TRUNK BUBBLES PROFILE
Name: Dustin Evans
Hometown: Tulsa, Oklahoma
TrunkSpace: How would you describe your art style?
Evans: My style is very animated, whimsical and over-the-top. I’m not afraid to swing for the fences with exaggeration when the opportunity presents itself. I really like to have fun and amp up facial expressions, movements or moments of action. Even if I’m drawing something that is dark or scary, I still look for those moments to inject some humor and fun. I guess you could say my style is just an extension of my own personality.
TrunkSpace: You’ve got some work coming from the folks behind “Imprinted” where you serve as artist, but on this first release you’ve taken on coloring duties. Stylistically, what was the thought process going into the book? What did you hope to bring to Fernando Peniche’s art to help set the tone for the story?
Evans: I think the key to coloring “Imprinted” was discovered with some back and forth between myself and creator, Jason M. Burns. Fernando draws this beautifully detailed line art that spans not just the regular world in “Imprinted,” but other planes of existence like Purgatory and Hell. The challenge was, how do we set the worlds apart and give them their own personality? The real world is pretty straight forward in terms of color, but when the different spirits or entities present themselves, I went with cold and stark hues of blue along with a wispy trail of energy. I wanted to create a very drastic difference between the realities. When we are transported to Purgatory, I wanted something haunting and spooky, but not cliché. I chose to go with a scarred, red sky that is always cloudy. Even the characters that appear in this realm have a subtle red tint to them. The colors are based on common light source laws, but it’s skewed in a way that makes you feel as if you are somewhere very different. If you look at the line art, you would see what resembles a desert scene. Add in the digital colors and FX, and you’re transported to a truly haunting land.
TrunkSpace: For those who don’t know the process, can you walk us through what it’s like to receive an inked comic page and how you personally put colors to it?
Evans: When I receive an inked page the first thing I do is open the page in Photoshop to clean up the line art, darken the line work and separate the line art from the background. This means that I now have one layer of line art and I can create layers below and above the line art. Just try and envision an animation cell with multiple layers of paint being applied above and below the artwork to create a finished look. After the line art is separated, I use a program called Clip Studio to add flat colors to the line art. The flat colors are place holders and may not reflect the finished color, but they give you a starting point. I like to keep flats separated so that one character will have a layer for eye color, one layer for hair color, one layer for clothing, etc. Once all the flat colors are in place, I go back in Photoshop and begin the shading process. This is where the magic really happens. It depends on if I’m coloring a night time, day time or other worldly scene as to what colors I use, but I use the same essential method. I use the lasso tool to individually select areas of the characters or backgrounds, then using the “multiply gradient” setting, I drag the gradient across the color to make the area darker. I may make one or two more selections repeating the darkening effect. This is where drawing knowledge helps make a great colorist. You have to know anatomy to know where light will hit raised surfaces. Once I have all my dark colors laid in, I go back with a brighter color, usually a light orange, and using the same lasso tool and “color dodge gradient” option, I begin dragging the gradient in places to add light. Once I’m happy with this result, I go back with an environment color and add some small gradients. If it’s night time, I’ll use a deep blue or purple to add some reflective lighting and tone to the character. Once the characters are all colored, I go in to the background and begin using the same steps I described earlier. The only difference is that I like to inject texture into the environment. Buildings, roads, trees, grass… all of these things need some texture. I will either create my own brush or a pre-made brush to lay in texture to the environment. Restraint is key here. You want some texture, but you don’t want to go crazy and make it too busy-looking. For the final touches, I will go back and do any special FX or lighting on top of the line art. For “Imprinted” I create a layer above the ghosts and manually use an airbrush and smudge tool to give them a ghostly presence. Finally, I save the file out and upload it for the letterer to put their finishing touches on the page.
TrunkSpace: What was the most difficult aspect of coloring “Imprinted” issue 1? Was there a particular scene or character that was tough to crack?
