Mr Davis, are some of your art fair game for Colouring?

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Re: Mr Davis, are some of your art fair game for Colouring?

Postby Predabot » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:56 am

Alan Davis wrote:First, your statement might be seen to suggest Humberto Ramos could not change his style to suit another genre if he chose to do so, which is obviously unfair-- But more relevantly to this discussion you are making a parallel between the colourist’s contribution and the penciller which I dispute… Because the penciller’s ‘style’ sets the standard and the colourist should follow that lead, NOT try to impose their own style.
My statement lies in leu that I have seen some artists gravitate by nature towards a certain style, because it suits their skills the best. I have a friend that works in a style similar to some traditional cartooning, with a more simplified anatomy, because he has mentioned that he often struggles greatly with other styles.

Maybe I was unfair to Ramos, in assuming that he has a similar situation or mindset, since it's based on my own limited knowledge, wherein he has always had a very clearly defined style. I'll try to avoid such errors in the future by using more general and anonymous examples of artistry.

In relevance though - My argument is that by just adding anything, even following the artists lead correctly, the colourist will automatically influence the work heavily, even if he is a very skilled artist, modeling things in an accurate manor. Even on books where the colourists have gotten awards for a good job, this is immediately obvious when the look of the book can change drastically, even if the new colourist is equally skilled as the old one.

This has been a contention between inkers and pencilers for decades, like for instance an artist doing his own inks often look very different from one inked by someone else, even if the inkers have done a correct job. Some artists have therefore, now that printing allows it, decided to skip inks entirely and go directly for colour or gray-tones. I suppose it is inevitable that now when a colourists importance is higher, they become a part of this contention.

I think you have simply had some bad experiences of lacking communication, and that the effect of the colourist on the final work must now be taken into the equation, feels alien to your traditional work-flow.
I would agree that spontaneity is preferable but only if the end results are appropriate. My criticism of many ‘Digital colourists’ is that they are like interior decorators plastering a Pagoda in flock wallpaper.
If you feel that there are inferior artists working in the industry, then a better place to lay the blame is among companies and editors, who hire artists that they know to be inferior.

Often a penciler or inker that does an inferior job will be branded thereafter, and get the boot pretty quickly, by fans, editors and companies alike. If this does not apply to colourists for some reason, then I am bewildered as to why...
I don’t agree with your logic— it’s based on a false syllogism. My point is a skilled illustrator can employ ANY tools, including Photoshop (or some such program), to create an illustration. Your point is that because skilled illustrators can use Photoshop, anyone mastering Photoshop is a digital artist. The question I would ask is, exactly how does digital media speed up the process if it is not doing some of the work (creative or otherwise)? And what are the creative/non-creative aspects of the process?
I had to look up "syllogism"... :lol:

We have a misunderstanding of philosophies again. If that is what I have been giving you the impression of, then I have made CATASTROPHIC :shock: errors in communication.

My point is not at all that mastering Photoshop, understanding how to set up a page, make a macro, know where the pallette is, makes you a digital artist. No, no, no, no. I thought I already said that: "anyone can start Photoshop, but not everyone can add something artistic"?
A colourist is an artist, maybe you feel that not everyone is as skilled or as educated as a professional position requires, but that is not the same thing.

As to your question, then the answer is everything is faster. You don't have to be as careful about errors for instance, because you can quickly undo an error. You can zoom out and check if you are adding too much or too little to a page ( that will be noticed in print), and then zoom in again. Changing brushes or brush-sizes can take less than a fraction of a second. If you want to add some unique texture from a photograph or some such then that is done very quickly as well.
It's hard to show restraint when there is so much that can be done in such short order, the original artistic vision can be muddled indeed, that I will give you. For I have done such errors myself.

The term ‘supportive position’ would suggest you recognise the colourist’s role as subordinate to the penciller.

Would you accept that the reason colouring a finished illustration is fun is precisely because all of the hard work has been completed?
Mostly yes. The more incredible the achievement in the penciled page, then often, unless one becomes riddled with doubt about doing said work justice, the more fun the colouring is.

