Creating Realistic Color: A Primer for Beginners | Kendyll Hillegas | Skillshare

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Creating Realistic Color: A Primer for Beginners

teacher avatar Kendyll Hillegas, Artist & Illustrator

Watch this class and thousands more

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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

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Color Terminology


    • 3.

      Color Relationships


    • 4.

      Learning to See Value


    • 5.

      Learning to See Hue, Saturation & Temp


    • 6.

      Single Pigment vs Pre Mixed


    • 7.

      Building a Palette and Color Mixing Basics


    • 8.

      Demo Part 1


    • 9.

      Demo Part 2


    • 10.

      Common Pitfalls


    • 11.

      Wrap Up & Class Project


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About This Class

As a professional illustrator, some of the most common questions I hear from beginning and aspiring artists are related to color:

  • "How do you know what color to use?"
  • "How can I learn to see more colors in my reference?"
  • "How do you mix and match the color you see in a reference?"
  • “How can I create realistic color in my own work?”

This class is for anyone who has ever asked these sorts of question about color, or struggled to create realistic color in their own painting.

We’re going to unpack these questions (and others!), and tackle color for traditional media artists in a systematic, comprehensive way. In the class we'll cover 5 essential skills related to color, and will learn to:

  1. Identify basic color characteristics, like value, saturation and temperature
  2. Build color harmony & relationships and use the color wheel 
  3. Build a palette and use single-pigment media and blended pigment media
  4. Use comparison to accurately see the colors in your reference
  5. Mix colors you see in your reference, and match them in your painting

We’ll have a series of sit down lessons where I’ll unpack each of these concepts, and then a detailed demo where I’ll create a painting from start to finish, explaining all of my color decisions as I go.

This class is best suited for traditional media artists who have some familiarity with drawing, but want to take their skills up a notch and learn how to paint from a reference with realistic, beautiful color.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Kendyll Hillegas

Artist & Illustrator


My name is Kendyll, and I’m an artist and commercial illustrator working in traditional media. My background is in classical oil painting, but I’ve been working as an illustrator for the past 5 years, completing assignments for Real Simple, Vanity Fair France and The Wall Street Journal. 

My illustration is used commercially in packaging, on paper goods and clothing, and in editorial applications, as well as displayed in private and corporate collections worldwide. My work has been featured in Supersonic Art, Anthology Magazine, Creative Boom, DPI Art Quarter and BuzzFeed.

