Fun with Color: Mixing Your Own Color Palette | Ria Sharon | Skillshare

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Fun with Color: Mixing Your Own Color Palette

teacher avatar Ria Sharon, Practice Makes Better.

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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.

      Get Ready


    • 2.

      Mix It Up


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About This Class

In this 25-minute demonstration, artist and illustrator, Ria Sharon will show you how to mix colors and create color palettes intuitively. This class is perfect for anyone who might be intimidated or anxious about using color in their personal or professional art practice. No previous experience is necessary and only basic art supplies are required to follow along with the demo: watercolor paper, a brush, and a starter set of water-based paints.

Follow Ria on Instagram and sign up for Secret Sketches, her free weekly behind-the-scenes/inspiration email.

Meet Your Teacher

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Ria Sharon

Practice Makes Better.


There is no path to mastery that does not involve doing something over and over -- that's been my experience as an artist and illustrator!

So I encourage my students to take small consistent steps by creating bite-sized classes that make art a simple, easy, daily practice -- one that is joyful and fun!

I occasionally post what's in my own sketchbook on a brand new Instagram page. If you're interested in what goes on in my art-making process behind-the-scenes, join my private Secret Sketches group. That's where I share things that are not ready for the interwebs yet. :)


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1. Get Ready: When the subject of color comes up, I feel some people get really anxious. You hear them say things like, "I don't know how to pick color, I don't understand color." I totally get it, it's really common, and I used to feel the same way. If you can relate to this, then this class is for you. The good news is that you don't have to understand how color works in order to use it effectively in your personal art practice, or even as a professional designer illustrator. The only thing you really need is to learn how to have fun with it, because there's no better way to get really good at something than to do it over and over and over, and you're not going to do it unless it's fun. My name is Ria Sharon, I'm an artist and illustrator, and in this short video series, I'm going to show you how to explore with color and mix up your own color palettes that you can use in your next project, or to decorate a room, or here's a novel idea, for no other reason than it's really fun to do. All you need are some really basic supplies. I'm going to use a starter set of gouache paints, I'll need a brush and some watercolor paper, and then we'll be ready. A blank page or canvas can be pretty intimidating, so I like to find some colors to use as starting points. My favorite source of inspiration is out there. I mean, who's better at color than mother nature? You don't have to know the positions of colors on the color wheel, chances are if they appear in nature together they go together. So this is such a great source of inspiration, you can't go wrong, I often don't have to leave my backyard. But let's say you can't go outside for some reason, it's raining, or it's zero degrees. I happen to know you have the universe at your fingertips because, you're watching this video. Let's take a virtual trip to distant lands, otherwise known as Stock Photo Sites. Or you can stalk your friend's Facebook pages for vacation shots, I won't tell. Here's a beautiful image that has all subtle greens and blues and browns that you can work with. The point is, pick an image that inspires you and you can use that as a starting point for your color palette. 2. Mix It Up: Once we have our inspiration colors, whether it's from a picture or from something in the real world, we can get started. What you see here is everything you need. I have some paper. This is Canson cold press watercolor paper and some water. I'm using gouache paint, just the standard Winsor Newton starter kit. I've primary red, spectrum red, primary green, primary blue, ultramarine, permanent yellow deep, which is basically orange, primary yellow, yellow ocher and then, black and white. I have my paper towel. Of course, you will need a brush. What you see hear are some things I found around the neighborhood petals with a beautiful range of colors. Some of these things I save for some time because I love them so much. I love the pinks and purples in this tulip and the subtle pink in these seed pods. The reds in these crab apples and in this other tulip petal also love the neutrals in this dried cone flour. So I'm going to get started. I'm going to take the paid tubes out of the way so we have some space to mix some colors. I'm looking at the crab-apples first because they seem to have a dominant color in this grouping. To match it, I'm taking spectrum red, which is a warm