Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Pencils, Ink, Colour

Just lately I've been writing a lot about a number of artists whose work I enjoy - with particular focus on Eric Basaldua and Stjepan Sejic. The preview pages from Witchblade Annual #1 that I recently posted reminded me of the inker and colourists role in the artistic process and I want to highlight the value that each of these people bring to a book.

The inker takes an artists pencil drawings and goes over them in ink, taking the image and turning it into a finished piece of work. The dark ink lines makes the art jump off the page as well as helping to add depth and dimension. One of the misconceptions about inkers is that they do little more than trace someone elses work. However, inkers must be accomplished artists in their own right, understanding anatomy, scale and perspective, for instance, every bit as much as the penciller does.

The colourists job is to apply colour to pencilled and inked artwork. This isn't as easy as it sounds though and typically the job is broken down into two parts: 1) 'flatting' and 2) 'colouring'. In the flatting process, the basic areas of colour are blocked out so the colorist knows what spaces to colour what. In the colouring stage, the colourist adds lighting and shading to help give the artwork a three dimensional feel.

Some pencillers will ink and colour their own work, some pencil and ink before involving a colourist - it's very much a collaborative process.

As an example, here's a page of inked pencils from the aforementioned Witchblade Annual

and here's the same page with colour

In these example Eric Basaldua is responsible for both pencils and ink (with ink assists from Dulce Brassea and Alix Minjarez) whilst the colours are the work of John Starr.

Here's another comparison from the same creative team - pencils/inks and then with colour added

I know that often when I'm enjoying a comic book and admiring the finished artwork I have a tendency to forget just how much of a team effort it's been. Credit where credit is due.