Do Colored Pages Really Make A Difference?

We’ve probably all read a black and white web comic, or at least a regular comic in grayscale. They work, don’t they? It all really depends too now doesn’t it? After all Frank Miller’s Sin City had a very stylized look because of the color choices. How about your web comic though. Would it be best to add a splash of color? Well there are some variables to consider and that’s what we’re discussing in this weeks Friday Artist Talk.

First off, it depends where your comic is being promoted. It can both either make you stand out, or cause readers eyes to glance over your work entirely. The beauty of flat black and white is that you can add a lot of detail without having to worry about complex color shading. That alone can make your creation stand out. However, if your art style is a bit more simplistic it may make it fade into the background. More over, a site like deviantART could leave potential fans seeing your latest upload as a work in progress when they are searching through new drawings.

Colored drawings can make your characters stand out and pop out to the reader. You want this kind of attention if you’re mixed in with many of your peers. Interesting color choices as we’ve seen in Decrypting Rita can even create a style all of it’s own while sticking with a generally monotone concept. It still makes the comic stand out. Similar can be said about the use of red in Sin City.

Naturally this doesn’t mean you need to have color. After all, maybe it is the style you’re going for. There are readers who appreciate that, and after all, those are the people you’re probably looking to bring in. The black and white movie look can benefit different story concepts such as campy sci-fi and even classic horror. That and this style can lead to it seeming more natural to play around with shadow and light in strong contrast, such as silhouettes in front of a moon lit window.

In general, if you can find the time it’s good to even add flat color. Really that’s one of the main reasons why I use Adobe Flash to create the bulk of my artwork. It’s incredibly fast to draw and color in. Even shading can be completed in a quick pass. Of course, that isn’t for everyone either.

What works best for you? Why did you choose the color design you have for your comic? Share your thoughts below.


  1. DemonDan May 18, 2014 5:19 pm 

    As a reader, I almost unilaterally prefer color to black and white. Even if it’s a mostly black and white comic, like Lunar Baboon or something, a little bit of color goes a long way.

    I find this especially true for longform comics that have a larger cast of characters. For a lot of artists, their characters look a little too similar without color to help differentiate them.

    Another interesting phenomena I’ve noticed with myself is that when artists start out using only black and white, I develop a mental perception for how the characters look in color. Then, sometimes when they switch to full color, the characters look completely different than I thought.

    Don’t know what the solution to this would be, but maybe, if you are ever considering using color, make your first chapter cover or intro page or something be of the characters in full color, so that way, even if you do black and white for a while, it won’t be jarring when they’re in color.

  2. Eli.F May 19, 2014 7:21 pm 

    I usually think my work looked better before I added color. :(

    The kind of colors used in a comic can be a real turnoff for me. I suppose it is a question of taste, but I usually think that some nuances and shades of colors do not work well together.
    An example, in my opinion, of a nicely colored comic is Stand Still Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg.

    I actually think it might be more a matter of depth than color. If the art is to flat it does not matter if it is B&W or full color. The right shading style and/or the right choice in colors might bring this sense of depth.

    And finally, it seems to me that some genres, like fantasy, work better in colors while others might be better in B&W.


  3. Coyote May 24, 2014 1:18 am 

    I studied Tintin to find a way to mesh my simpler line work with color, and grades of tone instead of relying on shading. Still a work in progress but I like where it’s going.

    Had I not studied Herge’s technique, I’d probably still be doing mostly Black-and-White with once a week color “specials”. I used to work exclusively in B&W but I have come to love color for the helpful depth it gives me– even the really simple coloration I use, which is probably almost childish compared to some of the great stuff I’ve seen out there.

  4. Eli.F May 27, 2014 3:37 pm 

    Speaking of great work with minimal inking and shading, I would recomment Moebius work on Arzak for example.

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