Thursday, July 20, 2006

Limit Your Palette

More and more cartoons are being published in color. And with some markets, that means more money. My problem is that when I do a B&W wash drawing like the one above -- it's not usable for a color version. I mean, sure, I could carefully eliminate the grey tones in PhotoShop, but, hey, when I say that markets pay more for color, I mean that they pay $25-$100 more. Not a lot of money. So I can't devote many hours to coloring.

So I do a redraw, which can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour plus. I think the major change I made was to draw more of the airport in the window, since I thought one needed to have the "tell" that this was an airport. The close-up of the airplane in the B&W drawing just didn't "read" to me.

But the PhotoShop coloring on this cartoon took a long time. A real long time. Hours. I couldn't control it! I mean, everyone should have different clothing colors, right?

So I was complaining about all this at lunch one day. My friend and colleague Sandy Kossin, a prolific painter and illustrator, was sitting across the table. "Michael, m'lad," he told me, "Limit your palette."

Sandy's advice changed everything!

So, here's a cartoon with only a few cool blues, an orangey brown and a reddish color. I gave myself 20 minutes to do this. Even though it's done a little messily (the background has messy, wide swooshes of color and there are little bits of white here and there), it still works. I was happily surprised!

So I started to color with Sandy's advice in mind. I would pick 2 or 3 colors and then using tones, vary each color a couple times. Even though I've never seen a yellow vacuum, it pops out in the drawing and it looks OK.

Less is more. And it certainly made for more time in the day to draw.

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