Color artistry in comics is an impressive feat. It adds depth, atmosphere, and detail to black and white that gives comics their dynamic range, propelling them from simple ideas to something resembling real life. If anyone knows the power of great color work, it’s Andrew Dalhouse, who over 16 years has colored books like Toyo Harada, The Flash, and Justice League.
Dalhouse now works at Valiant, where he has two ongoing books he’s colored. The first is the newly-released Bloodshot #7 Fully Loaded Edition. (You can check out that edition here. And for more on Bloodshot, read our interview with series artist Marc Laming.) Dalhouse is also coloring Rai #6, which is due out August 19.
I recently had the chance to ask Dalhouse a few questions not only about his craft, but the approaches color artists are tasked with for different publishers, among other topics.
AIPT: First, what do you love about being a color artist?
Andrew Dalhouse: I love collaborating with artists to enhance the line art.
AIPT: Who are some of the color artists who have been major influences on your work?
AD: Justin Ponsor, Jessica Ruffner, Steve Firchow, Laura Martin, and Chris Sotomayor. I am inspired by all colorists though. We all have that special quirk in our styles that makes me say “That’s cool. I’m stealing that. Lol.”
AIPT: Could you walk me through the coloring process? For example, at what point in the production process you’re brought in, how much say you have in how you color the artwork, what types of notes you receive, etc.
AD: Usually I’m brought in when the lineart is ready to be colored. Sometimes there are color references ready for me for characters, especially if an existing character like Bloodshot or Faith. Sometimes I have to do color for the refs if it’s a new character.
Time of day is usually in the script, if not I will ask. Nothing worse than coloring a day scene at night or vice verse. Other than those things, I typically have free range to color how I see the artwork. I send the color art back to the editorial for notes and compliments. I prefer compliments, but if there are notes they are usually if I messed up on characters’ color. Or if we are trying something new like in Rai #3 that was a few emails to get the look of that cyber meeting room Rai and Lulu are in.
AIPT: How would you describe your coloring style? A reader sees a piece you worked on – what makes it an Andrew Dalhouse piece?
AD: My style changes depending on the artist I’m working on. Brett Booth likes a hard airbrush look. Marc Laming is more cuts. What makes an Andrew Dalhouse piece is I try and tell a story with the color, setting the mood correctly, and putting the reader in the story and not being a distraction from it. I’m very proud of my work with CAFU on The Life and Death of Toyo Harada. I feel like I hit all those notes and that mini is a book I’m very proud of.
AIPT: When approaching work at different publishers is there specific rules or themes to keep in mind to make it feel like a DC book or a Valiant book?
AD: DC seems to prefer local coloring on their books. At Valiant I am a lot freer to play with atmospheric lighting. I can make a Shadowman book toned to look more horror and Faith to be bright and colorful, creating a distinct look between the 2 books.
AIPT: Between your work on The Flash, to Bloodshot, to Rai, among other works of course, do you have a favorite project so far?
AD: The Life and Death of Toyo Harada.
AIPT: I feel like The Flash is a book that pushes artists to try new things. Are there any projects you’ve worked on that inspired you to do something entirely different?
AD: The Life and Death of Toyo Harada, lol. Also the Bloodshot series. I really play with atmospheric lighting a lot to make the pages flow smoothly. Bloodshot’s red eyes and chest symbol is a big part of his personality, so I made sure that they were always bright red no matter that lighting.
AIPT: What do you think the biggest misconception about color artists is among comics readers?
AD: That we just push a button and a book is colored. A lot of thought and time goes into coloring pages. I have been coloring professionally for 16 years and my mom still doesn’t fully understand what I do.
AIPT: What excites you about the Valiant comics line of titles?
AD: They have such a variety of genres. Superhero, sci-fi, horror, and superhero humor. Valiant isn’t afraid to try new things in unique ways. I loved the Valiant High mini.