Hi-Fi News

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What will I learn at Comic Coloring Boot Camp?

Comic Coloring Boot Camp is still a few months away but we wanted to provide you with a rough idea of the schedule we are planning for November 7th – 9th.

Friday, Nov 7th

4:00 PM: Check in at The Saguaro (They are happy to hold luggage if you arrive early and will do their best to accommodate early arrivals if rooms are available)

4:30-6:30 PM: Comic Coloring Boot Camp check-in

  • Receive your registration pack and Boot Camp Badge

  • Getting to know your hardware & software

  • Introduction to Comic Coloring Boot Camp

  • Comic Coloring as a creative process

6:30 PM: Meet & Greet dinner (not included) for those who want to attend

Hi-Fi Academy Samples_A

Learn how to make and use textures, patterns, and special effects!

Saturday, Nov 8th

7:30-8:30 AM: Breakfast

8:30-11:59 AM: Morning Sessions including

  • Light & shadow

  • Color selection

  • Rendering basic shapes & forms

  • Coloring a hero

Noon-1:00 PM: Lunch

1:00-5:00 PM: Afternoon Sessions including

  • Creating custom brushes

  • Hi-Fi Helpers: working with textures & patterns

  • Coloring & painting faces

  • Panels, pages, pin-ups, and covers

6:30 Drink & Draw dinner (not included) for those who want to attend

Hi-Fi Academy Samples_B

Learn the tips, tricks, and techniques used to color amazing artwork like this!

Sunday, Nov 9th

7:30-8:30 AM: Breakfast

8:30-11:59 AM: Morning Sessions including

  • Mastering color holds

  • Hi-Fi Helpers: creating and using special effects in comics

  • Sharing and exporting your colored comic art

Noon-1:00 PM: Lunch & Checkout – hotel is happy to hold your luggage until departure

1:00-3:00 PM: Afternoon Sessions

  • Student portfolio review

  • Comic Coloring Boot Camp certificates of completion awarded

NOTE: You are welcome to depart earlier on Sunday to catch your flight if needed.

Are you ready ?

Hi-Fi Academy’s Comic Coloring Bootcamp is limited to 25 participants on a first come first served basis. Click the below to go to the registration form.


Questions? Contact Hi-Fi Academy’s Kristy Miller: kristymiller@hifidesign.com for more registration details and payment options.

Programming schedule for example only and subject to change without notice.

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Learn to create comics with Hi-Fi at mDAC…

UPDATE: Due to popular demand Hi-Fi’s workshop at mDAC has been UPGRADED to the largest meeting room at a new time. See revised schedule below for the revised time and location!

Hi-Fi Academy teaches you how to create comic books with your iPad at the first ever Mobile Digital Art & Creativity summit being held in Palo Alto, CA August 1st through 3rd. Hi-Fi is one of the sponsors of mDAC as we believe this ground breaking art education conference is vital to shaping current and future generations of comic book creators. Join Hi-Fi’s Brian and Kristy Miller for the Grand Opening of mDAC Friday night where iPad art from over 100 creators will be on display. Brian and Kristy will be on hand all weekend to answer questions about creating artwork with the iPad and they will also be signing books and have a limited number of  made with iPad art prints available for sale.

Learn more and register for mDAC at http://www.mdacsummit.org


WORKSHOP: Making Comics with the iPad

Saturday from 2:30-3:30 PM Hi-Fi’s Brian and Kristy Miller present an interactive workshop, Making Comics with the iPad. The iPad has transformed the way you read comics, but did you know you can create comic art on it too? See a comic book character come to life as Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller (Wolverine: An Origin Story) and Kristy Miller (The Wick and Kelty Adventures) demonstrate how to pencil, ink, and paint comics on the iPad. Bring your iPad and learn the basic tools and techniques professional comic book creators use. See demos of SketchBook Pro for iPad, Adobe Ideas, Procreate and learn how you too can transform your iPad into a portable comic art studio. Q&A session if time permits.


DOWNLOADS: Get FREE previews of Hi-Fi Academy’s art instruction books from iTunes iBookstore using the links below

SketchBook Pro for iPad: the unofficial user guide for iBooks https://itun.es/us/cXp2L.l
An easy and intuitive overview of SketchBook Pro for iPad’s tools and features.

