Color Chart of Yoreon May 23, 2011 at 3:25 pm
Once upon a time before Adobe Photoshop, the color palette of comic books was very limited. Instead of the millions of colors that you can blend and gradiate and add filters to, there was a time where you were limited to 64 colors on average (that number is liquid if you’re a nerd about the printing process. In fact, this blog entry is completely inspired by Frank Santoro’s collected archive of such minutia. http://www.tcj.com/intermission/).
The main complaint I hear from pretty much everybody with good taste, is that there is a total abuse of color and computer effects that is committed in most comics. Take a look at nearly any mainstream book and you will see the atrocity. Stand 10 feet way from a rack of comics and tell me if you can make out any particular focal points on any of the covers. Toward the bottom of this link, Gene Fama illustrates of few great comparisons of “good” color and “bad” color.
Anyhow, the color work that I’ve always responded to positively seems to share the similarities of operating within a select palette of color. With this sparse set of colors, the artist is forced to be pretty inventive and has to put some thought into his choices. The mind isn’t boggled by the “candy bowl” effect of seeing too much information at once. This goes without saying, but a consistent palette also creates a cohesion throughout an entire work which helps to pull the story together as one unit ( I have seen comics where The Hulk was 10 different shades of green throughout).
It wasn’t hard to find this old 64 color guide through some Google searching. (Thanks to CO2 Comics for posting it originally.)
So I decided to put together a photoshop version based on these values so that you don’t have to. The image below is just a RGB jpeg example and shouldn’t be used when doing your own color work. Under the swatch image below is a link to a Zip archive that contains the CMYK PSD file with all of the correct color mixtures. I also included a pretty transparent layer of 100% yellow that you can turn on and play with the opacity to make sure that all the colors work better together in a pleasing way, similar to the underpainted effect those old comics have now with their yellowish-orange, aged newsprint.