Chris “Soto” Sotomayor has been teaching Intro to Coloring since its inception, earning students’ praises with his gift for combining personal mentoring, technical expertise, and creative acumen. All while managing a full workload as a color artist and head of SotoColor studio!
Here, Soto reveals insights about his own background, his influences, and more – including a glimpse into what students will gain from taking his course.
How did you get your start as a comics color artist?
I left art school after my first year because I ran out of money. After that, I knew I had to supplement my education and wound up apprenticing in an artists’ studio.
There, I learned the ins and outs of comics and illustration. I learned to lay out a page, pencil, ink, color, and paint. World building was always a little difficult for me, but I thought coloring was something I could really get into. So that was my focus during my time in the studio.
My experience there landed me an opportunity for a job as a comic book editor. From there I learned how to manage talent and also make a lot of connections in the comic book business. When I went freelance, I put those contacts to good use and wound up doing coloring work for Disney Adventures Magazine, Marvel, and DC.
What will students be able to do after taking your course that they couldn’t do before?
I think the beauty of my class is that it’s taught as an art class from the ground up. This way anyone of any skill level can take my class and get something out of it. I’ve had working professionals take my class and walk away with a better, more organized understanding of the work. I’ve also had people who have never used Photoshop before, and they’re able to completely color pages for the class and their portfolio. The main objective of the class is to be able to walk away with a clear understanding of how to use color effectively to tell a story and build a well-rounded portfolio.
In your opinion, what aspects of comic coloring are least understood?
Color theory is probably the thing that mystifies people the most. It’s kind of a broad concept and there’s no right way to do things. You’re really looking for the best way to serve the story through color usage. That’s why there’s an early and constant focus on color theory in my class. It’s just so important, and your use of color will just get better over time – no matter how long you’ve been coloring.
What do you like to do when you’re not working on comics?
There aren’t many times when I’m not working. But for the times that I do manage to sneak away, it’s usually to spend time with family. Aside from that, my down time is usually spent on the Comics Experience message boards, watching one of the few TV shows I enjoy, or reading comics.
I have a few influences outside of comics, like Bob Peak, J.C. Leyendecker, Alphonse Mucha, Bernie Fuchs, and some others.
Within comics, I’ll pick up anything that Dean White does. And Laura Martin, Marte Gracia, Matthew Wilson, Jordie Bellaire, and Justin Ponsor are all brilliant.
I know there’s a bunch of people who I’m missing, because I try to take a look at what everyone in comics is doing, and maybe even incorporate some of it into my own work.
Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?
Aside from comic books, I don’t really read much fiction. It’s usually history, and other true stories. But in comic books, I was always partial to Daredevil, Batman, and Moon Knight. I really like those grounded characters – those creatures of the night. Oh, and I also liked the Hulk and Colossus, because they were strong and I wanted to be strong when I was a little boy.
It’s funny that aside from the Hulk, I haven’t really done any significant work on any of those characters. I guess even after 20+ years, there’s a stone yet to be turned.
Who are your favorite heroes in real life?
In my personal life my dad was my biggest hero. I’m Puerto Rican and I grew up in the Bronx, and my dad was adamant about me not turning into another statistic. He taught me everything I needed to know about being a man and about being responsible. My work ethic is a direct reflection on my upbringing.
I’m also inspired by anyone who can turn something out of nothing; people who beat the odds and do great things.
If you weren’t working in comics, what would you like to be doing?
I honestly don’t know what I would be doing if I didn’t work in comics. I’ve wanted to do this since I was five years old, and I was only slightly derailed once and started to focus on being a biochemist in high school. But I knew that wasn’t what I wanted to do and re-shifted my gears towards working in comics.
Introduction to Comic Book Coloring begins February 2 – enroll today to guarantee your spot!
Other upcoming courses include Introduction to Comic Book Art, Introduction to Comic Book Writing, Comic Book Lettering & Production, and more! Check out the course section of our site for all the details.
If you want to make comics, write, draw, letter, and color comics, or improve as a comics creator, you’ll find like-minded friends and colleagues in our online workshops and courses. We hope to see you there!