Best Resources on Coloring Graphic Novels

Our theme for the month of June is Coloring. In the Kids Comics Unite community, we’re focusing on all aspects of coloring graphic novels: tools, resources, techniques, emotional impact, and practice. In our Studio program, we’re hosting a coloring workshop with Rori de Rien on June 12th!

We’ve compiled a list of resources below that cover both the storytelling and technical aspects of coloring sequential art.

Books

Books about coloring techniques for comics and graphic novel creator
  1. Color and Light: A Guide for the Realist Painter by James Gurney
    • Although not specifically about comics, this book is an essential resource for understanding how light and color work together. Readers praise this book for its unpretentious, straightforward style.
  2. Mastering Comics by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
    • Has a section on coloring comics that covers both technical and storytelling aspects.

Online Resources

Online coloring resources for comics and graphic novel creators
  1. Adobe Color 
    • A tool for creating and exploring color palettes. Adobe Color allows you to experiment with different combinations and see how they work together in various contexts.
  2. Colorkit Palette Generator
    • A site with a wide range of color inspiration and tools to create color palettes.
  3. Art.Pete.Repeat
    • The popular Instagram account of artist and color theorist Peter Donohue, focused entirely on color theory. 

YouTube Channels

YouTube channels about coloring techniques for comics and graphic novel creators
  1. Color with Kurt 
    • A YouTube channel hosted by a professional comics colorist, where he explains all different aspects of the coloring process.
  2. Jared Cullum’s Watercolor Comics Painting Process
    • In this video, Jared Cullum explains how to paint a comic traditionally with watercolor.
  3. The Lighting Mentor YouTube (Jeremy Vickery)
    • Jeremy comes from the world of animation, but his lighting and color advice is applicable to comics! He also has a chill, casual, exploration-based teaching style.

Learning from masters of the craft is excellent, but you won’t make progress until you put that learning into practice. Below is a challenge exercise that will help you practice your coloring skills!

The Limited Color Palette Challenge! 

Comics coloring activity exercise to practice graphic novel color skills

For Artists:

Your task is to create a panel or a page using a limited color palette to: 

  • convey a specific emotional mood; or 
  • use color as the primary storytelling tool

Think about how limited colors can evoke feelings, highlight important elements, or create a unique atmosphere. Then create a finished panel or page that uses a limited color palette in the most effective way you can.

For an added challenge, try coloring the same panel or page with two completely different palettes to see how they change the feeling of your scene.

For Writers:

Create an inspiration board that revolves around a color palette for a specific scene in your comic or graphic novel script. Use images, swatches, and notes to convey how you envision the colors working together to tell a story. This exercise will help you visualize your scenes more vividly and can be a valuable reference for when you collaborate with your artist.

Now It’s Your Turn

Let us know in the comments below, what tools or resources are most helpful for you in terms of coloring your graphic novel work? What aspect of coloring do you struggle with?

About Janna Morishima

Janna Morishima is the founder of Kids Comics Unite and a literary agent who specializes in graphic novels and visual storytelling. She started her publishing career at Scholastic, where she was one of the co-founders of the Graphix imprint. She then became director of the Kids Group for Diamond Book Distributors, where she worked with publishers such as Marvel, Dark Horse, and Oni Press, and helped launch Françoise Mouly’s Toon Books imprint. In addition to her background in publishing, she has worked as an associate producer for documentary films, and as an assistant teacher in a kindergarten and a teacher in a high school for teens in the juvenile justice system. She later launched and ran the NYC Department of Education’s “NYC Reads 365” literacy initiative.

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