Color Theory for Illustrators: A Fun Beginner’s Guide to Creative Color | Brooke Glaser | Skillshare

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Color Theory for Illustrators: A Fun Beginner’s Guide to Creative Color

teacher avatar Brooke Glaser, 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.

      Color Theory for Illustrators: a Fun Beginner’s Guide to Creative Colour


    • 2.



    • 3.



    • 4.

      Value: the Most Crucial Part of Color


    • 5.

      Fix Your Colors: 5 Common Color Mistakes


    • 6.

      Shading with Color


    • 7.

      Giveaway: Win a Year of Skillshare


    • 8.

      Color Temperature


    • 9.

      Mood, Emotion, & Implied Meanings of Color


    • 10.

      Make Your Colors Pop/Direct People's Eyes


    • 11.

      Color Harmonies: Recipes for Good Color Palettes


    • 12.

      Creating Your OWN Color Palettes


    • 13.

      That's Not the Color You Think It Is: How Color Tricks our Eyes


    • 14.

      Printing & Scanning: Color in the Real World


    • 15.

      Final Notes


    • 16.

      Learn More


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About This Class

Do you struggle to get the color in your art to look 'right'? Then this class is for you. Even the most simple drawings can look incredible with the right colors. This class is a fun, practical exploration of color theory. You'll learn:

  • how to shade with color
  • how to make your colors 'pop' and direct people's eyes
  • how to fix your colors when they don't feel like they're working
  • the 5 most common color stumbling blocks
  • how to pair colors together beautifully
  • how to choose evocative colors, to emphasize the mood you're trying to create
  • the important things you need to know about color in the real world, when you're printing and scanning

By the end of this class, you'll be pairing together beautiful colors and bringing new life to your art and illustrations.

I also share my favorite art tips, tutorials, and other resources for artists via e-mail. You join in here. 

