Monday, June 17, 2013

Color Theory

I did a little 10 minute (it was supposed to be 15 minutes) talk on color theory at my local cpsa chapter in Portland and I feel like I need to add to what I said!

I am a big lover of Betty Edwards Color book. She makes color theory so easy.

The basis of her and my color theory is KNOW what colors you are working with. Verbally identify the color and what is in it. As colored pencil artists we don't start with primaries and mix or even with warm and cool variants of the primaries like painters. We start with premixed colors that may have black, white, or grey in them. Verbally or mentally identifying what is IN that pencil will help you keep nice, clean colors WHEN YOU WANT THEM.

So what I like to do is first identify the primary color that is associated with the pencil.  Remember that primary red is more like magenta or a prismacolor process red than stop sign red and primary blue is cyan or   true blue Prisma. So if I am looking at Prisma poppy red - the hue is red with some yellow to warm it up.

The I like to decide if it is tinted or shaded. Meaning I decide if white has been added to lighten it. This makes a big difference on the colored paper I use! How much white is in a color is key for mixing too! A color may have black added to it as well to darken it. If you want a clean color in a spot keep these pencils away!

The third thing I decide is if the color is saturated or not. If the color is as bright as it can be then it is considered fully saturated. If you would describe the color as muted, greyish, or dirty the the color is not fully saturated. It either has grey added to it (white and black) or the color's complement added to it. These colors are very useful, but again, if you want a clean color somewhere keep these away. Use them mindfully.

Something I talked about during the meeting was unintentionally mixing colors that you don't realize will create a commplent. My example was mixing a color like poppy red which we have decided has red  and a little yellow in it. If you mix that or layer it with a red that leans to the cool side so it has a little purple in it... you are essentially mixing red  + yellow + purple, which can dull your results. If you are mindful of what colors your pencils are comprised of AND layer less in the vibrant areas - then you can achieve cleaner colors.

ALso I had a book with me that people were interested in called The Contrast of Colors by Ellen Marx. It is all about color theory and has some great color overlays throughout the book to demonstrate theories. Here it is on Amazon

1 comment:

Barbara Ann Goodsitt said...

Wonderfully creative piece and thanks for sharing your color theory.