Flatting? What’s that?

For about 3 years now, I’ve been slaving away at my coloring process about as slow as possible. I would spend hours and hours filling between the lines all while throwing textures over everything to see how it might look. I would work on a page for half a day and then just leave it alone for a while. Perhaps I might dream of a better color pallet that night. Or maybe I’ll be able to see something better if I open it up in a week or a month.

One time I actually hired some freelancers from India and Japan to color a test page to see if they could match my style and save me precious time. I gave them specific reference of how I wanted it to look and even examples of the color pallet. I even gave them my homemade texture files.
When I got the pages back they looked…well, lets just say I deleted the files even after revisions so that I wouldn’t be influenced in any way by what I saw. Don’t get me wrong, they did a great job coloring the pages but it wasn’t right for my project. Even though it was far from what I wanted, it was money well spent because it sent me on a quest to figure out more efficient methods of coloring my pages.
Later I thought about hiring one of them to paint all the sections of my pages a flat color on layers so that I could easily adjust it all and add textures and lighting myself. This would save me so much time but how would I explain this crazy concept that, obviously has never been done before, to a guy across the world with a language barrier. Maybe I can pay him less if he’s just PREPARING the files for me, I thought.
I never got around to it. Finishing the line work for the first book was all I could think about. Good thing too. It was only a month ago that I came across a blog in which I learned all about the common practice of comic book flatting. Or to flat out colors.
Flatting is what comic guys call preparing line art for coloring.  It’s exactly what I needed the whole time but had no idea what it was called. On top of that, I’m now noticing that EVERYONE ELSE knows what it is. I guess that’s what I get for trying to do a graphic novel all by myself in secret.  Here are a few excellent tutorials on flatting.
[edit] If you’re wondering how I outsourced to a few guys on the other side of the world, I talk about that here: Outsourcing.

Here are some images of my process for spread 4.