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Brooke Glaser


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1. Color Theory for Illustrators: a Fun Beginner’s Guide to Creative Colour: Have you ever felt like you know what colors you like but they just don't look good together? Then this class is for you. I'm Broke Glaser, a professional illustrator. Even the most simple drawings can look incredible with the right colors. This class is a fun, practical exploration of color theory. You'll learn how to use color to direct people's eyes and make your colors pop. You'll learn how to shade with color. I'll show you several ways to fix your colors when they just don't feel like they're working. You'll learn how to choose evocative colors to emphasize the mood you're trying to create. I'll share what you need to know about color in the real world when you're printing and scanning your art, the five most common color stumbling blocks, and the funny tricks colors can play on our eyes. There's something so satisfying when the right colors come together so I hope you'll join me in this fun class on color. 2. Hue: The first thing we need to understand are the building blocks of color: hue, value and saturation. These three different elements of color are what we're going to play with to make our fun beautiful color pallets. You're probably already familiar with hue. Hues are the different colors of the rainbow: red, yellow, green. You've probably also heard of the color wheel. Hues slowly transitioned from one color to the next and they form a circle. This circle, the color wheel, is an exceptionally useful tool that we're going to refer to throughout the class. There's so much subtlety in the shift from one hue to the next. At what point does the color change from blue to purple, or red to orange. This can be highly subjective and a hue can look totally different depending on the colors that surround it. For your first exercise, I want you to gather household items that are mostly made of one color. Be sure to grab several different items with the same color. For example, you're going to want to grab several different red items. Now arrange them in a circle going from one hue to the next. Look carefully at your items; is a red a little bit more on the purple side or a little bit more on the orange side. If you have a white surface available, I'd recommend arranging your objects on it as it'll make it easier to see the colors. Now I don't doubt that you already know all the colors of the rainbow. This exercise isn't about identifying the colors of the rainbow, it's about opening your eyes to the very subtle nuances of the color shifts between each of those hues. My hope is that this exercise will really awaken the part of your brain that's finally finally looking at color. That's going to help us through the rest of the exercises in this class. As an added bonus, it's a fun, easy exercise that's pretty much guaranteed to come up with some really visually appealing results. 3. Saturation: Saturation is how intense or vibrant color is. If we work with physical paint, it's how much pure pigment is in the color. With your tubes of paint, peak saturation is going to be coming from the paint that's straight from the tube unless you bought a pastel or another pre-mixed paint. In digital art, peak saturation is on this side of the color picker, the side that is opposite of gray. This is saturated and so is this. As it goes further towards the gray, it becomes less saturated. Saturation does not relate to how bright or dark a color is, only to how pure the color is. This lovely shade of pink is fully saturated and as I move further into the gray, into these lovely pastel pinks, it's becoming less saturated. The same is true if I grab a color from over here. This color is darker, but it doesn't mean that it's less saturated. This color is still saturated and as I move closer to gray on this scale, it becomes more desaturated. The more gray in the color, the more desaturated it is. By the way, every single color has a great version, which I think is pretty neat. There's a whole lot of subtlety degrade. Desaturated colors tend to blend into the background, while pure saturated colors pop forward at you and grab your attention. One common stumbling block artist's face is using too many saturated colors in a piece. Too many saturated colors is like using all caps in e-mail. If feels like an art pieces yelling at you when everything is saturated, when you only have a few colors that are fully saturated and some that are less saturated. You'll usually end up with a piece that has a lot more harmony. I personally love using soft pastels. I think they're just as beautiful as fully saturated colors. 4. Value: the Most Crucial Part of Color: Now on to value, possibly the most important element of color. Value is how light or dark a color is. It's often referred to as brightness or lightness. Where you don't have enough contrast in your values, you can't distinguish shapes from each other or details from each other. If you were to look at group A of cats and group B of cats, which one looks more interesting to you. Most likely you're going to say group B. The only difference between these two groups is the amount of contrast that group B has darker and lighter values than group A. Let's take a closer look. This is really important, even in just your details. So the stripes in these cats on the left-hand side are much darker, much deeper and they stand out. But on the right-hand side, those stripes are certainly darker than the base color of the cats faces, but they're not dark enough to make any difference or to be seen. Not really anyway. To understand hues, we use a color wheel. To understand values, we use value scales, the lighter versions of a color when we've added white to it, we call it tint, and the darker versions of the color when we usually add black, is what we would call a shade. With real paint, you do this by adding black or white paint. In digital art, we do this by playing with the sliders or moving around in the color picker. In pro create, I like to use the classic setting for this. Some hues naturally have brighter values than other hues. This took me a while to get because I had it in my head that each hue had the same amount of value. Every hue could go from as light as it could possibly go to as dark as it possibly could go. But actually that's not true. Every hue has its own range of value. Let's take look at a