orange’s unusual coloring in-story, I’ll have the reptile claim that, while many alligators evolved to blend into the swamp, his branch of the alligator family tree evolved to become perfect golf course hunters. (That could give me an amusing way to work in his origin story).

    Also, if you look carefully in panel 6 (the one where Gary gets tapped), the reptile has yellowish chestplates.

    *–I’m trying to be a bit more conscious about pointing out who the characters are for new readers. Sorry if it’s a bit awkward for readers that don’t need to be reminded.

  12. Merideson 19 Nov 2009 at 5:44 pm

    Alright, B.Mac, you asked for honesty…

    I don’t like the coloring in this, personally. No offense towards Emily, but it seems just a bit too bright and washed out for my personal tastes. More specifically, as mentioned above, Agent Black looks too pale, and washed out. Now, if you’re wanting him to be a ‘suit’, to quote Banana Slug, then washed out is the way to go… But personally I don’t like it.

    Also, specifically in panel three, the shading is confusing. If the lighting is above, why is the shadow on the top of Black’s coat?

    In six, seven, and eight, there would be a shadow for Orange, which is currently nonexistent.

    There are my two cents there…

    On the good side, in Eight, the shading on Orange and Black are spectacular… just missing that shadow. And I like the ‘grungy’ look of Orange’s coat. 🙂

  13. B. Macon 20 Nov 2009 at 5:50 pm

    Agent Black: Ick, your coat is so grungy.
    Agent Orange: It is a symbol of my badassery!
    Agent Black: It’s actually a symbol of the fact that you never wash it because you never take it off.

  14. Merideson 21 Nov 2009 at 12:54 pm

    *points at last post*


  15. B. Macon 21 Nov 2009 at 1:02 pm


  16. Merideson 21 Nov 2009 at 3:32 pm

    IS EPIC… And perfect, and exactly what I was thinking…

    it made me laugh.

  17. B. Macon 21 Nov 2009 at 10:22 pm

    Glad to hear it. 🙂

  18. Jerry Dillinghamon 30 Nov 2009 at 7:44 am

    The colors don’t look grungy at all on my mac. You did a great job of fleshing the story out as well. The color issues could just be an RGB verses CMYK issue. I wouldn’t be to concerned.

  19. Debraon 01 Dec 2009 at 9:03 pm

    I think you really have the talent for this type of venue. Wonderful drawing.

    The only observation I have is the colors are a bit too gloomy and dingy.

    Other than that, it’s great!!

  20. B. Macon 02 Dec 2009 at 6:12 pm

    Hey, I’ve been showing the page around LinkedIn. These are the responses I’ve gotten…

    “Nice work overall. I agree with the comments about the paleness of Black’s skin. His suit is fine. In the last panel AO’s hand and Black’s should create a tangent. Either overlap the shoulder with the hand more or separate them. The weird little spaces are distracting.

    That said, the page flows well as far as storytelling goes. Nice work.”
    –Nathan B.
    “The art is not brilliant, but it certainly is acceptable. It also looks like the artist will only get better and better. I’d say go for it.”
    –Mark Q.

    Go for it. The harder things are covered. Perspective, foreshortening, facial expression. Color correction is pretty easy.
    –Michael M.

    I agree with Michael but there really has to be progress in the story telling technique. More breathing room in the panels, perhaps. I’d like to see more.
    –Martin B.

    Hmmm… you’re looking for honesty here, right? Perspective: Nice. Hands: EXCELLENT (they’re the hardest). Hair: Mediocre.

    My biggest problem with it all was the suit. Study clothing and how it drapes on the human form. Suit jackets, the bottom of the blazer is way too short. A suit jacket bottom ends at the palms of the hand when the arms are at your side. (Slightly lower than the hip sockets)…

    These drawings are not good enough for publication by any of the top publishers. Self publish and get them into comic book shops and see how that goes. The WRITING plays as big of a role as the art, don’t forget that! Never give up!
    –Harry C.

    Is the inker the same as the penciller? the inking is weaker than the pencils to me. I am not a fan of the colourist– too many nebulous blue gradients and unsure colour choices.

