Working with Color- A Beginner's Guide to the Color Wheel | Kimmie Gehling | Skillshare

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Working with Color- A Beginner's Guide to the Color Wheel

teacher avatar Kimmie Gehling, Painter & Illustrator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

6 Lessons (28m)
    • 1. Intro & What You Will Learn

    • 2. Materials & Tips

    • 3. Color Wheel Activity

    • 4. Tint, Shade, Complementary Colors

    • 5. Hot Air Balloon Project

    • 6. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Have you ever tried to learn how to paint but didn't understand how to produce those beautiful, vivid colors from the colors straight out of the tube? No worries, friend. With this workshop I can get you there. Follow along for steps on how to make an easy color wheel, get a refresh on basic vocab, and learn information on important color interaction to help boost your paintings from drab to fab!

Meet Your Teacher

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Kimmie Gehling

Painter & Illustrator


Hi there! My name is Kimmie Gehling and I am a North Carolina-based artist working on all things nature. I am the founder of RunRunRabbitStudio on Etsy and while I paint landscapes and seascapes I have been better known for my candy-colored animal portraits. I like to try a bit of everything but work mostly with watercolor, acrylic and oil paint.

For color inspiration, works-in-progress, travel adventures and a glimpse of my wildly colorful family check out my Instagram

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1. Intro & What You Will Learn: Hi, guys. Mighty Miss Kimmy. Gilling. I am a North Carolina based artists I usually do and the best known for animal Portrait's. However, I do like to do a lot of landscapes and Seascapes. I work mostly with oil, watercolor and acrylic, and I am here today to help you with color. Ah, lot of times when people having to the Kulti with their paintings, they are not utilizing their full potential with the color wheel. And so I'm here today to get you out of that rut. We're gonna work on color interaction, and we're gonna work on a little many color wheel as well as introducing you to tint, shade and complementary colors and so that can help you get to where you want with your painting, simply by experimenting with not only different blues and reds and yellows, but getting you mixing more and seeing what comes from that. So we're going to work on a little color wheel. We're going to do a little shade and complementary chart, and what we're gonna do is have a final project where you can go color crazy, experimenting with different colors and have it makes sense in doing it with, um uh, hot air balloons. I forgot the word for just a minute. So I look forward to seeing you. Next time we're gonna talk about materials. 2. Materials & Tips: Okay, so let's get started talking about materials today for this demonstration, I'll be using acrylic paint. But if you're more comfortable using something else, like kings or a washer water color, you don't specifically need to use acrylic paint, so that's fine. You can follow along using those. For the first part, we will talk about primary colors and mixing them, so you'll want to have your red, blue and yellow paint handy. And later on we will be talking about 10 and shade, so I have my black and my white pain out as well. I have my cup of water and some brushes available, and I have a palette knife, which sometimes I feel more comfortable using. Not always. But if you have one and prefer using one, then that's fine. I have my paper. So depending on the medium that you'll be using, you wanna have paper appropriate for that. I have this great notebook that I picks up from Michael's that is a mixed media paper is rough, which is great for holding pigment. It's a thicker paper, so for heavier paints like acrylic, it doesn't bleed through when I'm applying a lot of paint two. It doesn't become worked, so it's perfect for this purpose. And if you choose Teoh, want to take out one of the paintings that you've prepared? It has this great perforated edge so that you can clean it up and not have all the scraggly little lines like you see over here. You can just hear that straight off, So I really love this paper. Next, I have my palate. This is an improvised palette that I love to use. It's very simple. I basically just get some wax paper or some freezer paper from the grocery store, and I tear it off to the size I want to use and I tape it down on my table and it works great, because when I'm finished, there's no mess to clean up. I just rip it off and crumble it up and throw it away in the trash. But if you don't have anything like that and you have your own little palate like this, which has some water color residue in it, then you can use that as well. Lastly will need some pictures off hot air balloons or balloons, something that you can use as inspiration for the final project along the lines of balloons . That would be great. So let's get started 3. Color Wheel Activity: Okay, so we're gonna get started