real-life example. So I'm using yellow at the most fully saturated and the brightest it can go. You can tell that because the sliders are all the way up over in this corner. So here is my yellow color, and if I move the slider over and I get into the blue range, which of these colors looks like it has a lighter value? What if I draw an X right there and an X right there? If you squint your eyes, which of these colors is lighter? The yellow, and let's prove it. I'm going to desaturate these colors so that we can see them in grayscale. So I'm going to go, now is very clear that the yellow is much, much brighter than the blue. Let's try it again this time using a really light version of blue. So if I draw a light version of that blue, and we'll go back to the yellow and use a light version of yellow. I'll draw an X in there and an X in there, and let's desaturate it and see. We can still see that the yellow is still much brighter. It's got a much lighter value than even the light blue. Why is that important? When you're using two different colors beside each other, you need to pay careful attention to their values. Like the polka dots in this party blower. If I didn't pay attention to how these colors contrasted against each other in terms of value, making sure that these polka dots were actually brighter, they would just blend into the purple background of the party blower like this. You can't assume that just by mixing white paint into a color that is going to create enough contrast. Or that just by pushing the value slider in procreate that it's going to create enough contrast. You need to use your eyes to see if it creates enough contrast. If you're working on a physical painting, a great way to do this is to stand back 10 feet away from what you're drawing and see if you can see the difference. If you can see the details of the pop. If you're drawing digitally, make your screen smaller, this is going to help you see if those details really pop as strongly as you think they do. One trick for identifying the brightest and darkest values in an image is to squint your eyes. This is going to blur all the details and you'll be able to see more easily which is the brightest value and which is the darkest. Creating a scale from pure white to pure black is really easy. If you're using a pencil, you just progressively push a little bit harder. If you're mixing paint, you just add a little bit more white or a little bit more black in consistent amounts until you go from one end of the scale to the other. If you're doing it digitally, you just move in even increments down this side of the color picker until you go from white to black. However, that's not as easy to do with color. In theory, that would mean moving across the top half in even increments to go to the mid range and then down this side and even increments to get all the way to black. Let's see what happens when we try that. But let's see what happens when I desaturate this. We can see, it's clear to see that this top part does not match up here. The color yellow is naturally much lighter in value. So these colors on the top half of this color picker are way, way brighter, so we need to move through them much quicker. We need to go a much further distance when we're filling in our value scale. Go a little bit lighter, go much more quickly. Now, let's desaturate this and see if it's a little bit closer. I'm just going to drag this scale closer to our original black and white scale so it's easier to compare. This is much closer to a real grayscale. You can see we went much darker with the yellow much faster. So the best way to train your eye to see how dark or light colors are is to create scales and compare them to a black and white scale. I've provided some scales that you can download it and use for your own practice. You can find them in the Resources tab if you are using the website version of skill share. Another great way to practice using a good range of value in your art is to do monochromatic studies. Inktober is a great chance to practice this. Inktober is a yearly event that happens in October. People do a lot of black and white drawings, and you don't actually even have to do it in black and white. You can also do these studies in one single color. So you can do all shades of blue, all different shades of blue or all different shades of pink or all different shades of purple. Point is by only using one color, you don't have to pay attention to making sure your colors match, and you can focus on making sure that you get good value range. 5. Fix Your Colors: 5 Common Color Mistakes: There's several very common color mistakes artists make. Even I catch myself making the still. If you find the color in your piece just isn't working, see if you're experiencing one of these common stumbling blocks. Using too many colors. Unless you're drawing rainbows, the most appealing pieces have a limited color palette, and use only a few colors. I know you probably don't want to hear this one. This one is hard because I love color and I want to use all of them. But trust me, if you look around at some of your favorite artists, they probably use a limited color palette and their individual pieces too. I'm not saying you can't use all the colors, I'm just saying you can't use all of the colors in one piece unless it's a rainbow. I tend to work with three or four main colors, plus a black and white. Now, I'll use lighter and darker versions of those three or four main colors so I can create shadows and highlights and some variation in the piece. I don't count those as additional colors, but rarely, do I use more than those four main colors, black and white. The exception is pieces that are made of rainbows. Let's look at an example. In this piece, I've used blue, a dark green, orange, and then a pop of a yellow liny green. The main color is blue and I haven't just stuck to one version of blue. I've got a nice deep blue in the door, but on the wall there's a lighter blue. The darkest color, my version of black, I've decided to make a version of black using the blue, since that's the main color. Now, you'll also notice if you look on the plant in the lower right-hand corner, that the dark green is, again, there is a main solid color of green, but there's also highlights of a darker version of that green. The same is true of the orange. There is darker versions of the orange on the back of the pots, a main version of orange like the main color, and then there's a lighter version of