Kristy and I started Hi-Fi Academy to establish an art-education resource for comic book creators. Recently Kristy and I were invited by legendary iPad artist, Susan Murtaugh, to visit Wisconsin for a week and share our knowledge for creating comic books with the iPad to students and aspiring artists. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights from our visit to Manitowoc, Wisconsin.
The first event was held in a large school auditorium where students from several Manitowoc area high schools and colleges arrived, some even being bussed in from further away. The energy was high as so many young people arrived to fill the available seats. We were introduced by Barb Bundy-Jost, then I started off demonstrating Autodesk SketchBook’s pencil and guides features. I used these tools to create a rough sketch of C3P0 which drew applause from the audience (whew, drawing live is always nerve wracking). Kristy and I spent the next 90 minutes demonstrating pencilling, inking, and coloring comic book artwork with the iPad. The students had great questions and the room was buzzing with creative energy as we spoke about how they could get hands on and start creating their own comic artwork.
The second event took place the following day at the Rahr-West Art Museum, which is located within a beautiful old mansion. Before presenting Kristy and I received a private behind the scenes tour from Kathy Halla, being equally amazed at the mansion, the stunning collection of original artwork, and the display on Sputnik (a piece of the Russian satellite fell to Earth just outside the museum decades ago).
When it was time for the presentation Kristy and I were thrilled to see every seat filled and the museum staff busily bringing in more chairs to accommodate people. There were children, teens, and many adults in attendance. We were introduced by museum director Greg Vadney, then Kristy and I shared a few stories from a life working in comics. As I drew a rough sketch of Boba Fett with Autodesk SketchBook on the iPad the image was projected onto the large screen for all to see. We also spent some time showing attendees how to ink and color comics with the iPad and even had time to demonstrate some eye catching special effects. It was all over too quickly and the museum staff whisked Kristy and I down a back staircase to a special room that had been set-up for a meet-and-greet with fans.
The museum staff and volunteers did an amazing job with the food and decorations for the meet-and-greet. Kristy and I chatted with fans, signed comics, and reviewed portfolios until well past closing time. Every person we spoke with was friendly and enthusiastic about comic books and the arts in general. Plus, I met some talented artists and had a chance to see their work and talk with them about their future goals.
The third event was a chance for Kristy and I to work one-on-one with 15 students who were hand picked by their art instructors to attend. Each student was wearing a t-shirt featuring comic book or pop culture characters. Great to see so many Doctor Who and comic book fans! It’s been a while since I’ve been in a high school and after sitting through the announcements, including the day’s lunch menu, and standing for the Pledge of Allegiance (I still remember all the words), we got busy. The first project was for students to create a color scheme for a superhero. We spoke about color theory including primary colors, secondary colors, and more. Then we used a color wheel to see how complimentary colors, triad colors, and other color schemes might work. After each student designed their color scheme we worked on rendering the hero’s face in color and learning how to add highlights and shadows to the major facial features.
The second project was creating an animation style color look for cartoon artwork. Using the iPad I demonstrated the texture brushes in Autodesk SketchBook while the students followed along. We created a snowy daytime scene with painted clouds in the sky and then spoke about other ways we could approach the art so each student could make it their own. As the students worked on their versions of the scene Kristy and I were able to spend several minutes with each student answering questions and helping them along. I also had the opportunity to review the portfolios and sketchbooks of several students and I think we will be seeing some incredible talent coming out of Wisconsin in the years to come. Thanks to art instructors Barb Bundy-Jost & Vicky Molitor for inviting us into the classroom.
Thanks to our hosts Phil, Susan, and Alex Murtaugh Kristy and I had the opportunity to visit several other museums and galleries between events. The Murtaugh’s took the time to ensure we enjoyed the flavors of Wisconsin and were able to meet with local artists and craftspeople. Our visit would not have been possible without their hard work and generosity. It was an amazing experience I will never forget and I’m already making plans for our next trip to visit schools and museums in other states. Maybe we’ll come to your town next!
Read the Herald Times Reporter story on Hi-Fi Academy’s trip to Wisconsin here:
If you want Kristy and I to come to where you live and help support education and the arts email us at email@example.com for more info.