making in our color wheel. First, I'm going to use a compass to help Give me a circle with woods to guide my paint colors around. If you want to eyeball it, you can. Or if you have a circular object that you want to trace to do that, um, that's perfectly fine, too. So I'm just gonna pick a spot here and just do a light trace seconds. Make it look somewhat me. And now we're going to go ahead the first color. I'm going to use his red. So I'm going Teoh, put some random my brush. And with the primary colors red, yellow, blue What we're going to dio is we're going to find a space that is sort of a equidistant from each other. Excuse me, and we're gonna make it in sort of, Ah, why shape so that we have room for the other colors for the secondary colors. So I'm gonna go ahead and sort of make a circular read here, and I'm going Teoh, make it a little bit larger so that I know that it's my primary color to make the primary color circles a bit larger, then the secondary and the tertiary tertiary. So now I'm gonna go ahead and get my yellow, which is going to be at the base of my wife, and then I'm gonna come up top and get my blue again. If you didn't want to have thes lines, you can go ahead and just eyeball on your paper as well. Ok, eso the red, the blue and the yellow are the ones that can't be next year. The those are the ones you're gonna have to buy from the bottle. Um, and your kin, it's always advantageous to get different kinds of reds, blues and yellows, since they're the ones that you absolutely cannot mix. But for this purpose I'm using primary with usually on the label can say primary on them, um, as my starting point. So what I'm gonna do now is, um, mixing red Neil, I'm gonna go ahead, make my orange, so the darker colors, like red and blue, tend to overpower something like yellow. So you want to try to mix it equally, but, um, mixing it exactly equally will kind of give it, give you a stronger sort of red orange situation. So I think that is a pretty decent and I'm leaving space because I'm gonna do a red orange and the yellow orange as my tertiary colors later. So I'm giving myself space in between the primary colors for the tertiary colors. So I said, I'm going to come and do the yellow and the blue. And since I don't want to mix the ones that were just mixed, I gave myself several dots of each color so that I have some room to mix on my own. I think that's a pretty good middle green. So I'm gonna come over here in between my yellow and my blue and go ahead and spot my green gown, making it a slightly smaller circle. And then we have purple left to do is our secondary color. So I'm gonna go ahead. And so, of the two between red and blue blue being the deeper is way easy to over mix a purple and have it be more of Ah, um blue violin. So I know I have trouble mixing a nice in between Violet, I either go to read or I go to blue, so I know that that's an area that I have problem. So we're going to kind of go with this one even then I can see that it's a little too blue , but actually, I think that even now. Okay, so now we're ready for our tertiary colors, which are what I end up doing with the blue and the right. For example, when I was just explaining was I either tend to go to blue or to read. So now we're going to go and make that a little bit easier. We're gonna go ahead and mix a blue violet, so it's going to be looking more of like a midnight blue that I'm going to make that circle even smaller. Over there we go. That tends to be one. My favorite colors is the blue violet. It's got that nice midnight look to it and then coming over to this side here, we're gonna make the red violet, which kind of has that plum look. And that might be a little bit too close to this violent over here. So maybe I'll just do like else Mitch a little bit more red in that. Okay, So moving on down. Well, dio a red orange and that's gonna have a more pumpkin look to it. So I'll go back to this dot Here, come back. Okay. And then we have our orange, so the next tertiary color will be a yellow orange, so that's gonna have a much brighter looking orange. Umm to it. This is one of the colors that I really like. Okay, let's see how that looks. There we go. That warm sort of sun flowery look. And then then we'll have our yellow green, which is going to be sort of a lime looking green. Someone need quite a bit of yellow for that to make it really pop, maybe even just dip it right into the yellow. Here. See, that's more of the color that I'm looking for. And then lastly, we will have our blue green, which is gonna look more of like that ocean Look that you get more of that beach ocean sort of blue. You just spend more, get it really kind of blue there. Nice. Okay. So again, to go over the larger of the three circles are your primary er blue, red and yellow. And those are the ones that if you're buying paints, you want to get a lot of different variations of the blue, yellow and reds. Then you can mix yourself some nice greens, oranges and purples from that on. Those are secondary colors, and lastly are the ones that have the great variations. The red violets. The red orange is the yellow orange, the yellow green, the blue green and the blue violet. So now we're ready to go on to our next phase. 