orange to create highlights on the pots. That limy green, which almost looks yellow when it's drawn on top of the plant in the right hand corner, that is used as an accent. It pops out. Those are my four main colors, but I've also made sure to include a dark black, which is again is that dark blue, and also versions of gray and white. Now, I could have made the close up top a whole bunch of different colors, but to tie everything in, I decided to use the four main colors that I was already using and not create a lot more unity in this piece. If a piece is viewing chaotic or overwhelming, I'll try pairing down my color palette and that almost always brings more unity to my art. If in doubt, less as more, you can slowly add more color to taste. It's the same with cooking. You don't want to overwhelm your dish with a whole bunch of random spices. You want the spices to compliment each other. You can always add a little bit more spice, or in our case, color, if things are feeling blunt. But you don't want to dump it all in the beginning, because it's a lot harder to tell what's going on. What color is clashing with what. It's a lot harder to fix it when you can't tell what's going on. Using too many saturated colors. Highly saturated colors are beautiful and I loved them. But making all of the colors in your art highly saturated, is like eating an entire buffet of dessert. It seems like a great idea, but it can leave you feeling not right. Too many saturated colors is like being in Time Square with all the flashing banners everywhere. Everything is trying to grab your attention and you don't know where to look. Overly saturated pieces tend to look a little bit childish, cartooning and sometimes amateurish. Unless that's look you're going for childish or cartoony, you want to tone it down with a saturation. Use saturation for a few of the colors and not in the entire piece. Let's watch how using a range of saturation can help this piece. Right now everything is very fully saturated, and it almost hurts your eyes to look at. Even by lowering the saturation of the ground, it already fills a lot better. If we desaturated the leaves on the trees, it starts to get a little bit more peaceful, and then we'll move into the presence on the camel's back, changing the pink of the bottom present as well as the top ones. Finally, will desaturate the neutral browns and the tassels around the camels neck. By using a range of saturation, we've greatly improved this piece. Not using enough contrast and values. Many beginner artists start withdrawing with pencil and paper. They ought to want to draw lately because, well, it's hard to erase dark lines if you make a mistake. As a beginner, you just might not have the confidence to make a really dark lines and shapes because it can be scary to commit to a shape, but that means that it's difficult to see what the drawing is unless you're really close to it. Like you would be if you were drawing really close to the canvas. That makes sense. But contrast is vitally important if you want your work to be seen in the real world. If you're online, contrast is going to grab your eye in the version of a thumbnail. Somebody's going to click on that thumbnail to see it bigger. If you're in a museum, you're going to be drawn to a piece from across the room. You're going to want it to have contrast, and if you're drawn to that piece, you're going to walk closer to it. If your piece feels flat, try making some of the darker areas even darker, or the lighter areas even lighter. I always strive to have an almost black or black color in my pieces and an almost white or very close to white. Not considering the background from the very beginning, I'm constantly for getting this. It's especially easy mistake to make if you're working digitally. Colors and contrast are completely affected by their surroundings. The background color will change everything about the way your colors are reading. If you start with a white background and at the end, decide maybe a blue background would be nice in this piece, you might get a rude awakening when you find that the subjects of your painting blend into the background, or worse, the balance of all of your colors no longer works. Considering the color of your background, will save you from having to tweak and recolor an entire place. Please learn from my mistakes. Consider the background color at the beginning. Being too literal with color. First of all, illustration is a stylized version of reality, if the colors in your palette match, the fewer, probably isn't going to care if the objects are, aren't literally the color they're supposed to be. For example, flamingo legs are not a deep navy. Their appeal peach, but I thought this color would bring in more contrast and look better in this piece. Unicorns aren't really real, so it doesn't matter what color they are. But what about the branches around these flowers? In real life that would be green or brown. But this great matches the color palette, so it doesn't matter. Think first of the color palette that appeals to you, and instead of feeling trapped by what the colors are supposed to be, if we wanted realism, we take a photo, not draw a picture. Even then, photos are usually color corrected to make them more appealing and even movies. Movies used color grading, they change the way that the colors of the film, the pictures look, and they use colored lights to enhance the mood. Even movies aren't realistically colored. If you're not going for stylized art, but you care more about realism, you don't want to rely on just what your memory of what a color is. Color isn't always what we think it is. It's highly effected by the colors that are around it, and the color of the light that is reflecting off from the subject. You really want to pay attention to your reference photos if you're going for realism and don't rely on just what your brain assumes the color is. Using color in art, is like matching your outfit or decorating a room. You probably have more experience matching good colors together than you realize. You can totally do this. 6. Shading with Color: I want to talk about color and shading. The tendency when we are creating shading is to just create a darker version of the color that we are drawing to create the shading. Let's say, for example, that I am going to create a skin tone that is this color. That's a nice PG tone. But the tendency might be to want to go down a little bit and to make it darker and say, that could