Creating Comics Panel by Panel
Freaks & Gods Page 5 Color Flats by Chris Dreier
I get all my freelance work as an inker. However, I color my creator-owned comics like Freaks & Gods. For this particular book…Tales of the Dark Tunnel I choose to go with a color palette that closely resembles the 64 colors available to comics back in the 70’s – early 80’s.
I created a color guide and placed it on the left of the main image. To the right is the color guide for the three characters in this book. Yes, I create these sorts of documents for every character just in case I get way behind and may need some help. It’s also nice so I don’t goof up the colors either.
I switched all my color flat work to Krita. It’s a free art program that is quite powerful (see link at the bottom of the article). I only use it for color flats though. It has a tool called “Color Mask”. It’s the icon on the left that is highlighted in blue. Tap the open line art image and it processes (depending on your machine it could take some time). When done your image will look like what’s below…sort of “transparent-ish”.
“Okay Chris, so what?”
Well, now you pick your color, draw lines in areas you want that color and it will fill it automatically. No, not kidding. Check out below. All I did was draw lines on the whole image. Of course you have to make sure that any sort of area that might be sectioned off by crosshatching or whatnot also has a line in it as well. I even put white in the gutters.
Click “Update” in the “Tool Options” and wait. My machine usually gets it done in about 10 minutes or so and the page looks like this:
A quick Layer>>Convert>>to Paint Layer later and I have a layer I can copy and paste into the background in Clip Studio Paint.
I must note this is not perfect. You can see in these two images that it does a really great job but will need to be cleaned up before you can call the flats finished.
Here is the page completed. I always add an adjustment layer to lower saturation and lighten it up a bit…not too much.
The reason that I switched to Krita is because of time. From beginning to end of this page as shown below was about an hour and half. Depending on a page it would be finished in 45 minutes. Mind you that’s just the color flats…but wow, 45 minutes to flat a page?
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Writer, Artist, Inker, Colorist
His career as an inker over the past twenty years had him working with Antarctic Press, Chaos Comics, AC Comics, Dark Horse Comics, Avatar Press, IDW, SkyStorm Studios, and Joe Books. Chris is currently working on his creator-own project Freaks & Gods.