    As for a crit on the page, I love hearing feedback so here are my 2 cents, I hope it helps in some way, or just ignore it if you prefer.

    I will start off by saying it is a fairly well done page for someone starting out and other than more drawing from life and visual research/reference this person is well on their way to being quite good. With that said here are the points I feel need some more investigation.

    Panel 1 – if we are meant to read the sign it is too odd of an angle to be read easily and takes you out of the flow a bit. The facial reaction is more indifference to me than a frown or concern.This is a hard panel to show reaction and the sign and may require 2 panels or different layout to flow well.

    Panel 2 – Small issues here but worth mentioning, The proportion of the sign on the wall to the chair rail to the chairs shifts from panel 1 to 2 to 3. The chairs also shift position from away from the wall to against it in panel 2 to 3, the chairs are different than panel 1, at first they have curved backs then straight and the ratio of backrest to seat change as well and the legs are too short to look natural

    Panel 3 – the book should be front and center so we really see the title, we don’t need yet another mid shot of the same character in the same scene, zoom in on the book and mix it up a bit as all the info we need to know has already been established in the first 2 panels. Having said that this book does just kind of appear, I can see in panel 2 he has it in his hand but it gets lost on first viewing and he looks like he is just starting to sit, while the book is in his hand, when did he get it out of his briefcase? as in panel one we see that he has a free hand and the other must be on the case I would think, Maybe slip it under his arm in panel 1 and be pullling it out from under his arm in panel 2? Oh and also the chairs look very thin in this panel, both the yellow seat and the tiny legs this looks too thin compared to previous panels.

    Panel 4 – nice open panel, looks good, just clean up the splotchy ink part at the top right hand corner of the ‘tips’ page right next to the spine. It seems the colourist may have missed the red on the left side of the book page? to match the bottom red piece of the cover? It would also gain a lot with a harder shadow on the palm of the hand under the book to push the depth a bit and I would go darker blue in the background here to pop out the book and match the darker blue of the carpet in panel 2 (assuming that is the floor we see beyond the book)

    Panels 5,6,7 – nice facial expressions and body language here, not the easiest of tasks, well done. My first concern is though…Where did the chair rail and the chairs go? and the book looks smaller in comparison to his hand from the earlier panels. also some cropping issues here distract my eye. fingers in 5 should not be chopped, rotate the hand a touch to keep them in and clear of the boarder, panel 6 the shoulders come out of joint a bit and the fabric has an unnatural pointiness at the corners of the shoulders too. Panel 7 his right shoulder lines up awkwardly with the panel boarder and the tap on the shoulder is totally buried way off to the side. and the body of the guy looks like it was cut and pasted from panel 6 into panel 7 with a different face, cool to save time drawing but move at least a few lines so it is not so similar.

    Panel 8 This is hands down the best drawn panel on the page. Nice depth and perspective, great facial and hand reaction on blonde guy even at an tough angle and the dinosaur guy has some great overlapping details. Unforunately, it breaks everything we so far understand about the setting, blonde guy is sitting right against the wall or almost. the relationship between the 2 shifts from panel 7 to 8. In panel 7 he looks like he is right there tapping, partly due to the cramped panel. maybe panel 6 and 7 could just be the bit of rope with his hand on it and his tapping hand and we don’t see his face or body, this would free up room to focus more on the tap and make the reveal of who is doing the tapping in panel 8 more shocking and impactful. As for inking line weights could be used well here to pull dinosaur guy closer to us and the way his waving hand lines up with the edge of blonde guy’s shoulder is not great, overlap them or don’t. Needs some kind of text or at least the yellowish colour bars on the pages of the open book to match previous panel.

    Also the lettering which is soon to be added probably won’t fit [B. Mac adds: it does], especially in panel 6 based on the script. With less experienced artists it may be a good idea to add the balloons just after the initial rough layouts are approved to help establish the space needed and save redoing panels after the time has been spent to finish them off.

    Hope that helps in some way, it seems like a cool project and I wish you the best of luck moving forward.
    –Jason L.

