Colorist Commentary

Friday, November 03, 2006


Why is it that whenever I bring my laptop to work on coloring somewhere that my Grandma will be, my current page either has bare breasts or somebody's head exploded?

Part of the coloring on the latest page was done on the car ride up to a wedding, so I was wearing a summery dress while staring at splattered brains. How many people can say that about their job?

Friday, September 22, 2006

Take a look at that plane, huh? Woot!

When I first got the inks for the emperor's plane, I thought both "YAY hahaha! Lookit that!" and "Ohmygod this is going to be such a pain in the ass". And it was a pain in the ass, but I'm pleased with the color scheme I picked out.

It just reminds me of Yellow Submarine and John Lennon's Rolls Royce, haha. Wouldn't that be cool to have a poster of? Or, or, ooh, a paper glider kit thing? :D

This goes on my list of "things that would make really cool collectible action figures from". The other main one would be the rangers with their bikes... heee.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Ohhh yeahhh I have a blog thing...

... Actually, I didn't so much forget about this blog as I forgot my username and password when I got my new laptop (which was at the beginning of chapter 3... not when it posted, but when I was coloring it), and then I was just really busy. Not sure if anyone actually reads this, but there's always a possibility.


I just finished coloring chapter 4, and I'm finally working at what feels like a decent pace. Not sure of the exact time, but pages are taking me between 4 and 6 hours, so I'm consistantly able to get a page or a page and a half done every day, which is not too shabby. Also not too shabby- the quality of work, particularly shading, if I do say so myself. I think I've gotten a whole lot better at shading faces especially, which will start showing up online about a third or halfway through chapter 4, hehe.
Oh yeah- those night scenes in the Pecos Municipal Hospital? Scott did the complicated night shading in the room (Oh, also in Amber Rose's office with the cast shadow of the blinds), before I got the pages to color. I thought it was going to be a snap to do the coloring on those, but, heh, it sort of ended up being like colorising a black and white photograph (but probably easier than if I would've had to do the fancy shading myself). However- I did do the night shading for outside- 163, 164, and 165 (which are all one page in print form). Quite happy with that.

I think next week might be the chapter climax? Oooh it's exciting! :D I'm not tellin'.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Commentary pp 32-36

The first Friday update!

P 32 (top and middle of p.11)

I don't remember how long these pages took, but I can tell I put in a lot of crazy detail. Particularly in the pictures on the wall. Heehee, I also did a framed cut-out newspaper article, like you see sometimes in diners (the photographs are just random dots and lines with some grainy filter. It could be about aliens, though! Could be!).

One of the Pocket Paperback books there is "Texperanto in 5 days" by Rex May. The hard-to-see title on the red book is "Methusela's Children".

P 33 (bottom of P. 11)

"You can get anything you want..."

Yah. I remember, I was humming/singing that song the whole time I was coloring these pages.

AWwww, Meir wants a coke. Adorable.

P 34 (Top P 12)

I guess Maclolm's having his tea iced. BTW, coloring clear glass filled with liquid is annoyingly difficult, but I couldn't see a way around it. I'll probably get the hang of it eventually.

It looks like the condiments are parmasan cheese and pepper flakes... or maybe powdered creamer (although that's usually in a pour-spout thingy... the creamer in front of JB?). Or did JB get the tea (the little pot in front of him), and Malcom got another coke? I don't know!

"Gee, boys, Little Orphan Annie's in an AWFUL JAM!"
... aww, Meir. Adorable.

P 35 (mid P 12)

I must say I am pretty pleased with how this first panel turned out. I took some of the background from an earlier frame (actually a couple different spots), blurred and adjusted brightness/contrast. Kind of gives a depth to the scene, sets off Alice nicely. Those biscuits look tasty.

The comics page- I did attempt to color them, but for the life of me I couldn't figure out how to get that old-fashioned comic page look, and it looks alright in black and white. Anyway, in case you can't make out the little words:

Sam'N'Davy - the only words written out are "yo'" somethingsomething something "NATCHERLY!" blah blah blah something "CAINT". So don't feel like you're missing out, lol.

