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How I Color Comics

I made a video about how I color comics! Someone asked about this a while ago, and while I lost the original question, I did take the time to record some clips while I worked on the latest Follower page.

Here’s the transcript of this video:

Hey, I’m Bug and I’ve been making webcomics since 2004! Let me share my knowledge with you!

When I’m coloring a comic, my goal is to work as quickly and efficiently as possible, so I’ve found a lot of useful tricks to speed up the process. This is a basic version of how I color.

I color in Clip Studio Paint, but most of these tricks will work in any drawing software. 

First, I take my lineart and set it as a reference layer using the little lighthouse button in the layers panel. That means I can color under it, and the fill bucket will act like the lines are on the same layer. 

Under the fill bucket’s tool properties window, make sure that “refer multiple” is also checked and set to the lighthouse icon. Play around with the other settings to get a fill style that you like, but here’s what my settings look like.

Now I can use the custom color palette I made for my comic and quickly zip around to fill everything in the panel. Flat colors: done!

Next, I make a new layer above my flat colors. Set this to multiply. Click the icon on the far left of the layers tab that looks like two squares. This will make the multiply layer “clip” to the layer below, so you can only paint where there’s already color. 

This is going to be my shading layer. It’s kind of cheating, but I usually pick a shadow color that’s opposite my light color on the color wheel. If that doesn’t look right, I cheat some more and pick something that looks “right.” I use the lasso tool to quickly fill big sections of shadow. The lasso works in combination with the ink layer, so it won’t fill past the lines! Then I use a pen to color in smaller detailed areas of shadow.

Next, make a new layer the same way you made the multiply layer, but instead set the blending mode to overlay, screen, or glow dodge, depending on the effect you want. Pick the color of your light and paint in your highlights.

You can keep adding more layers this way to refine your highlights and shadows, but that’s the simplest version of what I do!