    Agree w/most everything Jason says except in panel 8 – The chairs are against the wall – the alligator, (unless he really is 2d) doesn’t fit spacially (sp) in a 3-d world between the wall and the chair as shown in the last panel. He looks like he’s behind & above rather than directly above. The guy should be looking more straight up – more extreme angle. Perhaps we could see the alligator through his eyes in the last panel (BOO!) and maybe that means that the panel size should be diff.
    I’d personally like to see more “camera work” in the panels to break up the sameness. Close ups and varying the view add to the dynamics of the page and the story.

    I’m not entirely sure you should be inking and coloring before you get those elements worked out. The Drawing and composition should be dynamic enough w/o the color.

    I think you’re off to a good start & I have confidence that it’ll only get better. A lot of comic books are self published & it’s not that daunting these days. It’d be a good test to do a limited run and get it out to comic book stores and conventions – you’ll need to do some hands on peddling. BUt you will get feedback. The comicbook people are discerning but very enthusiastic and vocal, and when they find something they like – super loyal.

    Best of luck.
    –Susan H.

    Susan, good points and you are right this page needs reworking before the inking stage. I agree with you about panel 8, I meant to say that it was the best drawing if it was seperate from the page, however it fails as a panel on this page because it goes against the established environment as up till now the chairs are against the wall. And as you point out the lizard would have to be flat or the wall magically move back or something. Guess I wasn’t too clear, sorry about that.
    Jason L (again).

  21. B. Macon 02 Dec 2009 at 6:21 pm

    More comments heard around LinkedIn…

    Hi there, just took a peek at the page. I like the script but the graphic translation although good art and great coloring, lacks impact. Its not complex enough or simple enough, The angles could use a splash of cleverness. I see it almost there, but not there yet. Take a look at the comic books by Jeb Loeb and Tim Sale, like Batman The Long Halloween and Hulk Gray. Those 2 are one of the best teams in the industry with good writing and simple yet-impressive art, they manage to put together several amazing collaborations. I wish you the best of lucks and I hope your book gets published.
    –Roberto O.

    Great storytelling – that one pages tells us a lot about the characters. I like it!
    –Dave M.

    It does lack impact as said above by Roberto. But the storytelling is clear, and the characters, in their body and faces, are expressive — both of these things being hard to achieve (and more and more rare I find).

    Personally, I’m not crazy about the lines and dearth of detail. This, however, is very much a personal preference. I’d like to see a more varied line that helps accentuate shadow and mood. As it stands, the coloring is doing all that work and not too effectively in my opinion.
    –Keith P.

  22. B. Macon 02 Dec 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Last set of LinkedIn comments.

    The art’s good. I’m curious why you don’t go through ComiXpress or Ka-Blam and put the book out yourself instead of going through a publisher and having to split the profits?
    Crystal W.

    Brian, if you believe in your product, if you like what you see and read, then that’s the only opinion that counts when trying to determine if your book is good enough to get published. If you have to ask that question, I believe that you already know the answer.

    What I think you’re asking is whether or not it’s going to attract sales (which is the question any prospective publisher is going to wonder), to which the only honest reply is I don’t know and I suspect that I’m not alone in that regard. That depends on how you market it, how long you can maintain the quality keep the interest level going, etc.

    A lot of people self-publish to have complete control of their product, know that they cannot keep a deadline and so can publish when they can without external pressures, etc. but can still receive critical and in some instances financial success. Frankly, how do you know that such a presumption as you outlined exists, especially to the degree that you indicate? I’m certain that Dave Sim, Colleen Doran, Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Jeff Smith, Mike Allred, William Tucci and more would provide you with good examples of how such presumptions have been shattered.

    For what it’s worth, the artwork is fairly solid and high-quality enough to pass muster. Experience will make up for whatever short-comings your artist may have in no time at all, if I’m any judge of horseflesh in this regard. You might want to rethink the Vanishing Point in the first panel as the poster is difficult to read at that extreme angle, otherwise it looks good.

