This piece was done in 1995 for Twin Cities Business Monthly, and accompanied a story about insurance fraud. The client wanted a 50’s comic book feel to it, so I naturally went with an E.C. look…especially given the title they wanted for the comic.
This was done using the old “film pos/acetate overlay” technique that was used for coloring comic books for decades before the digital revolution. It involved taking the inks to a production house that put it on a stat camera and produced two prints of it on clear acetate. One was just the linework on the clear sheet, but adding registration marks outside the bleed. The other was a negative image of the linework (a “film pos”) on a separate clear sheet. Then you took a piece of illustration board and coated it with a special chemical that would react to light, taped down the negative image nice and tight to the treated board, and exposed it to the light for a few minutes. This produced a light blue version of the linework on the board.
Once the treated board had lost it’s light sensitivity (can’t recall if they treated it with another chemical to do that, or if the effect just wore off), you could paint on the illustration board and overlay the lines-on-acetate sheet so it lined up with the blue lines under it. In this was you could paint the board without messing up the lines.
Once you were done, the board itself was peeled and color separated using a drum scanner into C, M, Y and K films. Then your linework-on-acetate sheet was “stripped” into the K (black) film so the registration marks added lined up. In this way the black lines were never color separated, so they remained crisp and were not turned into dots for color printing. This was the way old-school comics and strips were colored back in the day. A meticulous process.
Hooray for desktop scanners and PhotoShop.
755 My cover art for the next issue of MAD, exclusive sneak peek from @entertainmentweekly website
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