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18 Tips for Comic Book Artists by Jean “Moebius” Giraud: #14

A full palette color scheme is difficult at best. Here, Moebius pulls it off in stunning fashion.

14) Color is a language that the graphic artist uses to manipulate his reader’s attention as well as to create beauty.

Jean “Moebius” Giraud was a master of color. The previous 12 installments of this series all illustrate that quite well. Nevertheless, it’s always fun to look at Moebius’ work just for its color, so I will stuff this little chapter with lots of Jean’s art, exhibiting that he had no trouble whatsoever creating beauty using one basic color as a scheme or a combination of colors — or very little color at all.

Beginning with red and working our way through the spectrum:

This poster has graced my studio for decades. I picked it up on my first trip to Paris.

Gir captured all the subtle varieties of the red earth in western settings like Utah.

Primarily an orange color scheme with complementary accents and a surprising red.

Above: Some muted yellow color schemes.

Green is supposed to be the toughest color to work with — but look what Jean does with it.

The complementary color accents of red or orange really makes these pieces sing.

Ahhh, blue! So cool…

Jean’s use of process blue here almost makes me feel like I’m underwater.

This design for Alien is primarily variations of blue with a nice, complementary orange accent.

Moebius’ use of this very primary turquoise (with complementary yellow-orange accents) imparts a child-like quality to the machine that dominates this picture.

Here Jean’s use of turquoise and pink give this dangerous situation a whimsical feel.

Another example of a blue-dominate (accented with orange) color scheme…

…and another sublime example.

Moebius grayed his purples for this piece.

Grayed purples and lavenders are wonderful things indeed.

Who needs pure hues? Jean works wonders with browns…

How about a vibrant black and gray piece?

Let’s move on to multiple schemes.

These two Arzak pages use the classic red-yellow-blue primary colors scheme…

…as do these.

I couldn’t find one of my favorite color schemes (the three secondary colors: orange-green-purple) in Jean’s online work, so I’m reluctantly (I really want this to be about Moebius — not me) posting one of my own pieces with this palette:

The above are a rarity: two similar pieces by Moebius. Both are dominated by a kind of blue-green scheme; one with a gold accent, the other accented with pink.

Blue with various red (and brick red) complements.

In the piece above, blue is used to complement the overall tan and muted pastel orange scheme.

Above: Green with a complementary red accent (am I stating the obvious?).

Very delicate; almost no color.

A mini-symphony of muted pastels. Speaking of pastels…

Here’s a pastel scheme mixed with burnt siennas:

There is objective and subjective color.

Color can be arbitrary; it does not necessarily need to be “realistic”. An artist does not have the limitations that bind a photographer.

This Van Gogh painting depicts this woman (in this portrait from the Norton Simon Museum) with green and yellow skin and alizarin lips. Who cares? It works, and the color gives a whisper to the viewer about whom this woman is.

Pretty in pink.

The emotional states of the characters can change or influence the color from one panel to the next, as can place and time of day.

The example above clearly takes place at dawn.

It’s what we in the Film Biz call “Magic Hour” in the picture above.

And, of course, there’s sunset.

This step-by-step shows that Moebius was just as adept with digital color as he was painting traditionally.

A muted example of a full palette scheme.

Special study and attention must be paid to the language of color.

And how!

Next: Start Small

(Moebius tribute by Tihomir Tikulin)

To easily access this entire series, go to:

7 thoughts on “18 Tips for Comic Book Artists by Jean “Moebius” Giraud: #14

  1. I love this series, Bill, thanks so much. Also very amused and touched to see Tikulin’s tribute above.

  2. Simply wonderful!

  3. Thank you for some other magnificent post. The place else may anyone get that type of info in such an ideal manner of writing? I have a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look for such information.

  4. Fantastic ideas and exegesis! Just a note that the ‘Magic Hour’ cowboy image is actually by Michel Rouge, from the cover of a volume from a spin-off Blueberry series.

  5. Fabulous!! I just would have a question, what is the technique employed by Moebius for colour, mostly watercolour i suppose or also ink?

  6. Very helpful !Thanks so much.

  7. Hi Ana,
    Jean Giraud used many different mediums for his color work. In the early days it was mostly watercolor; in his later years he colored a lot of his pen drawings digitally.

    To Chris P.: Thanks for the correction!

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