Amazing Hues

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This article is part of a series of spotlight articles on the winners of the Broken Frontier Awards 2005.

Colorist Laura Martin does amazing things with hues.  She understands how color affects figures, settings, and moods and she fills her palette with the tints of emotions.  Her work on the Crossgen series Ruse was an early introduction and it did not take much to see that her work was astounding.

Over the pencils and inks of the various artists she has worked with she provides just the right touch.  She carefully matches the colors she wishes to use to the action of the stories and the characters she is working with.  For example, her work for Ruse was lush and bright, suitable to the quasi-Victorian setting of that series.  On the other hand, her work on Astonishing X-Men called for a darker tone and saw her using more blood reds, heavy blacks, and harsh lighting effects.  Her most recent work on the limited series Serenity saw her toning down her colors and bringing in a dustier, sepia tone to suit the Western/Sci-Fi hybrid series.  In each case she customized her style to the needs of the series.  Her choices are perfect to the point that the reader cannot imagine the coloring done any other way.

Her outstanding work has already been recognized by the comic book industry in the form of one of their highest awards – an Eisner.  Despite this, her name is perhaps not as well known as that of many pencilers or inkers.  This is a shame because, as good as many black and white comics are, there is no getting around the fact that color can heighten the experience by adding visual interest as well as atmosphere and mood.  Everything from sun and sky, to pitched battles on alien worlds, Laura Martin has seen it all and provided the colors for it.  It is her choices that effect what we see on the printed page as readers.  She determines the exact shade of green on an alien’s skin, she determines if a character’s costume will be a darker blue or a brighter one.  I have seen colorists who, for all their talent at their craft, do not make the right color choices for a particular story but I have never seen Laura Martin make this mistake. 

No matter what genre she has been given to color, her choices are perfect.  This requires her to know and understand not just the nature of color, but how it impacts the human eye and brain.  This talent is not as common as one might think and, as such, Laura Martin deserves the praise of a grateful fanbase and industry.

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