You’ve just finished coloring this amazing Superman cover and couldn’t be more proud of your work. There’s Sup’s vibrant blue suit and his iconic bright red cape. Looks amazing on screen, right? You finished your work, saved it as a CMYK TIF and sent it off to your editor of approval and 15 minutes later your get a frantic email back saying the suit looks like mud and the cape is a weird, drab color and you may have to re-color the whole thing! Oh, and your deadline is 30 minutes from now. ZOIKS! What the heck happened!? It looked amazing while you were coloring it and now it looks terrible. Why did your colors get turned into mud? Because the colors you chose or created were outside the CMYK Gamut your computer converted them and the result was terrible.
I can see you staring blankly at the screen asking, “What the heck is a gamut?” Allow me to explain a little.
So let’s start this by talking a little bit about the science of color. What we perceive as color is our brains interpreting different wavelengths of light emanating from, or bouncing off of, objects in space. If we look at the color spectrum we see that long wavelengths appear as red warm colors while shorter wavelengths appears a blue, cooler colors. As those wavelengths get longer (moving to the left on the chart) we move into infrared colors, microwaves and various other electrical waves. As they get shorter (moving to the right on the chart) we get into Xrays, Gamma rays (our favorite!!) and other harmful radiations.
What we can actually see, however, is just a very small portion of that spectrum which we call visible light.
If we pull out that visible portion of light, simplify it and twist it into a circle we get every artists BFF, the color wheel.
But if we take that entire spectrum of visible light and twist is into a circle we see what is called the visible color gamut. Keep in mind…this example you see here isn’t ACTUALLY the full visible color gamut because you are looking at it on a computer screen which presents color to you in an RGB color space…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
This visible color gamut represents all variations of every visible color. So in this example the black arrow over the blue indicates every possible variation of the color blue. Very bright and intense colors exist at the outside edges of the circle while less intense, desaturated colors exist at the center. In order to make this a little easier for you to see, I’m going to replace our circle with one that has an exaggerated difference in saturation level from outside to the middle.
So nature produces an innumerable amount of wavelengths of light, most of which we can’t see, but we create our artwork using technology that has yet to be able to reproduce all the colors of visible light. Specifically our computer monitors reproduce color in what is called the RGB Color space. This sort of bloated triangle shape over the visible color gamut indicates which colors are actually reproducible in the RGB Color Space. Using red, green and blue your monitor can recreate MOST of the colors in the visible light gamut, but not all. You’ll notice that it has trouble with some of the more vibrant orange, teals and violet colors. This is why your photos of those gorgeous sunsets never look quite right. Your camera is translating those natural lights into RGB and a little something gets lost.
However, when our artwork is complete it has to go to print. Modern printing presses mix 4 inks (Cyan, Yellow, Magenta and Black) to create “Full Color” your prints. As you can see the CMYK Color space is REALLY small compared to the RGB Color space and encompasses most of that drab, desaturated area in the middle of out circle.
You can really see the difference here when we lay the RGB and CMYK color spaces on the same graphic. By now you’re probably asking, “what does this mean to me, the comic book colorist?” MOST colorists, including those of you using the Hi-Fi method, render their work in RGB so while we’re working we have to always be aware that before each page is finalized it will have to be converted to CMYK.
When you color an image in RGB and the color you choose (or create inadvertently) falls outside of that CMYK color space it will have to be converted before it goes to press. Maybe I’ll cover how your computer makes those decisions (Relative Colorimetric vs Perceptual conversions) in a later article but suffice it to say your computer will select each pixel containing color outside the CMYK color gamut and changes it to a color that it thinks best represents the original color.
Just a note: I have again exaggerated the colors in the following example so you can better see the way the colors change.
Let’s take a look at your Superman from earlier and find out what happened. If we pull out the blue and red from the image and roughly plot them on the RGB color gamut you can see that they fall well outside of the CMYK gamut.
When you convert that file from RGB to CMYK your computer decides what those new colors should be.
Now instead of those nice bright colors…they are muted and kind of dead.