How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad for iBooks: https://itun.es/us/m-DrG.l
Includes step by step tutorials, image galleries, embedded videos and access to all project files

mDAC Sponsors


SDCC 2014 schedule – Full details inside…

Did you know Hi-Fi will be at SDCC? Stop by booth 5560 and chat with us about Doctor Who, GI Joe, Anime, Superheroes, and all things pop culture. Now you know, and knowing is half the battle… the other half is nachos, lots of cheesy nachos.  See below for our SDCC schedule, panel info, convention maps and more!


 As you can see above World Famous Comics, booth 5560, will be home to Hi-Fi and other talented creators for SDCC 2014. Don’t miss legendary sci-fi illustrator Joe Corroney who will have prints available from Star Wars, Star Trek, Doctor Who, X-Files, True Blood, and more all featuring color by Hi-Fi. Oktopolis will be out in full force with the best pop culture propaganda posters and prints you’ve ever seen.  Hi-Fi Color for Comics & How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad authors Brian & Kristy Miller will be at SDCC booth 5560 all weekend and don’t miss their art instruction panels on Thursday and Friday!

Thursday, July 24 • 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Digital Color for Comics

In print or digital, comic books need color, but do you know how comic books are colored? Learn about the creative art of comic book coloring as Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller (DC’s weekly series Future’s End) and Kristy Miller (SpongeBob SquarePants) demonstrate step-by-step the transformation of a comic book page from black and white to full color. Learn the basics of flatting, rendering, color holds, and special effects, along with top digital coloring tips. Followed by Q&A session.
Thursday July 24, 2014 2:00pm – 3:00pm
Room 30CDE

Register for this panel FREE at: http://sched.co/1w6laKa


Friday, July 25 • 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Creating Comics with the iPad

The iPad has transformed the way you read comics, but did you know you can create comic art on it too? See a comic book character come to life as Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller (Wolverine: An Origin Story) and Kristy Miller (The Wick and Kelty Adventures) demonstrate how to pencil, ink, and paint comics on the iPad. Learn the basic tools and techniques, including which apps work best and how you too can transform your iPad into a portable art studio. Q&A session.
Friday July 25, 2014 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Room 30CDE

Register for this panel FREE at: http://sched.co/1remElf


Need help finding booth 5560 at comic-con? Use this map to find World Famous Comics amongst the sea of fans and don’t miss one moment of the action at SDCC! Booth 5560 is on the corner near entrance G to the main convention hall.




Hi-Fi’s art instruction panels on Thursday and Friday will be held UPSTAIRS in room 30CDE. Panels are FREE with your comic-con badge.


ProgramRoom Map


See you at SDCC 2014!


5 Questions with v23next

When I first posted about the original Mobiüs Pro stylus by v23next in December 2013 I praised it’s balance and craftsmanship as well as the all day comfort. While I did have a few complaints like the fact that the sleek design caused it to roll away when sat on a smooth or angled surface overall it was light years ahead of most of the other rubber tipped stylus pens on the market. In the final showdown I said it was the best rubber tipped stylus you could buy. Since then the stylus market has grown and changed seeing heavy hitters like Wacom get serious about the iPad and start-up emerging from the woodwork to bring a variety of new concepts to scene. 


I recently had the opportunity to test drive a prototype of the new Mobiüs Pro Dragonfly stylus by v23next. I used it to pencil, ink, and paint an illustration that debuted at the Mint Condition gallery show during Emerald City Comic Con. I found the Dragonfly built on the strengths of the original Mobiüs Pro and addressed the few shortcomings of the original. This is a very well thought out art tool and when I learned that v23next were going to launch a Kickstarter campaign to offer the Dragonfly directly to backers I reached out to Andrew Pischke from v23next to ask a few questions about this new and improved stylus.


Q: There are many stylus pens on the market to choose from, can you explain what makes the Mobiüs Pro Dragonfly stand out from the crowd?

