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Training up a new colorist... - Howard Tayler
Ramblings of a Happy Cartoonist
Training up a new colorist...
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?
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chalain From: chalain Date: July 1st, 2007 05:02 pm (UTC) (Link)
I had a coworker once who had the whole "creepy/intimidating guy" thing going for him. His favorite thing to say to a boy coming to pick up his daughter for a date was, "I've been to prison, son, and I'd have NO problem with going back."
chalain From: chalain Date: July 1st, 2007 05:03 pm (UTC) (Link)
Also, just as insurance, you might want to build the buffer out to, oh 3-5 years, with time off for good behavior.
malimar From: malimar Date: July 1st, 2007 05:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
12 years old is a lot less young than it sounds. She's likely to do well.
rev_ursa From: rev_ursa Date: July 1st, 2007 05:31 pm (UTC) (Link)

RE: Number 5

Come on Howard, this is what the Pinkney crowd is for...
thefile From: thefile Date: July 1st, 2007 06:17 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Number 5

I have NO idea of what you're referring to,,,,
bibliophage From: bibliophage Date: July 1st, 2007 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, Come on, Howard. You have more self control than that. Wait until you get home, then suggest to the fans that you have a stalker problem. With description. Stalker disappears and your hands are clean.

Problem solved.
lionsphil From: lionsphil Date: July 1st, 2007 10:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
The next morning, one of the NASA dudes blearily stares at a screen and wonders where that new satellite came from, and why it seems to be in geosynchronous orbit above that "meteor strike" he heard about on the radio on the way in.
delosd From: delosd Date: July 1st, 2007 05:47 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congratulations to *both* of you. I don't know if you anything remotely like this in mind when you left the "day job" and decided to stay home with Schlock full-time, but how many fathers get this type of opportunity to really do something real and meaningful with their kids? And, to turn it around, how many children get to do something at that age which really *matters* to their parents?

I hope it works out wonderfully for both of you, and that the "down side" of your point #4 doesn't come to pass. But I suspect you'll be keeping an eye on things, and if it looks like it isn't the responsibility for Kiki, you'll do some assistant switching. :)

All the best!
blackcoat From: blackcoat Date: July 1st, 2007 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
My baby sister (who is 14 now) came home sobbing after a date with her boyfriend. It was touch and go for waterboarding the boy for a while there. I know how you feel. :)
hawklady From: hawklady Date: July 1st, 2007 05:56 pm (UTC) (Link)
This is the same baby girl who, if she follows in her mother's footsteps, you will be walking down the aisle in ... oh ... about seven, eight years, and she'll be making you a GRANDFATHER in less than a DECADE?


Congratulations on identifying some pretty important issues that could come up if she becomes your colorist. She's going to have some cool stories for junior high school, having a 'job' at an age when her peers' opportunities are limited to babysitting and lawn mowing. It'd be wonderful if this gave her confidence to better deal with all the emotional crapola that happens in high school.

gurgi From: gurgi Date: July 1st, 2007 06:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Now, when you say she did the last two rows, are you saying she did the glow around Tagon?

Honestly, her work on today's strip looks fantastic. I'm looking at it, and seriously, it's impossible for me to tell you didn't do it, and if you'd not said anything, I would never had known.

As for possible stalkers, I think it's safe to say that there are plenty of people who would be more than happy to look the police in the eye and say "He was here all night officer".

Tell her good luck from the lot of us, and congrats.

Soon we will have an heiress to the Schlock dynasty.

Soon she'll even be able to claim a book to her credit, since it won't be too long for her work to make it into a dead-tree edition.
gilmoure From: gilmoure Date: July 1st, 2007 06:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Totally cool about your daughter working with you. Is the way it used to be, where kids would learn their parent's trades. Sure, she may not follow you and your wife into authoring/publishing but just knowing what goes into running a business will be worth so much college courses. Really wish I'd had a chance to learn how stuff was done in the real world, before getting out of high school. Even now, the whole concept of my own business is so confusing and such, I'm still working an hourly job.
mouser From: mouser Date: July 1st, 2007 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
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.

Instead of raising her allowance, offer her a "guest cartoonist" week!
calogipi From: calogipi Date: July 1st, 2007 07:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Like the "Family Circus" cartoonist? Was it Bill Keene or something like that?
fortuna_juvat From: fortuna_juvat Date: July 1st, 2007 07:49 pm (UTC) (Link)
Congrats and best of luck to your newest employee!