be a nice shading version and if I want to do something a little bit even darker than that, maybe I'll go dark like this. In theory, these colors, this light, medium, and darker tone, that could make some nice skin tone in theory. Well, let's see what it looks like in practice. That is what those skin tone colors would look like if you use them in your actual illustration and they look terrible. They are dark and gray and dingy as opposed to this version of skin tones. Why does this one look so much better? Because these are actually much more saturated. What we did before was we just went from this skin tone here and we just went down and just made it darker and instead, what's happening here, if I drop this first color, you'll notice that it's up here and it's medium lightness and it's desaturated but it looks peachy and nice and if I grab and I drop over in here, what happens is we get much more saturated with our shadow color and also, I want you to notice we actually also shifted it very slightly in the hue, so we're actually going a little bit more red. Now, a great shortcut for this, if you are using digital art is to use a blending mode. Like for example, this shading was actually created with a blending mode so this is on multiply. Now, you can't use a blending mode if you are actually painting. But if you are drawing with digital tools, you can use this. This is just a blend mode. If I turn this fully on and onto normal, it's actually about the same color as the base skin tone, but multiply, deepens and darkens that color. That's a nice, easy shortcut, but I don't always use blend modes in my art. Let's say I'm not going to use a blending mask and I want to do this shading manually by hand. What I'm going to do, I've got this nice rich brown tone, I'll mark it right there. This nice rich brown tone is fairly saturated already, its certainly more saturated than our peach tone was and it's a little bit darker and it's also in like an orange-red tone right in here. What I don't want to do is just go darker like this. I don't want to just move the dark slide. What I want to do is go more saturated. Let's see what this color in here is. If I drop that. Look at that. It's way more saturated and you can see the difference from our original skin tone to our shadow skin tone, much much more saturated and darker as well. Here is the darkness level of the base skin tone, and here is the darkness level of the shadow skin tone. It's a little bit darker but is a lot more saturated. That is how I would think about saturating and desaturating my shadows. I wouldn't think just about going darker. I would also think about going more saturated and also a lot of times it really does help as well to shift your hue as well. That is another technique. You don't have to stick just to the hue, this orange you in here, you could go even darker on the red side or you could go even lighter on the yellow side for the highlights as well. These are things to think about when you are shading and highlighting with color. 7. Giveaway: Win a Year of Skillshare: To celebrate the launch of this class, I'm going to be doing a giveaway. I'm going to be giving away a year of Skillshare. To enter, all you have to do is post a project in this class. Your project can be any of the exercises from this class. It can be your color sketches of different color harmonies. It can be the photo of the household objects arranged in the color wheel. It can be your favorite color palette. It could be a piece of artwork that you've already made, that you love the colors in. It can be whatever you want. You just need to post a project. The deadline to enter is July 14, 2020. The winner is going to be chosen at random, and I will be announcing the winner in the discussion tab of this class. If you have a friend who would also like to enter the giveaway, you can share two months of free Skillshare with them so they can also add a project and be entered into the giveaway. There is a link for two months free in the description of this class. I'm really excited to see your projects. 8. Color Temperature: The color wheel can be split into temperatures; there are the warm colors and the cool colors. Warm colors are the reds, and the oranges, and yellows; while cool colors are the blues, greens, and purples. We can get some beautiful pairings and great contrast when we pair warm and cool colors together. Cool colors tend to sink into the background, and warm colors tend to pop forward. There's this thing called atmospheric haze. If you've ever been on a mountain or up on a tall view overlooking the city, you'll have witnessed this. When you look out further into the distance, things get a little bit more hazy, a little bit more soft. They're not as crisp and sharp, and they tend to be a little bit in the cooler color spectrum. They tend to be a little bit on the bluish, purplish side, especially the further out you look. If you seen a mountain way, way, way far off in the distance, you'll really notice this. The temperature of colors can also affect the mood of a piece. Interior designers will often use warmer colors like yellow and red to make a space feel more cozy. They'll use cooler colors such as blue to make a space seem more spacious or calming. Now there are a couple of colors, green and purple. Then they're on the cusp of warm and cool. Looking at the color wheel, there on the edge of the warm and cool colors. Many people will say that some versions of green are actually warm, and some versions of green are actually cool. The same can definitely be said about purple. There's a lot of room for subjectivity in color theories. There's no hard and fast rules that are always 100 percent true. 9. Mood, Emotion, & Implied Meanings of Color: Color is one of the best tools artist have in evoking an emotion or a mood with just a glance. A lot of the feelings we associate with colors are so second nature to us that it's almost unconscious. You'll probably go, "Oh, duh," when I lay out a couple of these. But as artists, color is another tool. The more you understand the tools that you have to use, the better you can use them to make good art. Especially if the goal of your art is to evoke a specific emotion. It's important to note that the color wheel is split into temperatures; warm and cool. Red, yellow, orange, those are the warm side of the color wheel. These colors to me conjure up fire and sun and shiny, happy days. Cool colors, and these would be your blues, greens and