Even if it was true that the colourists follow the penciller’s lead, I do not believe it is possible to model a face or figure (or indeed add depth and clarity to a scene) without a good knowledge of the subject. Painting-- modelling in colour-- is the equivalent to drawing with planes of tone as opposed to ‘outlining planes’ in black-line art.
This notion that the penciller is somehow supplying a framework for the colourist to add ‘THEIR ART’ is often used to justify self indulgent nonsense.
I agree that a certain knowledge about the subject is needed, but not of exactly the same aspects you do. ( see shadow & light) What you call "self-indulgent nonsense" someone else could call their "refreshing experimentation". That's why communication and collaboration is important, if a colourist wishes to do some things, then he could most likely come to a reasonable understanding of why not to do so at a certain point, or come to an amicable compromise. Working with others is all about compromise.

NO. I don’t expect a colourist to be as skilled as a penciller BUT in recognizing that they are far less skilled illustrators, the colourist’s code should be ‘First do no harm’-- IF in doubt leave it alone!
Now, ‘colour-theory’ is highly debatable because so much of colour can be personal preference but I am very curious about what you mean by ’knowledge of light and shadow’? ALL form is defined by light and shadow. In the most simplistic terms it could be said that all illustration is a ’knowledge of light and shadow’.

I would not say one always has the luxury of leaving it entirely alone in todays industry. Un-rendered flat pages are not accepted by the comic-reading public of today, when they know that more can be done, and rightly so. A better modus operandi in my view, is "If in doubt, ASK someone". ( preferrably the penciler, if that is an option, which it should be) :) And then since it is a new situation, scale the rendering back to a more simplistic level than one usually would.

Apples and oranges perhaps, but I think there's a difference there.

When I say Shadow and Light, I mean that the colourist must keep the light-source consistent, identify the direction that light is coming from, where there should be light and less or no light, if there are, or should logically be, more than one light-source. This is of course based on observing the objects depicted in the drawing, and their positions. Hey! Waitaminute... are you asking me a trick-question, Mr Davis? ;)
This was my point. IF a colourist believes they are equal to a penciller then let them prove it. (… rather than wasting his talent with comic-book colouring).
For the sake of discussion we are dealing in sweeping generalities here and while I accept that a few colourists might be capable of working closely with a penciller as ‘an equal’,
Thank you, Mr Davis! That's very good to hear.
most are by necessity technicians with little illustrative ability. Because, as, your summation would seem to indicate, the job is beneath anyone with real ability-- unless they are allowed to impose their personal ‘style’?
A clumsy choice of words then, since the ability to be a colourist is a very real ability. Perhaps not as great as that of a painter, but real none the less. If no artistic ability whatsoever was needed, then it would be easier to let a machine do the job. Wind it up, point the gun, pull the trigger.
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Re: Mr Davis, are some of your art fair game for Colouring?

Postby Alan Davis » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:15 am

This has been a contention between inkers and pencilers for decades, like for instance an artist doing his own inks often look very different from one inked by someone else, even if the inkers have done a correct job.


This from someone who admits to being unable to tell the difference between pages inked by myself or Mark Farmer? :)

Some artists have therefore, now that printing allows it, decided to skip inks entirely and go directly for colour or gray-tones. I suppose it is inevitable that now when a colourists importance is higher, they become a part of this contention.


Hmmm? I don’t suppose the fact that removing an inker from the book allows the penciller to earn a much higher page rate could be a more important consideration?

I think you have simply had some bad experiences of lacking communication, and that the effect of the colourist on the final work must now be taken into the equation, feels alien to your traditional work-flow.


Again it seems you consider my ‘traditional’ work is obsolete. I don’t mean to be unkind but your defence of the process would suggest you see colouring as your opportunity to become an important, award winning, part of creating a comic-- despite the fact you yourself have stated your knowledge of illustration and storytelling is very limited.

As to your question, then the answer is everything is faster. You don't have to be as careful about errors for instance, because you can quickly undo an error. You can zoom out and check if you are adding too much or too little to a page ( that will be noticed in print), and then zoom in again. Changing brushes or brush-sizes can take less than a fraction of a second. If you want to add some unique texture from a photograph or some such then that is done very quickly as well.


I understand the features and capabilities of Photoshop. My question was how is it speeding up the process IF it is not doing some of the work?

It's hard to show restraint when there is so much that can be done in such short order, the original artistic vision can be muddled indeed, that I will give you. For I have done such errors myself.


“It's hard to show restraint when there is so much that can be done in such short order,” Thank you for your honesty. This is exactly my point, so many digital colourists delude themselves into believing change of any sort is what is required so do not restrain themselves.

