Comics / Spotlight / Black Astronaut

Avoid Black Palms – Colour Hands Correctly


By Hervé St-Louis
July 19, 2014 - 11:42

In this article, I provide a rough guide for colourists that they can refer to when colouring the palms of darker humans. In a previous article, I denounced the use of black palms in DC Comics’ Birds of Prey #36. Ever since, I’ve observed black palms in most comic books that feature non-whites. Even comics with protagonists like Mr. Terrific, Black Panther or Luke Cage, blacks have black palms. Almost every comic book publisher whether small or large colours black characters’ hands incorrectly. Marvel Comics, Darkhorse Comics, IDW Publishing, Archie Comics, Image are as guilty as DC Comics.

Now, some of you might say that there is no prior malice and that it doesn’t matter much. Most of the people who say this are white. When I look at a comic book with a character’s hand coloured brown, it looks stupid and insensitive.  Black palms are just like black faces. Most North Americans feel that the practice of whites painting their faces black to portray blacks is racist. Black faces come from a negative and racist context where white people mocked African-Americans. While some people in colleges or sports arenas use black faces, the practice is no longer acceptable. Black palms come from a racist history in older comic books. Artists used to exaggerate the features of black characters. Colourists used to paint them almost black. With time, these racist practices lessened but black palms remain as one of the last vestiges.

Black palms make the creator and its publisher look uneducated and as if they had never seen or interacted with a person of colour. If that is the case, do not broadcast that in public. If you care about making comic books that do not insult part of your audience, then that’s a good reason to care. Another related reason is that it also makes good business sense to deliver comics that your readers can relate to.

Human palms and soles have no melamin. That’s why they are lighter than the rest of the body’s skin. Caucasians’ hands also have lighter palms and soles. Now, for pale people, this may not be visible. Whether it is noticeable or not, there is less melamin in the soles and palms of Caucasians. It’s just a feature that all humans share.

How to Colour Palms Properly

If you cannot go outside and meet a black person or are afraid of asking, then this tutorial is for you.

  • First, the nails of every human have no melamin. Thus, they cannot be brown.
  • Second, the palms and soles of all humans have no melamin.
  • Third, Asians, Desi, Latinos, Arabs also have different colours in their palms and soles.
  • Fourth, the transition area between the palm and the back of the hand may be stark or with gradients. Whichever transition you want to use does not matter. Every human is different. This is a unique feature in humans.

If you make comics, illustrations, painting or colouring, share this article with your colleagues. Let's put an end to black palms.

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Last Updated: March 10, 2022 - 22:00

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