Comic Talk, Tips and Tricks

Niccea at 8:17AM, March 4, 2009
posts: 5,542
joined: 8-10-2007
I like using color in all my comics, but one color I have the most trouble using is black. Every time I color with it, I feel like I'm drawing a blob.

It drives me crazy when I actually want to draw something with a little shadows, like a shirt.

I've mostly been using 95% gray to color, but I would love to actually use black.

Does anyone have any suggestions for this?
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:12PM
Eddie Jensen at 8:47AM, March 4, 2009
posts: 256
joined: 6-7-2007
I've never used blacks beyond my inking I just use really dark grays because you can't shade black cause well black is black doesnt get much darker than that.
if I was a teapot I think I'd be orange.
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:18PM
Hyena H_ll at 10:03AM, March 4, 2009
posts: 1,568
joined: 11-13-2008
I can only speak for traditional media, but I actually use pure black pretty sparingly. It does tend to be overwhelming, especially if you're using a broad palette of colors. I've found using a warm or cool black (think really dark red, brown, blue, etc.) helps tone it down a bit. It's usually the last color I add, too. I think the trick is balance- treating areas of black as you would any other design element, where it's spread across the composition in a way that flows, and doesn't draw attention to any one focal point (unless that's the intent).
last edited on July 14, 2011 12:52PM
confusedsoul at 10:05AM, March 4, 2009
posts: 269
joined: 1-9-2006
Black should be used for really stark shadows and even then not very much of it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:44AM
skoolmunkee at 10:24AM, March 4, 2009
posts: 7,058
joined: 1-2-2006
Hyena touched on this but I want to emphasize it.

Black isn't a color to just fill in. Black is a structural element of the page and needs to be planned for. The eye sees black as “solid” space (whereas white is negative or empty space) and gives it importance on the page, and as such becomes part of the page's layout and body. You can use that to your advantage but it's not an easy thing to use a lot of black on a page- and when you try using just a little, it can really stick out.

If you're interested in using a lot of black, try looking up Mike Mignola, or Simon Bisley, or just do a google image search for black and white comic. Try taking an analytical look at it and figure out how the black directs the way you read the page, how the black highlights (or hides) certain things, how the shape of the black is used on the page, etc.

If you're not interested in doing any of that kind of stuff, then yeah, stick to dark greys or otherwise ‘toned down’ blacks :]
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:42PM
NickGuy at 11:13AM, March 4, 2009
posts: 988
joined: 2-22-2007
Black takes a confidence and knowledge of what you are doing that no other color requires as much. If you arent sure how to use black, then you probably shouldnt because youll just mess up.

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last edited on July 14, 2011 2:15PM
ozoneocean at 8:42PM, March 4, 2009
posts: 24,995
joined: 1-2-2004
Using black depends very much on your style. My comic has a painterly style- for me black is simply the darkest tone a computer monitor can display, so in my comic I use both it and white sparingly… with the exception of text and panel borders. For most dark colours I'll use a dark version of a colour rather than pure black.

It really is style dependant though. SOme comics are pure black and white… Other colour comics are simplified with thick black lined areas and full black in the detail and simple colour for the rest. It's not hard to do really, just work instictively and have a really good idea of what you want your look to be. :)
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:33PM
BffSatan at 12:38AM, March 5, 2009
posts: 1,478
joined: 3-2-2008
One of my charecters wears black so I came across this problem as well, basically I solved it by using lighter grey parts and light grey lines.

Of course I probably don't do it that well, but that's because of my poor drawing.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:20AM
Aurora Borealis at 11:02AM, March 6, 2009
posts: 1,289
joined: 3-2-2008
I don't see black as such a difficult color. If you need two black objects overlapping each other, just give them a white outline in the overlapping spots. Sort of negative of white objects with black outlines.

Back in the old days they used to use dark blue instead of black.

You can use black to make solid shadows, to create atmosphere, to create contrast etc. Hmm, I guess it might be a little difficult to some :D
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:08AM

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