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Change the Entire Nature of Your Comics with Color

Comic coloring directly impacts the way your reader receives the story.
Panels from Black Monday Murders. Created by Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker, colors by Michael Garland. Screencap via

This week’s episode of Strip Panel Naked, the weekly Youtube show where Hass Otsmane-Elhaou breaks down the cool techniques and tricks hiding in comic creation, focuses how color in comics can be used to help convey feeling, and go beyond simple aesthetic purpose. “Representing Emotion with Colour” tracks the way colorist Michael Garland works to add symbolism and deeper emotion to the pages of the Image comic Black Monday Murders. “When your book is almost exclusively scenes of dialogue,” explains SPN host Otsmane-Elhaou, “people just having conversations with each other, there are lots of tricks you can pull off to make the visuals worth more than just shots of people’s faces.”


The role of the colorist is an often misunderstood role, and the work goes way beyond just “coloring in the book.” The chief example used in this video is the way Michael Garland uses a gradient of blue to red as a way to convey power dynamics and feeling on the page. As Otsmane-Elhaou says in the video, “Colorists are not there just to color skin the right tone, or to make sure that sky is the right shade of blue. They are there to add and build the story along with the other artists on the book. That might mean the sky ends up blue, it might mean it ends up green, or it might mean it ends up as a red-blue gradient that tries to tell you a bit more about the world surrounding these characters.”

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A look at the way the color shifts in panels from Black Monday Murders. Created by Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker, colors by Michael Garland. Screencap via

So don’t let anyone ever say coloring a comic is easy stuff. “It’s really quite hard to overstate the power and value that coloring has on the story,” says Otsmane-Elhaou. “It’s directly and consciously impacting the way you receive that story you’re reading.”

Watch the video and learn how you can add deeper meaning to your work with color below:

To see more, visit the Strip Panel Naked YouTube page, and check out its Patreon page to support the series.


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