Brian Miller is the founder of Hi-Fi Colour Design, one of the industry’s leading coloring studios. Miller has produced color art for Marvel, DC, Darkhorse, Image, Disney, DreamWorks, Hasbro, Mattel, and Paramount. Hi-Fi is currently coloring titles like Booster Gold, JSA, Sgt. Rock, Birds of Prey, Nightwing, as well as covers and other comics for publishers in the US and abroad.
In addition to coloring, Brian also paints covers for books and comics, most recently for IDW’s Ghost Whisperer series. Brian also illustrates and colors trading cards for Star Wars and Indiana Jones series for TOPPS. Brian and his wife Kristy are also the authors of the Hi-Fi Color For Comics: Digital Techniques for Professional Results book and DVD series from Impact Books.
Question 1: When did you first decide that you wanted to create your own comics for a living?
Right after high school. I was working at a newspaper and met a super talented artist. I water-colored some of his drawings and eventually started messing around with coloring in the computer. One thing led to another and I’m still happily coloring today.
Question 2: Who has had the biggest influence on you outside the comics industry, and how did they affect your life?
Dali was the first artist I noticed as a kid. His take on art and culture showed me there was a way to look at life with a unique perspective. Most of my middle school and high school paintings are heavily influenced by Dali. I was never to big on reality. Reality is boring for most people, that is why I like comics we have the opportunity to step outside of reality and create a fantasy world full of color and excitement.
Question 3: Who has had the biggest influence on your comics career, and how has that person changed your work?
Laura Martin helped point me in the right direction as I made the transition from amateur to pro-colorist. She was active on the Comic Colorists Unite web board and whenever I had a question she was there with an answer. Whenever I posted an image she was there with constructive criticism and suggestions. Laura wins awards and accolades for her own coloring but what many do not realize is how active she is within the colorist community. I do not know how she manages to meet her deadlines and help as many people as she does. She really is amazing.
Question 4: What do you do to recharge your creative batteries?
I have an old Ducati motorcycle that I take out into the desert and up into the mountains. No e-mail, cellphone, or other distractions. When it is just you inside of your helmet focusing on a narrow widing road you have to let everything else go and focus on the tarmac. It is very spiritual, like meditation.
Question 5: Describe your typical work routine.
Even though I’m not much of a morning person I try to get an early start since most of my editors are on the East Coast I want to be available during their working hours. Most days I’ll stay creative from 7 AM until 10 or 11 PM with a break or two for the gym, dinner, etc. I’m very goal oriented so I get frustrated if I don’t complete the work I want to accomplish on any given day. This usually drives me to keep drawing or coloring even if I’m tired or would rather be doing other things.
Question 6: What writing, drawing, or other tools do you use?
My primary coloring tools are my iMac, Photoshop CS4, and a Wacom drawing tablet. These are the tools I use 90% of the time. I also have a stock of traditional art tools I break out for drawing and painting. I’ve gone through a ton of color pencils and copic markers drawing Sketch cards for TOPPS lately.
Question 7: What element of your work gives you the most personal satisfaction?
Comics has a nearly instant gratification. Something you work on today may be in shops only a few weeks later. What I really enjoy is collaborating with all the other creators. Coloring the artwork of so many prolific pencillers and inkers has made me a better artist in every possible sense.
Question 8: What has been the most rewarding project in your professional career – in or out of comics – and why?
At Hi-Fi we have been fortunate to work with so many amazing companies on every comic book and toy property imaginable. It would be impossible to to pick the most rewarding project but I can pick one that means something to me personally. I am a huge fan of Don Bluth’s animated work and I was lucky enough to be asked to color a pin-up from one of Don’s sketches for the Dragon’s Lair trade paperback. That was one of many fanboy moments come true for me.
Question 9: We’ve all met very talented newcomers who are trying to get their first professional projects. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard given to a promising new creator?
A big part of survival in comics is to keep creating though thick and thin. When others give up, you keep creating. When you fail, learn from it. When you succeed, stay humble. When you are burned out, re-invent yourself. Your passion and creativity will carry you far and show through in everything you do.
Question 10: Time to get philosophical: What’s the most important “big idea” that you’ve learned in life – in or out of comics – and why is it important?
At the end of the day, real friendships and relationships are worth more than any success to be found in or outside of comics.
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