Capturing Creators: Colorist Sergio Martinez Steps Up

Welcome to Day 2 of my dive into the creative wonders behind John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction Vault. Do I sound biased? I am. I love the anthology so far so I might be just a bit. When you add to that the sheer amount of teamwork the creators have demonstrated throughout the course of our interviews, it just compounds that love. Today’s feature sees the man behind the color scheme in Vault, Sergio Martinez. From the stance of a lover of art, Sergio’s thorough descriptions only add to the magic his colors provide in both Vaults thus far. His application of color theory blends the art and the science behind it together harmoniously leaving no doubt what the scenes are looking to convey emotionally. Read along to see a bit more about Sergio and his experience working on this project.

I just want to take a moment and give readers who don’t know you a bit of background. What are some of the projects you’ve worked on in the past?

Hi Maria! And thank you for this space, have to say I’m a little nervous but here I go.
Well briefly, my first related work was at Luciernaga studio, doing concept art for animations. Then got to Graphikslava, where Andrés Esparza (Vault’s penciler!), Jesus Aburtov (Marvel colorist) and Fares Maese (Warhammer and Applibot illustrator) were starting this comics focused studio. There I’ve got to work in colors for comics like Howard Chaykin’s Marked Man; IDW’s Transformers Rising Storm; also pencils and colors for a couple Stone Arch Books titles like Pete Bogg, King of Frogs and some of their sports series; all under the tutoring of all these major leagues artists (and many others there!). After Graphikslava I ended up working as concept artist for video games studio CGbot, I think I can mention a small amount of participation in games like Age of Booty; SW: Knights of Old Republic and CoD: Infinite Warfare. And today, as you know, John Carpenter’s Tales of Fiction: Vault 🙂

There is a very restricted palette in the trailer, and color is used sparingly- a lot of the real estate is taken up by large black swaths of ink. There’s an emotional resonance almost. From your stance how do you see your work in Vault?

Spot on! I know Andrés from quite some time now and he is as much as me, a fan of gritty sci-fi, rock and metal music, and all this edgy stuff, ouch don’t get cut. So as I was reading the script and chatting with James and Andy, I was thinking Aliens (big part of my childhood). I knew this was going to be dark, all about atmosphere and limited lightning. I really hope I delivered the message, so far the feedback and exchange of ideas we have as a team (as in I think all of Stormking guys) has worked wonders for what we all wanted to see in the finished piece; then again yes, the closeness and easygoing way we’ve got to communicate with each other made up for this “emotional resonance” in Vault.

How did you get to be involved in John Carpenter’s Tales of Science Fiction?

It’s funny, the same day I was walking out of CGbot I had a dinner reunion with some friends, Andrés included. While we were eating and having a beer, a laugh and whatever, he asked “so dude, are you very busy with work? I am about to start on this new project and I sort of want you as the colorist”. So what do you know, I got something new right away. The moment I heard it was for John and Sandy (Carpenter and King Carpenter respectively) I was shaking, and they turned out to be the nicest people ever (they and all the team, really), so I was all in for Stormking.

What was your creative process when working on the colors in Vault?

I knew Andy (Andres) was going to deliver dark drawings and James and Sandy were giving me full liberty for color picking, but with a great, well described direction of what they wanted as a whole. So I took it for limited palettes and light spots just where they were needed. Vault had this black alien fungus going on, so I took purple for Vault (with these grease spots look); the “good guys” were this relatable terrestrial astronauts crew, so white and some warm colors for them. This ends in full dark purplish cold colors for the darkness of this place and whitish warms for the little spots of humanity and relief. The other thingies like technology and different “stuff” let’s say (don’t want to spoil) are brighter and colorful. Again, as limited as possible to focus on the story, while also telling all this to the team (and my friend Jonathan Hernández who is the fellow assisting me with flats).

How has your background in traditional media informed how you work digitally?

Just as I was finishing college, I was such a noob for digital. I always loved drawing, but the most digital thing I worked with back then was drawing in MS Paint, while everyone else was talking about Painter, Photoshop, SAI and all these cryptic terms to me. Honestly I still learn a lot of things from digital media, but it’s more focused to tools, like features in Photoshop I didn’t know before, or new applications like Clip Studio or Illustrator (and I’m really trying to get a grasp on ZBrush and 3dMax). It’s kind of like learning how to hold a brush in traditional, the learning the tools aspect. But everything else about the traditional arts background is still there, color theory, how light works, composition, anatomy; digital tools in the end are just other type of tools.

Do you primarily use Photoshop, or do you use a mix of applications like Painter, Clip Studio (formerly Manga Studio) or Rebelle?

Primarily Photoshop, yes. I use Clip Studio a little bit, but mostly when it is linework. With Vault I haven’t had the need for anything like that.

Coloring in comics seems to follow a certain style, where there are a lot of smooth gradients and overly saturated colors. Do you see your work in Vault moving away from that?

Yes! Other things in my head when coloring Vault are The Thing, my brother playing Resident Evil, the Hannibal TV series, and maybe surprisingly, classic children fairytale books. (which I grew with). Horror and suspense, I think, feels more dense as the ambient gets closer to real life colors and grays. Which honestly I also prefer aesthetically rather than those overly saturated colors. I think that’s why Miller and Mignola comics (for example) are so memorable in the feels area as much as in the aesthetics.

What do you have lined up next?

So far, nothing? Haha. I mean, there’s a lot of intentions for personal illustration work (did I say I loved fairy tale books?) so it’s always that as far as personal projects goes. There’s also a little talking with some fellows but I really don’t think I can say much about that. It’s still too soon to say anything about that.

Sergio Martinez

Originally published on Outright Geekery


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