red, warmer than the primary red. Then, I'm going to add a little bit of yellow ocher to warm it up even more. That crab-apple is pretty dark so I'm going to add some ultramarine blue to make it a little bit darker. So let's see how that looks. We'll make a swatch right here in the top left corner. That's pretty good. So that's going to be my base. I'm going to mix up more of this color so I can use it to mix with all the other starter colors and make new colors out of that. So spectrum red plus yellow ocher and ultramarine. I've added a little bit too much ultramarine blue than my original, but no worries. I might as well just make a new color out of that. You can see this new color in the crab-apple and some of the dried seeds anyway. So as you can tell already, you really can't mess up with this. In fact, some of your greatest discoveries will come from happy accidents like this one. So have fun with it. This is the point of this exercise. I'm going to get back to my crab-apple color. What happens if I push that even further and add even more ultramarine blue to that? Well, let's see. Red and blue make purple. I'm going to take a cumulative approach to this. So I'm going to just keep using whatever color I come up with and keep building on that. So I'm going to add something now to the purple that I've just made to see what happens. Let's see if I've got I'm making a little bit more of the purple and adding green to it. See what that looks like. Since purple and green they I can't be exact, but I'm assuming that they are somewhat far apart on the color wheel, it becomes this muted brown color. That one's chocolaty. That's pretty cool. Now, I'm adding more green. Again, muted, but lovely. It goes pretty well with the colors we already have. I'm trying to make a dark tint here because it's really nice in a color palette to have some dark colors that you can incorporate for contrast or for definition. As you can see, we're starting to build a collection here and all of them go really well together because they're built off of the same base. So I'm going to keep saying that over and over. We're building off of spectrum, red and yellow ocher and a touch of ultramarine. We're going to try to stretch this collection out. I'm going to try to make as much of the space. Gouache is a little bit probably we don't have the exact right tools to make a whole bunch here, should probably use a palette knife or a bigger brush, but this is fine for our purposes. So I have my base color. Now, let's add this permanent yellow deep or aka orange. Look at this, much brighter. I don't known if that's quite crimson. We can call it crimson. Much brighter, really vibrant. What happens if we add white to that? It gets chalky, which is to be expected with the white. In gouache what I like about white is it makes the pigment more opaque. Now, contrast that with lightening up a pigment just by adding water, you can see the difference between those two swatches right next to each other one is super opaque. The other one is transparent. Bouncing back up to the top here. What if I add blue to that purple? A little bit stronger purple. Let's add a little bit more, even more blue. So I've got a few shades to work with here. Now, when you're ready to really tighten up your palate, you'll probably want to take some notes on how you mix the colors so you can recreate them. For example, on that second row you'll want to say what percentages of each pigment you've used to get your mixes. So now I'm going to try primary blue. What does that do and how is it different? Primary blue is much warmer than the ultramarine blue, as you can seen write here. I'm going to mix that with our base. Look at how that purple is different than the purples in our second row. Add even more blue and see what happens. All right, warm slit blue. We're going to add some water. Let's see what happens. Just thin it out. Again, let's see how that's different when you add a white to it. Look at this. Look at all our colors. We haven't even used half of the colors in our starter set yet. I'm going to go back to my inspiration and work with these seed pods over here. They look like our base color and they're even more yellow ocher. It looks like a good base for that. I'm going to just make a swatch of it because it's a cool color in and of itself. Let's see what happens if we add water to that. Little bit later. I'm just going off on a little tangent here. Add a little black to that. Yes, black does go along way. Let's get it back. Let's thin it out a little more. But I've got a really good run going over here. Let's go back to this original plan of mine. That plus white is probably going to get me close to those seed pods. Let's see. White. So basically that was spectrum red plus yellow ocher plus white. There we go. It's like a nice neutral with a little hint of red in it. Love that. I'm really liking that last combination. So what if I add a little bit more of my base color to that? I'm mixing the hole thing up again. White plus yellow ocher plus a little more of the base. Yummy. Chalky. Yes, because