I try to create work that is realistic, but still full of vibrancy and feeling. I'm probably best known for my food and botanical illustration, but I lov... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro: Hello, my name is Kendall Villegas and I am a full-time artist and illustrator. My work is used in magazines and video games, on packaging and advertising, into parallel. I also love sharing my experience in the creative industry. With you all on YouTube and of course here on skill share. One of the most common questions I get from beginning or aspiring artists on YouTube or social media is how can I create compelling, realistic color in my work? In this class we're going to unpack this question and tackle color for a traditional artists in a systematic and comprehensive way. Learn five main things, first, to identify basic color characteristics like value, hue and saturation. Second, to build color harmony and understand color relationships by using the color wheel. Third, to build a pallet. So how to actually choose the colors that you'll use in your palate, how to put those together, we'll cover that both with a pure pigment colors and with colors that are mixes or blends. Number four, how to accurately identify and see the colors that are in your reference and last of all, how to bring that all together, how to mix the colors that you see in your references and match them to your reference in the painting or drawing that you are creating. We'll have a series of sit-down lessons where I'll unpack all of the theory and concepts behind each of these five points and then we'll have a detailed real-time demo, where I'll create a painting from start to finish and explain every single color choice that I make along the way and how it relates to the concepts that we've covered in the class. You'll get both the sit-down theory and the real-time execution. This class is best suited for traditional media artist. I'd say if you're a digital media artist, you will still have some things that you can take away that will be valuable, but this is definitely geared towards traditional media artists. Folks who are working in paint or pastel or pencil, any physical media, also probably best suited for those who have a little bit of familiarity already with drawing and who really just want to take their skills up to the next level by learning how to use color effectively. After completing this course, you'll have a good understanding of basic color theory and you'll be able to apply those theoretical concepts in really practical ways to your own work to create that really compelling sense of beautiful, realistic color. I hope you'll join me in the class. I am super excited to get started and dive into one of my favorite concepts with you all. 2. Color Terminology: For the first lesson, we are going to dive into some of the basic characteristics of color. We're going to go over four characteristics.Those include hue, value, saturation, and temperature, we're going to define each of these and unpack how they relate to art and art-making and why they're good things to be aware of. The first term that we are going to tackle is value. Value just means that darkness or lightness of a color, darker colors are closer to black on the gray scale, lighter colors are closer to white on the gray scale. Value is really a crucial term for all artists to understand, and to be able to identify an art since it's often what denotes the form of the subject. Value is how we have a sense of where the high areas of a subject are because those are usually lighter, maybe even brighter, and the darker areas of a subject tend to be the parts that are sinking down or curving back. So having a good sense and ability to identify value in your work, it's going to make you more easily able to create a sense of form and three-dimensionality, it's really the cornerstone to creating a realistic work, and that's why the initial step when you very first learning how to draw, is often to make monochromatic pencil sketches. I know sometimes it can feel like, that's so boring what I really want to do is learn how to paint in full color, and you will absolutely get there, you'll learn that. But it is really critical to have a good sense of value and form before you dive into color, since it's the skeleton that everything else rests on, and if that's not in place or it's not steady or stable, you're going to have a really hard time making work that looks realistic and especially work that has color, that's realistic color. So how value worksite touched on this a little bit already, but darker colors tend to sink back and lighter colors tend to rise forward, if you just take a look in the room that you're in, anything around you, you'll notice that the higher points of an object are lighter and the lower points of an object are darker. So learning how to see value, this is going to be a lifelong practice and a lifelong exercise if you are wanting to create realistic art, but there is a super helpful trick that's something that I learned when I was in art school and I still use it today all the time, and it feels really simple, but the trick is basically just to squint your eyes. So squint I'm like almost to where they're completely closed, where you're just letting in the tiniest little sliver of light and you'll have a hard time seeing any details, you don't want to see any details. You're just trying to have your eyes as close to close as possible while still letting in just that tiny little sliver of light, and as you're doing that, you can turn and look at the subject that you're trying to draw. Now, what you'll notice is because you can't really see any details, that'll all be somewhat obscured by the squinting. It's going to really help you identify where the biggest areas of dark are and the biggest areas of light, and that's the crucial first step to be able to see value is understanding how the dark and the light are separated, where they're really darkest darks are and where they're really lightest lights are, and once you've identified those darkest darks and lightest lights, then you can try to compare a little bit and see where the mid-tones are, and that'll give you a good sense of the value spectrum of your subjects. So we're going to talk a lot more about value later and how to apply it and how to identify it and see it in your work. But right now we're just going to keep on going with our other terms and characteristics of color, and the next one is hue. Hue is basically just a characteristic of a color that makes it appear as either red, green, blue, yellow, whatever. In a way you can think of hue is just another word for color. The next term is saturation, and saturation can be thought of as the intensity or purity of a color. So the pure, the pigment within the color, the more saturated will be, and the duller, the less saturated. Now learning saturation, learning to see saturation can be tricky at first. It's especially tricky if you're trying to create realistic work. So we're going to talk about some tricks later on for identifying and learning to see and evaluate how saturated color is. But for now, some things to keep in mind about the way saturation works in a painting desaturated colors are colors that are less saturated tend to sink back the same way that dark colors do, and we'll draw less attention to themselves. They don't typically seem as loud or obvious as saturated colors, and more saturated colors are the opposite, of course, they tend to arise more to the surface they are louder or visually, they call more attention to themselves. Now how to see saturation. We already talked about how to see value the trick with squinting your eyes. But overall, the best way to learn to see saturation is by comparison, you'll look at a color, you'll focus on a specific area in your reference and get a sense just try to have a initial gut instinct of what color you think it is, so what's the hue? Is it a red? Yes, it's a red. What's the value? How dark or light is it? What's the saturation, and the best way to understand the saturation is, by comparing that color that you're focusing on to the other colors around it, and visually just making your way across the image and saying, okay, I've got this red area here, is this more red? Is this a brighter truer, more intense red than this other red over here, or is it less bright? Less intense? So it's a back and forth comparing, well, actually looking first, then comparing and then evaluating your comparison to see how accurate it is, and again, we are going to talk about this much more and you'll see demos of me doing it, but that's the broad scope for how to see and evaluate saturation, and with practice, seeing saturation this way is actually going to become really natural. Some people may do it naturally already, but for most of us it's a learned skill, and because of that, you'll want to keep in mind that for many beginning artists, the tendency is to oversaturate, and there are a number of different reasons for this, which we will talk about more in a further lesson. But just keeping that in mind that the tendency for most beginning artists is to use colors that are too saturated, that is, if you're trying to create realistic color, saturation is something that has to be used with some discretion and used only in small amounts. Before we move on to temperature, which is our fourth and final term, I do want to have a quick little discussion about the relationship between value and saturation. The relationship between the darkness or lightness of a color and the relationship between the intensity or purity of that color. Value and saturation are very often linked, but they don't necessarily have to be. For example, this deep pure red is a darker value than this bright pure yellow. These are both pure pigment colors, which means that they are both saturated, but one of them has an inherently darker value than the other. So you can see with pure, completely saturated colors, some colors will be naturally darker, some colors will be naturally lighter, and another example are these two very light colors. So both of them are really light in terms of value, they both have a lot of white in them, but one is quite saturated you can see this one here is quite saturated, and the other one is really not at all saturated, but they're both the same lightness. So just having an understanding that just because something is darker does not mean it's