Staying Inside the Lines (or not)
December 5, 2008

So, if you've been around here very long, you know well that I very much enjoy cartoons and comics.

I don't recall what I was looking for at Amazon one day, but I discovered this:

Book cover for Hi-Fi Color

Hi-Fi Color for comics by Miller and Miller.

The book is simply put - amazing. Included is a CD of Photoshop scripts and a myriad of different comic art for you to follow along with in the book - or colour your own way. The book makes it very clear that Terry Moore and others donated their comic art to the book and that you do NOT have permission to post your colourings online anywhere (except for the very nice HueDoo forum), so unlike some of my other experiments in art, you won't see me posting anything from the book here or at Oppositional Design.


before you run off! The stuff in this book is excellent - so much so that you do not have to be some Photoshop wizard or even consider yourself an artist to enjoy this book. If you don't have Photoshop, a good portion of the stuff in the book can be done with Photoshop Elements (comes with many digital cameras) or even the open source GIMP. Yes, the scripts and brushes are specific to Photoshop itself, but you can benefit from the book without those extras - particularly since Amazon's selling the book for a bit over $16 instead of $25. The first script, which "processes" art for you, is something you can recreate with the instructions in the book. The second script is an fx script which looks like is pretty Photoshop specific and perhaps not explained in the book. (But I bet someone on the HueDoo forum has probably explained it by now.) I haven't gotten to what the third script is yet.

Even if you simply enjoy art or comics, you'll get a deeper appreciation as you read through the book and look at the art on the CD. The instructions are clear and step by step - and leave plenty of room for your own creativity. It's the nicest blend of "how-to" which still leaves you to your own creativity I've seen in a long while.

I talk to people all the time who insist they can't draw or they are not artistic and it infuriates me, largely because I was one of those people just three years ago. I drew a lot as a kid - I wanted to go into cartooning way back then, but the only books that I could lay my hands on were simplistic cartooning for kids things that really weren't too helpful. I did enjoy my Mercer Mayer's Little Monster activity book which showed you how to draw all the major characters in the book ... but because I couldn't get the hang of grid drawing (which was supposed to simplify things) ... I got frustrated and quit trying.

As far as I was concerned, my mom was the artist and my sister was the musician ... and I guessed I was a writer. It wasn't until I was fairly deep into web design before I started also trying to draw again. A lot of it was crap ... but then I discovered the Cartoon Cool by Chris Hart and started noodling around again. And, the words that I used to tell my students in first-year writing came back to haunt me: professional writers DO have to work at writing. They don't get it magically right the first time and come downstairs with some finished masterpiece.



Umm, gee, I guess the same thing goes for artists, huh? That would be why there are pages of sketches done before an artist tackles a big painting. That's why a comic book artist might do pages and pages of sketches blocking the story out before drawing a comic "for real."

It's simply work that an artist or a writer either enjoys doing or feels compelled to do.

It also helped that I worked with a very talented artist who said he often gets frustrated because what comes out on paper (or canvas or whatever) often doesn't look like what he had in his head.

Oh. So it's not just me, then?

Huh. Who knew?

The trick, really, is turning off that internal editor, that internal critic - or at least muting that voice as much as possible - and enjoying the process of making something turn out better than you thought you could do. In my opinion, both Cartoon Cool and Hi-Fi Color for comics are books which encourage our inner artists, however talented we might be.

You, personally, may not have the patience to draw exactly what you see on the page or in your head ... you might not be great at seeing the geometry of every day objects and converting them into a drawing. That's okay. But a little creativity is good for you. Keeps the brain limber and trying to see things in new ways.

If you're at all interested in drawing or art, I really recommend you give at least one of these books a try - just for a little relaxing fun. You might just surprise yourself. I know I have.


(And no, this is not a paid ad for this book. I've never met nor spoken with the Millers. I'm not signed up at Amazon to do referrals. I get nothing monetary or in kind from this post. I simply want to spread the word about something I enjoy and I think more people ought to try.)

Posted by Red Monkey at December 5, 2008 4:23 AM | Design | Sketches | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


Claire said:

Introducing me to Christopher Hart was an excellent tip, but alas no photoshop for me yet.

December 6, 2008 9:33 PM
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