we have white in it. It is super opaque. But look at that beautiful dusty rose. Now, what can we do from here? Let's add some yellow to that dusty rose. It's picking up some of the variations in that seed pod. Look at that quartet we have at the bottom right there. Just to add more white. See what happens. Notice just for this last couple of rows, I've really been building and it's so fun. Give yourself permission to explore and go off the reds hear and just add some primary red. Look at that pretty pink, I love it. That is a cooler pink. Then our base and now I'm going to do some ultramarine, add that to the mix. We know it's going to be a purple of some sort, but it is much cooler than the previous purples we've gotten because of that primary red. It has become a little dusty, little dusty purple. Can you believe this is still off of that base? I am starting new, again, making it darker, so basically the base color plus primary red. Now notice the difference between that combination and the one at the very top, and the ones in the fourth row down. Again cooler, even though they're about the same intensity. Look at this beautiful purple I got by adding ultramarine to it. I'm repeating what I did at the top of the page. But now I'm getting a little bit closer in the direction of those tulip petals. A little more, I guess cooler. Again, adding white and adding water two that. Note that, look at all these colors that we got from our base color. You can seen that crabapple color is in the blue tint. It's in this dark peach, it's in this beautiful mango and in all of these shades of tulip. Pretty amazing. We're going to try something different here. Instead of using the crabapple as the base, I'm going to make a new one with this primary red and ultramarine, because I noticed that it gets us closer to that tulip petal. I'm going to play around with that a little bit. Again, let's see. How is that different from all of the other colors. What happens? We add even more ultramarine. I'm going really slowly here so that you can actually see how I build this palette. Hopefully you can even follow along and add some black. You can see how rarely I use it and yet, look at some of the darks that you can achieve without using black, and how rich those colors are. Notice how these three are completely different, because they don't have the crabapple base color in there. They clash with the other colors. No worries, we can always add it write back in. I've taken the primary red plus ultramarine blue and added just a bit of the spectrum red back in. This is what I was saying earlier. If you use a bit of your base color in all the mixtures, it will be the through line or the theme that runs throughout your palate. I'm just going to fill in the rest of this page because it's fun. Let's see how many different colors we can come up with. This is that same mixture, the spectrum red with the ultramarine blue, a little bit of the primary red. Dark we can get it. I love this dark wine color. Now, what can we add to it? Add some white. What's going to happen? Can you guess at this point, yeah, chalky. Can see where I've experimented with all the different chalky things. All right, let's add some orange and we call it orange. See how that looks, the sialic that we got all these variations there. Each kind of there unique pigment. Is soo awesome in a pattern. Like a floral thing going on. I'm adding primary blew it will mute it. Think of this as taking your slider and the hue saturation scale in Photoshop and pulling it to the left. I'm just adding more colors from around the wheel to fill out this page. That's what I really encourage you to do, is just play with it because you can't go wrong. The more you experiment, you'll start to known how to get the effects you want. All really out of experimenting in making up stuff and some of the colors you like, and some of them you won't. Green is always a little tricky for me for some reason. But so far, I liked all of these really chocolaty muted colors. It's nice to have those contrasts. I'm thinking about the subtle greens that I can use for foliage or something. Yeah, let's do this really dark color. Again, it's really nice to have a dark. Look at that. We have all of these colors from that won base color pretty much, except for those on the top right. These ones, these five, I think, did not have that crabapple base in it. But other than that, we have a palate that holds really well together. All from the 10 colors starter set from Winsor & Newton, so many different subtle variations. Now you can use that in a project. I just painted these flowers from the color palette that we maid together. Quite literally just exploring and playing with the paints that were already on this tray. Now, it's your turn. Start your project in the classroom and post your inspiration image. Then come up with as many different colors as you can using your starter kit. Can't wait to see the colors that you come up with. Thank you for joining me for fun with color, and I hope that you to continue to keep playing.