purples, these colors are often associated with things that are cool and calm, like water and forests and nighttime. Warm colors are often considered to be high-energy, high-emotion colors, they're very active colors. That can be happy emotions or violent emotions, like scenes of blood and war would often be used with warm colors. Cool colors, on the other hand, can often be considered slow, low-energy colors. They're low-emotional colors. When we're feeling bummed out, we say that we're feeling blue. Let's think about red. Red is often used as something that we use for passion and love, but it can also be used to convey power and violence. It's a very powerful color. Orange is often seen as warm and fiery and happy. We see a lot of orange around autumn times. A lot of old timey photos are in sepia, which is an orangey-brownish color. For that reason, orange can also create a sense of nostalgia. Yellow is spring and a happy color. It's very positive, but it can also be a warning sign. Think about traffic signals. Yellow is a color of warning. Yellow was a very bright, highly energetic bright color, and the mood of yellow is loud, enthusiastic, it's very attention-grabbing. Green is the color of nature. It's peaceful, relaxing, but it can also be used, especially in cartoons. It can be used to signify something that's evil or toxic or alien. Now, blue is cool, calming, very slow, but it can also be cold or sad. You might see a blue tinge on scary movies. Blue can feel a little sinister, a little bit on the dark side. It can be very icy cold. Purple is often associated with something rich or royal. Purple is often associated with something mysterious or something luxurious. Pink is often seen as feminine or young, and maybe even innocent. White is very much about purity and cleanliness. But that can also be seen as sterile. Depending on how you use white, it can be very clean and modern, or it can be cold and isolating, like a sterile hospital. Black is often used as a very classic, sophisticated color. Apple even uses black to create a feeling of a high-end vibe in their marketing and even their products. Keep in mind that even using one of these colors in just part of your art can create that feeling on that part of the art. You don't have to be making a piece one entire color in order to create that vibe or that mood from that color. Now, it's important to note that many color associations are cultural, and colors can have wildly different meanings in different cultures. For example, in China, the color red holds a different meaning than it does in the US. Red has ties to good fortune and many other positive feelings that we don't intuitively understand in the US because it's not tied to our culture or celebrations. Just like the red, white, and blue decorations that we see on the 4th of July just won't have the same patriotic significance to someone whose country doesn't have a flag that's red, white, and blue. 10. Make Your Colors Pop/Direct People's Eyes: Another super cool way that color is useful is in directing peoples' eyes. You can tell people what the most important or interesting part of your art is just by using color. Now, there's three main ways that we can use to do this, but they're all based in the same principle. When there's one area that's distinctly different from the rest of the piece, our eyes naturally jump there. Our brain say, "Hey, that's stands out, that's different. I need to pay attention to that." You can do that by using a hue that is different from the rest of the composition. In this example, the girl stands out because her red dress stands out. That's because, one, there's no other red in her surroundings, but also, two, because red and green are complimentary colors. The red pops out even more since it's surrounded by green. You can also do this by using an area of stronger saturation than the rest of the piece. For example, the red of this dress is a lot more noticeable than the rest of this painting. The more saturated the colors, the more likely we are to look at those colors. You might want to use saturated colors for the most important parts of your drawing. My favorite way is by putting them in area of most highest value contrast in the place I want people to look first. That would be putting the area with the darkest and lightest colors right next to each other. It's why drawn eyes are so catchy. They have an area of dark black and then oftentimes they'll have a white highlight on them. That contrast of really dark and really light is very eye-catching. In this piece, your eye is probably drawn in to the door in the center because there is these very dark lines, the dark, dark blue right next to the white outline, and that's the area of highest contrast. Then your eye is probably going to bounce around the painting because I've added in the plant on the right hand corner, there's an area of really dark blue at the base of the plant, and then your eye just jumps around and around. Really good use of contrast, especially in value, will lead your eye through a painting. 11. Color Harmonies: Recipes for Good Color Palettes: Color harmonies are a great tool for choosing different colors that are going to look good together. To help understand color harmonies, I want you to create four color sketches. Now, the point of these sketches is not to be neat and clean and tidy with your color, it's to experiment with these different color harmonies so that you can understand them better. It's totally fine if your sketches are very messy. You don't even have to have a really nice, clean sketch. That's fine. You don't need to worry about getting the shading or highlighting on this either. The first color harmony is monochromatic. Monochromatic colors schemes are easy. They're just one single hue in all of its value range, so they can go all the way to black to white, and all the range of color inside that. It's amazing what you can do with a single color. In fact, this is a great way for you to force yourself to practice your value range. Monochromatic pieces can look really, really beautiful. Analogous color harmonies are colors that are in natural rainbow order. These are the colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. They make really beautiful, easy, effective color palettes. We often see these color palettes in nature. Like if you're in a forest, you're probably not going to see one shade of green, but you're probably going to see a whole bunch from maybe like a light