more saturated and vice versa. These terms will all become more and more clear as you see them in action and in further lessons and in the demo, so hang in with me for one more term, one more definition of a term, and that is temperature. Temperature of a color is the inherent warmth or coolness of that color. A very simple way to think of this would be that there are warm colors like red, orange, yellow, and cool colors like blue, green, and purple. But the more complex and more probably realistic way to think about it is that there are warm and cool of pretty much every hue you could imagine. So there are warm reds and cool reds warm yellows and cool yellows a warm blues and cool blues. Different pigments and different blends have these different temperature characteristics, different warmth or different coolness and in terms of how they behave in a painting, cooler colors, like darker colors and like less saturated colors tend to sink back and are a little bit quieter, and we'll read more like a shadow, and warmer colors tend to rise to the surface like saturated colors, like light colors. Warmer colors tend to rise to the surface and draw more attention to themselves. It's important to note that temperature, the warmth or coolness of a color, is probably one of the more subjective aspects of color. All color, just like all visual art, is somewhat subjective, but temperature tends to be quite subjective, and what I mean by that mainly is that people will experience it in different ways. So a great example is the difference between ultramarine blue and cerulean blue. So to me it seems pretty obvious that ultramarine is the cooler color and that cerulean is the warmer blue. But there are many people that actually see it the opposite way they see cerulean as cool and ultramarine as warm. This is totally fine and it shouldn't alarm you or make you nervous about using color. The most important thing is that you are consistent within your own universe of painting, if you are like me and you see ultramarine is the cooler blue, just having an awareness of that and using ultramarine consistently as the cooler blue, and cerulean or [inaudible] or whichever other blue you're going to use as the warmer blue, and that will still allow you to create really interesting and unified color relationships. That is it for our intro of color terminology. Congratulations, you made it through. Up next we're going to discuss an important tool for using and understanding color, that is the color wheel and specifically complementary colors. 3. Color Relationships: If you have ever taken an art class, maybe even an elementary school art class, chances are you have probably seen one of these. But in case you haven't or in case you're not clear on the utility, how a color wheel can be used, we're going to go over it briefly in this lesson. This is a color wheel. A color wheel can be very simple or very complex. Most color wheels will have at least three primary colors, which are the colors that cannot be formed from any other colors and the three secondary colors. Some color wheels will also have tertiary colors, which are the colors that are made by mixing up primary color and a secondary color. The main reason we're talking about the color wheel is because it is the best way that I know how to understand color relationships. I'm not going to make your reproduce a color wheel or make your own color wheel although, feel free if you want to it can be fun and therapeutic thing to do. The main way that I still use my understanding and knowledge of the color wheel is to understand color harmony and color relationships. A term that you probably have heard before if you've taken any art class is complimentary colors. Complementary colors are colors that are directly across from one another on the color wheel. Using complementary colors in your paintings can be a really powerful tool as these two colors are really high contrast and putting high contrast colors next to each other colors to have the greatest level of contrast can increase that sense of vibration and liveliness in both of those colors and can really help them leap off of the substrate. Other types of common color relationships are triadic and related colors. Triadic colors are made from groupings three equidistant colors on the color wheel. This creates a high level of contrast which can amplify color vibrancy and really make those colors in your painting sync. Related colors are a grouping of one man color plus two other colors that are nearby on the color wheel. If your goal is to paint realistically, which is what we're talking about in this class, you'll be pulling most of your color cues directly from your source, directly from reality. However, you can and should still employ a knowledge of color theory when you're planning and executing your painting. That's why it's so helpful to have an understanding of the color wheel and how you can use it to determine color relationships. As I've said, I don't usually have a color wheel out in my studio anymore but it is something I've internalized. When I'm thinking through of making strategic decisions about color. If I decide I want to use a complimentary color in a specific area to really up the vibrancy, I just we'll call it to minded mentally. When you really understand these things well, when you understand complimentary colors and you have that good visual picture of the color wheel, you're going to be able to use color with more intention and create really interesting and powerful effects in your work. We'll talk more about the application of complimentary colors in an upcoming lesson that's the name of the game here and these foundational lessons. We're introducing some concepts and then we're going to get into how they apply in later lessons. Up next we're going to dive into some of the actual hands-on stuff, which is how to determine colors in your reference photos. It's going to be two-part lesson and we'll dive into the first part of the lesson coming up next. 4. Learning to See Value: Across this lesson and the next lesson, we are going to talk about how to actually see and identify the colors that are in your reference, your source, the image that you're painting directly from to create this realistic work. For the first part, we're going to talk about value and how to see value. The reason we're tackling value first is exactly what we said in that introductory lesson about value, is that understanding and seeing value is the foundation, is the key for creating realistic color in your work. All the other stuff that we're going to talk about really hangs on this. So this is super important, may feel a little bit boring because if what you're here for is learning about color, we're going to start by talking about black and white, but trust me, it's worth investing the time and trying to understand this well, since it's going to make your life so much easier when it comes to the actual application of realistic color in the next lesson. Especially if you're a beginner, whenever you're working on a painting, when you're trying to create a finished full piece, not just a sketch but an actual piece that you're going to invest some time in, it can be especially helpful to spend a few minutes, anywhere from 5-20 minutes creating value studies of your subject. A value study is just a really, really simple sketch that is, in addition to the line or the shape of the subject, the proportions of the subject, you just try to really quickly block in just with a pencil or sometimes people will use charcoal for this, try to block in where the dark areas are and leave out where the light areas are. But you're just trying to basically create a roadmap for yourself of the dark areas, the mid tones and the light areas. Doing this thing quickly before you spend a lot of time actually investing in your painting can allow you to just have a good sense for where you're going in terms of the value and it's, as I mentioned, especially helpful for beginners, but this is still a practice I have today, especially if I'm creating a larger piece or a more complex illustration and I want to make sure that I really have those value relationships nailed down. I'll still spend 10 minutes creating a few different value studies, just to have a sense for that. To actually create a value study, we're going to just circle back to that trick that we learned in the second lesson, which is squinting your eyes. You want to look at your subject and squinting your eyes as close to close as they can get while still letting in the tiniest little sliver of light, you just want to be able to barely see the subject. Once you've done that, you can work on either just a piece of scrap paper or your sketchbook, or really doesn't really matter what the surface is for this, because this is just a quick little study. But once you see that you can use any piece of scrap paper and your regular graphite pencil or charcoal pen, whatever you want to use to just quickly mark down where you see the darkest dark areas in the piece. Again, with squinting, you're really trying not to focus at all on the details. Don't even worry too much about the proportion. You're just trying to get down those darkest dark areas and get that laid down on your paper. Once you have your best guess and you've laid it down, you're going to open up your eyes and you're going to look again at your subject and at what you've just laid down and you want to compare the two and see how close to reality is what I've just laid down on my paper. If you've laid down the darkest darks, you want to then maybe squint, looking at both of them again, both your sketch and the subject and compare the dark areas and ask yourself, "Is the dark that I laid down darker or lighter than the dark area in my reference?" Then go ahead and adjust as necessary. Basically, what we're doing is we're working in this cycle of look, taking our best guess, laying it down, then comparing it back to the reference and adjusting as necessary. That's the same pattern we're going to use when it comes to identifying the other aspects of color as well. So really internalizing that look, coming up with your best guess, laying down and comparing and adjusting, that's the foundational cycle for identifying and creating realistic color in your work. As you can see, my little value study here is still very rough. It doesn't really look anything like the subject at all. All it's telling me is where the darkest darks are, and where the lightest lights are. But still this act of creating it, this act of looking and coming up with my best guess, laying down what I think I've seen and then comparing it back to the reference image and adjusting as necessary, this is still been really valuable because it's given me a sense of where those dark and light areas are in the subject and it's also given me a little bit of a hint to where I'm potentially going to make some mistakes when I create the final piece, because it's given me a sense for where I have tended to see things that are darker than they actually are in real life or lighter than they are in a real life. But either way, it's giving me a little bit of a clue for how my brain wants to see that subject. So as you can see, this cycle of look, lay down, compare and adjust is really the key ingredient here for learning to see and execute realistic color. Because that is so crucial, because that's so foundational, I want to take a pause here and introduce the first part of the class project, which is for you to select a subject and create a series of value studies. Don't spend more than a couple of minutes on each one. Don't get too caught up in the details. All you're trying to do is see the dark and the light areas and understand some of where the mid tones are. Then if you feel comfortable sharing those in the class projects, of course, please do. I love to see what you guys post and share there. 