Little Orphan Aynie (yep.)- somethingsomethingsomething "LEAPIN' LOOTERS!" ...but in the first draft it was "LEAPIN' ALTRUISTS!"... which drove me crazy, because it... it doesn't work, does it? I didn't speak up about it (directly- I did bring it up to Rylla in chat, though), I was too shy, but I'm glad it got changed. "Leapin' looters" follows the alliterative scheme of Leapin' things (Like Leapin' Lizards). I suppose "Leapin' altruists" would've been characteristic of little Aynie, but it's hard to alliterate anything with "Altruists".

More food eating. Can you believe I actually did a Google Image search on "Posole" to see what color it should be?

P 36 (bottom P 12)

An ad for Arm-A-Dillo!

"How could you tell the difference?"

Oh, Meir, you cheeky boy.

Half a canteloupe filled with whipped cream? ... is that each? Somehow I find that hillarious.

Well! That's it for this week. Tune in Friday, when exciting bills get paid. Will they have mint-flavored toothpicks? You'll have to wait and see! (I know what happens but I'm not telling!)

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Commentary pages 19-31

Hullo, all my adoring fans (shurrup, let me dream ;3). As I sit here with an apple for a snack and a short break from working on page 45 (yonks ahead, yet, but far, far from the end), I'm going through online pages 19-31 to list a few thoughts as they come to me.

For What It's Worth, I don't mind "giving away secrets of the trade"- honestly, I'm so new to this I don't think I know any secrets, so any tips I give away will really just be my way of doing things at the moment. There's no substitute for artistic talent, no matter how many tips you pick up. I'm grateful to all the other artists I've learned from with tuturials and such, so if any of my hints help you out, I'm happy to do it!

Okay, on with the prattlings.

P.19 (this is actually the top of page 6.)

BTW, pages 3, 5, 6, 8, and 9 (print pages, refer to my notes for what online pages they cover) were touched up quite a bit by Scott- highlights brightened, shadows emphasised, etc. As I've mentioned, this is my very first coloring job- I've never done anything quite like this before (heck, I'd barely attempted anything above 72 res before!), so aside from all the "Make the shadows more extreme!" over and over, Scott went a head and made the necessary adjustments himself. (He still had to tell me to go back and make the shadows stronger/highlights brighter a few more times, but lately I haven't been getting so many lighting notes, so I must have improved!)

Okay, page 19. Bill's hat was originally a smooth dome top, but I guess Neil decided it should look different (I didn't see those e-mails, but I think it was Neil's note), so Scott also changed the hat. That's probably why the shading/lighting on it looks so swanky. Now that I look back at the old one (I still have a copy on my 'puter), I say the new hat is definitely an improvement.

(btw, you can tell-.. .or, I can tell, anyway- that I'm still using Photoshop 5.5 because of the crystalize texture on the cork board. I think CS has the texture too, but nowadays I'd probably hit it with a scatter brush rather than try to mess with filters.)

P.20 (mid p.6)

Jo Baker's face blocked by word bubble... s'okay, it wasn't that labor-intensive to color. (On my own little comics I usually use semi-transparent word bubbles because I hate blocking out all the work I do on the backgrounds, lol- s'just my own style.)

"Aw, Gee, Captain..."

Adorable. Apparantly his appearance is based off of that guy from Highlander. (Stan Kirsch)

P.21 (bottom p.6)

I like Bill's shirt. I did that little western-cut-yolk detail with vector paths. SWANKY. I like his bolo tie.

p.22 (top p.7)

OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS. When I saw this plane, I thought, "shit."

Big shiny metal vehicles are not my friends. So I'm extremely proud of how awesome it looks. GO ME. (Scott said he adjusted the grass and sky color... I can't find my original color file, so I can't check and see how much.)

I used this
online tutorial for highlighted chrome to do the UFO- I'd gotten CS at this point, and was having too much fun dinking with it. I also used the technique on the plane a little bit, with some touch-ups by hand. I really like how the yellow dome looks. Fancy little thing. I'm not sure I'd bother with all the layers and filters that it took to do it now, lol. I'd probably figure some other way.

P.23(bottom p.7)

I really like how those black and white photos turned out. I suppose the grainyness is really more of a digital thing, but... I think it still works. Looks like something right off a supermarket tabloid!

P. 24 (top P.8)

"Why is that rock all funny half-colored?"


P. 25 (mid. P.8)

Not much to sayyy... I like the folds in Malcom's shirt. Bill's shirt also shows well here.

