Why Do Professional Comic Colourists Need Flatters?

A flatted comic page without the lineart or rendering.

Many people getting started in the comics industry know what a colourist is; they take care of some of the visual aspects of a comic, developing line work into an effective and stand-out comic design. They’re pretty important to the process, especially if the artist doing the lines and/or inks aren’t doing it themselves. So where do these ‘flatters’ come in and why would a colourist employ them?

Flatters take care of the flats – that is, the basic colouring of each part of a panel in a comic so that the colourist can simply select the part they wish to colour and get started. It’s a simple job, but an effective one – especially with the deadlines that creative folks are put under, and some publishers are mighty impatient about it! So a good flatter can save your life. (A bad one, on the other hand, will just create more work for you. Make sure you do your research when hiring!)

Ah, Deadlines.

Publishers love their deadlines. Professionals
working in the comics industry… not so much.
If you’ve ever spent hours working on a page
and trying to get it exactly right, you’ll know
what I mean. A few hours on a piece can easily
turn into days, and then weeks, and then months
of working on rendering someone’s hair perfectly,
or making an explosion look explosive enough.
Editors aren’t going to wait around for you to finish
colouring it and sometimes done is better than

Flatters give you more time to get shit done. And let’s be honest – colourists need that extra time. Hiring someone to do the basic stuff gives you the space to work on your colours, your rendering, making that page look way better than it would if you’ve got two days to flat, colour, render and block a thirty-page comic.

Let’s Face It: Flatting Comics is Tedious.

Frankly, flatting comic pages can be boring. It doesn’t require a lot of thought, and the colours don’t really matter at this stage because you’ll likely end up changing them another twenty times. If you’re a creative person – and chances you are, if you’re working in comics – you don’t want to spend hours making sure that your flats are all in order. It’s basic, and it’s a lot easier to just outsource this part so you can spend your day making the final product.

Professional Flatters Save Colourists Money?

I know what you’re thinking – hang on, if I’m paying someone to do these comic flats for me, I’m losing money. It’s true that you’ll be paying a flatter to get this work done (and ideally you’re not ripping them off for their hard work because it’s still hard work even if you don’t like it, same as hiring a cleaner or getting food) but with your hands free of this particular task, you’ve got the time and resources to perfect your own work. And if your comic page colouring is looking perfect, that means more jobs for you!

The freelance colourist market can be nightmarish to break into or even remain in once you’ve gotten there, so if you’re getting great-looking pages in on-time, people will love you. Word-of-mouth referrals are still the strongest way of getting employment, so if you impress one editor then they may tell their friends in the industry. Then you get hired for the next professional comics colouring gig, and then the next one, and so on. It’s an investment of sorts, but certainly a worthwhile one.

Looking for a Flatter? Get in Touch.

Ryan Breadinc is here to save you from your flatting woes. Professional, easy to work with and affordable, make sure that you get those colours the best they can be.

Email breadincbooks@gmail.com for rates and we’ll get it sorted for you.

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