The Collaboration of Colouring

We’re only a couple of weeks away from the launch of the Alex Automatic Kickstarter! That’s very exciting. It’s written by Fraser Campbell, drawn by James Corcoran, lettered by Colin Bell, and coloured by me, and it’s a very cool project to be a part of – you’ll be able to see more of it soon!

There’s a bunch of cool variant covers and pin ups coming for the comic, and I thought it’d be good to examine my part in one of these, to show how great the collaborative process can be for a colourist, working in a team! At the end I’ll show you the cover that emerged as part of this process (or you could just cheat and scroll down to it, I suppose.)

A couple of weeks ago, the talented Iain Laurie popped this WIP of his Alex Automatic cover up on Twitter:

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Having coloured Iain’s variant cover for Sleeping Dogs last year, I thought there was a good possibility I’d be colouring this one too, which was very exciting! My mind immediately started racing to think what I could do with it, to enhance the art as best I could.

Alex Automatic is a kind of throwbacky retro project, with a modern take, drawing from influences such as Joe 90, The Prisoner, and old spy TV shows – the whole project sort of acts as if this is an update of an older project. For this particular cover, I thought it’d be fun to have it as part of Alex’s 80s era, as if this was a comic coloured in the days of heavy neon and lasers:

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I was thinking bright and a little garish.

Before I make a start, Iain gave me some notes for what he wanted:

“I was thinking of blacking in the X’s and making Arcana in b&w with Alex and the foreground in colour(the question marks like red granite)”

Uh oh. This sounds nothing like what I had originally envisioned!

But this is the fun of comics, in my opinion – the melding of creative minds to collaborate together, creating the best possible product. Iain and I clearly had different ideas of what this image could be, and it was now our duty to ensure we worked towards the best possible outcome – no egos getting in the way!

(Egos aren’t a problem here, Iain’s pretty chill.)

So I produced both possible versions of the cover and showed them to the crew, encouraging opinions and notes:

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The left one is my idea, the right one based on Iain’s notes. The left one is meant to be a little mysterious and abstract, with an limited palette, and the right has more focus on the foreground, and the main character, and more evocative of 60s spy media. The team could not decide which was better, so they put it to a public vote! I like how this shows there are no “right” answers in comics – I think either of these could have been perfectly usable, and I’m proud of both! In the end, thanks to notes from the community, we mashed elements from both together to come up with this:

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I absolutely think this is the best of the options, and it was only able to happen this way thanks to all of us coming together. HOORAY TEAMWORK.

Keep an eye out for the full comic soon!

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