4. Tint, Shade, Complementary Colors: Okay, guys. So let's talk about tint, shade and complementary colors. The first thing that we're going to do is use tint. So I've picked a color of picked red and I have added some white. I have started making ingredient scale by first painting and unchanged straight out of the bottle red for my first mark. Then I added a little bit of white, and I'm going to keep going down and making ingredient, adding more white to my red as I go. The reason this is important is for a couple of a couple of reasons. The Shea that comes right out of the bottle is not necessarily what you're trying to paint . Sometimes, if you're trying to paint a sky and you have your blue and you needed to be lighter, obviously out and white will get you there. Um, another reason that you would want Teoh use tent is because if you are painting objects and you need to highlight where the sun is hitting the object, where the light sources hitting the object, you need to use tint in order to help make it look more three dimensional. I'm giving it that rounded edge or uh, that surface plane by making it, um, lighter in color. So that is why we use 10 and you just keep going. And even at this point, Aiken, just to use the pile of white that I had right here can help me finish it off. And you can keep going lighter and lighter. And so right here you can see a nice, greedy int scale starting from what I had straight out of the bottle and then continuously adding white and you can make this last for quite a while. So let's talk about shade. I'm gonna clean off my breast here and have my red and I have my black paint so that you can see a comparison you using the same color. So I'm going to go ahead and start. All right, so we're gonna do that again. We're gonna just start with the color straight out of the tube. Now, black can be immediately overwhelming because of how dark it is. And we talked about that when we were trying to mix purple with the blue and the red. And, um, you know, even with the red and the yellow, darker colors are much more overpowering, so you'll want to gradually add. And I just sort of like to dip sort of the edge of my brush into the black and mix it so this may actually be taking a little bit longer to turn. But I would rather have it be slight and gradual than, um, you know, very, very bold immediately. So whatever color you're using, I'm sure by now a piece of dog hair here, Um, whatever color you're using, I'm sure by now you were seeing it change. So one of the things that I want to talk to you about next and we can go ahead and kind of dive into that subject is complementary colors. So complementary colors can also give you a shaded effect and get you there with what I believe to be a better looking color, as opposed to mixing black and the color, because to me, black takes away from the color. It's just avoiding out that color. Um, and I just tend to think that it's not very pleasant looking. If you want to make your objects look three dimensional or, um, just darker in General, Black is obviously going to get you there but I tend to think that using complementary colors can get you there better. Some people disagree with me. Some people prefer to use black if you choose to do that. Um, that's perfectly fine. You do what you think is best for your are your paintings. Um, who am I to judge? You know, But, uh, I wanted Teoh introduce to you another way to get the shade you're looking for rather than just to use black. So, as I said before is all about experimentation and opening yourself up to new things. So here we have our greedy int of shade. It helps with shadow darkening up your colors for something that's, you know, just regularly dark in color, and you can see the difference in it with the tint and with the shade. So now let's talk about complementary colors and what I am talking about in general when it comes to complementary colors. If you're not familiar with complementary colors, let's go back to the color wheel for just a minute. So here we have our color wheel that we created earlier. Complementary colors are ones that sit across from each other on the color wheel it's a pairing. So I have laid out this little diagram here in the middle. So blue and orange. So they're complementary colors, yellow and purple and the Christmas colors green and red. They sit across from each other. And of course, the tertiary colors work as well. But let's just stick with the basic groupings here. Um, what happens when you mix the pairings such as yellow and purple, is that you are creating Ah, black. From that you are mixing them and it turns brown. It will gradually turn brown. But if you have some truly dark purples and a darker yellow, you can get yourself Teoh pretty much what looks like a black. But it looks unnatural. So I'm gonna demonstrate this. Since we've been using red, I'm going to demonstrate this using red. So if I'm going across the color wheel and I'm