Evans: Definitely! The carnival scene in issue 1 was super tough and very time consuming. Fernando drew this beautiful scene that blew my mind. It’s a carnival scene at night. You see all the crowds of people, the games, the toys, the rides and the crème de la crème, the full size Ferris wheel complete with blinky lights, passengers and moving parts. At first, when you get a page like this, you just sit there in awe for a few moments…then it’s time to get to work! You just have to start. You can’t over think it at first. Once I start laying in the flat colors, my brain starts problem solving the most efficient way to color the page and separate the areas to draw the reader’s focus. The payoff for working on a scene like this is seeing the finished page. You know that when readers see this page, their jaw is going to drop, and they are going to look harder at this page than they did at a “Where’s Waldo” book when they were a kid.
TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on a number of big brand titles and recognizable brands over the years. How do those experiences differ from something like “Imprinted” where the world is being created as opposed to already existing in some capacity?
Evans: Yes, I’ve been very fortunate to work on some big properties like “Pirates of the Caribbean,” “Sesame Street,” “Kung Fu Panda,” and many others. The challenge for working on licensed properties is that they already have a massive bible of how they want things to look. You might color Grover blue, but it might not be the shade of blue that is needed to be used in accordance to the character bible. At first this is very daunting, but there is nothing like getting to work on a licensed book. If I could go back and tell my 6-year-old self that I would be working on a “Sesame Street” comic when I got older, I would have lost my mind…and probably not have believed my future self. (Laughter) The exciting thing about working on fresh properties like “Imprinted” is that you have a chance to put your stamp of creativity on this book. Maybe 20 years from now some other young-blooded artist will be trying to get the right shade of red hair to match the “Imprinted” character bible.
TrunkSpace: What piece of work are you the most proud of as you look back on your career?
Evans: Whew! That is a tough one to pick! I have to say penciling “Pirates of the Caribbean” for Disney Adventures. The reason I am most proud of this is not because of what I drew of even that it was “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Ever since I was a kid, I had a dream of working for Disney as an animator. I grew up on the classic Disney animated films, and it helped create my interest in art. Unfortunately, the older I got, the more traditional animators were not needed anymore at Disney. I still wanted to work for Disney in some capacity, though. Getting to draw “Pirates of the Caribbean” fulfilled my childhood dream. It taught me that dreams really can come true, it just may not be exactly how you dreamed it up to start.
TrunkSpace: You have been designing the weekly posters for the Musical Mondaze feature. Each one is so different and yet so in tune with the style of music being featured that particular week.
What has that process been like, particularly from a creative standpoint where it seems like you’re able to play in so many different sandboxes?
Evans: Working on the posters for Musical Mondaze has been pure joy. It’s like getting to eat ice cream every day for breakfast! The process is really just art inspiring art. The good folks at TrunkSpace send me the artist to be featured along with some examples of their music, websites, social media, etc…and I just sit back and drink it all in. After researching and listening to as much music as possible, I simply create based on my inspiration from the bands. Sometimes the inspiration will come from the look and style of the artist. Other times it will come from the vibe and sound I get from the artist. Stylistically, I am using all different styles and techniques. I attribute this to trying to survive as a freelance artist for over 10 years. Having hundreds of different clients with different demands has made me very versatile. It’s something that I really enjoy, and it keeps the artwork very fresh and exciting.
TrunkSpace: What else can fans of your work look forward to in 2017?
Evans: In 2017 fans can expect to be very entertained! I have several comics in the works with Plymouth Rock Creative. I am coloring the “Imprinted” series, of course, but I also have several other titles in the works and on the way this year! I’m not just coloring this year, though. I have done some very cutting edge illustration work for a comic book that I don’t think has been done in comics ever before. It’s truly groundbreaking stuff. I also have a creator owned property in the works called, “Death Bugs” that I’m writing, drawing and coloring. Imagine if Robert Rodriguez, Eli Roth and Quentin Tarantino all got together to make a comic book… well, that’s the best way I can describe “Death Bugs.” It has elements of horror, comedy and some real life experiences that will make your jaw drop. The first issue is complete and the second issue in the works already.