5. Learning to See Hue, Saturation & Temp: Now that we have some understanding about the values in our subject, and how to identify those values, and get them lay down on the paper, we're going to increase the complexity of the concepts here and talk about how to see the other aspects of color as well. If you remember back from lesson two those other aspects are hue, saturation and temperature. We're going to take a similar overall approach that we just had with learning to see value, and that's trying not to get too caught up initially in the tiny details, the nuances, little shifts of color, and small areas of your subject. We're going to follow that same pattern of look, lay down, compare, adjust. Once again, just as we did with the value section, try to think about your subject as a simplified three-dimensional object. If like me, you're working on something like an apple, try to think about the most simplified form of an apple, which is a sphere. Again, you may want to try to squint your eyes and look at your subject. Identify the dark and light areas and the basic overall planes of your subject to really help you think about it as a three-dimensional object in space. Once you have a good sense for those large areas, the big planes, the big dark areas, and white areas, you are going to look at your subject again to try to see the colors of those large areas and evaluate the characteristics of color that we talked about. You already have some sense of the darkness or lightness of your subject, the different value areas of your subject that denote its form, then you're also going to want to try to identify the hue. Pick out one of those main large areas first and try to identify the hue of that area. Is it red? Is it blue. Is it purple? Is it green? Once you have a sense for that, for the value and the hue, you want to try to get a sense for the saturation. As we talked about in a previous lesson, the best way to do that is to compare. If you're looking at an area and you're thinking, this is a medium red, let me compare it to this other area right here, which is also a medium red, is this area more saturated or less saturated or the same saturation? Once you feel like you have a good sense for how saturated it is compared to the other colors in the subject, the last thing you want to try to evaluate is the temperature. How warm or how cool is this area? That can be something that you just have a sense for. That it feels warm or it feels cool. But for me, personally, I tend to prefer the comparison approach. Once again, looking at this medium red here again maybe initially my instinct is that it feels warm because it's red, but then when I look and I compare against these other areas, I can see, actually, this is a little bit cooler, than this is probably a cooler red that I'm looking at. Once you've finished the looking, once you have your best guess mentally, you're going to lay down some color on a swatch and then compare it next to your paint, next to your reference. This is the main reason why I advised to work from life or from a photo as opposed to from a photo on a screen. Because a photo on a screen is going to emit light, and I'll be transparent with you all, and say that in my professional work, I pretty much always work from photos on a screen. I work from an iPad. But I've had many years of practice and I know how to mentally compensate for the fact that I'm seeing a backlit image. But if you're just getting started it's going to be so much easier to create realistic color if you work from life or from a printed image. We'll be working from a printed image in the demo, and you can see how it works really well to lay down the color on the swatch and compare it to the reference. When it's a printed photo, you can just put it right next to the reference and you'll be able to see pretty obviously, this is darker than it should be. Or this is more saturated than it should be. Or this is cooler than it should be. You'll have a good sense immediately just from comparing the color that you've mixed, the color that you've swatched with your subject, with your reference image. Whereas if you're doing that on a backlit screen like your phone or an iPad, it's going to be a lot harder to do that comparison. We've looked,. We've laid down. We have compared the color that we think we have on the swatch to the color that is actually in our reference image. We've also compared it to the colors around it considering value. Whether it's darker or lighter. The Hue. What color it is, is it greener? Is it bluer? Is it redder. Is it purpler? The saturation. Is it more intense or less intense? The temperature. Is it warmer or cooler? Once we've done all that comparison, then we adjust. Once again, comparison is the key ingredient here, just like it was when we are identifying value. As such, this process is very much a back and forth. You're going to go through this whole cycle. The look, Lay down, compare,adjust multiple times throughout the course of a painting. You'll come up with what you think the color is. You'll compare it mentally. Then you'll put it down on your substrate and compare again to the reference just to see if you've gotten it right. Then adjust as needed. Now, as an aside, this is one reason why it can be so helpful to work in layers and to start out really light initially if you can, because it just gives you more space and more wiggle room to continue that process of preparing and adjusting to make sure you get the color exactly right exactly as it should be. You'll see me tackle this whole process and you'll see how cyclical it is, how many times I do it over, and over, and over again in the demo. When I do the demo painting. With practice, you will do each of these steps faster and eventually even unconsciously. It feels like a lot, I'm sure initially when you are trying to imagine, every single time I make a color decision I have to look at to compare and adjust. The sad reality, the tough reality, I don't want to be negative, but the reality is that there really is no shortcut, easy way to do it. This is a version of the way that I was taught in school. It's the way I still do it today. There may be a few very lucky color prodigies out there in the world who can see a color and without having to jump through any of these hoops that most of us have to. They can just immediately identify exactly what color is, know scientifically how to match and then lay it down on their canvas right away exactly as it should be. Those people do exist, I'm sure, but they're very few and far between. Most professional artists do a version of exactly what I'm talking about, the looking, the comparing, and adjusting. If you want to learn to create realistic color, you do really have to embrace that process and just understand that it will become easier and more internalized and feel more natural over time. Up next we're going to dive into color mixing and talking about the difference between pigment based color versus mixed colors, how to set up a palette, all of that fun stuff. 6. Single Pigment vs Pre Mixed : We're getting close to the hands-on demo, where I'm going to create a painting from start to finish, but before we dive into that, we need to tackle one last subject and that is mixing colors. The first thing we need to unpack a little bit is pigment-based media, versus mixed and blended media. Depending on the type of media that you're using, the colors that you work with may be single-source pigments. They may have a single pigment in them, or they may be blends that are made from multiple pigments. Generally, tube paints like watercolors, acrylic, oils will have single pigment options and blended options, whereas mediums like colored pencil, markers, certain brands of gouache, certain types of pastels, will really only have options that are blended or pre-mixed. Those again, are colors that are made up of multiple different pigments already. Two paints as I mentioned, do have lots of blends as well, but they usually have a really large range of pure pigment options, especially if you're working with a professional brand or a higher-end brand. This issue of pure pigments versus blended pigments is actually quite complex, and depending on what corner of the Internet you find yourself in, maybe even a little bit of a controversial issue. Many artists feel very strongly that you should only use pure pigment color, because it gives you the most control in some ways as opposed to using blended mediums, but I personally I'm fine using both. I use pure pigment colors and I use premixed colors. I think they can both be used beautifully to create really vibrant, realistic color, as long as you understand the differences between them, and when and how to use each. One big difference between single pigment media versus blended media, is that if you're using single pigment media, you can start with a relatively small palette, and you're going to do all of your own blending to get color matches to your