Drawing Vintage-Inspired Color Palettes in Colored Pencil | Marie-Noëlle Wurm | Skillshare

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Drawing Vintage-Inspired Color Palettes in Colored Pencil

teacher avatar Marie-Noëlle Wurm, Artist, illustrator, HSP

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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

8 Lessons (45m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Materials

    • 3. Palette 1: Layering + Tinted Blacks

    • 4. Mini-Palettes + How to Expand Them

    • 5. Presence + Being in the Driver's Seat

    • 6. Let's Make a 7-Color Palette

    • 7. Inspiration & Color Proportion

    • 8. Final Thoughts

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About This Class

I love everything vintage. So when I'm feeling stuck with my colors, or when I want to get creative but don't have the bandwidth to start a drawing from scratch, drawing color palettes is one of my favorite things to do. 

In this simple, relaxing class, I'll show you how you can build color palettes using outside sources — in this case, one of my favorite books, full of of vintage vignettes & illustrations. 
Together, we'll work on 7 different color palettes which you can use in your next art project: from mini two-color palettes to a bigger 7-color palette, we'll get to explore assemblages of colors you might not have tried before, all while learning

  • how to make a black when you have no black in your colored pencil set
  • how layering colored pencils is key in order to get the color you're looking for &
  • more precisely, the importance of the underlayer for your final color
  • how to 'go beyond' the source you're pulling from, to make your palettes unique to you
  • how to use external sources as a springboard for color exploration
  • what color palettes can teach us about color proportion.

This is a soft, gentle class to draw along to when you're wanting to spend some time with your art materials & learn to stretch the edges of your comfort zone with some vintage colors for your next art project.

If you feel like sharing your project on Instagram, use the hashtag #vintagelovewithmarienoelle so we can see the lovely palettes you've explored!


Music by Epidemic Sound.

