Comic Book Illustration: Crimson Cat Color

Developing an Approach to Inking

In this tutorial you’ll get an inside look at the coloring process for The Crimson Cat.

Follow the links below to view the previous tutorials in this series:

Crimson Cat Inks - Part 1
Crimson Cat Inks - Part 2
Crimson Cat Inks - Part 3

Color can add a heightened level of drama, mood and visual intrigue to your comic book art. In turn this makes your illustration more engaging and fortifies the context in which it’s being presented.


This is all accomplished through the chosen combination of colors and the way the scene is lit. Both these factors greatly influence the general feel of the piece.

It all begins with the base colors – otherwise known as the flats. These flat toned hues which maintain a consistent value in the areas they fill are painted in with a hard-edged, completely opaque brush. Their main purpose is to establish a complimentary color composition for the illustration.

A basic understanding of color theory comes into play here, as we consider what colors sit together well and which colors won’t. Usually it’s a good idea to limit your palette to a few varying hues that follow an established color scheme. 

There are a number of these schemes that you can choose from including complimentary, analogous, triadic, rectangular and chromatic color combinations.

The good news is, regardless of the scheme you settle upon, most of us have a fairly competent eye when it comes to deciding what colors will work together well. After all, complimentary color combinations exist all around us in nature.

Another consideration you could make to help you decide what colors will best suit your illustration is the way they make us feel. If there’s an overarching mood you’d like to evoke within the piece, try choosing colors that reflect it as closely as possible. 

After the base colors are down the next step is to drop in the base highlights and shadows. These hues will simply be lighter and darker variations of the base colors, which are painted in around the character and backdrop to describe each element with form and dimension. 

To do this effectively, we’ll want to keep the light source in mind and from what direction it’s shining down onto the scene from. In the case of this example, that’ll be the moon.

The base highlights and shadows are roughly painted in before the first and second rendering pass, where the light, mid-range, and dark tones are then blended together to create a smooth transition. As the light and dark values are gradated, the forms along with their surface materials are described with a greater amount of clarity.

Finally, all the final tweaks are made as adjustment layers are added and used to finesse the contrast, color harmony and saturation of the illustration. 

I hope you enjoy this demonstration and get a ton of value out of it. 

If you did be sure to share it with your fellow art friends. No doubt they’ll appreciate it and so will I!

Until next time, keep on creating, keep on practicing and I’ll see you in the next video.


Software Used: Photoshop CS6


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