pale, almost yellow-green to a deep almost blue-green. One fun way to use this is to choose a dominant color and then a supporting color and an accent color. For me, that dominant color often ends up as the background color, just because the background takes up so much real estate of a piece. Complimentary color or harmonies are probably the most important color of harmony. At least I use them all the time. So complimentary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. These color pairs have very high contrast and they can be very attention-grabbing, so much so that if you use them in equal parts, at the same saturation, they're going to clash. The rule for complementary colors is you want to use one to highlight the other. You don't want to use them in 50-50 ratios. You want to use one as the main color and the other as the accent color. Brands use complementary colors to grab your attention. They use them a lot in logos, but they usually use one as an accent, so they're still not using it half and half. They'll probably use 75 percent blue and 25 percent yellow, or perhaps they'll play with value, so that one of the colors will be brighter and one will be darker. Our brains are geared to spot differences, so the color that grabs your eye can easily be the one that is in the minority. The one that's different from everything else stands out. If you're making a piece that's dominantly one-color, the accent color is likely to grab your attention. So in your art, what is the most important part that you want your eye to go to? Can you make that an accent color? When I'm making a color scheme, and I just want to add a little bit of variety or a little bit of pop, I'll default to adding the complementary color. I'm not a stickler about the color being exactly opposite on the color wheel. If I'm working with blue and yellow, I don't need that yellow to be exactly opposite the blue. I like to play around with a couple of different yellows. Do I like a yellow that's a little bit more on the limy side? Or do I like a little bit more of a warm buttercup yellow? I just play around and I see how I like these different yellows compared to that blue. Colors are fluid on the color wheel, they move very subtly from one to the next, and we all see color a little differently as well. I like to consider these color harmonies as starting points, not precise recipes that you have to stick to, no matter what. Split complementary colors are similar to complimentary colors, but instead of using the color that's exactly opposite on the color wheel, they go to that opposite color and they split on either side of it. I use this color pellet a lot. Well, I do. I bend the rules a bit, so sometimes I'll use the actual complimentary color, and then another color next to it, like in this flower shop, the blue and the yellow are actually opposite colors. Then I used a red as well. Or sometimes I'll use two colors right next to each other, and the complimentary color opposite that one, like the orange and blue in this example. Tetradic color, the harmonies, this is essentially two sets of complimentary colors. This is a bit more advanced, but you take two sets of complimentary colors. In this example, I've added some swatches in the center of the color circles so that you can see how these colors actually transform in value, and they actually end up as those colors on the color wheel, because I think looking at this pale pink and this pale bluey purple, it's not obvious where they sit on the color wheel. But in this case, we've got the orange and the blue, and the red and the cyan. Those two are both opposite colors. Then I use an extra blue to add a little bit more variety as well. I find myself using this unintentionally rather than starting and saying, "I'm going to use a tetradic color harmony, so for what it's worth. But every rule is meant to be broken and these are not the only ways that colors look good together. If I'm being completely honest with you, I rarely start by thinking, "What color harmony should I use? " Instead, I'll usually start with a color palette that I just find visually appealing. Then as I start to apply it to my sketch, I'll realize that I want to tweak the color slightly. At that point, that's when I'll refer to these color harmonies. When things aren't working well with my chosen colors, I'll refer to these and see if I can't use some of these safe standards to adjust what I already have. I say all of this because if you want to go with your gut, go with your gut. But I'm often surprised to find that the colors I choose are often unintentionally close to one of these color harmonies. As you work on your color sketches, I want you to remember to always include neutral colors. You want to include some light white, some dark black, and that can be the lightest version of one of the colors in your color palette, and the darkest version of one of the colors in your color palette. Don't just use fully saturated colors in these color harmonies. You want to use a range of values and a range of saturations. Upload your color sketches to the class by navigating to the Projects and Resource tab, and clicking the Create Project tab. If you've already created a project, you can edit it and update it with your color sketches. You can add a title to your project, tell us a little bit about it, and upload a photo inside of the project. The cover photo will be the image that represents your project, so make sure that you upload both a cover project and also an image into your project. You must do this from the website version of Skillshare. As of this recording, you will not be able to upload images or your projects on the Skillshare app, so make sure that you use a website version. 