P.26 (bot. P.8)

More shading adjustment made by Scott.

P.27 (top P.9)


Dang, these bikes!! I swear, this must've been the first time I ever attempted coloring any kind of motorcycle.

I got to choose the colors for the Ranger's civvies- sorta. The note (or the script) said they were wearing jeans and leather vests, except for Bill, as well as brightly colored western shirts. I was a little bit uncertain about giving Bill a purple shirt- I thought, "Oh, no, is it manly enough?" Yes. Yes it is. It is manly purple. I did my research online, too- western cut shirts come in purple. It's got sequins on it!

The bikes were also a bit of a sticky issue- I was thinking dark-ish cadet blue, or a mix of dark-ish standard colors (blue, green, maybe a burgundy) because the script said they were different colors. They were to be the official Ranger bikes, though- Neil wanted them blue and yellow with a yellow star on the gas tank (like the Texas flag), and Scott suggested blue and yellow also. I did a test one of the flag blue and yellow (minus the star, which would've been too obvious to give them away as Rangers, imho... plus I wasn't sure how to manage a star yet. I've figured it out now, but it still would've been a pain to do every time)... anyway, the flag colors looked sorta like a carnival ride on the bike (especially with the sidecar), so we went with the darker blue (my original color choice, in fact), with dull-gold highlights. Snazzy!

P 28 (bottom p. 9)

Hey! I finally figured out how to do grass better! (CS upgrade, yey.)

P 29 (top P. 10)

A gorgeous sweeping prarie. I like my clouds, too. And the Texas Longhorns, with spots! Adorable. (The road looks way flat, though. Heh. Later I end up doing a texture on it that looks more like blacktop- I guess the excuse could just be different stretches of highway were re-paved? I guess!)

P 30 (mid P. 10)

I really like this close-up of the bikes. This time I didn't use the chrome effect, I made a gradient (that I really haven't used since, but it worked well this time) for it. So very shiny. And copy-pasted headlights.

P 31 (bottom p. 10)

YEE HAW, the final page until tomorrow!

That looks like some nice healthy grass. Originally I'd had a different color for the diner, the sign, and that green semi. Scott didn't like it, so I changed it. You can still see a little of the peach behing "Dalhousie's"- I'd made it a peach gradient and blue letters. The building was also slightly peach-y, in my mind a redwood ceder color- but, really, there's not a lot of redwoods in Texas, are there? Silly me.

Okiedokie, that's all for now, folks! From now on there won't be quite so many pages each week, so my commentary posts will likely be shorter.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Commentary number one!

There doesn't seem to be a "cut" option in blogger like there is in LiveJournal, so I apologise but this is going to be rather long. (Best results if you first read the comic, and then come back and go through it page by page so my notes match up and make sense.)

PAGE ONE!! WOOO!! *bouncing around, etcetera* EXCITING. Okay, got that out of the way. MAN. Firstly, I must say that the Prologue (which ammounts to two single-side pages in print form) took me at least a week to complete. They're some of my best work on this thing so far, and actually it should be noted that I'd gotten through to about page 22, maybe 23-ish of the main comic before I did them, so there might be a noticable leap in the coloring technique- hopefully not too bad.

It looks so official with all the word-blocks and text and so-on! When I get the pages to work on they're giant (1800x2700 pixels, so on my screen at 100% it seems poster-sized), and just have the linework- early on I was getting some word bubbles, but they added too much to the file size for transfer and plus it wasn't needed. Anyway, long story short I just have the script and the lines, so I don't know where the speach bubbles will go. It's neat to see it all put together!

My original sky was rather bluer, and I think it looked better, but that's only because I don't think I pulled off the sunrise streaks quite well enough. The sunrise was a last-minute note and I was already bone weary of these two pages... it looks okay. I made a new shrub brush for this page- sort of a birds-eye view spidery looking thing. You can't really see the texture too much at this resolution/quality, but I've used it since in various things. Also my custom-adjusted grass brush. Yep, that's all scatter-brushed texture "painted" in by hand, not a pattern fill.

Page 2

Or, bottom-half of Page A. Shading whites! Military uniforms! :D I really loved the challenge of shading whites in this, most of which was done in the paint layer (rather than the shadow layer set to "linear burn"), and this is when I first really started messing around with using colors in the shadow layer, rather than just grayscale. Even though most of the sharp detail is lost, I'm pretty glad I went and did all the fiddly bits in his medals, because you can tell. Looks sharp. It'll look even better in print.