    Listen, lemme give you a piece of sound advice regarding the viability of your project, straight outta your first page: Visualize your success! If you believe it’s good enough, then self-publish. Otherwise, only the publishers that you approach are going to have the answer to your question, not a bunch of joes on a discussion board. Start knockin’ on those doors, all of ’em! if you’re going to have it published by an outside company, don’t waste time dawdling here.

    I sincerely wish you the best of luck with whatever approach that you take and all success to your project.

    I completely agree with Randy. However, being a new kid in the block I don’t hold much from my side. But despite everything I’d say, go with yourself– if you’re happy with the artwork then it’s perfectly fine. If not, change it to whatever level you want that makes you feel satisfied. I’m not saying make anything, but as you’ve written it (i believe so) you know best if the art complements your story or not. So in that sense, if you’re satisfied then go with it. Wish I could know more to help you out 🙂

    Whereas, as being an artist myself, I’d say the same things as the other two posts have mentioned.

    Check out a few perspective things and backgrounds. And otherwise it looks cool. I wish you all the very best for your first book. Cheers!

  23. B. Macon 02 Dec 2009 at 7:14 pm

    So, yeah, I think I learned a lot from this. I feel very encouraged that none of the ~15 illustrators that weighed in on LinkedIn weighed in with a strongly worded suggestion that I get a new inker or colorer.

    Indeed, several of them thought that it was publishable as is. I’m not quite that optimistic, but this is just a starting point and I’m really happy with it as a start. Also, I anticipated that I’d end up redoing the first page as part of the learning process, so I budgeted accordingly. 😉

    As we redo the page, these are the changes I’d like to see.

    –I made a bad call on panel 1, trying to get Gary’s face and the sign in the same panel, as he reads the sign. It’s pretty much physically impossible to show someone’s face AND what he’s reading at the same time. (Unless you use something bizarre like a reflection). Revising this panel, the sign is more important, so I’d like that to be head-on so that the reader can easily read it.

    –I think the most important thing is to fix the continuity issues. The room has to be 12 feet high. There has to be enough space behind the chairs to give AO the space to get behind Gary. For example, perhaps there are rows of chairs, with a chair behind Gary. Then AO could drop into the chair behind Gary. That might also give AO an interesting visual on the next page, if he uses the chair to do a flip.

    –I think that the position of AO relative to Gary has to be more constant between panels 7 and 8 than it is now. In 7, when AO is tapping Gary’s shoulder, notice that his arm is going more or less straight down. In 8, you can see that AO is well behind Gary. If he dropped his hand straight down, it wouldn’t even come close to touching Gary. I think this should be more consistent—for example, let’s say AO’s rope is about 6 inches behind Gary. Gary gets tapped in 7, as before, but when he turns around in 8 we see through his perspective that he’s VERY close and at eye-level to a manically grinning, upside down mutant alligator saying “Greetings, prospective accountant!” Although we won’t be able to see Gary’s expression, I think it’ll be pretty obvious what he’s thinking at that moment.

    –There’s also the height issue. In panel 7, AO’s eyes are about as high off the ground as Gary’s are. In panel 8, it seems like AO has gotten higher than where he was in 7. I think eye-to-eye is fine in 7 and 8.

    –In panel 2, maybe the book should be a bit more obvious. Then, in panel 3, focus on the book rather than Gary so that we can definitely read the cover. (Rebecca suggested this and I unwisely said no).

    –The colors are pretty good across the board. I’d like to try a few more options for the background and Gary’s hair, but aside from that the color is fine. (It’ll have to be redone wherever the pencils/inks change, though). I would like some more redness in Gary’s skin, though.

    –In panel 2, the poster has gotten a lot higher up on the wall than it was before. In panel 1, the brown line is a bit above Gary’s waist. In Panel 2, it appears that it might well be up to his neck. Also, the distance between the top of the chair and the brown line seems to have increased from a few inches to at least a foot, maybe a foot and a half. I mean, in panel 2, the distance between the top of the chairs is as tall as the backs of the chairs are! In the first panel, the distance appears to be perhaps a quarter or a fifth the height of the chairs’ backs.

    That’s all I can think of. I’m very pleased by how this turned out!

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