A: The mobius pro [dragonfly] originated from our own craving for a more substantial feeling stylus.  We wanted to design a stylus which felt and reacted in a way closer to the pen and paper feel, which we believe we have accomplished.  The mobius pro [dragonfly] has many great and innovative features that make using it a joy.  I think the fact that it is made from solid aircraft grade aluminum and it’s contoured, ergonomic shape make for a stylus unlike any other on the market.  The fact that we have added two interchangeable tips in both 5 and 6 millimeter with replacement rubber tips only adds to its uniqueness.

I believe these features make the mobius pro [dragonfly] so great!

  •  Made of solid aircraft grade aluminum – This gives the stylus a nice weight and balance unlike any other stylus on the market.

  • The contoured ergonomic shape – It makes the stylus comfortable for long periods of use and naturally makes the user hold it in a way that makes it less likely to touch to the screen with the palm of the hand.  The curved shape also avoids obscuring the screen which is great for doing line work and other fine details.

  • Interchangeable and replaceable tips – The tried and true 6 millimeter tip and the all new 5 millimeter tip makes using this stylus great for both general use, where a fine tip isn’t necessary, and also for fine line drawing with our new 5 millimeter tip.

  • Tip storage in the stylus – The stylus has a hollow section to hold extra tips for when the rubber tip eventually wears out.  This allows the user to quickly and easily replace the rubber tip without searching it.

The mobius pro [dragonfly] is available on the kickstarter project in 5 amazing colors allowing everyone to pick their favorite color, and if we reach our stretch goal we will be producing it in titanium with an upgrade options for earlier backers. (Who doesn’t want a titanium stylus?)


Q: In a sea of boring beige and black the variety of colors is such a unique feature. I pledged the designer green Dragonfly and I’m wondering if one color is proving most popular among backers?

A: With kickstarter in progress currently the cyan mobius pro [dragonfly] early bird special sold out fastest but we currently have more “designer” greens chosen overall with combo deals included.  We pretty much expected this, but we expected the magenta to be more popular than it has been.  There are still currently some magenta mobius pro [dragonfly] stylus early bird specials left so if you know anyone that likes magenta / pink, now is the time to get one at a discounted price.

Q: I see a straight edge product also listed on the Kickstarter campaign page. Where did the inspiration for this come from and how does it work with the Mobiüs Pro
Dragonfly stylus?

A: We love drawing on iPads and use a lot of drawing apps.  One of the features that we believe is lacking in most drawing apps is a quick way to draw a straight line. A few apps have it, but we don’t believe the apps implement it in a quick and easily useable way.  The edgē (pronounced ed-gee) straight edge allows you to see the whole drawing through it, so it is easy to draw the line where you want it.  The edgē works the same way as a ruler or other straight edge tool used with a pen and paper but it is designed to work with touchscreen tablets.  We think the edgē makes drawing on an ipad a better experience by creating a more pen and paper feel.


Q: The price for the Mobiüs Pro Dragonfly stylus starts at only $30 which seems like a bargain for a product of this quality. What do backers get for their money and what options can they add on?

A: We actually are charging $25 for the mobius pro [dragonfly], but the way kickstarter works shipping can’t be a separate fee so we included 5 dollars for shipping into the price.  The mobius pro [dragonfly] comes with two different sized tips and an extra of each by default.  We have upgrade options to either get a metal carry case or an edge with the stylus.  We also offer a combo of two styluses including a clear (silver) and any other color.  This allows you to mix tops and bottoms (the colored and silver is pretty cool together as is black and silver).  For people who like handmade things and really want to support our project we have a combo including a stylus and a spin-top, the spin-tops are all individually handmade by me, as a token of our appreciation.


Q: What’s next for v23next?

A: Once the kickstarter is funded we will be busy fulfilling it. We really like the way kickstarter works and have a few more ideas in the works.  We designed the mobius pro [dragonfly] in a way that we could easily make add ons or new interchangeable parts so we may have some in store at a later date. (So keep an eye out!) Through making our original mobius pro stylus we have realized that a stylus is not only used by artist.  The mobius pro [dragonfly] may have been designed with the artist in mind but every feature makes use easier whatever the use.  Whether you’re an artist, a designer, a writer, a doctor, just doodling, or just a general tablet user browsing the internet, the mobius pro [dragonfly] is the stylus for you!

