This story is over 5 years old.


A Comics Color Artist Explains the Psychology of Pigment

In this week's Strip Panel Naked, K. Michael Russell shares what it's like to work as a professional comics color artist.
Panel selection from Postal #15. Screencaps via

The color artist in comics is one of the most crucial members of the creative team when it comes to establishing the proper mood and tone of a book. While the writer and artist are, of course, the structural foundation of the story, the color artist adds layers of complexity. This week's Strip Panel Naked, the mini-comic masterclass hosted by Hass Otsmane-Elhaou, is a conversation between Hass and color artist K. Michael Russell about his work on the comic Postal for Top Cow, covering his thoughts on a specific page he colored, and how he approaches a project.


The last time Russell spoke to Strip Panel Naked, the conversation focused on the psychology behind his color choices. In this week's chat, Russell addresses why he makes certain coloring choices. In regards to the image above, he says, "I was thinking was that I want two colors that work well on the page, but that are also very, very different from each other." They then move on to talk about a bright spot of light on the left of a panel, with the character seated far to the right. Russell did this intentionally, to create eye-movement, "I think of it as kind of a slow pan," he explains.

The conversation then moves to specific brush types he uses (and why), and on to what it's like to get a set of uncolored pages and have to begin on a new project. "As far as how the book's going to be colored, how it's going to look, the first thing I do is skim the pages and read the script," and the pacing of the workload can vary greatly, too. "For most books you're getting a full issue, or half issue, or if the deadline's tight they might just send pages as they're coming."

To get more of an insider's look into the life and work of a color artist, watch the full video below:

To see more, visit the Strip Panel Naked YouTube page, check out its Patreon page to support the series, and pre-order Hass Otsmane-Elhaou's first volume of PanelxPanel, an in-depth online magazine of comic theory, criticism, and celebration.


A Comic Book Color Artist Explains the Psychology of Pigments

Learn About the Comic Artist's Secret Sidekick, The Inker

These Comic Pros Opened Their Book with a Lizard on a Stick