finding the Reds compliment than that would be green. So let's do that so that you can gauge what that would look like instead of just using red with black. So I have my red and my green here, so let's stir if you want to use a different color. If you want to use one of the other pairings. Then you can. I like to kind of pair them up in my mind. Um, such Aziz, you know, the Christmas colors and then purple and yellow reminds me of springtime and then orange and blue tent to remind me of the beach. That's kind of an easy way for me to remember what the complementary colors are. I think I've added a little bit too much green too fast. But Christ, So you can see here that is turning brown. It's turning a natural shade of brown. So sometimes I like to use this, um, especially with red and green. If I'm doing bark on trees because bark tends to have on some types of trees, a more red feel to it, and then obviously you could go the other way, and you can use green and have a little red in it. And so that tends to work well with shades of grass. If you're doing GREss, that is more a dusk than that tends to work well. Or, um, you know, mud or something like that. This will get you there so you can see here a menus album, Marine so you can see here how it's changed and it's still maintaining a color. Where is this? With the black, it is just losing all of its color. It's just looking muddy. Um, one of the best ways that you can see this is if you do ingredient scale with black and yellow and then black and purple, it really pops, and you can tell the difference. Now, I can't get Teoh a true black, using the colors that I am using here. Right now, I have decided Teoh, use green out of the tube instead of mixing my own as well as this, these air to light in color, you would want to use a dark crimson and either mix yourself a dark green using a very dark blue and a dark yellow, or just finding a dark green um, from a bottle so you can get there. I've gotten there, especially with purples and yellows, and, um, another good pairing, if you surely want a deep black is with orange and blue. A deep, deep blue on a very pumpkin kind of orange can get you into those midnight colors. Um, that look, riel and look. They just look fantastic without having to use black. Another thing that I want to just touch on here is so paint, as you can see from our color diagram when it comes straight out of the bottle, especially for oil and acrylic, it tends to have an opaqueness to it, no matter how much you glob on, you can see through it. And so one of the ways that I tend to get around that with those two mediums is by adding a little bit of tents with white. It does lighten it slightly, but also kind of, um, toughens it up it it adds a thickness to it that makes it less opaque for your paintings. So that's just something that you might want to consider and on to the next lesson. 5. Hot Air Balloon Project: Okay, guys, it's final project time. We're gonna take what we learned with the color wheel, tint, shade and complementary colors, and we're gonna put that to good use with a hot air balloon activity. So what you want to look up is pictures and inspiration for hot air balloons such as patterns and colors. And what I've done here is I've traced out several, um, you guys can have it be sort of an illustration like this one where I have them acting as balloons in someone's hand. And when I'm done painting this, I'm gonna let it dry and I'm gonna trace out the hand Sharpie marker. I'm gonna trace out the lines a za cords as if their little balloons in the person's hand. And I'm gonna trace out the hot air balloons to make it that illustration Feel, but feel free to make it a little bit more realistic. You can have you know them in the mountains and the sky. Go wild with it. The point of this is to use this as time to experiment with color. So as you can see for my crazy pallet over here I have gone and mixed quite a bit and there's some off screen that you can't see if you want to use other colors other than the primary ones that we will use today, feel free. This is all about experimentation. And you want to use all the colors that you have at your disposal to see what works for you and what you can really create. This is the sort of color chart experiment. And, um, you can really just go at it with with all you got. So I'd love to see what you come up with, Um, and post some. You know, I'd love to see your comments, so just go crazy, and I make sure to post some so I can see. 6. Final Thoughts: Okay, guys. Well, that's it. We've come to the end, and I hope that you were able to take away something from this lesson about color and a better understanding of color interactions and mixtures. I hope that you were able to really go crazy with your final project and see what you could come up with. See what you could expand on. Um, beyond what I said in the videos. And I would love to see your final projects. If there are any questions, or if you have any thoughts about today's lesson, please let me know in the comments on I look forward to seeing you next time. Bye, guys.