 Thank you Andrew, I already thought the Mobiüs Pro Dragonfly was a great stylus and after learning more about the design and craftmaship behind it I’m more excited than ever. I backed the Designer Green stylus on Kickstarter and can’t wait for it to arrive. If you are interested in the Mobiüs Pro Dragonfly and edgé from v23next take a look at their Kickstarter campaign and choose your favorite color. 

Mobiüs Pro Dragonfly on Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/998843186/mobius-pro-dragonfly-stylus


Let’s get Hi-Fi Color for Comics back in print!

Six years ago Hi-Fi Color for Comics revealed the secret tips, tricks, and techniques of digital comic book coloring in a way that made it fast and easy to learn how to color comic book art the way professional colorists do. In the years since its release, Hi-Fi Color for Comics found its way into the hands of over 10,000 enthusiastic fans, students, and aspiring comic book creators around the world. By Fall 2012 every copy of Hi-Fi Color for Comics the publisher had printed were sold out. With the book out of print used copies of Hi-Fi Color for Comics started trading at double, triple, even quadruple the original $25 cover price. Clearly demand for Hi-Fi Color for Comics existed but with the entire book industry in peril the original publisher was not in a position to green light additional printings of the book.

Flash forward to 2014, Kristy and I have now obtained the publishing rights to Hi-Fi Color for Comics and we are looking at our best options for getting the book back in print. Several publishers have shown real interest but sadly too, a lack of vision wanting to simply reprint the existing book and shuffle it off to schools and libraries to make a quick buck. In the past six years much has changed in the world of digital color and comic books. The current version of Adobe Photoshop dwarfs Photoshop CS2 which was new when we wrote Hi-Fi Color for Comics and in our minds a reprinting of the book just won’t do. Kristy and I want to bring you a fully revised and updated version of Hi-Fi Color for Comics.

We have chosen to walk away from the old way of publishing books and to team up with you, our readers, to build a new and better Hi-Fi Color for Comics. We plan to launch a Kickstarter campaign in March to fund the printing of the revised and updated Hi-Fi Color for Comics. We have reached out to Original Hi-Fi Color for Comics editor, Amy Jeynes, who has agreed to come an board to ensure the new and updated tutorials give you clear direction while challenging you to push beyond your comfort zone. Eric White (HueDoo.com forums moderator and creator of the Hi-Fi Color for Comics Facebook Group) working behind the scenes with content delivery and printing companies to bring you the highest quality book and bonus content. We are also working with friends in the industry like Comicraft and Comixology to lend their expertise to this project. Whether you choose the print version, digital version, or both the new Hi-Fi Color for Comics will be best resource for learning the art of digital comic book coloring.

Without the resources of a large publisher our biggest challenge will be alerting supporters about Hi-Fi Color for Comics. This is where you can help now, before the Kickstarter Campaign launches. This project will be of interest to everyone with a passion for comic book coloring and we invite you to spread the word. Share this blog post and sign up for e-mail updates below to receive updates leading up to and during the Kickstarter campaign for Hi-Fi Color for Comics.

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Stay tuned for new information including news about new art and artist for tutorials, what you can expect from the new Hi-Fi Color for Comics, and of course how you can get involved and ensure the success of the campaign to get Hi-Fi Color for Comics back in print.

Let’s do this!

Brian Miller is the founder of comic book color studio Hi-Fi colour deisgn and the co-author of Hi-Fi Color For Comics


Hi-Fi at SDCC 2013

Is it that time of year already? The largest comic-con in the universe is upon us as the comics industry grinds to a halt and makes the annual pilgrimage to San Diego, California for Comic-Con International, or as it is more  commonly referred to, San Diego Comic-Con. Once again Hi-Fi HQ will be at WORLD FAMOUS COMICS booth #5560 (if you are new to SDCC booth #5560 is in the main hall just inside entrance G).

Members of team Hi-Fi will be on hand to sign your favorite comics, review your portfolio, and answer your questions about digital color and iPad art. Hi-Fi is dedicated to art education and to that end we are presenting 2 panels this year:

Painting Comics with the iPad

The iPad has transformed the way you read comics but did you know you can create comic art on it too? See a comic book character come to life as Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller (Wolverine: An Origin Story) and Kristy Miller (Meet the Marvel Superheroes) demonstrate how to paint comics on the iPad. Learn the basic tools and techniques, including which apps work best and how you, too, can transform your iPad into a portable art studio. Q&A session.

