Friday, July 31, 2009
MacFormat and the 25% Kirby Palette
I'm pleased to announce that I've got some illustrations in this month's MacFormat magazine (Issue 210, July 2009). I have a real soft spot for MacFormat, as it was through their reviews section that I picked all the gear for my original Mac set-up back in 1997. The illustrations, for an article called "Macs of the Future," are intended as a pastiche of all those great old Jack Kirby "cosmic" comics, with a mix of retro 50's-style design and stuff made of Mac components (the spaceship top left of the illustration above is made of iPods, Mighty Mice and one of the old dreaded "hockey puck" mice from the late 90's (hated by many but which which I personally loved).
To help enhance the retro feel I used a home-made Photoshop swatch set based on 25% increments of yellow, cyan and magenta - for the non-technically minded, this gives you 125 colours to play with, the same ones that were available to the colourists at Marvel in the 1960's and 70's. I set myself the rule of only using colours from this palette, no mixing allowed (though I may have cheated with the "colour hold" (coloured outlines) on the astronaut's helmet.)
125 sounds like a lot, but actually, if you want, say three different pale greens, your choices are strictly limited. The funny thing is, the smaller number of options was liberating; without eight different pale greens to dither amongst, you just have to get on with what you've got. The result is, I'm going to try using this palette as the basis for my next colouring job (though I will allow myself to mix colours where necessary.) That may be a while though; at the moment I'm firmly rooted in black & white-ville, working on Stickleback.
Meantime, for anyone who fancies trying it, I'm making the 25% palette available for download. All the colours in the palette are print-safe, and, except for the set of greys on the first line, contain no black, so they will leave the black channel clear if used in a CMYK document.
Mac have withdrawn the option to make or edit download pages, so to download use the following link:
25% Palette.aco download
If you don't know how to install Photoshop swatch files, follow these instructions:
1) In Photoshop go to the Swatches Palette (use Window: Swatches if it's not visible). Click on the drop-down list icon at the top-right of the palette.
2) From the drop-down list, pick Load Swatches... and navigate to the 25_Comics_Swatches.aco file on your hard drive. Pick it and click OK.
This will add the new swatches to the end of your existing swatch set (you may have to scroll down to find them). If you want the new swatches only, you can use Replace Swatches... but note that THIS WILL OVER-WRITE YOUR EXISTING SWATCH SET. If you're using Replace Swatches I thoroughly recommend saving your old swatch set first (using Save Swatches... naturally.)
Finally, if you want to get rid of individual swatch tiles, or move them around, try using the Preset Manager (visible in the list just above Reset Swatches...). Don't forget to save your swatches after you've made any changes - otherwise you'll lose the work you've put in if Photoshop crashes.