Back in 2003 I hired a colorist, Jean Fioca (used to be Elmore). Having someone else handle the coloring was wonderful, and Jean was great at it. A lot of the coloring tricks I use now I learned looking at her work on my characters.
I'm considering hiring a colorist again. I'm busy enough to justify it, and would love to see somebody willing and able to express themselves through the colors, rather than just going through the motions the way I do. But don't send in your resumés just yet... the colorist I want to hire is already getting on the job training. She did the flood filling and shading on the last two rows of today's strip, and almost all the floods for next week. She's still learning the swatches, and doesn't know which backgrounds to drop in without coaching from me, but I can tell already that she'll work out fine if I can keep her interested.
I am going to have to raise her allowance.
My 12-year-old daughter, whom you may know from sandratayler's Live Journal as "Kiki," is my apprentice colorist. She has had some classical art training using pastels and watercolors, but has next to no Photoshop experience. That didn't stop her from pencilling, scanning, coloring, and shading a picture of Link last week, using Adobe Photoshop Elements. She was coloring using a technique she copied from me -- lassoing areas to be shaded and darkening them with the flood tool and swatches that looked right. And the shading DID look right. The girl has a good eye.
Sandra was concerned. "She's been working on that piece for DAYS now, Howard."
I checked to see what she was actually working on. "It's not a problem. She's trying to darken her pencil lines, and they're in the same layer as the colors. She's going pixel by pixel."
I told Kiki what she was doing wrong, and suggested that since correcting line art in this way was no fun at all, maybe she'd have more fun coloring some clean line art for me. For pay. She was sitting next to me at my computer within 15 minutes.
Naturally, I have some concerns:
1) I don't want her art style to be mere mimicry of my own. I have to encourage her to experiment -- at least once she has the basics down.
2) We are going to have to strike a balance between "Kiki's Style" and "Staying On Model."
3) Criticism of Schlock Mercenary may extend to the work she does, and she is not nearly thick-skinned enough to be reading some anonymity-emboldened, blogtarded wannabe tear her work apart.
4) Saddling a 12-year-old with this level of responsibility is a life-changing thing. She may end up with a job skill, or even a full-blown career. Then again, digital art may end up forever poisoned for her.
5) She is not old enough to be famous. Or so says me, anyway. I don't mind fanboys stalking me down at the comics shop, but the first fanboy who stalks my baby girl is going to to discover that he can breathe through the gurgling hole where his nipple-piercing used to be.
I'm not asking for advice. I already have approaches for numbers 1-3 above, and Kiki and I will be talking about #4. Number five... well, let's just say that if I have to go to jail because I killed my colorist's stalker, the comic strip will end. No stalking, okay?