Hello Revuers! It’s time for another exciting segment of Coloring Between the Lines. Where we interview a Color Artist who is making an impact in the industry today. This time we were fortunate enough to interview the amazing Brian Reber. Brian had some very interesting insights on coloring and life and was gracious enough to share them with us here at Deja.Revue. Brian is a consummate professional with over 15 years of experience in the comic book industry. You might recognize him from Ivar, Timewalker, Unity, Batwing and Bloodshot. So hold on to your hats and here we go:
- How long have you been a colorist?
I’ve been coloring comics since late 2001, so roughly 15 years.
- Was it what you wanted to be when you were a kid?
Growing up I wanted to be an artist that did everything on a book. I wanted write, draw, ink, and color. Coloring was actually the last thing I wanted to do.
- What’s the first comic book series you really got into?
I want to say Uncanny X-men, but it was actually the reprinted Classic X-men that drew me in.
- Do you prefer superhero comics or other genres?
I’ve always been a huge superhero fan.
- Who is your favorite superhero?
- Who is your favorite non superhero character?
Kris from the Harbinger.
- What’s your favorite series that’s not a superhero series?
My current favorite would have to be Velvet. Brubaker is such a fantastic writer. Then you have Epting and Breitweiser just doing amazing work.
- What is your process like for coloring?
My process is pretty straight forward. When I first get the pages I send them off to a flatter. The flatter just breaks down all the shapes to make it easier for me to select and just start coloring. They use all kinds of crazy colors, so nothing they send me is actually carried over into the creative process. I’ll usually look over the pages to see if I can just tell what’s happening from the art. After that I’ll read the script to make sure I don’t miss any color notes. Following that I just start working and if needed I’ll google reference to play off of.
- How do you choose a color palette?
I’m very grounded in the color choices. I usually visualize everything in true color. Once I finish “rendering” a scene I will then go back and adjust the colors using adjustment layers. I compare it to film. I’ll shoot the scene with whatever lighting I have then go back in and color correct it for mood.
- What’s your favorite project you’ve ever worked on?
It’s really hard for me to pick and choose. The one project that I felt I grew and learned the most from is the “Madrox” mini-series. Most of what I consider my default style today was developed while working over Pablo Raimondi’s artwork on that book.
- Do you have anything coming out soon that we should keep an eye out for?
Archer & Armstrong just started, so everyone pick that up if you haven’t already. I’ll also be working on a couple of the 4001 event titles from Valiant such as XO Manowar, and Bloodshot.
- Who are some of your favorite colorists in the industry today?
There are so many currently that are doing great work. Dave McCaig, Matt Wilson, Rico Renzi, Dean White, but the colorist that knocks my socks off is Bettie Breitweiser. She should be winning all the awards.
- Is there anyone you draw inspiration from?
I look to video game concept artists for most of my inspiration. Craig Mullins, for example, has a way of making anything look real. Like you could just walk right into one of his paintings or reach out and touch a helmet he’s painted.
- I’ve personally really enjoyed your work on Ivar, Timewalker How did you pick out the palette for that book?
As I mentioned I have a realistic approach to my color selection and it pairs really well with Clayton Henry’s art. I think when we visualize things we have a very similar approach, so it all flows pretty naturally. The one thing I did have to take into consideration though was all of the different time lines. I tried to keep them distinct, but not so much that each scene was monochromatic.
- What’s like working on several books at once for the same publisher in a shared universe?
It’s great at Valiant because we only produce about 9 books a month. Coloring 2-3 of them I feel like I get to influence a big chunk of the universe.
- Does it present any unique challenges to create a semi-cohesive aesthetic between all the titles?
There isn’t that many challenges cause basically all of the aesthetic consistency is just from me being me. Now when are doing a large event it can get tricky with the books being split up with other colorists. Then it becomes a matter of who gets to color a scene or character first and the other colorists have to follow suit.
- Burritos or coneys?
I’ve never had a real Coney Island hotdog, so I’ll have to go with burritos.
- Where’s your favorite place to pick up a burrito when you’re at cons
I love burritos, but it’s one of the foods I avoid at cons. Can never tell how it might go.
- What’s your favorite convention?
I would have to say SC ComicCon has become my favorite. Robert Young has just done a tremendous job with that show and the Valiant fans there are off the chart. It’s really fun for me to go to and it’s not too far from home.
- What would be your dream collaboration?
I really want to color Jim Lee or Joe Quesada.
- If you weren’t a comic book artist what would be your career?
I’d probably be doing something with video games. I was actually offered a job as a texture artist the same week I was offered my first comic book gig.
- What’s the biggest difference between working for the big two and on your indie titles?
I feel way more invested in how well the books come out as opposed to the big two. I worked on almost every X-men title for 7 or so years at Marvel and it didn’t really seem to matter who they put on the books. The numbers were pretty much going to be the same cause it’s X-men. At Valiant the characters are lesser known, so I feel like the other creators and myself are trying to put our best foot forward to make sure our books stand out.
- What unique challenges does working for a big publisher or and indie publisher provide?
With the big publishers there was always just so much going on that I always felt like I could get a little lost in the shuffle. At Valiant I have a chance to influence the look of a large portion the line. Even books I don’t do the interior colors on I might have done color designs for the characters. So the contribution level is drastically different.
- Who are some of your favorite artists to work with?
I love working with all of my Valiant guys. Lewis Larosa, Clayton Henry, David Lafuente, Doug Braithwaite.. the list just goes on and on over there. I’m a really lucky colorist when it comes to artists I get to work with.
- Who are some of your favorite writers to work with
Joshua Dysart, Matt Kindt, and Robert Venditti to name a few from Valiant. Ed Brubaker, Judd Winnick, and Brian K Vaughn were fun to work with in the past.
- Who’s your favorite character to color?
- What would be a dream series for you to work on?
If I were to concoct a project to check off everything on my want list it would be Daredevil by Ed Brubaker, Jim Lee, Dexter Vines, and me.
If you are interested in checking out more of Brian’s work you can find him on:
Also you can find more of his work to purchase at Comixology.
Also, be sure to order Archer and Armstrong at your local comic shop!