Comic colour and light effects
Mitch Breitweiser powers up your painting technique, revealing how to achieve dynamic colour and light by using brush and layer modes
Brush and layer styles are key, says Mitch Breitweiser.
olour has been on my mind
C recently. You see, I’m lucky enough to share a studio with the best colour artist in the comic book business, Elizabeth Breitweiser. She’s my wife, so I may be biased (I’m not). Both of us love to paint, even though we apply it in different ways, but we also love to share the little tricks we learn along the way. I have to give her due credit for some of the techniques used in this workshop. So here, I’ll be expropriating some of the our techniques, including how we use brush and layer effects to create dramatic lighting and unique colour harmonies. I’ll be approaching this digital piece in a more impressionistic way: leaving the initial drawing fairly loose, deconstructing and reconstructing the forms, layering colour and texture, and manipulating the light as I go. Hopefully, it’ll be a constant process of discovery that doesn’t become bogged down in the process.
One thing that you might find surprising is how few (if any) layers I paint with. Perhaps I’m just a little oldfashioned, but my brain reaches a saturation point with layers where they become counter-intuitive to the thrillseeking nature of my creative impulses. I simply merge them all down and paint on. It’s not that you can’t make great art with 40 layers – it’s that I can’t. I’m a painter and I want to paint… just with the convenience of the Undo command!
Sketch a raw and unfiltered rough
The objective of this stage is to get that idea out of your head and on to the canvas as quickly and expressively as possible, without sweating the details. In this case, It’s Captain America, shield poised for action, in a dramatically lit and rubble-strewn scene. I’m still unsure who to pit Cap against, so I leave the opposing side of the pillar unresolved for now.
Carving out the light
Using my custom broad triangle brush, I push the paint around until the mid-tones and highlights separate and begin to inform the major forms. I scribble in some framing lines as I go, and lock in the basic compositional elements.