Email Hilary:


To state the obvious the basic elements of a graphic novel are the drawings, the text, and the color.

So if there's an aspect of the story that isn't portrayed by the drawing or the text, then it needs to come with the color.

It’s either bringing something in that isn’t there, or  emphasizing something that is there.

There might be a little tiny bug walking in the corner that you might not notice in the middle of the everything else, but with color you could go -- Oh, look! 

In Feynman, there's a little Moebius strip, which without color would be easy to miss.

Information is conveyed with color:  temperature, time of day, time of year.  When I was coloring Laika, which takes place in Siberia, I actually went and got a blanket, it felt that cold.  Yet it was a hot summer day. 

We have a very primal response to color.  Perhaps it comes from needing to assess the freshness of a fruit being picked, or the  health of a person by their rosy cheeks.

Color can carry an idea, a theme.  In Journey Into Mohawk, as the Dutchmen become more in tune with the land, their colorful uniforms gradually become more muted.  By the end of the book they are colored more like their Mohawk companions.

Sometimes, in Feynman for example, I used color to represent different time periods in his life.  He narrates the story as an older man, and that was one way of covering it.  When he was a young boy the overall palette is green, like a young shoot.  The Los Alamos section uses the desert colors of New Mexico.  You could tell his age, or the period, by the coloring.

Also, color can  emphasize the turning points of the story, and emphasize the good drawings.  And camouflage the visual compromises.  If you happen to have odd socks on, you don't necessarily go around calling attention to it!

But for a really good bit, you might want a little brrrrrrr ... a little color drumroll.

And sometimes, when the drawing's very very simple, you need texture just to sort of pass it along, to give the eye something to hang on to as it moves over the page.

If it's something that is already simple, yet elegant, like a Chanel suit, you leave it be.



About Color



Hilary Sycamore is from London, England and has a B.A. (honors) in fine art from the University of London, as well as a post graduate teaching qualification (P.G.C.E.) from the University of Reading. She taught art until the family moved to America, just before 2000.

I tune colors, like people tune the radio... until it gets the optimum effect.

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