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Marie-Noëlle Wurm

Artist, illustrator, HSP

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1. Introduction: Do you feel a little color-stuck? Do you feel like you're using too many of the same colors over and over in your artwork? I'm going to show you today how to pull inspiration from a book of mine, but of course, you can use a book of yours in order to create color palettes that you can use in your next project. [MUSIC] One of the ways that I like to break out of my own color ruts is to take inspiration from outside sources. Today, we're going to do exactly that in a fun-relaxing exercise using one of my favorite books in my collection, and we're going to create seven different vintage-inspired color palettes using this book that I'm sure you can't help but fall in love with too. Hi, my name is Marie-Noelle Wurm, I'm an artist, illustrator, and top teacher here on Skillshare, where I love to empower students to getting in touch with the creativity that lies within. Today, we're going to do that using an outside source and colored pencils but you could use other mediums if you'd like. I'm going to be giving you little tips and tricks on layering, how to create the colors that you're looking for, even if you're using a very basic set of colored pencils. We're also going to dip our toes into the wide waters of color theory and give you a few tips for making your color palettes a little bit more unique and true to you. I can't wait to get started. I love everything vintage. Let's get to it. [MUSIC] 2. Materials: Let's talk about the art materials that you'll need for the class. Colored pencils, I have this very old, cheap set of very basic colored pencils with very basic colors and this is all you need. I'm going to show you how you can create complex colors even using a very basic set. Don't panic if that's all that you have. But if you do have a bigger set of colored pencils like I do because I'm an art supply hoarder, and I love my colored pencils, then you can of course use that as well. You might also want a pencil sharpener in case your pencils need some sharpening. You'll also need a sketchbook. This is actually a Moleskine sketchbook, but it just so happens to have a really cool piece of artwork on the front cover. That's it. Let's get started. 3. Palette 1: Layering + Tinted Blacks: I selected a few pages for you that I thought would be interesting to pull color pallets from. We're going to start with this one. I don't want you to overthink it. I just want you to look at these little images, these little stickers, and go for the one that appeals the most to you. I really think this cube is very intriguing, probably because of the subject matter, but I also really like the array of colors here, so I'm going to start with this one. I also want to point out that you don't need a massive set of colored pencils in order to be able to make these color palettes. I'm going to actually start out with a very basic set of colored pencils that I've had for a very long time, probably since I was a teenager. I just want to show you that it's absolutely possible to create these more muted vintage colors even if you have just a few colored pencils and they're not even the best quality or anything. I'm going to start with this and it just so happens that I do have a purple actually in my set, so I'm going to start out with that. I'm going to actually make my color swatches as rectangles. I'm going to make them pretty big just so you can see them well, but they don't necessarily need to be this big and your sketchbook. I'm just going to start laying down my color. I want you to know that you do not need to make little rectangles or squares like I am, you can also do this as little circles or even just blobs of color. I just like to do it as rectangles because I can make them contiguous. What I mean by that is that I can make multiple rectangles with the different colors in my color palette all connected to each other. That's a good color to start off with, and I'm very lucky that I just so happen to have a color that matches the color that I'm looking for. But what happens when you don't have the color that you're looking for? My next color that I'm going to go for is this black. But when I look at this black, it doesn't actually look like a pure black. It has a slight, I would say brownish, maybe reddish tinge to it. It just so happens also that I don't have any black in this very limited set of colored pencils that I have. Obviously you know in your desk or studio, black is a very common color. You could alternatively use even a marker or something else, or black colored pencil if you have one. But I just want to show you what if you don't. How can you make a black when you don't have a black with you? I'm going to go for the darkest color in my set which is a brown because I really want to get that very dark value. I'm going to start off with that. But obviously it's not black, it's brown. How can I make it a little bit closer to the color that I'm looking for? You might know the rule that if you take two complimentary colors, that means two colors that are on opposite sides of the color wheel and you mix them then you most often will get the blacks graze brown's. That's one way that you can try to experiment with finding more black tint or black hue for your color. I'm actually going to take another one of the dark value colors in my set and I'm going to go with this blue. Why? Because not only is it a dark value, but also my brown is like this reddish color, so if I think of the complimentary of red, that is blue, and so that's why I'm going to layer these two colors together. We're just going to see what that does. That's pretty interesting, I am getting a darker hue that is definitely edging closer to a tinted black. It's not perfect, but I'm getting closer. I couldn't decide, well what if I really decide to go with the complimentary and add a little bit of red to it. Finally, I'm just going to layer a little bit more of this brown. As you can see, I'm not able to get the exact type of black that we have here, but considering that I don't have any black in my set and that I have a very limited set of colors, I'm actually pretty happy with how this turned out. However, I didn't notice one limitation, and this is something that will happen if you have a slightly cheaper set of colored pencils, it's depending on what they're composed of, how they were made. But they'll have limitations in terms of the number of layers that you can achieve before you're no longer able to add more pigments. When you have slightly more expensive colored pencils, then you're able to layer them more easily and have more layers in order to achieve the hue that you're looking for. But I'm pretty happy with that and I'm going to move on to my next color which is going to be this yellow. I have a yellow in my set, but the yellow that I have here looks more like a slightly lemony yellow rather than this deep warm