Thursday July 18, 2013 6:00pm – 7:00pm
Room 30CDE

Digital Color for Comics

In print or digital comic books need color, but do you know how comic books are colored? Learn about the creative art of comic book coloring as Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller (Batman: The Dark Knight) and Kristy Miller (Spongebob Squarepants) demonstrate the step-by-step transformation of a comic book page from black and white to full color. Learn the basics of flatting, rendering, color holds, and special effects, along with top digital coloring tips. Q&A session follows.

Friday July 19, 2013 4:00pm – 5:00pm
Room 30CDE

Other talented creators will also be featured at World Famous Comics and there will be amazing original artwork and prints for sale. See you there!


Summer Convention Season kicks off

Hi-Fi is attending Phoenix Comicon Memorial Day Weekend and gearing up for San Diego Comic-Con in July. At each convention we will be signing comics, demonstrating digital color and paint techniques for Photoshop on Mac/PC as well as creating comics with the iPad. We hope to see you there!

 Hi-Fi’s Kristy Miller greets fans at Phoenix Comicon

Hi-Fi Schedule Phoenix Comicon 2013

Appearing all weekend long at booth #2235

Friday Noon: Story time with Wick & Kelty in the READING CORNER

Friday 3PM room 124B Digital Color for Comics – Learn how to color comic books like the pros

Saturday 3PM room 124B Making Comics with the iPad – Learn which apps and stylus pens work best

See you at Phoenix Comicon and stay tuned for SDCC info…

ECCC WP promo

Follow the yellow brick road…

Follow the yellow brick road to Emerald City Comicon March 1-3 at Washington State Convention Center Seattle, Washington. Emerald City Comicon is celebrating its 11th year with a great mix of guest from film, television, and comic books including your friendly neighborhood Hi-Fi comic book colorists and authors of How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad and Hi-Fi Color for Comics, Brian & Kristy Miller.

You can find Hi-Fi at booth H-15:

  • Comics & books colored & painted by Hi-Fi
  • Bring your favorite Hi-Fi colored comics for autographs
  • New Prints
  • Get hands on with How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad
  • Sketches
  • Portfolio review


Special Events

Friday: Mint Condition Art Show - 7:00PM Ltd. Gallery

Mint Condition is a tribute to comic books featuring original artwork and prints from over 50 talented creators. Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller will be debuting the latest in his series of Pop Culture Propaganda illustrations titled “Paradise Island” Friday evening at Ltd. Gallery – 307 E PIKE St., Seattle, WA.

Saturday: Making Comics with the iPad – 5:00PM Room 401

See a comic book character come to life as Hi-Fi’s Brian and Kristy Miller demonstrate step-by-step  techniques from their book How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad. Learn the basic tools and techniques including which apps & stylus pens work best and how you can transform your iPad into a mobile art studio.

Sunday: Digital Color for Comics – 11:00AM Room 401

Learn about the creative art of comic book coloring as Hi-Fi’s Brian and Kristy Miller demonstrate the step-by-step transformation of a comic book page from black & white to full color. See techniques demonstrated from their books Hi-Fi Color for Comics and Master Digital Color. Learn the basics of flatting, rendering, color holds, and special effects along with top digital coloring tips.

Find out more about "Licensed Art!"

Spotting art in the wild on a Superhero Safari: How Licensed Art works.

Our favorite superheroes are everywhere these days. From the big screen and video games, to action figures and children’s books, our favorite caped wonders have escaped the confines of the local comic book store and have found themselves in almost every aspect of the media.

Just some of the Marvel books from HiFi available now.

A collection of just some of the Marvel books painted by Hi-Fi.

One of the most important markets that comic book characters have remained strong in is actually so subtle that it’s easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. Enter the world of Licensed Art.

What exactly is Licensed Art and why is it important in relation to comic books? Before we get into that, I’ll explain how the employee relationship works in the comic book industry.