Mostly yes. The more incredible the achievement in the penciled page, then often, unless one becomes riddled with doubt about doing said work justice, the more fun the colouring is.


‘… riddled with doubt’ ? I’d be happy for just one doubt, in the hope the colourist might realise that their lack of illustrative knowledge makes them insufficient to the task.

I agree that a certain knowledge about the subject is needed, but not of exactly the same aspects you do. ( see shadow & light) What you call "self-indulgent nonsense" someone else could call their "refreshing experimentation". That's why communication and collaboration is important, if a colourist wishes to do some things, then he could most likely come to a reasonable understanding of why not to do so at a certain point, or come to an amicable compromise. Working with others is all about compromise.


Compromise is a wonderful concept but, if you believe colourists do not need to possess knowledge or skill equal to the penciller, how can their opinion be as relevant? If I draw a scene to suggest a particular narrative mood, or to focus on a particular element within the scene, that cannot be open to debate. Surely that must be true if you believe comics are about story and not just some empty opportunity for "refreshing experimentation"?

When I say Shadow and Light, I mean that the colourist must keep the light-source consistent, identify the direction that light is coming from, where there should be light and less or no light, if there are, or should logically be, more than one light-source. This is of course based on observing the objects depicted in the drawing, and their positions. Hey! Waitaminute... are you asking me a trick-question, Mr Davis?


Not a trick question. I honestly wanted to know how limited a knowledge of light and shadow you thought was required. Your reply would suggest very little. Does it ever concern you that a lack of illustrative knowledge may make you unaware of the penciller’s intentions?

A clumsy choice of words then, since the ability to be a colourist is a very real ability. Perhaps not as great as that of a painter, but real none the less.


This is where I find your argument difficult to rationalise. ‘Perhaps not as great as a painter’ ? You say you feel unable to pencil art, that you do not believe a colourist needs to possess extensive illustrative knowledge yet you are comfortable to compare a colourist to a painter?
Would you also call someone who passes their time ‘painting’ paint-by-number pictures a painter?

If no artistic ability whatsoever was needed, then it would be easier to let a machine do the job. Wind it up, point the gun, pull the trigger.


My contention is that the machine is doing some of the work-- Wind it up, move the icon, click!
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Re: Mr Davis, are some of your art fair game for Colouring?

Postby Predabot » Wed Mar 25, 2009 6:39 pm

Alan Davis wrote:This from someone who admits to being unable to tell the difference between pages inked by myself or Mark Farmer? :)
Not every one has the benefit of an inker like Mark Farmer who is very good at bending his style to the subject. ;)

Hmmm? I don’t suppose the fact that removing an inker from the book allows the penciller to earn a much higher page rate could be a more important consideration?
Oh? That I had no idea of. Logical however, since often the penciler then often adds more to the page at the pencil-stage. I personally believe that there is often a big aesthetic reason for it though, since Gene Colan (among others), has said in interviews that his most recent work which was printed without inks, and then straight to colour, were done so because he preferred it like that.

Again it seems you consider my ‘traditional’ work is obsolete. I don’t mean to be unkind but your defense of the process would suggest you see colouring as your opportunity to become an important, award winning, part of creating a comic-- despite the fact you yourself have stated your knowledge of illustration and storytelling is very limited.
Not at all obsolete. I simply believe taking a good review of some digital options that could be used for some new interesting additions to your art, and possible subsequent revisions to your current process, could give inspiring results. I feel this has worked very well for other artists working professionally.

I certainly don't see myself as becoming an award-winning part of comic-creating though! :lol: Did I truly give the impression of such a high opinion of myself? I know several friends that certainly have the potential, but I certainly don't consider myself at such a level.

My question was how is it speeding up the process IF it is not doing some of the work?
And I've already given you my answer. But I'll go in depth again, below, when we talk about machines doing artistic work.

“It's hard to show restraint when there is so much that can be done in such short order,” Thank you for your honesty. This is exactly my point, so many digital colourists delude themselves into believing change of any sort is what is required so do not restrain themselves.
Point taken. I find that showing restraint and going for sunbtletly is easier the more experienced I have become, and I would say the same of my mates that are doing colouring. Realizing ones limitations is the first step towards moving those limits forward, I should say.