Yes, most of the colors in the right two panels were copy-pasted.

*fall*... that box blocked out the fantastically gorey blood-splatter coming out of Santa Ana's chest, which I did three stages of effect on. *head-desk*... lol. I'm learning!

Page 3 (top of page B)

Lookie-ookie! It's Davey Crocket!! And the other three people working on this besides me!! Apparantly as the colorist I don't deserve a cameo. Poo. (Actually I think that'd weird me out, just a little, lol, I don't really mind noot beeing there!) Brown hat gap-tooth is Neil, Grey-clad spyglass is Scott, and the flag-wavin' guy is Rex. It's some kind of oddly intimidating/weird thing to be sitting there coloring in your boss. ^_^ Looks good, though. Smoke puffs look good.

AND BLOOODY BATTLE... WOOOOO!! I'd never done anything like this before, ever. I tell you, this was some kind of logistical nightmare to work out, all those bodies. Some kind of horrible, that guy kneeling back there with his hands over his face (right under the dude with the red cumberbund). Blurdy. I'm proud of how absolutely filthy and gross and gritty it looks.

Page 4 (middle of page B)

Carting out the wounded. More filth and stains. I remember being pretty pissed at something at the time I got around to the blood, which really helped me get into it. All the blood is on a separate layer from the color and shadow, and I used a combination of different brushes- some spatter, some regular set to "wet edges", and a little bit of smudging.

In the right panel: Gorey, gorey death. I tried my damndest to make Crocket stand out a bit from the background, it looks okay but he still kinda blends in to me. I guess that makes sense, though. Escapin' and all.

Page 5 (bottom of page B)


"Treat the cannon blast like a really bright light source."


I like how dramatic this looks. I don't like how the sweat-drop on the right-side soldier's face got obliterated by the jpg fuzzyness. Woe. (Maybe it'll show up in print? Eh.)

Mmm! There were actually supposed to be shafts of light coming down from the corner in the last panel there. I seem to have forgot them, and Scott seems to have not minded their absence. Guess it's too late to fix that now, lol.

Page 6 Top of Page one!

WOOOO. The very first page I colored!! Holy crap. I spent way way too much time and effort on the first few pages. Hours and hours. Check out the bit of dead shrub over there. Yeah, I killed a digital shrub. Check out the shiny car! You totally can't tell, but there's actually a reflection/shadow of the big tree there on the hood in blue. FAR too much work put into details.

The best part? Check out the bush in the corner of the building, right above "Otherwise known as". See it? ... THE BUSH IS GROWING OUT OF SOLID CONCRETE. I mentioned it to Scott, and he said he'd fix it after I sent him the colors, but it's STILL LIKE THAT. *adolesent giggles*.. .. .. I like the magic bush, I really do.

Page 7 (bottom of page 1)

Man! Look at that crap-tastic grass! Oh! I should mention that this was before I got upgraded to CS- the first few pages I did using Photoshop 5.5. ... Holy crap look at that brick. Was I insane?? All those color variations are done by hand. Shoot.

And check out the insanely detailed texture on the trunk. CRAZY.

I love the President's outfit. Another thing I did too much detail on- I put a hint of purple in the gray, a dissolved fill, with a bit of motion blur. I think it shows, looks kinda good, but I seriously didn't have to do that. *laughs*

(damn that wallpaper's kinda ugly, too. By some accident I had that as my desktop wallpaper for a couple months. LAZY, ME? Yes.)

Page 8 (top of page 2)

FRUITY PANTS! I mean festive pants! I mean... hahahahaha. I love them.

This is clearly before I figured out how to properly shade a white shirt, because my pathetic little blue gradients got totally obliterated. Also, I wasn't using a shading layer- I was shading everything in the color layer. I'm still pretty pleased with the contours on Charlie's face in the first panel.

Page 9 (middle of page 2)

HEADS. ON THE WALLS. Ugh. (FYI, I'm a vegan, so all these animal trophies make me cringe. HEY, I never said I was a libertarian- I just color the darn thing.) Oh well. The texture on the pronghorn looks pretty good.