In the world of professional production art, the way things work is pretty straightforward. There is an employer/employee work relationship where an employer will pay an employee to create art. This art is then used in a final product that it was intended for. For example, when comic book veterans Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund, and the team of Color Artists at Hi-Fi create artwork for “The Ravagers” from DC Comics, the nature of the art being produced under the legal definition of Work-For-Hire is typically (but not necessarily always) intended for limited publication in comic book form. That is, the artists can expect to see their work reproduced in the monthly comic, later on in a collected Trade Paperback version, as well as in Digital Comic versions.

Marvel Super Heroes 3D Activity Center

Marvel Super Heroes 3D Activity Center, with box art created by Hi-Fi Artists. One neat thing about working on Licensed Art projects is that you never know where you'll see your artwork pop up next!

Most work contracts for big league companies such as DC Comics and Marvel are catch-all contracts, meaning that under the explicit language of the contract the art becomes the property of the company that has ordered it, and they have complete reproduction rights on it. So if one day we see a t-shirt with a scene from an issue of “The Ravagers” for sale, it is, without divulging the details of the contracts, most likely within the rights of DC Comics to do so and profit from that.

With that profit comes a cost. The old saying, “You have to spend money in order to make money” is reversed in this case; when you make money, you have to spend money. This is called a Royalty Payment. Royalty Payments ensure that there is a quid-pro-quo (this for that) arrangement when something is reused for profit. For example, if an art team is paid $X for the original production art for a comic book, and the company produces from that art a pair of shoes with the artwork printed on the sides, it’s only fair that the art team is given a portion of that profit as well. Typically, Royalty Payments are a very low percentage, and only kick in after a certain profit ceiling has been reached. Regarding Royalty Payments, a contract will typically explain that once a certain amount of money has been made from the new product produced from the old art, then the art team will get a fraction of a percent of the profit made from each new sale.

This is a wonderful setup for artists, but it can backfire on the company in some situations, specifically where the products being made are created with little profit, or even being offered “at cost” in value markets.

In comes Licensed Art. In essence, all art in the comic industry is licensed. What we refer to with this term, however, is when art is produced for the company who has complete, carte blanche rights to its use from there on, and may sell the rights to that art to other companies for the creation of new products.

Licensed Art is vital because it permits comic book companies to use, distribute, and reuse artwork while keeping a budget.

As artists, of course we want to ensure our own financial safety by making as much money as possible, so in the production of Licensed Art we are typically paid slightly more up front. Think of it as a Royalty Payment in advance.

This allows for a new market of low-profit, high distribution products to be created and to then saturate the market.

Coloring books, greeting cards, stickers, school supplies, lunch boxes, Frisbees, shoes, the list goes on. All of these products you can find at the local department store, supermarket, dollar store, and even the corner gas station. These things are all great, but even mighty companies like DC Comics and Marvel aren’t big enough to have their own footwear division, Frisbee factories, etc.

Art from various sources has been used on this neat movie projector!

Art from different sources has been assembled together on this cool movie projector, included with an activity book! Here you see Captain America on the projector (Left), along side the original painted artwork (Right).

Because they’re produced in such high quantities to be offered at such a low price, it would be nearly impossible for the company to recover any profit if Royalty Payments were a consideration with these products. The idea here is to respond to consumer demand, by offering these things. There isn’t always a lot of money for a company to make, but the tradeoff in having “The Mighty Avengers” coloring and activity books in the dollar store is that a consumer demand has been met, the company has “broken even” on the sale of the product, and now there is a happy child with a coloring book, who in ten years may remember how cool he thought “Spider-Man” was, growing up, and that may lead to him visiting his local comic book store and catching up with his old friend Peter Parker.

Hi-Fi Artists are responsible for much of the Licensed Art you may see from Marvel today, with much more to come.

The Mighty Avengers Look and Find

The Mighty Avengers Look and Find, featuring Licensed Art from Hi-Fi Artists.

We illustrate and paint Marvel characters for children’s books, activity and coloring sets, and many other products. As Marvel and its parent company Disney brainstorm to create new products, many times our art will be reused. For example, I recently saw a page I had painted for “The Courageous Captain America: An Origin Story,” where Captain America is running to battle in World War II reused as the image on an audio button for “The Mighty Avengers: Play-a-Sound” book and more Hi-Fi artwork can be seen on the cover of “The Mighty Avengers: Look and Find” both of which are published by Publications International.