yellow here. What am I going to do? I'm going to layer, and I'm going to layer it with this orange. The thing is, I'm not looking for an orange. What I'm going to do is create a very soft layer of this color before adding my orange. You can influence the color that you're going to create by varying the pressure of your different layers. Obviously, if I'm pressing more than I get more of that color, but I also get a slightly darker value. I really liked that and I think that's a nice warm yellow which is definitely closer to the one that I'm looking for. Finally, I'm going to add a red. But when I look at my red, it looks to me like I would actually want a little bit more orange in my red. I'm again going to create an underlayer of orange over which I'm going to layer my red. I want you to notice one other thing is that the order in which you layer your colors, that is also going to have an influence on the final color that you get. If I layer my orange first and then my red second, it's going to create a slightly different color than if I put my red first and my orange second. I'm pretty happy with that and you may have noticed that I've made each one of these colors approximately the same size. That's going to be important, and I'll explain to you why all the way to the end. But just keep in mind that even if you're doing circles or other shapes, just try to keep the size of them relatively similar. 4. Mini-Palettes + How to Expand Them: Why don't we do a second color palette and we're going to go for something a little bit simpler, so maybe just two colors. Go ahead and pick another little image that you find here. I'm going to go with this little strawberry because I think it's really cute, and I'm going to start with my red. But one thing that I notice here already is that in comparison to the orangey red that I have here, I would say this red has a slight blue bias to it, so it edges a little bit more towards blue. What I'm going to do is instead of having an underlayer of orange, I'm going to take a color that goes towards blue, purple, and have an underlayer of that one before I apply my red. I think what you're going to notice right away is the difference with my initial red that has the orange underlayer. Even though I'm using the exact same colored pencil as my second layer, we end up having two very different colors in the end. This really shows you how much of a difference your underlayer can have on your final color, whether you're using colored pencil or paint, or markers. The order in which you put things and the underlayer that you create is going to dictate how bright or dark, how warm or cool your final color is going to be. My second color is this lime green, and I actually do have a pretty bright green here. But I think this one looks slightly more yellow. I'm going to go ahead and try it with a layer of yellow, and I want you to also keep in mind that in the beginning, it might be tough and so you might have to do a few different tryouts before achieving the color that you're looking for and then recreating the color palette. You can do to your tryouts on the side and then end up making your finalized color palette after all your attempts or you can simply correct afterwards. This is pretty nice. I'm pretty happy with this. It's not the exact color that I see here, but again, we're not looking for exactitude. We're really using these as springboards for constructing color palettes and also practicing some color mixing with color pencils. This is a very, very simple color palette, two colors. But you don't need to be limited by the two colors that you see here. What I mean by that is that when you're pulling color palettes from external sources, whether that's books or photography or film, or your environment. You're the one in the driver's seat. You can also pull things from other arenas in order to complexify that color palette or add a color in that didn't appear there originally, and you could do it more in a intuitive way, just picking whatever color it is that you think could be fun to go with that one or you can also find another color that is not related specifically to that object. In particular, this object which has two colors is on a sheet of paper that itself has a color and it's a pale purple. I think it's a really cool color. I'm going to add a third color to my color palette, which is going to be that background color. I do have a purple, but I don't want it to be as bright purple as this one. It's much paler here. I think I'm actually going to start with a very, very light underlayer of purple and then add in some white over the top. I think I may have gone even a little bit too dark there, but we'll see. That's not too bad, and I think that still makes a really fun vintage color palette. Why don't we try one more? Except I'm going to change the page that we're on and go with this page which I thought had a really fun array of different color palettes. Again, just go ahead, look through them and pick the one that is most appealing to you. I'm going to actually go with this one, which I think is a really fun one. It has a red, but the red looks almost more brown to me, a little bit darker red with a little bit of brown. I'm going to start out with a brown underlayer. But I also feel if I added maybe a layer of blue, a little underlayer of blue that could also darken it a little bit and achieve the color that I'm looking for. I'm just going to make these two very light layers. Then finally add my red. That brown undertone really shines through a little bit more here. Then I have some white, and there's a few different ways that I can deal with this. What I can do is decide that the white will just be the white of my paper, and so use one of the colors of my color palette just to create a little blank box. That's one option in order to include the white or if I have a white, and especially if your paper is a little bit tinted, then you might see it a little bit better. Then I have a orangey yellow, similar to that one. I'm going to go back and do that. I could decide to leave my palette at that because those were the three main colors of this little drawing. But I can also pull colors from the details, and so I really like this gray-blue that I see in the shadows here. I'm going to try to go for that. I'm going to start with a actual ink because I do have a gray. But I'm going to make it a little bit more blue by adding this underlayer of blue. I struggle with making my boxes always the same size but that's fine. It's not a big deal. This is actually a really beautiful color. Pretty happy with this one. Definitely has that vintage vibe. What you can see here is really that I'm able to achieve some vintage color palettes even if I start out with a super basic set of colors. I actually have a bigger set of colored pencils that I'm going to use for the rest of my color palettes. But I just thought it was really important for you to know that it's not about your art materials. Even if you have just a few