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Sunday, November 19, 2023 

The evolution of artwork

KPBS in San Diego reports on an exhibition at the SDCC museum of how comics illustration evolved from painting with inks and brushes to digital computer development:
Comic-Con Museum recently opened a trio of new exhibits. One of them looks to "The Godfather of Coloring," Steve Oliff and how his 45-year career coloring comics reveals the evolution of comic book color.

In simple terms, a comic book colorist takes black and white line art and adds color. But it’s easy for readers to take a colorist’s work for granted and not fully appreciate how it impacts every page.

"I call color the silent soundtrack," Steve Oliff explained. "Because you can tell the story underneath, and people don't even think about it. It's just like they're looking at the art, they're reading the story, but the color actually enhances the storytelling."

Since the mid-1970s, Steve Oliff has enhanced tens of thousands of pages of comics, from the "Incredible Hulk" to "Akira." He’s been around long enough to see the tools of his trade change from paintbrushes and inks to computers. Oliff wanted to educate people on the evolution of comic book coloring with an exhibit at the Comic-Con Museum called "Big Dots to the Digital Universe."
Speaking of Akira, it tells that:
"'Akira' was the first actual comic book that was colored for production using a computer," Oliff said. "It would start with the line artwork that came from Japan. Then we would take a reduced copy, and then we'd do our color guide, then it would go to my computer crew and they would do their computer color separation. And one thing that was great about computers, if you wanted to change something, you could, whereas if you did it by hand, it's very difficult."
The anime adaptation from 1988 was also the first one of its kind produced using computerized animation to develop. Cartoons produced via computer are probably easier to modify that way too, without having to repair frames that're flawed. Even so, there's still advantages to continuing painting on canvas, as I may recall arguing before, so let's hope nobody eschews that wholesale for the sake of exclusive computer illustration.

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About me

  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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