HiFi painted artwork used beautifully along the margins of a children's activity book.

Hi-Fi painted artwork used beautifully along the margins of a children's activity book. Youngsters couldn't ask for better reference! This Captain America image is very popular.

The art keeps coming back in different products, and that’s great news. Marvel and others are pleased with the work we’ve done and is continuing to reuse much of it as Licensed Art. I even saw an activity book where some of Hi-Fi Creative Director Brian Miller’s paintings for the protective sleeve covers of the Marvel Origin Story books were re-purposed into face masks. What a cool added value for the activity book, to be able to pop out a die-cut mask and wear it to become your favorite Avenger!

There are many teams producing Licensed Art for the comic book industry, but much like every product, there is a dwindling contingency that is American-made. Because of economic hardships, following the example of what happened with the 1980s Cartoon and Animation Industry, many companies have opted to look to the artists of Asia to produce comic book art. Though they’re very talented, because of lower standards of living they accept a lower rate of payment. The comic book industry has pushed and tugged towards this end, but American artists are pulling it back. Hi-Fi Colour Design, despite the British “u” in Colour is an American-based company and many Hi-Fi Artists and colleagues live and work in America.

Veteran comic book penciler and Pittsburgh’s own Pat Olliffe produces much of the preliminary pencil work that we use as the framework to what we do. Brian and Kristy Miller have the heart of Kansas City and the hip-factor of Arizona. They manage these large projects as well as provide art from the Hi-Fi Mothership in Arizona. Hi-Fi Artists like “yours truly” provide art from around the nation. Some pages that I painted in “The Incredible Hulk: An Origin Story” were painted on an 18-hour bus ride to New Orleans. A battle between Iron Man and Hawkeye in “Hawkeye Joins The Mighty Avengers” was painted at the same table in the family home where my whole family encouraged me to draw when I was a child.

The Mighty Avengers Play-A-Sound Book

The Mighty Avengers Play-A-Sound Book. I was pleasantly surprised when I first saw artwork I had painted for another book now appearing on one of the sound effect buttons on this. Neat!

I believe that these are only possibilities for the American artist. We’re free to be mobile, and not confined to a studio in . The office of Hi-Fi is virtual, and the work week of the Hi-Fi Artist is flexible. Our art can and has been made from our homes, coffee shops, libraries, and even in unexpected places like on interstate bus rides. With the advent of Tablet computing, and great how-to books such as How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad I can’t wait to hear about what interesting new places people will create artwork from.

We’re all very proud to serve you in bringing your favorite characters to you. From the Color Art found in the pages of DC Comics’ “Green Lantern Annual #1” at your local comic shop, to Marvel children’s books found at the book store and on iTunes, to anywhere else the art may appear.

Keep your eyes open for more Marvel art from Hi-Fi Artists in the near future!

Matthew Swift is a Painter and Color Artist with comic book color studio Hi-Fi Colour Design.  Hi-Fi provides color and paint services for publishers like DC, Disney, Image, Marvel, and more.  You can follow Hi-Fi on Twitter at: twitter.com/hificolor and see more comic book art on Hi-Fi’s Facebook page at: facebook.com/HiFiColourDesign


What’s new in SketchBook Pro for iPad 2.6?

Autodesk recently released SketchBook Pro for iPad version 2.6.  This update is FREE for users of previous versions and includes several new features and a revamp of some user interface elements.  You will notice some icons and menus have a revised appearance when combined with previous versions, including what is shown in How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad.  This post covers what is new in SketchBook Pro for iPad 2.6.

Copic Color Library

If you sketch and draw using traditional media, odds are you are familiar with the colorful dual tip markers made by Copic.  You will find the color panel in the SketchBook Pro for iPad brush editor has been slightly revised. The icon that was previously used to swap between the color swatches and the color wheel has been changed and now resembles a color wheel with 4 grayscale swatches inside.  When tapped, this new icon reveals a pop-over menu allowing you to select from three options: color swatches, color wheel, or the new Copic color library.