Mesquite paneling! Yes I made that texture/pattern. I made the hell out of it. Scott adjusted the color slightly, and brightened the highlights on Bubbas' face. (Again: Learning.)

I like the insane detail on the framed newspapers! Go me! Oh, oh. Watch that coin on the plaque between the deer head and the newspaper. Also the newspapers. The next time we see them, they change.

Page 10 (bottom of page 2)

"Holy burned-edged-parchment, Batman!"... The script said "Fire-damaged", I think. Also I think that coat in there had more insane detail on it that got lost. Hehe.

Page 11 (top of page 3)

STUPID CURTAINS. They were a pain. They look good, but MAN. Fiddly bits.

LOOK LOOK LOOK- The coin on the plaque has mysteriously turned into three framed certificates! And now there are way more wall portraits!

This whole set-up reminds me of something out of Johnny Quest.

(Bubba's dagger looks disturbingly phallic there. Disturbing. Hehehehe.)

Page 12 (bottom of page 3)

Wild Bill! And his hot-looking wife, Aunt Betty! Modeled after Betty Page, I believe. (eta: Apparantly she's a composite of three women.)

Wee! I made that flower pattern on his shorts (and his shirt, even though it doesn't really seem to fit- the Arm-a-Dillo logo was added in later, otherwise I would've probably just kept it solid grey or white). He looks good in orange. I need to dig that pattern back up and start using it again, it's snazzy. Also- that tile-inlayed table? YEP. Crazy Jen did that by hand.

More craptastic grass. Shiny, shiny car! And copter!

Page 13 (top of page 4)

Bill's study! Oooh. The whole of page 4, man. Page 4 was a beast. I actually worked on the other pages and came back to page 4 after finishing page 7, because it was giving me such a headache. I finally worked it out, and it looks grand. Lots of poor sad animals getting murdered again. I like the shadows here... the light from that table lamp really saved the scene and pulled it together. (more insane detail: all of those pictures on the wall I colored by hand. They were empty frames. Gosh I hate empty frames. Later I got over it and started doing random fills and patterns, lol.)

More frilly curtains. Feh.


Page 14 (middle of page 4)




(hehe, I forgot the loopy detail on Charlie's sleeve in the first panel. Shhh, don't tell anyone.)

Page 15 (bottom of page 4)

Ranger headquarters! Wooo!

I had to re-color 90% of this page when I came back to it after working on the next few. GOSH that burned me up something fierce. Glad I did, though, because it turned out splendid after I'd worked out the kinks.

I like Bill's outfit, even though I liked my original colors too- I had him wearing bluejeans, I think a grey jacket (eta: No, I remember, it was a brown jacket- a different brown, though) and a neat maroon-and-grey shirt. Browns look good, though. If I can remember his original outfit design I might have to use it somewhere else, if the chance comes up.

Page 16 (top of page 5)

Cap'n Murphey!! Aww! This guy's based off of a real guy, and boy is he adorable, aw. He's actually supposed to have blue eyes, I later found out, but nobody noticed. Don't tell anyone. Shh.

Dang, those cabin thingies look flat. I've gotten much better at this.

Page 17 (middle of page 5)

The darkening on Murphey's face was done by Scott.

Oh-ho-ho, aww, poor Murphey being corrupted by his men. Adorable.

Page 18 (bottom of page 5)

LOOK! A poster of a naked lady on the wall!! It's supposed to be Josephine Baker, and she's supposed to be wearing a live ferret (the thing doesn't look live to me, though- as much as ferrets stretch, it looked a bit TOO elongated), and I haven't been able to find the reference pic for it. I dunno if one exists, so I just guessed on the colors for the background.

Danget, I can't believe I detailed that lady on the bike in the calendar, just to have it covered up by those words. Foo.

Whining aside, I think this looks pretty good. :3


I'll get to pages 19-31 sometime before Friday, probably. (But I doubt I'll keep being this long-winded in the future.)

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Hello, intarwub peedles!

This is the colorist, Jen Zach, for the online webcomic (eventually available in print form) Roswell, Texas- written by L. Neil Smith and Rex May, drawn by Scott Bieser, and lettered by Zeke Besier (all the relevant info is there in the linked page). I'm starting this blog here to record my thoughts and observations on this my very first professional coloring position. I'm pretty excited!

Thanks for taking a look, I'll probably have more to read here before too long. :3