Is This Computer Generated “Art of Top Cow” Coloring?

Selling for $24 Paperback and $74 Hardcover on Amazon, the beautifully colored Art of Top Cow cover art is not free of alterations one might wonder to be the result of computer generated coloring techniques.

When observing Witchblade’s armor closely, you start to notice a blue jewel that didn’t exist in the original inks, creases of the metal which have been altered, and details in the fingers and textures which have been lost. This leaves one to wonder… Was this really colored by hand, or was it run through a program to generate colors using Silvestri’s inks as a guideline? The signature indicates it may have been created in 2009 by the “09” beneath the colorist’s name. Advanced AI technology may or may not have been around by then, but image filters in programs such as Photoshop have existed for decades. In light of AI, digital rendering and alterations in 2024 are seen through a new lens concerning comic book art. What sort of artificial practices or digital shortcuts have been in use behind the scenes, for how long, and without readers being aware?

Working as a colorist in the industry, I’ve never known it to be common practice to alter the original inks in the coloring process, but that’s exactly what we see here in this cover artwork.

Under further examination it starts to feel like a “six differences” photo from an old newspaper. More and more pop out the closer you look. Some details are completely erased, others are added in a rendered, digital style.

Whether this was a creative decision on Top Cow’s behalf to intentionally alter Silvestri’s work, we are not certain. Being such a highly esteemed artist known and loved for his attention to detail, it’s a strange turn of events to see Silvestri’s artwork altered in such a way. Was this Top Cow’s way of saying his artwork wasn’t up to today’s standards?

Talented comic book colorists with an open schedule are increasingly difficult to find and demand a high price for the beauty they bring into each piece. If such shortcuts like computer generated coloring exist, this could threaten future work for comic book colorists, or… Help them speed up production and benefit from more work.

No doubt, computer generated coloring would help many Creators put out content faster and for less expense. More comic book are always a good thing. In my experience, colorists are smaller in numbers than sequential and cover artists, so there are not as many to offend by this market trend. However, I imagine the element of human touch is still needed to prevent losing the soul of the original artist’s piece such as the details lost in this beautiful Silvestri cover, if losing those details was indeed a result of computer generated coloring.

We’ve reached out to Top Cow to contact the artists about his process. Story is still developing.

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Mindy Wheeler

ByMindy Wheeler

Comic creator, artist, publisher, and journalist.

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