Creating Comics Panel by Panel
Freaks & Gods Page 18 Coloring by Chris Dreier
Welcome back to Panel by Panel. It’s like my diary of creating my comic. Here you’ll see the progress of my comic Tales of the Dark Tunnel (which is world-building for my series Freaks & Gods). Also, you may see some tips, shortcuts, ideas for story flow, how-tos, problem-solving, or maybe you’re just here to see some cool art.
This week is a little different. I normally spend my time talking about inking. But I also color my own comics as well.
This is how I do it. Keep in mind I’m trying to keep production time as low as I can (since it’s basically me and a penciler) and this has been the fastest way I’ve found to cut down on the time it takes for color flatting.
I do my color flats with Krita. It’s an amazing free program much like Photoshop but it has one little feature that I love—Colorize Mask. This tool allows you to make lines of color on a figure and it will automatically create and fill in the flats. It’s not without its flaws but overall it’s pretty awesome.
I create color sheets for all my characters. Krita has a nice tool that will help you keep references (like color sheets) up on screen while you work. Just click on the “Reference Images Tool” and a dialog box opens. Here you can load your images or even paste something you have copied.
As the references open you can move, size, and rearrange them. This is how I did it (Oh, the color swatches on the upper left corner is a screen grab of a custom palette I made that closely matches the colors from the 1970’s-80’s.)
To select a color use the “Color Selector Tool” or hold CTRL and pick your color.
Now we’re ready to color!
Click on the “Colorize Mask Editing Tool” and click anywhere on the page. The software will do some calculations which depending on the speed of your computer or laptop may take a minute or two. Once done the page turns ghostly and semitransparent. It’ll look like this.
Now select the color and draw lines in the correct areas. Be careful though. If areas are left “isolated” it will be filled with a nearby color or just white.
Once all the areas are “colored” then the magic happens. Here is what the bottom two-thirds of the page looks like.
There are two ways that I do this process.
1) I put color in every spot of the characters and background; like hair, costume colors, skin tones, teeth, eyes, weapons etc… I did that with the big guy on here. Each separate element is “colored”. (Yes, look closely but white is in his eyes and on the big screen behind our floating heroes).
2) The second way is to fill the entire character with their primary color (like the Hulk would be all green at first). This will give you a solid fill on the character that in Clip Studio Paint you can select and quickly fill the details.
Find the Tool Options tab and click it.
These are the options for Colorize Mask. Click “Update” and then Krita will fill in the page.
A word of warning…this can take my computer about 10-15 minutes to render. If you have a fast machine you should be good. Of course the size of the image and the level of line art details will probably contribute to the speed (or lack).
Once Krita is done the color fills in and if you’re like me you think “that just saved me five hours of selections and color fill”. But the flats are not perfect. You could choose to clean them up in Krita but I prefer to use Clip Studio Paint. Go to Layer àConvert à to Paint Layer. This will take the color mask layer and make it a layer you can work on. I select the whole canvas, copy, and paste in under the Inks layer is Clip Studio Paint.
That’s it for this week. I hope you enjoyed my quick look at the Colorize Mask. Come back next week where I go through the “Krita flats” and show you the good and bad and what I do to fix it.
Thanks so much and keep making comics!
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.