basic colors, you can achieve the complexity of vintage colors. Maybe not with as much exactness as you would if you have a bigger number of colored pencils, but you can still achieve those and create some beautiful artwork with some wonderful colors, even with a more limited set of colored pencils. If you're interested in strengthening your knowledge of color mixing, color theory, I actually have a class called color collector, which really delves deep into those topics hands-on by having you mix colors. It's a class and gouache, but you can of course use it with other mediums as well. Acrylic, for example, is a cheaper alternative, and even your colored pencils could be fun to play around with. The other colored pencils that I'm going to be using are luminance colored pencils. But there's a bunch of different brands like Derwent, Polychromos, and one of the things that they're going to allow for is better color mixing. It means that I'm going to be able to layer more colors in order to achieve the colors that I'm looking for. 5. Presence + Being in the Driver's Seat: Why don't we go ahead and switch to another page just for the fun of it. I really liked this page because I thought it had some really fun and different types of color palettes than the ones that we had been looking at prior. Pick your image that you're going to work on. I think I'm going to go with this one because I think that's a really fun, simple color palette that I really enjoy. Again, as I said, I'm going to work with my other colored pencils and I actually have a very cold light yellow. This is the one that I'm going to use. You can almost barely actually see it on this paper because my paper has a slight yellow tint to it, but I think you'll see it a little better as soon as I place the other colors next to it. One thing that I invite you to do. as you're using your colored pencils is also to notice how they feel on the page and how they sound on the page. It's something that I really love to do in general with a lot of my art materials. I really find that it helps you connect with the colors and enjoy the moment. Really just make it a really special moment where you feel very present as you're exploring these colors. For this third color, it looks like it's a black, but I actually have a very dark blue that I think would be a fun replacement for that black. Again, we are in the driver's seat. You are allowed to change a color up, modify it a little bit if you think that that would make it more fun. Yeah, I think that's what I'm going to go for. I think it will work well with these two other colors and still will capture that vintage vibe. Why don't we do two more. I'm going to try to make a very simple two-color palette. I'm actually going to start with this mustard yellow, which I think I may have. For my second color, instead of going for the black, I'm actually going to come back to this color, the background color on which this letter I is placed. To me it looks like a very muted, very pale blue like a blue purple, but it's slightly more on the bluish end, like blue gray. I might have a color like that, but I might not. This is a Payne's gray, 30 percent. Payne's gray has a bit of blue in it. I think that could be a good starting point. But I'm going to add a little bit of this other light blue that I have as well. I'm going to start with a base. You see here I'm completely ignoring that black color of the eye and I'm just choosing to use one of the colors of that image as my starting point and then veering off and creating my own based on something else in the image. I quite like this. I think that the Payne's gray gave it another added layer. 6. Let's Make a 7-Color Palette: For our final one, I'd actually like you to pick one of the more complex palettes, so that means an image that has more colors in it. Or to mix and match and create your own vintage color palette using colors from multiple images. On my end, I'm actually going to start with something simple. I'm not going to do the mix and match, though I do definitely invite you to do that. I'm going to use this as the base of my color palette, and I'm going to start out with this blue that we have here that feels slightly greenish. I'm going to start with this one because I really love that color. If you don't know where to start, I think that's always a good place to start, is which color appeals to you the most. This is pretty good. But I'm going to be honest, I think it's a little bit too dark, so I want to lighten it and maybe make it a little bit more blue. So what I'm going to do is maybe add, I don't know if this is going to work. We'll see. It's not exactly the color that I would have. It's little bit lighter, but it lacks a little bit of vibrancy. It's actually pretty close. But since I'm layering different colors, of course, it's going to de-saturate it a little bit. I'm just going to lighten it up with some white here. That's not too bad. Then we have a very, very dark blue, and so I'm going to go ahead and maybe use this one. I might layer a few other colors if I think it's not dark enough. That's what I predicted. I thought it might not be dark enough. I'm just going to add some colors on the top, and adjust in that sense. This is much closer to the color that I'm looking for. I could even darken it a little bit more because it's definitely darker in the image, but I actually like that color. So I'm going to keep it that way. Now I'm going to move on to a few other colors that I see here. There's a pink like a muted pink, really nice color palette. But actually, now that I think of it, and now that I've made my first mark, and then it gets a little bit darker than what I like, so I'm going to go with a different pink and create that as an underlayer. Then add the other one on top. Now I'm going to go for this mid green that I see here. I'm going to maybe darken it a touch, so I'm actually going to start with my bright color first as an underlayer. Then go over the top with the slightly more muted green. That's reasonably close enough. Just for the fun of it, I'm going to just try another green on top. I actually really liked that color, so that one's fine. We also have a mustard yellow in there. But maybe with just a touch of this one. I'm going to be honest, there's a lot of other colors that I could pull from. There's a purple in there and there's also this very dark red, kind of maroon red. I'm going to actually grab a dark brown and a red and pull out the color from that detail as part of this color palette. This is a nice brick red color that I'm creating, but the color that I see has something slightly more purplish about it. I'm going to just continue trying to experiment. Maybe this purple tint tinge will make it slightly more. I have a tendency to press a lot when I use my colored pencils just because I really like rich color. But then I often end up not being able to layer as much as I'd like, so that's what happened here. It's okay. It's not perfect, but you do get a sense of that color. I could even go ahead and add the purple. Why not? I'm just going to make it a little bit more muted with an underlayer. Obviously, you can also make this easier on yourself by writing down the specific color pencils that you use to create each color underneath each swatch. I have to be honest, I don't usually do that just because I like the process of experimenting and figuring it out and also sometimes how it shifts when I'm trying to redo it with a different array of colored pencils. 