reference. Every color that you see in your reference, you're going to have to hand blend to get it exactly right. Inversely, if you're using premixed colors or blended colors, say if you're using colored pencils, the way I like to do, you'll want to try to minimize blending. You'll want to try to use fewer different colors on top of one another, in order to avoid muddiness. Muddiness is a little bit of a subjective term, but basically, it just means the color looks dull, like it's lost a sense of life, there's no vibrancy to it. Muddiness can happen basically when you have too many different pigments all mixing together and layering on top of each other. If you're using single pigment media, it can sometimes for some people be easier to avoid muddiness, because you just are using fewer different pigments, and you always know exactly what's in the color mix that you've made. Whereas, if you're using blended media like colored pencils or markers, you don't always know the exact pigments that are in that blend. So it can be a little bit easier to actually accidentally stumble into creating a muddy color. For that reason, that's where you want to be a little bit more careful when you're using premixed colors to spend the time to try to actually accurately match the mixed color to your subject, versus pure pigment colors will have only one pigment in them, so you have a little bit more flexibility. If you're wondering if the paints that you already have, the supplies that you already have, are single pigment or not. If you're working with two paints, you should be able to turn them over and see an ingredients list almost on the back of the tube of paint, that'll tell you which pigments were used to create that color. You can also, if it's not showing up on the tube for some reason or if it's hard to see, you can usually find this information on the manufacturer's website, by looking at the specific color, and then it'll tell you which pigments were used to make that color. 7. Building a Palette and Color Mixing Basics: What colors do you need when you're building a pallet? For pigment-based colors, you'll really need six essential colors. You'll need a warm red, a cool red, a warm blue, a cool blue, a warm yellow, and a cool yellow. For the demo, I'll be using a starter watercolor set from Daniel Smith that contains each of these colors, and that's really all I will need for a basic palette for watercolor. But if you're working with acrylic or oil, you should also be sure to add in titanium white to the mix. Of course, if you want to, you can fill out your palette with some other options as well. If you want to do something in addition to those six initial ones, I'll probably would reach for a violet or some Viridian green that will just make mixing certain colors easier. You can mix pretty much all that you'll need with the six initial colors, but it can be nice to fill it out sometimes with a violet or Viridian. In my opinion, black is really always optional. You can blend some really interesting colors that are very close to black. We just have more of a sense of liveliness than pure black right out of the tube does. Now, what colors do you need if you're working with premix colors or mixed base colors? If you're working with premix colors, whether it's in a tube color, pencils, markers, you're probably going to need a larger range of colors in order to accurately match what you see in your reference image. If you're working with colored pencils as I will be in the demo, generally, I think the 72 set is a decent place to start. I recommend Prismacolors as the budget-friendly option. If you're looking for a splurge option, I recommend Luminance by Caran d' Ache. I use both of these lines regularly, and the specific colors are going to depend largely on what you're drawing and what your style is. There will probably be colors that you use really quickly, and you go through all the time and colors that you don't use very quickly at all, and find that you hardly ever have to replace them. For this reason, I find it's especially important when you're working with mixed colors that you choose brands that have their colors available open stock. Open stock means that you can buy just one individual color, so just one marker or one pencil as needed, rather than repurchasing the whole set when you run out of the 15 colors that you use all the time. That's why I recommend Prismacolors as the budget option. To my knowledge, they're the most affordable pencils that are available open stock. On to how to set up your palette and mix colors. Right now, I'm going to talk about setting up the pigment-based palette, and then I'll unpack and talk about setting up a mixed based palette when I'm actually in the demo. I'm doing it live in the demo. But for now, we're going to start out with a pigment-based with Daniel Smith watercolors that I'm using, and with watercolor, you can really work on any pallet. It can be an old plate. It could be a piece of tin foil. It could be a plastic palette with walls. Really whatever you like to work on is fine. I have this old enamel medical tray that I like to use for a palette whenever I'm working with tube colors. That's what I'm going to use to set it up. Setting up my palette here, you'll see that I'm setting down [inaudible] blue, which is in my view the warmer blue, French ultramarine, which is the cooler blue, new Cambodia, which is the warmer yellow Hansa yellow light, which is the cooler yellow, Pyrrol Scarlet, which is the warm or red and Quinacridone Rose which is the cooler red. If I were working with oil paints, I would spend some time to premix as many colors as possible since oil take forever to dry, so premix in your colors can actually be really time-saving and can be a good way to make the painting process easier. But with watercolors and with acrylics really, I like to just mix them as I go, mix them as I need them, rather than mixing ahead of time. I need to be sure to leave plenty of space between each of the colors on the palette. That's why I've set it up this way with a good amount of room. Now that we have our palate setup, let's just cover some best practices for mixing color. The first one is one that we've already mentioned, and that is to leave yourself plenty of room between the colors on your palette. The second is to use a clean palette knife or a clean brush when you're grabbing paint from the original color pile. This ensures that the source colors really stay pure and vibrant and that you can mix them with other colors easily later on if you need. The third point is if you're working with acrylic or oil, you really should use a palette knife to mix, not your brush. I'll go ahead and just be honest with you guys because you'll see how I really do this when I'm in the demo. I'll confess that I'm not the greatest at these last two points. I do tend to use my brush for mixing, and I tend to sometimes go back to the source piles with a dirty brush. I wish I had formed other habits earlier on, but for now, I just have to work around some of those bad habits. But I thought I would mention the good ones anyway in case you're just getting started and you want to try hard to have good happens. Let's talk about a couple of blending pointers. First step, how to saturate or desaturated a color. Really, the only way to increase the saturation level in a color is to add more of the saturated pigment. Remembering that saturation is the intensity of the color, not the lightness. To make a color more intense, you really have one option, and that is to add more of the pure pigment color, or if you're working with mixes, to choose one of the pre-mixed colors that is more saturated and to work that in. The reverse to desaturated color, you can either add black, which some people do. But I will say, I really strongly recommend against adding black, or you can add small amounts of a complementary color. The reason I prefer adding the complementary color over adding black is that it produces colors that have more variety and that are more interesting and have less muddiness as opposed to simply adding black. If you can imagine working through an entire painting, and every time you want to darken a color, you're adding black, all of the colors throughout your painting are going to just be knocked down a peg in terms of their vibrancy impurity. Whereas, if you are desaturating by adding little bits of the different complementary colors, green will be desaturated by having red added, and purple would be desaturated by having yellow added, and blue will be desaturated by having orange added. The colors will just have a lot more variety because they're made from some two different colors as opposed to just the color, and then every time you have to desaturate adding black. Try to spend a little bit of time learning how to do that if you can, it really will pay off in terms of the liveliness and interestingness of your color. That's how to darken or lightened the color. The same thing goes for darkening a color. You can use black. Again, I recommend against that. If you want to darken a color, you're going to breach again for the complement of that color. The color that's directly across from it on the color wheel, and use it in varying amounts. If you just add a little bit of it, it will just desaturate and darken slightly. But if you add a lot of it, it's going to really darken that color, eventually. Potentially getting to even an almost black shade. When you're wanting to lighten the color, if you're working with an opaque media like oil or acrylic or brush, you'll add white. If you're wanting to lighten watercolor, all you'll do is add more water and make sure you put down a thinner layer. Last point to hear before we run to the demo, how to create warm and cool blends. To create a warm blend. If you're blending a color, you're mixing your own color, and you want that to be a warm color, use two different warm colors. Say, if you're trying to mix an orange, you have a choice between the cool red, the warm red, the cool yellow, and the warm yellow. If you're wanting to mix some warm orange, be sure to choose the warm red and the warm yellow. Whereas if you want to mix a cooler orange, you can choose the cool red and the cool yellow. If you want to make some more neutral orange, you could do one of the warmer red and the cooler yellow or the cool red and the warmer yellow. Up next, we're going to finally dive into the demo where I will create a painting from start to finish, and I'll really unpack how and when I'm using all of these different techniques. You'll see me doing real-time color matching, and really going to explain the whole process, in-process as it's happening. 