We Talk About the Grimm Fairy Tales 10th Anniversary Special with Leonardo Paciarotti

With over 60 issues already credited to his name, Leonardo Paciarotti could be considered to already be a comic book veteran.  Although he works for a variety of companies his focus has primarily been for Zenescope, and he joined us to talk a bit about Britney Waters and how to get the colors right inside a comic book.

red006Graphic Policy: We don’t often get to talk to colorists so this is pretty fun.  When we think about the great writers and illustrators several names come up, but are there legends of the coloring world that the random comic fan wouldn’t even know about?

Leonardo Paciarotti: For me it is a pleasure to accept this interview. Here we go!

Of course, yes. There are many legends of color in the comic which I follow in particular. Great colorists, from which I learned a lot would be; Dave Stewart (Conan), Laura Martin (Before Watchmen Dr. Manhattan), Giulia Brusco (Scalped) or the incredible Brad Anderson (Batman: Earth One). Other favorites that I follow closely are Tomeu Morey (very realistic, for me, the best), Marte Gracia (very spectacular, very showy) and Justin Ponsor.

I guess there are a lot more, but these are my favorite, and my recommendation.

GP:  Of course you also illustrate as well as to color, so are there any artists who stand out as having influenced either your style or your desire to be an artist?

LP:  Sure, besides being a colorist, I also draw. I am currently inking a collection in another publisher. Besides, I’m always drawing (since I was a child). Artists who influenced me could be; Gil Elvgren, Jack Vettriano, Alphonse Mucha, Drew Struzan, Joaquin Sorolla and of course, Norman Rockwell.

They are all fully pictorial in his style, and that’s what I try to represent in my coloring.

GP:  It strikes me as interesting that so many artists probably got into the medium through a love of superhero or related genres, but then end up for instance in burgeoning areas like with Zenescope and fairy tales.  Did you ever think that you would be so tied to one specific genre?  And how do you like working in stories focused around fairy tales?

red007LP:  I started on Zenescope but I also really like superheroes.  I worked on Batman two years ago at DC Comics and it was also a great experience. Currently in Wonderland or Grimm Fairy Tales, I feel great.

Actually, I’m always experimenting some variation on the technique of applying color to improve. I’m still in search a technique that identifies me 100%.

GP:  Are there challenges to coloring fairy tale stories in particular? And you have have a favorite fairy tale from your childhood that you have worked on or that you would like to work on?

LP:  Each issue is a challenge for me (sorry), EACH PAGE is a challenge for me!. I always try to improve my technique, always.

If I had to choose, I would like to work on Peter Pan and Cinderella (my favorite Fairy Tales from my childhood).

GP:  You have also worked on Wonderland, Grimm Fairy Tale’s realm of madness.  Are there extra challenges for coloring such an environment?

LP:  I think this question is answered with the answer above :)

If I had to add something more, would be that I love explosions, hahaha! Every time I have to color a explosion is a challenge to make it more “BOOOM” than the previous (dirt, fire, flying particles, dust, wind, etc.). Quite a challenge. XD

GP:  What is the process that you go through when you color an issue?

LP:  Usually I read the script first. After, I will look for all of the necessary references (or ask my editors).

Always, I work by scenes. For example, if there is a fighting, and if that fighting lasts 4 pages then I will work on those 4 pages at the same time, to keep the color narrative. The first step if the backgrounds. The environment, on top of the background, is what will give light and shade to the characters. It’s not the same for instance to paint a sunrise on the beach or to paint a dark cave. The light will influence differences in any character.

After, I will color the characters, the clothing, armor, etc, first, and last the hair, skin and faces.

Usually I do not limit myself in color palettes, but I have some colors assigned to hair, clothing, or items that should always have the same colors. Now I change the colors with the colors “bg/ambiance”. For example, if a person who is blonde, will not have the same hair color value and saturation at 1 a.m., that at 1 p.m. All this varies with walking.

red003GP:  It sometimes seems that certain panels are more alive with colors than others.  Is this a conscious decision to highlight certain scenes, or does it just evolve with the story telling?

LP:  Everything I do is always done consciously. Surely, if any action that needs to be highlighted, on the same page, I will highlight it by saturating the colors, creating an edge around the characters, or using complementary colors if it’s necessary.

Always, of course, keeping the story telling flowing.

GP:  In the case of Red Riding Hood/Britney Waters it would seem that by default that you are stuck using a lot of reds in the issue.  In a case like that does it become hard to sort out all of the different hues?  And is a character or group of character that is dependent on one color therefore harder to handle?

LP:  It could be a difficult task if you do not take control of all colors. I refer to a color file that I created, for the issue. Therefore, it is not a problem, it is about have a good organization.

For example, if they had 10 people in the same scene, and those 10 people were dressed in red, and were in a group, I’d take care of assigning a different red tone to each character.

If the characters were dressed in red and wearing the same clothes, there are other ways to separate them, like saturation and values, as I said earlier. (Even painting the ink line).

In the end, everything is a challenge, and I really enjoy it.

Best greetings, and thank you very much for the interview.  :)