Colouring Between The Lines

This week, I wrapped up production on the first page of Canadian Shield, taking my comic from physical desktop to electronic desktop. First I scanned the artwork that I created for the last blog. Colouring the panels in Photoshop followed, and I did the lettering in Illustrator to complete the project.

Historically, colourists and letterers have been the unsung heroes of the comic book industry, but that’s changing, with recognition of how vital the roles are. For some great discussion on colouring and lettering, listen to the Nerdist Writer’s Panel, Comic Book Edition Podcast #63 for a Q&A segment on both.

In a February 2014 interview with Marvel Colourist, Ruth Redmond, in Comics Beat e-zine, Redmond says, “I suppose clarity of values is the first most important thing [a colourist brings to a project], the reader needs to know where to look and the use of value in a work can indicate this very efficiently. The eye reads value (light and dark) faster than it registers actual colours. I think the second most important thing for me is the emotional tone. The use of certain colours will evoke certain emotions in a reader even faster than words or what the characters are expressing.”

There’s a science to this art. Who knew? I can name at least one person who didn’t. I discovered that when you’re drawing and inking, you need to close all your shapes, even when breaking borders, as I did with the fracking rig tower in my final panel. A number of times I applied a colour and suddenly the whole page would change. Getting around this problem wasn’t easy, and it happened many times, in many places. Also, my colour selections may lack the desirable addition of emotional punch that Redmond suggests.

At the next stage, I was comfortably back in the realm of words and letters. I added voice balloons and laid my text over them. My lettering lacks the flair that the pros exercise, but it’s not bad for a first attempt.

Looking back at this project, it turns out, putting words in the mouths of villains and heroes is what I’m most comfortable with, and I think I’ll leave the art to the artists. Come back for my last instalment of Full Script for my review of Brian Michael Bendis’ Words For Pictures: The Art and Business of Writing Comics and Graphic Novels.


An enthusiastic writer with a passion for comics and supernatural horror, Stephen grew up in Almonte, ON, lived in Nunavut, and now divides his time between Maitland, NS and Ottawa, ON. A dedicated environmental activist, his meticulous attention to detail is surpassed only by his robust laughter and generous spirit.

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