8. Demo Part 1: So we're going to dive in to the watercolor demo in just a second here.. Before we get started on the action, I did just want to mention that this piece took an hour and 45 minutes total to create in real life. In order to keep this class bite-size appropriate link, I have trimmed some. Most of what has been trimmed are the pauses where I'm deciding what to do and evaluating and then, of course, some of the execution of the color. I do show every single color that gets put down, but let's say I spent five minutes or 10 minutes working with a given color in real life, I may have trimmed that to just show 10 or 20 seconds or so of the action. You will get to see every single color choice that I made but some of the time that was really required for the execution has been trimmed out. Just wanted to do a full disclosure on that, tell you guys exactly how long this piece took and then I think the demo altogether is going to be about 25 minutes. Let's go ahead and dive right in. Getting started on the action here I have my sketch, I have my reference image, I have my palette, my blotter paper, and I have put the colors down on the palette and I'm getting started with mixing. You can see the color that I'm trying to mix is highlighted with the turquoise circle right up above. It's basically the really bright highlight on the top of the apple. I'm doing that section first because it's the lightest thing in the whole apple. I want to make sure to get that down since watercolor you do have to work light to dark. Going for a really nice muted purple. I've started with ultramarine blue and then some of the quinacridone rose. To desaturate it a little bit, I've added just a tiny bit of the new gamboge, which is the warmer yellow. I'm just testing it out on my swatch here to see if I have the right color. So I'm going to go ahead and lay it down on my sketch. I'm starting really light. I need to get this darker later, but I just want to keep it light to begin with, since I can't really go back and make it lighter if I make it too dark initially. I'm working on matching this new highlighted area here. It's again in the turquoise circle up in the reference image. I want to get a soft pink. So I'm starting just with a really watered down pyrrol scarlet. Realizing that that is a bit too light what I have initially, so I'm adding on some more and checking again, and that is way too saturate it and a bit too warm. So I'm going to try to cool it down with a tiny bit of ultramarine, and I've also added just like the tinsiest bit of the hansa yellow light. Now that color looks pretty good to me. So I'm going to go ahead and lay it down on my sketch. Again, I'm working pretty light. I will likely have to darken this later, but I just don't want to go too far in the darkness to begin with, since I haven't even laid down any of the mid tones. I'm just blocking in everywhere I see that color. Now, I'm going to work on mixing this green section that I have highlighted up here. So I'm starting with the hansa yellow light and have added in a tiny bit of phthalo blue. At this point it's a little bit too saturated, so I'm adding in a tiny bit of pyrrol scarlet. Red is the compliment of green, so that's going to help me knock the saturation down. It's looking better, but it actually looks a bit too warm to me. So I'm going to go ahead and mix up a new green that is, starts with two different cool colors. I'm going to do the hansa yellow light which is cool, and the ultramarine blue which is cool. I'm going to check and see how that looks. There we go. I think that's the winner. I'm going to go ahead and lay it down. Now, I want to work on this orange color that I have highlighted here again in the turquoise circle. I am starting off with that green that I mixed up earlier, which was a little bit too warm. I've added in a tiny bit of the new game boat and then the teeny tiniest bit of the pyrrol scarlet. I'm trying to just again block in everywhere I see this color, and I'm bouncing back to that cooler green now to lay down a little bit around the stem of the apple. That really looks like the cool green to me. Then there's a teeny tiny bit up over here at the top of the apple. Now I'm going to transition to mixing the main red. This section right here that I have highlighted is the most saturated bit. I'm just testing out the pure pyrrol scarlet. Looks too warm to me, so I'm adding in some quinacridone rose. I check that again. Look a little bit too cool now. So more of the pyrrol scarlet. Trying to just go really slowly here, and that looks like the right color to me. I'm going to go ahead and lay it down on the sketch. This is all going to need a lot more nuance later on, but for now I'm just trying to block in most of where I see this more saturated red color. I'm realizing I'm going to need more of that same color, so I'm just mixing up more of the pyrrol scarlet and the quinacridone rose and continuing to work my way across the piece, laying it down everywhere where I see that color. Now, I'm wanting to mix up a bit more of this kind of orange color. I'm starting out with my pyrrol scarlet and a little bit of new gamboge, which is just way too saturated. So I'm knocking it down a tiny bit with just a little touch of phthalo blue. I'm going to check, still way too saturate it. So I'm going to grab some more phthalo blue. I've gone way too much with the phthalo and ended up with a blue green color. So rather than fight that, I'm just going to start over again in a new pile, gets some more new gamboge, some more of the pyrrol scarlet, and then mix in a little bit of that color that had the too much phthalo blue in it. I'm just going back and forth with the pyrrol and the new gamboge until I get to the right warmth. I think I'm getting closer here, so I'm going to check again on my swatch. That looks much better. So I'm going to go ahead and start laying that down. Here I want to develop some of the shadow and the greenish areas. So I'm grabbing a little bit more of the same green color that I developed earlier. I've mixed up a bit more of it. Again, that is the hansa yellow light and the ultramarine. I'm working out across the more shadowy, darker, less saturated area of the green part of the apple. I'm bouncing back and forth with that desaturated rusk color that I made as well. So going back and forth between the green and the rusk, trying to get the shadow parts of the apple to the right value and to the right color and then continuing to work on the darker portions of the apple with that desaturated rusk color that I made. At this point I feel like I need more of the cool shadowy green. I'm mixing up some more hansa yellow light and some ultramarine. That looks right to me. I'm going to go ahead and lay that down and just softening the edges here and adding some of it to the inside left portion of the stem since that's in shadow as well. Now, I'm grabbing pretty much just a pure pyrrol scarlet, a watered down version of a pure pyrrol scarlet, and doing a wash over all of the reddish areas as Apple. I'm doing that for a couple of reasons. First, because it doesn't quite feel saturated enough to me, I think I need to amp up the saturation and deepen the value a little bit. Second, because I want to make more of a sense of unity and right now the color is really patchy. So doing some washes of a single color over the top is going to really help me get more of that unified sense. Now I'm grabbing a bit more of my desaturated rusk color and I'm just continuing to work that along the border between the green and the red areas. At this point now that I've gotten all of these mid tones down, I can see that my highlight is too light. I'm going to darken the highlight portion there just so it doesn't stand out so much from the rest of the piece. Mixing up a bit more of my rusk color here. I'm just going to keep trying to develop the dark areas of this apple. I've gone really gradually with the values here. So the dark values are coming in last of all since that's really the best way that I prefer to work with watercolor in order to make sure you get the values right, building them up gradually over time. At this point I wanted to be a bit cooler, so I've put quite a lot of the quinacridone rose on my brush to give that shadow more of a cool sense. As we talked about in the color lessons, having something that has a cooler temperature can really help your shadows read as shadows. At this point I want to try to get a good color for the stem. That color that I mixed up earlier when I was trying to do the orange, that had too much stain in it, is actually just right for the stem. Now, I want to develop this bit here where the highlight meets the rest of the apple. It looks a little bit too harsh to me how I have it right now, so I'm just softening it a bit. Now, I'm going to go ahead and work on the drop shadow. I want to go ahead and keep my shadow looking nice and cool. I'm going to work with ultramarine, quite a lot of ultramarine. I'm just laying it down in the same spot where I had my highlight mix. So there's a tiny bit of the quinacridone rose in there already. I'm mixing in a little bit more quinacridone rose and then once again, knocking down the saturation with hansa yellow light. It's a bit cooler than what's in the reference image. But I'm going to go ahead and make that decision to put down what I want to be there instead of what actually is there since I want to keep my shadow nice and cool. There are a lot of warm colors in apple. I think having a bluer tone to the shadow is going to really complement that orange-red color in the apple quite nicely. I'm just making an executive decision here based on what I know about color theory to go ahead and push that shadow towards the cooler bluer end. I need to mix up a darker version of it for the deepest darkest part of the reference image. So I'm doing the same thing. It's again quinacridone rose, ultramarine, and then since I want it to get even darker, I am mixing more of the hansa yellow light, and I'm just going to lay that down in the darkest part of the drop shadow right underneath the apple. I feel like the red of the apple, especially in this softer highlight on the side here, ended up getting a bit too warm. So I'm mixing up some pyrrol scarlet with some quinacridone rose. I'm going to do a cooler wash over the top of this to try to get the temperature where I think it needs to be. I can already tell that I am going a bit heavy here, so I'm going to use my paper towel, just take care of a little bit of it. The colors still feels a bit too warm to me compared to the reference. But that's something I'll be able to take care of later on with colored pencil. I'm just going ahead and working in some more of that shadow, rest color, to try to get the values right on the shadow side of the apple. Again, softening the edges with the smaller brush. Just trying to really make sure I've got all of the areas that have that rusk color exactly as they should be. The right color, the right value, working in some more of the dark green. This doesn't have to be perfect because I'm going to nuance all of these a lot with colored pencil. But the more I get done now, the easier it will be when it's time to work with colored pencil. I'm going to go ahead and blow-dry my piece here, since I'm working on the clock and trying to be nice and quick, and then we will move on to colored pencil. 