The Copic color library presents you with three user interface elements from which to select colors: A spectrum column, color swatches, and a color preview area.  In the spectrum column you can tap to select a family of colors like reds, greens, or blues.  When you tap on one of these colors the selection of Copic color swatches in the panel changes to reflect your selection.  The number of swatches and variety varies depending upon your selection. Tap any Copic color swatch and the color you tap will be displayed in the color preview area indicating your selection as the active color.  Any brush strokes you make will use the active color.  To the right of the active color in the preview area you will see a small display indicating complimentary colors for the active swatch.  You can tap one of the complimentary colors and now the complimentary color will become the active color and variations of the new active color family fill the area displaying Copic swatches.

Most artist will find the addition of the Copic color library a welcome one.  Copic has supplied a nice variety of colors and if you want to do a bit of customizing you can always use a Copic color as a starting point then customize the color using the color wheel and save the as a custom color swatch in the swatches panel (not the Copic color library).

Revised Marker Brush

What fun would adding the Copic color library to SketchBook Pro for iPad be if the marker itself did not behave a bit more like a true Copic marker?  The marker brush gives you more of that wet edge feeling and while the colors don’t bleed like a true marker there is enough spread to the brush tip that you can achieve the look of overlapping and mixing of colors when adjusting the opacity and size of the brush.  The refinements should tempt you to utilize the marker brush more often.

Updated Preferences

Gone is the setting for High Resolution Canvas (more on that later) and in it’s place is a new preference labeled, 3rd Party Pen Connection.  When selected this preference currently offers support for 3 forthcoming input stylus products; Adonit Jot Touch, TenOne Pogo, and Hex3 JaJa.  Autodesk’s decision to include built in support for these products indicates their commitment to providing an experience tailored toward the user. Want to use your finger?  Go for it.  Use a traditional stylus? Rock on.  Have a desire to try a pro-level stylus with pressure sensitivity? Be our guest.  This is an impressive addition and one that opens the door for other third party developers working on a variety of input products.  The question of the moment is, how do these pressure sensitive style products work with SketchBook Pro for iPad?  Several of the stylus makers have pledged to provide Hi-Fi with test units.  We will be conducting a real world, in house test of these and will report back.  Look for a full review at HowToPaintComicBooks.com in October.

Revised New Sketch & Import Image menus

As mentioned the ability to set a default canvas size has been jettisoned from SketchBook Pro for iPad preferences.  Good news is you can now choose your canvas size anytime you create a new sketch (Image Editor or Gallery) or import an image into the Gallery.  When you tap the New Sketch icon or Import Image icon you are now presented with an attractive new menu presenting the current canvas sizes to you.  You may choose 1024 x 768 or 2048 x 1536 for your canvas. Also of note 1024 x 768 canvas size now supports these maximum layers depending upon which iPad model you are using: 6 layers on iPad 1, 12 layers on iPad 2, or 18 layers on 3rd Gen iPad.  The implementation of this new canvas size menu allows for additional canvas sizes to be added to SketchBook Pro for iPad as new iPad models are introduced and future software updates are made.

File Sharing enhancements

When you tap the Export Image icon you will immediately notice the redesigned menu featuring new export options like Flickr and Facebook.  The Facebook implementation allows you to add a caption and export the image to any existing Facebook album you have previously created. Twitter and email integration in iOS5 allow you to compose tweets and emails within SketchBook Pro for iPad.  No need to jump to Mail or Twitter apps.  Other image export features work as before.

SketchBook Pro for iPad 2.6 provides subtle enhancements throughout.  The Copic color library is the major new feature and one most users will start using immediately.  The underlying changes for canvas size, file sharing, and third party stylus support prove Autodesk are hard at work to ensure SketchBook Pro for iPad remains at the forefront of painting apps for iPad while laying a foundation for future enhancements.  Several menus have been revised since How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad was published.  Refer to this post anytime you need a refresher on the changes.


SketchBook Pro for iPad Available from the iTunes App store.

How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad Available from the iBookstore.

Stay tuned for a full review of pressure sensitive stylus products compatible with SketchBook Pro for iPad in the future.