Saturday, April 18, 2009

Recommended Reading

by Mark Chiarello and Todd Klein

I usually avoid 'how-to' books like the plague. More often than not, they're not very helpful and say more about how the author thinks everyone should write or draw than giving you useful tips for finding your own way through the minefield of creativity.

(Two exceptions, at least on the writing front -- Ray Bradbury's ZEN AND THE ART OF WRITING, which is more about finding inspiration than the actual mechanics of writing, and Tom Monteleone's COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL, which is both useful AND highly entertaining.)

Having said all that, when I sat down to figure out to color things on a computer, I had no idea where to start, and the couple of tutorials I found on the web weren't really geared towards the kind of things I had in mind, so I did the unthinkable and went out to buy a 'how-to' book.

Which is more or less how I ended up with a copy of THE DC COMICS GUIDE TO COLORING AND LETTERING. Nothing against Todd Klein (my second favorite comic book letterer after John Workman), but I picked this one up for Mark Chiarello and his advice on coloring. Mark is an unbelievable artist in his own right, and if you doubt me, look at any of the stunning covers he's done for DC Comics, where he serves as Art Director.

Mark breaks down the process of modern comic book coloring in the kind of clear, straight-forward language that even a color-ignoramus like me can understand. And his step-by-step instructions on preparing art for the computer are comprehensive and invaluable. Not to mention the book is filled with some stunning artwork from guys like Adam Hughes and John Paul Leon.

So while I don't usually recommend reading 'how-to' books, I have to say this one turned out to be incredibly useful.

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