9. Demo Part 2: So here we go onto the colored pencil portion of the piece, the watercolor layer is completely dry, so I am going to go ahead and choose what I think I need for my colored pencil palette. As I talked about in the color lesson, when you're working with pre-mixed or pre-blended colors, you want to try to start with the larger section, a larger palette of colors, which will hopefully enable you to make a more accurate match with less blending. So I only started with the six initial colors for the watercolor and you can see I already have way more than that for colored pencils. I'm trying to look at the reference and see what colors are in the reference and what colors I think I will need to be able to match those accurately. So I've got a few different main groupings here. I've got some creams, and some light yellows, some deeper yellows and brighter yellows, a few different kinds of oranges, some are warmer reds, cooler reds, more saturated, less saturated, darker, and I've got a few different greens as well. I've basically just tried to look at the reference image and get a sense, based on my gut instinct, which colors I think I'm going to need. So I'm just trying to match this color here that I have highlighted with the turquoise circle, so I'm going in with the pre-saturated red and then the less saturated red and I'm going to test both of those out. I'm going to go ahead and match a few colors initially just so I know which ones I'm going to use. So I'm trying to get this color here, this shadow rust color. So I'm testing out a cooler desaturated orange, and then I want to find the color for this transition place between the rust and the green. Initially it looks a bit on the orangey side to me, but I have a feeling it's actually going to be pretty yellow. So I think those are the main colors I'm in need for the reds and the yellows. I have actually changed my mind on my approach. I think rather than going in with the reds first, I'm going to start trying to get down some of these little tiny dots that are across the surface of the apple and I don't want to use white because white would be a bit too harsh so I'm going in with a soft cream color. It's a really nice sharp pencil I have here and I'm just going to mark out some of these white dot just to make sure that I have those down, it'll make it a lot easier to include them this way than if I were to have to add them on top later. I'm going to go to my next lightest color which is that bright true yellow and I'm going to work across some of the transition points between the green and the rust and try to get that yellow tone down. Now I'm going to start working on some of the rusty areas of the apple, the rusty color, I'm using that cooler, less saturated orange and just working my way across everywhere where I see that color. Now I'm going to switch to some of the greener areas of the apple trying to get down this section on the side of the apple here which is in the shadow side, but it's actually a bit lighter, seems it has a reflection from the surface coming back on it, and then I'm working in that warmer, more saturated orange that you saw me test start at the beginning on the underside of the apple right here and I'm just working in little circular strokes with my pencil. I'm trying to get some of the side color here feel like it needs to be a little bit darker and maybe even a bit of a warmer green. So I've reached for Prismacolor's lime peel, which is a bit darker than the green I was using and it's quite warm. Now switching gears to the red, I have picked up, I think, this is carmine red. It's a very bright, very saturated, cool red and now bouncing back to some of the shadow portions. Then coming into this portion up here, the shadow side next to the stem, it looks to be more of a true green, and then this is a muted cooler, peachy color. Back to that carmine red. Then here I'm going to work in probably the darkest colored pencil I've used so far. This is tuscan red. I just want to get this value the dark part of this apple closer to where it needs to be so tuscan red is going to be the perfect color to help me do that. This is also a dark red. I think it's crimson lake. I think that's the name of the color, but it's not quite as dark as the tuscan red but it's going to be great for a transition color. At this point, I think I'm ready to get a bit lighter with that highlight so I have picked up light peach, which in the Prismacolor palette has a lot of white in it. So I'm just going really subtle, really soft over some of the lighter areas of this highlight, I'm not covering the whole thing, I'm just trying to do the portions that actually read as brighter and lighter. Then I'm going to take some of that same color and work around the edges of the top highlight just to soften them up a little bit. They are still reading as a bit too harsh, even though I did try to soften them with the watercolor, so colored pencil is a great way to unify some of the color up there and make sure it doesn't have such an unnatural crisp edge. Back in with some of these brighter reds here using a poppy red right here, which is just a really bright, really saturated, warm true red. Then here I'm going to re-describe some of these lighter portions that I've done and actually soften them a little bit, so I just want to initially lay them down, they were just really crisp, sharp points. They've gotten softened a little bit from having the other colors, put over the top of them but if you can picture those little speckles that are on an apple, they usually do have soft edges so I'm just trying to feather some of those edges a little bit with the cream color. Now for the first time I'm coming in here with some pure white. This is just the Prismacolor white. Again, you can see I'm not going over the entire highlight with it. Like we talked about with lights and darks being really judicious and really double checking whether what seems to be a true pure white is in fact a true pure white because having some of those nuances in the lightest portions of your subject itself, that's going to be what really makes it look realistic as opposed to if you just have a big block of pure white every single time you have a highlight. Again, a bit more of the poppy red. Now transitioning to some more development on the shadow side of the apple and specifically the green area. Just looking at the reference compared to what I have down on my piece already, I can tell that it needs to be both darker and cooler. So I'm testing out a color called celadon green, which is a cool neutral jade type green. It's the same one that I was using earlier, and it's just going to be a really good match for both the hue and the temperature and the value of this section of the apple. Again, back to this dark area. The darker and the more developed I get everything else, I'm still feeling like this isn't quite dark enough. So I'm going to use one of the tricks that we talked about, again, in the sit down portions of the lesson and that is to darken the color with its complements. So I'm going to use a dark green, which green, as we remember, is the complement of red. Now I need to develop this portion up here, this little tiny green bit that's peeking over. Then back to the darker green side of the apple just to try to get the shadow closer to the accurate value at this point to help it read as a shadow. All right, a bit more development on the reds here and back to the yellow, back to some orange, just trying to get the right temperature, the right saturation in all of the little red areas. At this point in the piece, we have really developed and really laid out all of the major blocks of color so what I'm doing here when I switch back and forth between these colored pencils is I'm just looking at the tiny little slices of color. I'm doing the same process that we have done, the look, the lay down, compare, adjust, but the sections that I'm looking at have gotten smaller and smaller and smaller. So it started out with looking at the big blocks of color and now I'm looking at and comparing these little tiny areas of color to try to get the nuance of those colors exactly as they should be. I'm just continuing to bounce back and forth between the different reds and oranges and greens trying to get those little areas of nuanced color exactly as they should be. Now I'm going to go ahead and develop the cast shadow a bit, the drop shadow, and again, I'm just going to bounce back and forth between different colors here in little tiny areas trying to get the nuance down. I'm going to pick up that cream colored color pencil again and try to get some of these lighter areas, these little striations that are coming out from around the stem of the apple, try to get some of those down. Again, I'm able to work with this lighter color on top of the darker colors because a lot of what is under here is watercolor. So something like a cream is going to be really nice and opaque on top of watercolor layer as opposed to if I had done this entire piece with colored pencil, I wouldn't be able to layer in quite the same way. More of those little light details. At this point, I am going to work a bit more on the shadow, and overall, I feel like the shadow has a