Do Colored Pencils Make Me a Coward?

As Comic Con 2013 fast approaches I find myself once again gearing up to do a whole lot of Con Marker Sketch Commission.  The real bread and butter of any con attending comic artist.  Occasionally I will throw in some red but for the most part all of my con commissions are gray tonal marker.  I won’t do full color con sketches for one reason, they simply would take too long to do.  So what’s the difference?  Why would color take longer than gray marker?  An excellent question.

The answer is simple:  I don’t use markers when I do color, especially flesh tones.  Again, I can hear you demanding “WHY?”.

When I do gray tone markers I have a variety of values to work with.  The grays come in 10%, 20%, 30%, 40%, etc. all the way up to black.  This allows me to build slowly.  I can start with the very light gray and add a darker and darker gray until I get the desired value without jumping in feet first with something that might be too dark.


The problem is you can’t do that with the colored markers.  Yes, there are several different flesh tones and greens and blues, etc. but you can’t find one flesh tone with 10 different values or the same blue with 10 different values.  When you lay down a color with a marker it is 100% of that color and often very bold and very bright.  So I prefer to use colored pencils to do my flesh tones and many of the colors.  I can slowly build up my color just by controlling the pressure I apply to the pencil.  I may eventually build the color up to being very bold and bright but it is on my terms!

Dejaface2013I know this is sort of a cowardly approach and I probably need to be more bold and confident but I am admittedly a color coward.  Interestingly enough many illustrators at first will develop a rendering or drawing style approach to painting before moving on to a looser more confident painterly approach.  Most of us comic artists are very adept at black and white line drawing because we  have been doing it most of our lives.  It only makes sense that when applying color we would want to use an approach that is most like drawing so we can feel in control.

So until further notice, I will continue to only do gray sketches at cons and leave the full color for those occasional home commissions.  At least until I quit being a coward…

2 thoughts on “Do Colored Pencils Make Me a Coward?

  1. I would love to get a sketch from you in color OR black & white. Doesn’t matter, you do fantastic work either way. Maybe next time I see you at a convention I’ll be able to afford something. In the meantime, at least I have a page of art from Takion that you penciled way back when.

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