Colour-07: An Interview With Chris O’Halloran

Chris O’Halloran has really been making a name for himself as a colourist in the last year or so. Be it colouring James Bond, Star Wars Rebels or his upcoming book at Image, Generation Gone. Chris took time out of his busy schedule to answer questions about his process, working on with different artists and what it is like landing a book at Image.

I wanted to ask about the James Bond book first. I was impressed by your work on that. I was wondering what influenced your style on that book? Where do you start on a book like that?

It’s Bond so you really want to do a good job. From my own point of view I wanted to make it look different to the previous series released by Dynamite so I went really bright and saturated with the colours. The work on the Ellis/Masters Bond by Guy Majors completely suited the tone of that run but since Black Box is a little more fun/action and Rapha’s style is totally different I felt it worked. Tokyo is an eventual setting so bright neon lights where in the forefront of my mind before beginning and things like Drive and Neon Demon were influences.

I was wondering how your process changes when working with different artists.

I try to respect each artists’ style as best I can. What works for one doesn’t necessarily work on another. If it’s someone new, I take a look and see how they’ve been coloured in the past, and take from that what I can. Whether it’s noticing some technique I didn’t like used on their linework or seeing a way to improve on it, or just seeing how best it was done.

I guess moving from artist to artist I subconsciously try and do something a little different too so I’m not doing the same thing I just did over and over for the next 20+ pages. In the end it’ll just come what I think feels right for that art.

I’m really interested in the colouring process. Where do you start? Do you look at the script and go from there?

I’ll read the script a few times usually and keep an eye out for scene information that might not be immediate in the art. Once I have the pages, and depending on time constraints, I might get them flatted (flatting is setting up the art for colouring. So each person, building, jumper, hair, window etc is selectable and they will be a flat colour. None of the colours in the flatting process are ones used in the final piece and I’ll often desaturate them a lot before starting my own work). Once the page is flatted I begin working out the palette for the page/scene etc and just tweaking the colours for a while until it looks right to my eye. The next step is rendering shadows and highlights and any effects after that, generally lighting or something. There might be some textures added then after that.

You’ve have quite a few comics under your belt now, do you have a highlight so far?

I’ve been very lucky with the stuff I’ve been asked to do. Basically anything I’m asked on is exciting to me. My first two pro gigs were two issues of Star Wars Rebels and a Star Trek cover, which was crazy. I’m still doing Star Wars with Ruairí Coleman on a Luke story which is pretty cool. Working on Bond is incredible (probably the best known character I’ve worked on) and getting to do an Image series (Generation Gone) is something I really wanted to do at some point but didn’t think it would happen so soon. Basically whatever I’m working on most recently is what I’m excited about.

I was going to ask you about Generation Gone. Image seems to be the place to be at the moment and it must be great to be getting on to a series on the ground floor.

Ya definitely. So many of my favourite series are at Image right now so it’s really exciting to have something coming out next to them. Ales is an amazing writer. I’ve been a fan of his for years. I loved Zero and Wolf. It was great to hear from him and be asked to colour Andre for Generation Gone. The story is really awesome and, importantly I think, very current. André Lima Araújo is one of those artist that blows you away with everything he draws. I’ve followed him on twitter for what feels like forever and always loved his stuff. He’s done some lovely work on GG and it’s easily one of the most enjoyable working experiences colouring his pages. Add letterer extraordinaire Clayton Cowles and the great designer Tom Muller into the mix and I start to feel like the odd one out. These are really top notch comic creators. I’m pretty sure I’d be pumped for the series even if I wasn’t involved.

Anything else you’ve got coming up that you’d like to mention?

Only things I can think of is I will have a short story coloured in The Sovereigns #0 from Dynamite and also I’m the colourist on James Bond: Service, the one off issue by Kieron Gillen and Antonio Fuso.

About the contributor:

Irish/Depression sufferer/Geek/gaytheist/Whovian/Follower of Dylan. The Boss.

Usually @DavidpbFerguson