Saturday, March 21, 2009

Color Tips and Tricks

-Use a computer program like Adobe photoshop to tile your image onto a page and print
off a bunch on an appropriate paper. This gives you a guideline to place colors onto.
- Determine your light and value. establish lighting and emphasis. What color are the light sources? (e.g. warm daylight or cool night light?) How does the light/shadows affect the local color of the objects in my painting? (e.g. colors are usually brighter and warmer in light, darker and cooler in shadow)
- Educate yourself on the basic qualities of color. know some basic terms (hue, saturation, value, etc.) and relationships (monochromatic, analogous, complementary, etc.).
-Limit your color palette. If your understanding of color is a bit fuzzy, try limiting your palette to one red, one yellow, and one Blue along with white and black. From these you should be able to mix most any color you need.
-limit the amount of black you use. Before reaching for a tube of black paint, experiment with your own mixed blacks. Try mixing a dark purple with a dark brown. I would also suggest you never use any color directly from the tube especially black and white. Everything in the real world is affected by the light in the environment around it. Right now I have two pieces of paper on my desktop. One is close to a window and the other is closer to the lamp light. The one near the window is bluish white while the one near the lamp is a yellowish white.

-Play with color temperature. Ask yourself if you want to use dominantly warm or cool colors? Most illustrations will be predominantly one or the other. In the image below I knew I wanted a dominant cool color scheme because it takes place at night. Most of the time I try to make the main character either a complimentary color to the background or have a high contrast between the character and the background to make him/her stick out more. While a brick building has an orange tinge during the day, I wanted it to be more towards a dark, cool reddish purple color at night with the exception of where it’s being hit by artificial light.

If you don’t have a color wheel, then either make one or buy one and learn the warm side and cool side of the wheel. Also warm colors like red can slowly turn cool with more cool color added. For example, add blue to red and you get purple, which is a cool color. Add only a bit of blue to red and you get a cool red. This can be helpful in creating atmospheric perspective in paintings. Below you will see two examples of the same image. One has a cooler and unsaturated earth red floor which recedes in space making it look further below, while the other image shows the floor in a warm saturated red making that part of the image come forward which distracts us from the focal point.

-play with saturation. Most children’s book illustration is pretty high on the saturation scale because kids love bright bold colors. If you’re going for a more sophisticated look you may wish to use less saturated color in your image.

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