Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Coloring the Carters: An Epic Scene of Celebration

David and I are turning out finished pages of Don't Forget This Song as fast as we can. In my role of colorist, I seldom get off easy. David's ink artwork is remarkably intricate, and has much to keep the observer's gaze affixed. You're invited to explore every nook and cranny of his artwork.

All of those nooks and crannies need to be colored. The good news: I enjoy coloring. It is satisfying to see ideas I've been carrying around in my head suddenly made literal. We've spent a long time living with these pages in their rough form. Seeing the inked line artwork for the first time is always a delight to me.

Here is one of the most detailed and epic pages of the book (so far). Apologies for the lack of dialogue. The text is written. I don't lay it in until we've assembled the layout in InDesign.

This page depicts the celebration at the wedding of A.P. and Sara Carter. As the newlyweds waltz to the accompaniment of a Virginia string band (joined by their friends Buff and Mae, who are just rehearsing for their own wedding day), friends and family of the gifted couple comment on the scene.

The dialogue is amusing, and shows a variety of reactions to the unique personalities of A.P. and Sara.

David designed this intricate page, and, as you can see, the placement of the figures took a lot of thought and care. When the page was given to me to color, I went through a similar process. I had made a color rough, with felt markers, on the pencil thumbnail sketch of the page, back in 2009.

The page went through much refinement since then. My color guide was merely a suggestion of what would go where. It was a challenge to distribute the limited palette of our color scheme throughout a scene of over 40 figures. I had to be careful to vary the colors, and not to run the same colors too close together.

Thanks to the versatility of Photoshop, I'm able to change colors, de-saturate them, and tighten up my work after I've laid the basic "coats" down on the digital page. There sometimes seems to be no end of fussing, fiddling and fine-tuning that I do to these pages. This one, in particular, required a great deal of the Three Fs!

The bottom row of panels was something of a relief, after having spent hours laying in colors on that huge top panel. Large medium-shots of the characters offered a bit of a break, in comparison to the tiny spots of color demanded by the large main scene.

I'm happy with the overall results, and I hope you'll enjoy taking a gander at this page. It's a real show-stopper.


Sarah McIntyre said...

Aghhh! Complicated crowd scene! Glad it's you doing it, not me! :D

No really, it looks amazing, can't wait to see the final book.

Charles Vess said...

Looking good! Can't wait to see the entire story...