‘… riddled with doubt’ ? I’d be happy for just one doubt, in the hope the colourist might realise that their lack of illustrative knowledge makes them insufficient to the task.
I think, in all honesty, you or me can't clump every colourist together in a positive or negative manor as we have. It certainly keeps the debate flowing, but some perspective is needed. I think both you and me know plenty of cases, where pencilers, with varying skills, are paired with a colourist that is certainly with an adequate skill level for their tasks.

I would say it's very common in the non-professional sector, the fanzine-biz which I've begun to dip my toes in.

Compromise is a wonderful concept but, if you believe colourists do not need to possess knowledge or skill equal to the penciller, how can their opinion be as relevant? If I draw a scene to suggest a particular narrative mood, or to focus on a particular element within the scene, that cannot be open to debate. Surely that must be true if you believe comics are about story and not just some empty opportunity for "refreshing experimentation"?
The colourist reads the script as well ( well he/she should...), mayhaps he does not agree with a certain story-telling element that you have chosen, based on the script? Perhaps he interprets that part of the narration differently. I think being open to input is a good thing.

Of course, if you are also the writer, then that input could have less weight.


Not a trick question. I honestly wanted to know how limited a knowledge of light and shadow you thought was required. Your reply would suggest very little. Does it ever concern you that a lack of illustrative knowledge may make you unaware of the penciller’s intentions?
Of course.
I ask more skilled or professional people for input on my pieces often. There is almost always some part of the lighting that I need some tips on how to pull off.
But I'm an amateur, I don't have the same knowledge and experience as a professional colourist.


This is where I find your argument difficult to rationalise. ‘Perhaps not as great as a painter’ ? You say you feel unable to pencil art, that you do not believe a colourist needs to possess extensive illustrative knowledge yet you are comfortable to compare a colourist to a painter?
Would you also call someone who passes their time ‘painting’ paint-by-number pictures a painter?
A colourist often uses similar tecniques to a painter nowadays, but the basic approach is not the same. We've both agreed that a colourist follows the pencilers lead, and that's the difference, the painter runs his own show, with hardly anyone else involved in the process.

I never equated a colourist to a painter. And no, I don't consider someone that's doing a paint-by-numbers-picture a painter.
My contention is that the machine is doing some of the work-- Wind it up, move the icon, click!

"I have journeyed into a strange, parallel dimension... odd and mystifying to a mere man as myself. In this eerie world, a duplicate of Alan Davis has just suggested to me that a computer, a mindless, emotionless machine, is capable of artistic work."


A computer can only do the simpler manual parts of the craft that require no artistic talent, on its own. ( and that work is still instructed by a human) This, is my point. Anything else is preposterous. The computer has no idea what a tree, or a car, or a human being is. It has no capacity to understand an artistic vision whatsoever.
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Re: Mr Davis, are some of your art fair game for Colouring?

Postby Alan Davis » Wed Mar 25, 2009 11:41 pm

I wrote “… my contention is that the machine is doing SOME of the work…” Not that the machine was capable of producing artistic work. I don’t believe most colourists are capable of that!
I had been happy to continue this discussion because your previous honesty promised a genuine insight into a mindset that eludes me but deliberately distorting what I have written in order to evade a valid question by resorting to sarcasm and ridicule is unworthy.
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Re: Mr Davis, are some of your art fair game for Colouring?

Postby Predabot » Fri Mar 27, 2009 9:12 pm

Alan Davis wrote:I wrote “… my contention is that the machine is doing SOME of the work…” Not that the machine was capable of producing artistic work. I don’t believe most colourists are capable of that!
I had been happy to continue this discussion because your previous honesty promised a genuine insight into a mindset that eludes me but deliberately distorting what I have written in order to evade a valid question by resorting to sarcasm and ridicule is unworthy.
Well, my attempt at humour won't be the next big crowd-pleaser, that's for sure. :|

I just felt like the situation was going around in circles, it was a bit ridiculous really, so I made a joke about what I saw as an unreasonable situation. I guess I didn't understand your question as well as I thought.

Well, I have failed. I'll take a good look at what we've written here though, and see if I can't get an impartial opinion on the debate, see where it went wrong. And hopefully perhaps find a suitable replacement for myself. A more mature and experienced person is needed, a better man than me.

Thanks for an interesting debate none the less, Mr Davis.

Lars Johansson ( aka "Predabot")
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