But I have to confess the first few lines left me terribly confused. "Colorist" for me, first brings to mind "someone who colours hair". So I glanced back at your user icon to make sure my mind wasn't playing tricks on me. You are in need of a colorist, and my vocabulary now has new depth. :)
lorienlai From: lorienlai Date: July 1st, 2007 09:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
"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."
It took me a few seconds to work out the mechanics of that but when I did....

You have to respect appropriately psychotic violence.
lorienlai From: lorienlai Date: July 1st, 2007 09:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hates htmls.
abitofeveryone From: abitofeveryone Date: July 1st, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
I have to say, that is one of my favorite threats of all time!
unixronin From: unixronin Date: July 2nd, 2007 12:21 am (UTC) (Link)
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.

+1. :)
From: chriswheeler Date: July 2nd, 2007 09:19 am (UTC) (Link)
The mind boggles on how to achieve a sucking chest wound while removing a nipple piercing. So many diffent ways...
alexjeffries From: alexjeffries Date: July 2nd, 2007 02:52 am (UTC) (Link)
This sounds like a very awesome plan. Full spead ahead!
katayamma From: katayamma Date: July 2nd, 2007 01:46 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very cool! Here's hoping things work out for her!

If you ever need a backup backup coloreist, drop me a line. Glad to lend a hand.

From: conviviacr Date: July 2nd, 2007 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)


I have to say your daughter has amazing talent. I can barely handle a paintbrush let alone do this computer stuff.

Also I would be more then willing to implement a certain scenario:

Mwhahahahaha. I know I have a very twisted sense of humour and I like my father I have a mean streak a mile wide. Most don't find that part, the mean streak, out; you have to be special to bring that out and stalkers of my favorite web-cartoonists daughter :)... well lets just say no one has seen me at my meanest just yet :)

Oh and thanks for all the info and input on the Hordes Howard I have a nice little force of Skorn building up :)
From: odinsgrandson Date: July 2nd, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
That is really, really cool. I hope she is interested enough to keep it up. Hm... I think I was about that age when I started painting...

Will she keep the name Kiki in this capacity, or will she be accredited with her name?

Now, it is posts like this that make me feel sorry for some bloke in a few years when she starts dating...
howardtayler From: howardtayler Date: July 3rd, 2007 04:00 am (UTC) (Link)
Re: her name... we haven't decided yet.

angry_geologist From: angry_geologist Date: July 2nd, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC) (Link)
Good luck to you both! It's fantastic that she's got the chance to do this with you. I wish I had a chance to work with my dad, but high voltage switchyards and kids don't mix... well, not when OSHA's looking...

Tell her the fans agree that she's been doing a great job so far!
nancyfulda From: nancyfulda Date: July 2nd, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
What a lovely experience for Kiki! I bet she's thrilled about it.
From: bbullock Date: July 3rd, 2007 02:22 pm (UTC) (Link)

This Shouldn't Be a Surprise...

Leave it to Schlock fans to concentrate on the "violence" aspects of this post, rather than the "artistic/familial" ones. Hee.
(no subject) - vorro - Expand
catalystparadox From: catalystparadox Date: July 6th, 2007 03:40 am (UTC) (Link)
Just found this journal. Love the comic, and I guess I'll be watching your lj from now on.
From: 0702034 Date: July 14th, 2007 05:19 am (UTC) (Link)

OT: Arithmetic error in your latest post?

I'll start off by apologizing for this off-topic comment. Your ``EMAIL HOWARD'' link leads to a blank page, and I didn't want to be scooped on my very first nitpick after two years of error-free Schlock.

The latest strip (Saturday 14 July 2007) includes the line, ``The margin of error in your guess at your own age is bigger than the age of my whole species.'' The guess in question is 12 million years, and the margin of error 1% (in either direction, I assume), or 240 000 years.

Wikipedia on ``Human Evolution'' claims that anatomically modern humans probably began 400 000 to 250 000 years prior to our present, already outside the 240 000 year range. Dating things with respect to Schlock's present, which I assume to be quite a bit into our future, should widen the gap further. (If you would cue the triumphant drums of successful nitpickery, yes, just like that, excellent)

Otherwise, thanks for a really awesome webcomic, and thanks for getting me into webcomics.
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