Paolo Francescutto and the craft of the colorist – Interview

Published on Dec 11, 2017

Every time we read a comic we are struck by the plot and designs, but we often forget how there are other important components behind the creation of a manga book.

In the read a book in color happen to take for granted the coloring but behind this appearance of a cartoon there are professionals that perform their work.

Paolo Francescutto is one of these craftsmen of the comic, as he prefers to say he, that is responsible of giving color to the pages of our favorite comics. After meeting with the team of Dragonero in the last edition of Lucca Comics & Games, we had a way to make us explain a little bit more precise in what consists his job, and how much it means to him.

Hello Paul, welcome to JustNerd. Could you explain the role of the colorist and how the work is done on the tables?

Do the colorist wants to say, to accept a position of second or third floor within a project, even if very often, the colour is right or wrong can save a drawing with a mediocre or destroy an excellent one. When someone reads a comic in color,Almost never say kudos to the colorist, although much of the show is set up just from this last one.

The colorist should almost take the place of him who in the film is the director of photography, in particular with regard to the balance of the shooting, also based on the color and depth of field. Unlike what many of them say, according to me it is not a job for the artists, but by artisans in the chain of production of comics.

This is my personal opinion; I don't mean to belittle the thing, I believe that to be a good craftsmen is a thing of which we can be proud of. Of good craftsmen, in fact, there is less and less, and there is always more need.

Let me explain: imagine that the artist (which in our case can be the writer or the designer) is the one who designs a sculpture in bronze, the designs, the create in the wax, but the casting and the finishing of the bronze is made by craftsmen at his service (which in our case are the colorists); these should bring out the sculpture that the artist has had in mind from the beginning. The colorist must also think to enter an atmosphere, an emotion at the tables; there is a method hard to do, it depends on the design that you have on hand.

My idea is that each drawing should have the color that best fits; every book is for me a new experience, and also if I can have constants in my way of working, every different designer requires specific and special attention to be able to be exalted without being, in the color, too bulky. The collaboration between all the parties involved in the creation of a comic is often based on mutual trust in the competence and the professionalism of each.

Which training path you've followed?

As a high school, the school of mosaic of Spilimbergo, in the Friuli region. I have no real preparation for the comic, if not for a course of 15 lessons held by the great Davide Toffolo, on the basic techniques of the comic, the dynamics of communication and the production process. Together with the group of participants, at the end of the course, we continued dating and founded a cultural association and publishing a fanzine, the Hunger Comics, which then became a small publishing house.

What allowed us to attend trade shows of the comic and deal with other authors amateur like us and to meet with professionals, show portfolios and ask for recommendations.

I would say that this is the second training on the comic that I had to come in direct contact with the person who makes the trade, even if sporadically and prolonged. With two of these friends of amateur publications (Luca Malisan and Dimitri Fogolin), it was decided to establish, by now, a dozen years ago, the Gotem Studio. We wanted to make a "real job" and just what up to that moment was a passion unpaid.

Recently we often talk about coloring manual and digital. Can you explain the difference between these two techniques?

I guess you want to hear, with manual work, the analog working, and with that all done via computer, or the like, of the digital.

The difference is huge, when I work on my personal projects I tend to prefer the work on paper, ink, brushes, nibs and pens, watercolors, and acrylics. I then however always with the finish to the pc, even for a discourse of optimization of the works, having regard to the reproducibility of a work must be taken into account by an illustrator.

The work by colorist instead of them I run almost always at the pc, essentially as a matter of convenience: the sending of a table born digital is definitely immediate and also the fixes, that can always happen, pc's are much more executable. The brush-stroke manual its also on a digital support, but the atmosphere, the color of the jacket of the protagonist, that of an automobile, the work is finished you can always change, everything is easier, immediate, and clean, and often times tight are definitely a good reason to choose a practical method.

I would also like to clarify, for the uninitiated, that does not all the computer, on the contrary, as I said, the same is only different media, but it is the hand which acts with the pen on the graphics tablet, or pen display, that to say it wants. The main rocks and the difficulty in bringing the color plates in B/W? If we speak of the novels that we are bringing in the libraries, the coloring of the stories was created for black and white printing, well, the fact that you work on the tables created to be read in black-and-white.

The balance should be in itself complete, so (b/n), whatever else goes to ground; the greater difficulty is yes in the add, but, in spite of that, lightening the whole. In short, a bit of an oxymoron, I think this is the most difficult. The result, I believe, can still be in favour of it, thinking also to the possibility to give a reading which is completely different, increasing the sensation of the projection of the reader within the work.

When in the newsstand or comic store and reader buy a book consider the work as a single body. In fact, any professional who contributes to the realization has a different mode of work and timing. In your case, as you develop your work?

Usually the publishing houses send the plates in the form of a file in tiff, generally at 1200 dpi in a bitmap (there is no fixed rule, depends on the type of drawing, whether in pencil it will be easier in grey scale unless the definition).

With a few step to the pc and then take the table and the changes transforming it into a three-color or four-color process, and can be processed precisely with the color. Step then, once set, the plates of the people who are put in the base colors, the skin tones correct for the characters, the skies blue, asphalt grey, the grass green, and so on, and once you come back to me work on the surfaces of the detail is the fact, as mentioned before, the surfaces, adding atmosphere, shadows and structure, lights and so on.

Once completed, send a preview to my superiors for a first view, if there are corrections to make the run, and otherwise prepare the final file and send to the office.

Remember what was your first job?

No, not for snobbery, since the amount of boards that I colored is of a few thousand, but more because I don't think there is a real scale of values for the work. I think all of them are important, especially if you honestly paid for. The pay is one thing essential to this job, if you want to call it.

Do you ever find yourself in front of a work and think “this Time I will not get out alive“?

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