Color Hot Seat by Mary Cagle
Big thanks to Mary Cagle who offered to guest host a Hot Seat on Color!
Hey guys! First, thank you to everyone who submitted their comics for the coloring hot seat! I hope the advice rings true, and I’ll definitely answer any questions this might bring up.
TIS has pretty solid coloring over all, which matches the art style well. I just noticed a few things that bother me:
The style the hair hilights are done in is visually confusing. In this strip, for instance, I have trouble telling whether the two characters both have stylized version of black hair, or whether they have red and blue streak highlights respectively. I think incorporating some solid areas of color rather than just the streaks would help clear this up.
The other thing that bothers me is the plaid in the recent strips. I know it seems like an annoying task, but if you create a selection for the clothes it shouldn’t take too long to just draw some plaid in manually, or to transform the plaid pattern to fit the shape of the clothes. It’s a hassle, but patterns that don’t match what they’re on can be really distracting since they ruin the illusion of depth.
Like Brad said in his hot seat, this comic has a very nice palette! My one complaint would be the changing background from blue to yellow in a lot of the strips. Because most of the panels lack true backgrounds, the color switch can come off as a change in location rather than an effect for the sake of emphasis. This becomes a bigger problem since one of the colors is light blue, which without any other details generally reads as a blank sky. If your house has light blue walls, I’d throw in a simple shadow or two to clarify that they’re still indoors.
Meat Shield has a very common problem when it comes to the shadows: They’re just too subtle! On a lot of panels, I had to look closely to realize that they were shaded at all. I can tell you’re still experimenting a lot with your shading technique in the recent strips. I’d suggest trying to go bolder, as well as trying sharper shadows (which I think would match your clear solid lines better than the soft brush shades).
Many of PTG’s panels suffer from a lack of defined light source. For instance, here’s a panel from the GI Joe comic. The arrows indicate where the light source is implied to be coming from by the shadows.
Remember, cast shadows should only appear on the opposite side of your light source.
Here’s a version I drew over with some dark shadows (for legibility) with a single light source in the upper left for dramatic punch.
Choosing a distinct light source goes a long way towards properly placing shadows to define form.
I like a lot of what RA has going on with its colors. The color choices are appropriately bold for a women’s wrestling comic without being gaudily saturated.
The main thing I’m noticing is that there’s a lot of panels where the light source is coming directly from the front. While this isn’t always a problem, the thin shadows this light source creates tend to flatten out the forms of the characters.
In this image, for instance, I love the shading around her neck area and (her) right arm, but the body and (her) left arm end up looking flat by comparison. I’d suggest pulling the shadows further into the form, or leaving some of them out. Don’t feel obligated to throw a shadow in at the edge!
Some of these pages are plagued by a common cancer I like to call the Gradient Tool. On this page, for instance, that gradient “line” is pretty noticeable once it catches your eye. Especially considering the lack of shading on the characters themselves, it really sticks out. On this page, meanwhile, the gradient in the sky is pretty confusing. What time of day is Yellow>Bright Teal indicating? What sun position / atmospheric condition would cause this particular color combination?
Always use gradients with caution, and try to make sure you’re pulling them far enough that the transition isn’t too visually abrupt.