7. Inspiration & Color Proportion: Hopefully now you have a bunch of new vintage color palettes to pull from for your next art project. I just want to talk through a few principles that we've explored here. Obviously, your color palettes can have varying numbers of colors within them. It can be actually one color. We didn't even do that, but it can be as little as 1 to 2 to 3 to 4, 5, even 6, 7. There is no specific number of colors that you need in order to create your color palette. The only difference is going to be the shift in mood that each of your color palettes create. If you look at these just on their own, they really have a very specific type of flavor to them because they're limited; there's a limited number of them and because those colors evoke different emotions, different moods, different associations. You can also take inspiration from external sources simply by color picking different colors that you find here and there either in images, photography, film, your environment, and using those as starting points for your own work, or you can mix and match and experiment with different limited palettes in order to get out of your comfort zone in terms of color. Finally, I want to call your attention to the fact that for each one of our color palettes, we've tried to make these cubes or rectangles basically the same size for each one of those colors. For example, in this last one, I took some of these colors from the details of the drawing. You can start to see the difference that can exist in terms of color proportion. What do I mean by that? Color proportion is the size or amount of color that is in your image. In this little drawing, that pink is actually quite dominant. There's a big surface area of that pink. But in my color palette, it's the exact same size as all the other colors. You can see how different the mood is between this color palette where all the colors have the exact same surface area and what it's like when you take those exact same colors, but place them in different proportions. Even if you have a color palette that you want to use for your next project, know that you can play around with the proportion of your colors, and that that's going to have a huge impact on the feel of your final piece. I could decide that one of these detailed colors, this red maroon, brown, even though it was a detail in the original, maybe in my final piece, I want this color to be the dominant color or a secondary color. It's going to have a bit more importance in my final piece than it did in the original thing that you took it from. This is where a lot of creativity and your own identity can shine through. It's up to you to experiment and to play around with the different opportunities that your color palettes offer. For your next step, if you want to actually apply one of these color palettes to your next drawing but you don't know what it is the you want to draw, I have a few different classes that you could take where you use one of these color palettes as your starting point. One of the classes that I'm going to recommend is the Colorful Creatures class, which is a class that I did in gouache and mixed media. But you could completely ignore the gouache and you could just go ahead with colored pencils and use one of these color palettes as the basis for your little creature. I think that can be really fun to see these vintage-inspired creatures. 8. Final Thoughts: Thank you so much for joining me on this little journey into my love of vintage colors. I hope that you have a fun little array of color palettes to choose from for your next art project, and I would absolutely love to see what it is that you made in the project section. Even if your page is full of attempts and tryouts for color, that's also part of the process, so it would be really fun to include that as well if your page is a little bit more chaotic than mine. I'm going to actually show you, because I had to film in the class a bunch of times because I had a lot of technical problems while I was filming it, and then as I was doing it, I realized, A, I was starting them too small, and then here are a few other little attempts that I made. I screwed up a bunch of times, and so I just want to show you that even though my final page in the class is really organized and pretty, it looks very intuitive as though it was maybe the first time ever. Some of them I did do for the first time ever with you, but there are others that I've been practicing already, and so that might be why I got them more easily. The reality of it is that color mixing takes a lot of practice. If you know my class color lecture, you'll know what I mean about that. It's by showing up in front of our sketchbook that we're going to be able to enrich our hands-on experience and knowledge of how to get those colors that we're looking for. If you end up using any of these color palettes in your next art project, whether that's in the class that I suggested or a different class, or even just a personal project, I'd love to also see that in your project section if you feel like sharing, but of course, first step, sharing your color palettes. I'm sure that there's going to be a variety of different color palettes that everyone has picked. It'll also train our eye to start recognizing what these vintage colors are, which is also super fun. If you'd like to use a hashtag on Instagram so we can find the different palettes that we've made, I'd invite you to use the #vintagelovewithmarienoelle. It'll be written on the screen so that you can know how you spell my name because I know it's a complicated name. I hope you had fun with that. I know that spending time swatching colors is one of the most relaxing and resourcing things that you can do especially when you want to get creative, but you don't have the bandwidth to do anything more complex. I hope you put that in the back pocket of your little art toolkit, and I'll see you soon in my next class, which you can know is happening by following on my profile here. You can also find me on Patreon where I host live drawing sessions where I'm able to dive a little bit deeper on a monthly basis into topics, and also give you exclusive sketchbook tours, to talk you through my process and give you ideas for furthering your own practice. Of course, you can also find me on Instagram and YouTube, which I'm going to start picking up again. Thank you so much for joining in. If you like the class, tell a friend, do it with a friend, and I hope to see you again really soon. Bye.