And if we look at them side-by-side you can really tell the difference in the color. So what can we learn from this exercise? First of all, when you’re coloring try to avoid selecting colors that are TOO vibrant and over-saturated. That’s your first clue that you may be heading down the path to conversion trouble later on. Also, make sure you are using the View/Proof Colors option in Photoshop. That will allow you to color in RGB but have a CMYK preview on your screen while you work. You’ll immediately know if a color is going to end up looking gross.
At this point you’re probably asking, “Well why don’t we just skip this whole mess and color right in CMYK? Wouldn’t that avoid this whole problem in the first place?”
Well, yeah…but it leads to some other issues that are not as easy to overcome than coloring in RGB but being mindful of a future need to convert. We color in RGB because that is how Photoshop was intended to work. It was designed as a digital space for creating and editing images and digital space means RGB. Because of this in CMYK there are a LOT of tools that aren’t available to you at all. You will find that those tools that are available to you will give you a drab, gray-ish color when used in a CMYK color space instead of the rich, full colors you would get were you attempting the same process in RGB.
Also, your files can be SIGNIFICANTLY larger. These two files are the EXACT same PSD except one is RGB and the other is CMYK. The CMYK file is almost twice the size. So, yes…you could avoid all the RGB to CMYK conversion problems entirely by coloring straight in CMYK but at a cost of lack of tools, lower functionality of some of Photoshop’s tools and potentially gargantuan file sizes.
ProTip: when coloring in RGB make sure you have the View/Proof Colors (Ctrl+Y) option active in Photoshop. This will allow you to color in RGB but see what the file will look like when it converts to CMYK. You’ll know instantly if a color you are creating is going to look like mud.
Eric White is a graphic designer and artist with 15 years of experience in the printing industry. He’s been working with Hi-Fi since 2008 as a consultant, web-guy, go-get-er, flatter and colorist. You can find more of his work at his website www.geekywhiteguy.com or follow along on twitter @Geekywhiteguy
Today Autodesk released an all art new app for iPad & iPhone. This new app, SketchBook Mobile, replaces the previous SketchBook Pro for iPad app. This marks the first SketchBook release for iOS 8 as well. We are downloading the app and will evaluate the iOS 8 interaction and explore the new features. Watch this space for info about a revised and updated edition of How to Paint Comic Books with the iPad & SketchBook Pro for iPad the unofficial user guide. Once we know what elements of each book should be revised, changed, or updated we will announce release dates. Stay tuned…
Lucasfilm has partnered with ACME Archives & Dark Ink Art to bring you exclusive new Star Wars art for a limited time.
An online artists’ alley featuring exclusive Star Wars prints by a specially selected group of elite illustrators. This limited time release runs Sept 5th 1pm – Sept 15th 5pm PDT.
Featuring artwork by David Rabbitte, Dave Nestler, Gary Shipman, Jerry Vanderstelt, Tim Proctor,
James Silvani, Peter Ferk, Steve Anderson, Joe Corroney, Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller, Cat Staggs, Jason Reed,
Brent Woodside, Kayla Woodside, Charity Wood, Chris Trevas, Brian Rood and Mike Kungl.
by Joe Corroney with colors by Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller
18″ x 24″ lithograph print
Crush the Rebellion
by Hi-Fi’s Brian Miller
18½” x 26¾” lithograph print
Hurry the event ends September 15th and these illustrations return to a galaxy far, far away…
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
Saturday, Nov 8th
7:30-8:30 AM: Breakfast
8:30-11:59 AM: Morning Sessions including
Light & shadow
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
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.
You will want to bring the following to get the most out of this workshop
Portable computer (laptop, mod-book, tablet computer, etc.) running Adobe Photoshop CS2 or newer
A Wacom graphics tablet or Cintiq
If you own an iPad or other tablet device with a stylus bring that too. Be sure to have SketchBook Pro for iPad and/or Procreate pre-installed. (if you do not own an iPad or similar tablet you will be able to use your computer & Photoshop for those lessons)
Not a Photoshop user? Contact us to see if your favorite software is suitable for this workshop
Programming schedule for example only and subject to change without notice.
Are you ready? REGISTER NOW below | More Hotel Info | Boot Camp Overview | Questions? Contact Kristy Miller
Registration Form – Payment options via PayPal will appear after you fill out and submit the registration form.
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
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
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
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
Digital Color for Comics
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…
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
- Portfolio review
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.