good amount of red in it, so I'm going to reflect that in the painting, but when it comes to the rest of the drop shadow I'm still going to do what I had initially planned on and try to keep it fairly neutral, fairly cool. So I'm using a combination of a really, really light grayed out purple, which is a pretty cool color. So at this point I am just going to bounce back and forth pretty rapidly between different very light colors and very dark colors. I'm basically working on getting those lightest lights and darkest darks down, softening more of the edges of the little dots across the apple, continuing to develop the shadow, which is actually a pretty light value, and then adding a little bit of a highlight along the edge of the stem and more shadows on the inside area of the stem. I'm using that same process of just looking and comparing and trying to get the right values, the right hues in all these little tiny areas. Just putting some finishing touches along the edge here. I want to make sure that edge really reads as a surface that's curving backwards so I need to make sure to have a little tiny shadow running along the edge there and then doing some finishing touches with the pure white and the cream, and I think I'm going to call it a day. So as I mentioned, many of my other pieces would be more than five or six times as long as this, so it's not totally perfect, but I hope you can get a good sense for this process and for how I make decisions with color throughout the course of a painting. If I were working on a 10-20 our painting, I would just be doing more of the same process. So it would be the same cycle, it would be the look, lay down, compare, adjust. It would just be many, many more times over and I would be having probably more layers and possibly even other media as well like gouache or pastel. So that is it for the demo. 10. Common Pitfalls: Okay, welcome back. So that was the demo. Hopefully, it was really helpful and you feel you have a more comprehensive sense of these different aspects of color and how to use and see color in your reference image in your painting. Before we wrap up the class, I did want to take a quick moment to just go over some of the common pitfalls for beginning artists when they're first trying to create realistic color. The reality is that beginners may be more susceptible to some of these mistakes but there are really things that we all have to take care to be cautious about and to avoid in order to create realistic color. We have talked about this a little bit in other lessons. I just want to unpack it some more. The first pitfall is the tendency to make a color either too dark or too light so do not get the right value. This is a challenge for beginners and really for all of us because seeing nuance in value, just like seeing nuance and color is a skill that takes time to develop. Many of us, when we're first getting started, will have a tendency to automatically make the areas that look really dark, and the areas that look light almost white. So we have a tendency to make value too extreme. In reality, unless the subject is lit by a really harsh unnatural, artificial light, most colors we see in most subjects are mid-tones. So there are those true very lights and those that are almost black, but the reality is that most of the colors are somewhere on that middle spectrum. So just having an awareness that the tendency can be to go too far in either direction and to ignore the middle ground can help you to remember to take a second look and hopefully get those middle tones down accurately. One way that you can help yourself do that as well is to try to reserve the darkest darks and lightest lights until the very end of your painting. So even if you think, Yeah, this area right here, this is almost black. Try or wait until you have some of the other mid tones down before you put down those darkest dark. If you save that until the end, it can force you to see more of the mid tones and make sure that you're getting those down accurately. The next thing to be aware of is a good thing, but it comes with challenges, and that is that we all have these incredible brains that remember lots of information about the world around us. So one of the things that our brains do to hold on to all this information is to simplify it. So we remember that a tree is green, the ocean is blue, an apple is red, a cow is black and white, and we have these mental images that we can call to mind of these things. We walk around all the time with the memory and the knowledge of the color that we think these things are. So when it comes time to actually paint that thing, when it comes time to actually paint the tree or the leaf, for example, our amazing memories can work against us because they try to remember the simplified version and make us think that that's what we're saying in real life. So we've been painting a leaf and our brain will think, Yes, leaves are green. So especially for beginners, that will be a tendency to make the leaf too green, almost like an icon of a leaf or a cartoon of a leaf, as opposed to the reality of a truly complex green leaf that yes, does have green and does read as green, but probably isn't as saturated, probably has quite a lot of red in it as well. That connects pretty nicely to the next tendency, the next pitfall, which is also something that we've touched on and that is the tendency for beginners to make colors too saturated. This is partially because of our memories of things that they get more simplified and turn into the icon form of them as opposed to the real form of them, but also it's just because saturated colors are really beautiful and they're appealing and they're fun to look at. So there's a desire to use lots of saturated color when maybe it isn't actually in the real subject to the reference. Again, I'll say the same thing I said before when I mentioned this; there's nothing wrong with using purely saturated color. If that is the style you want to go for, great. But if you're trying to create realistic work, just remembering that true pure saturation is very rare in real life, especially if you're painting natural objects; so fruit, animals, plants, people, there just isn't very much pure saturation in the world. Most things that are purely saturated are things that are man-made. So just having an awareness of that will hopefully help you to dial it back a little bit and save those moments of pure saturation for when they really do appear in your reference. The opposite end of the spectrum can also be a challenge for beginning artists. This is something that we touched on as well with mixing and that is muddiness. So sometimes if we're trying to develop a nuanced color, especially for using premixed or preblended colors, the tendency maybe to make it a little bit to use too many different mixes, to use too many different blends, and that can cause the color to lose its vibrancy and to have a little bit of a muddy sense. So the basic thing to remember here is that if you end up using too many different pigments, that's the situation where you can create muddiness. So if you're using pure pigment colors, it's a little bit harder to have muddiness. If you're using premix colors, it's a little bit easier. So if you're using those premix colors, try your best to directly match a single color rather than layering lots of colors over one another. If you're using the pure pigment ones, you don't have to worry about it quite as much, but just do keep track of how many different pigments, how many different colors you have in your mix. The one bummer about this point is that if you're working on mixing a color, especially if you're working in a medium like watercolor or colored pencil and the color gets too muddy, it can be tricky to save that. If you're working in oil or acrylic, you can just wait until it dries or scrape it off of your canvas and start over again, but once color with watercolor gets muddy, you do have limited options. You may be able to add some colored pencil on top, somewhat opaque color pencil that will cover some of it up. As I mentioned, when we first talked about muddiness, don't sit in fear that this is going to happen. At some point it will. You will ruin a painting with color that's too muddy and you'll learn from that. So just having that basic awareness of when working with mixes, try to use fewer and when working with pigments, you don't have to worry about it quite as much. All right. Next up, we are going to wrap up the class and talk about the class project. 11. Wrap Up & Class Project: Welcome back. We have finally made it to the last lesson. Now it's time for you to take everything that you've learned and pull all those pieces together and put it into action in the class project. We've already covered Part 1 of the class project, which is a value studies. If you haven't done that yet, I do hope you'll take the time to create a few value studies based off of your reference. Think of these little value studies like a quick note to yourself. They don't have to be perfect. They don't have to be detailed, even if you only spend ten minutes doing this, it will be well worth your while. The second part of the class project is to create a finished full-color painting using the media of your choice. Obviously, I use watercolor and colored pencils, but you can really use anything if you want to do acrylic or pastel or marker or a mix of marker and something else, the mix of other media. However you want to do it, create a full color painting from start to finish using the technique that we've talked about in all of the other lessons. Looking, laying down the color, comparing and adjusting as necessary. Just repeating that process over and over again. Once you've finished, I do hope you will take the time to share your completed work in the class project and especially any work in progress photos. If you have any notes on what you're learning or what you're taking away, this will be especially helpful. I always love senior class project in any class, but I think because of the subjective nature of color, it is so helpful for us to see how other people are processing it and how other people are approaching it. If you feel comfortable sharing your class project, I really hope you will. Thank you so much again for taking this class. I hope it was helpful. I hope you feel more confident in color and are ready to dive in creating your own beautiful realistic colorful paintings.