Friday, 31 October 2008

On sepia.

In a wild attempt to distract myself from some recent turmoil, i'm going to ramble about sepia. I love sepia, I really do. I watched "A very Long Engagement" again recently, which always gets me by the jugular. "The Illusionist" too- because it has the sheer audacity to blur the corners of the camera. Beautiful.
The problem with Sepia, however, is that it's actually horrible, far too warm, muddy, desaturated brown filth. Fine for a single photo, terrible for a cover and disastrous for an entire book. What I really love is "mock sepia" a kind of cross between yellowing paper, brown ink and bleached golden sunlight. (see above) It's something I could easily replicate, if I were prepared to crack out the painty photoshop, but it's hardly practical for use in comics. I've tried many different methods for mocking this up in a time economic way, but with little success. Mostly, the problem seems to be that it's such a dangerously volatile colour palette to use for mass production. My Tokyopop Rising Stars cover, for example, was supposed to glow golden orange, but ended up as a flat and rather uninteresting brown. My comic "Cairo", which was only ever supposed to be a portfolio piece, went from brown to greeny- grey with each printout. My latest attempt is in an episode of "John Blake" which should air sometime around Christmas. I am expecting it to be a cross between chocolate and mud.
I'd love to give up on sepia; but that parchment and wax seal, battered leather journal, spidery ink hand, faded photograph look just sucks me in every time. I want to make comics that look like a love letter between a long dead couple, an adventurers notebook found in a casket on the banks of the Nile or the scrapbook of a young soldier slipped between two forgotten shelves at the back of the Bodleian library.


nana said...

Sepia is nice! Although I think it's a bit overkill to use it all the time, like in A Very Long Engagement.
I seem to favour desaturates in most of my own colouring... Either that reflects a depressed side of my personality or simply a lack of knowledge in colour theory.

Print seems difficult. Subtle shades seem most sensitive to colour shifts. Maybe that's one reason to use bright poster colours! :D

aqws said...

Lies! There's no such thing as too much sepia! XD I want to live in sepia-land!

Um, yeah, I'm trying to use desaturated colours for my war comic. Gorgeous if you get them right, but mine are being tempermental =_=