12. Creating Your OWN Color Palettes: In the last lesson, I told you, I don't generally start with the traditional color harmonies. You're probably wondering, well then how does Brooke make her color palettes? Here's the big secret. I look at things I think are pretty, and I make color pallets from them. I look for inspiration pretty much everywhere. I save our, I love to Pinterest boards. I take pictures of things I think are pretty and create color pallets from those. I also do trend color research with colors. Lots of my client work is in the children's market, so I try to keep up to date with what those trends are in the kids markets. EmilyKitty is a great resource for what's trending in children's apparel. Luis of Love Print Studio makes the most gorgeous mood boards and I find my color taste and her color tastes are very similar. I look at a lot of modern beau ho inspired interior design, and I use colors inspired from there. There's lots of other trend based resources that you can use. Etsy is great creative market. Pantone has their color of the year. WGSN makes crazy expensive trend reports, but they're very well-researched. When I'm shopping, I'll sometimes go into the kid's clothes section or the greeting card section and I'll look at what colors are trending in those areas and what's in those markets. The main point is that for me, color research is really fun and it's not limited to one source. Well, I am always keeping my eye out for great new color palettes. The truth is, I have a bunch of color palettes that I return to again and again. You've probably noticed that some of your favorite artists, they tend to use the same color schemes in their art over and over again. This is really easy to see on Instagram where some people have incredibly curated feeds. For me, it's really easy to start with a color palette that I've already used that I know works really well and use it in a new way. One way that I'll use the same color palette but have what feels like a completely different result is that one color will be the main color and the other ones will be accent colors. But in a new art piece, I'll use the same color palette, but instead choose a different color to be the main color, while the rest of the colors are accent pieces. In practical terms, here's how I would do it, if I have a photo of something that I think is really beautiful and has a great color palette, I'll drop that into procreate, and I'll use the eyedropper tool to create my own color palette. For those of you who don't work digitally and don't use procreate, Canvas has another great tool for this. You can upload a photo and it will automatically create the color palette for you. They also have some great pre-made color pallets, which are fun to explore as well. I'll usually adjust the color a little bit from what I'm eye dropping. I'll often make it a little bit more or less desaturated. Usually, in a piece I'll only choose one or two colors to be fully saturated, and I usually don't decide which of those ones will be fully saturated until I'm getting closer to finishing the peace. While I choose my actual colors, my actual hughes at the very beginning of peace, I don't typically choose my values until I'm actually applying it to the illustration. I will decide, hey, how dark should this color be, when I know what part of the painting or the illustration that I want to put it on? I'm not deciding how light or dark my colors will be when I'm creating the color palette. Now, I always have some version of black and white in my color palettes. Usually that black isn't actually black, but it's a very dark version of one of the colors I'm already using in my palate. The same is true with the white. It might actually be a really pale pink or yellow, but it's close to white. Having a really dark and a really light color in my piece really gives it the chance to grab somebody's eye. As I'm working on the piece, I often change my color palette. My color palette is not set in stone. You don't have to get your colors right the very first time you try, I rarely do. You probably already have colors that are favorites for you. You're probably better at this than you already realize. Think of your favorite outfit, is there a color palette that you just always go to, or your own room, or your dream living, your dreams space, what are the color pallets there? 13. That's Not the Color You Think It Is: How Color Tricks our Eyes: Color is extremely subjective because we don't actually see color with our eyes. We see it with our brains, and our brain interprets everything around us and then gives us an instant assessment of what it thinks the color is. So our brains don't see color by itself. We interpret the color by all the things that are surrounding it and the lighting conditions of that object. Let's look at this chessboard. How would you compare a square A and square B? Would you believe me if I told you that they are exactly the same color? My brain is really convinced that B is much lighter than A, but it's not. I'll draw a line connecting them because my brain won't even see it until I have this line connecting them. Because of the squares surrounding tile B, and the fact that this tube looks like it's casting a shadow, that's what makes this square looks so much different. As you work with your own color pallets, you might find that what looks good on a white background or like just on the palette before it gets onto your piece, it might look completely different when you start combining those colors. Chances are you're going to need to tweaking to make your color palette work together and that's totally okay, and that's normal. You should expect that. Our brains don't all take the same information and assume something is the same color. Maybe you remember this dress. Some people say it's blue and black, and others say it's white and gold. I see white and gold, although the real dress turned out to be blue and black. The reason I like many of you perceive this to be white and gold is because of its surroundings. That's because my brain thinks this dress is lit by bright daylight. If you see as black and blue, your brain probably thinks that this is lit by indoor artificial light. You may have seen this painting by Seurat. This style of painting is called pointillism, and pointillism is an amazing trick of the eye. From far away, it just looks like whole sections of solid color, but when we look really close, our brain is just mushing all of these tiny little dots into one color, but there's actually lots of variation in the color here. When you use complimentary colors in small amounts, they can create the optical illusion of one color being a little bit darker. For example, up-close, this woman's coat is made up of a yellow with a few dots of this blue color. As I zoom out, it no longer looks like it's blue dots. It actually looks like the darker version of yellow. Printers have managed to perfect this technique. So if they are limited by having a few select colors to print with, they can use little tiny dots to create an amazing array of colors. The orange in this tiger only looks like orange because these red and yellow dots are spaced in just the right amount to create the illusion of orange. 14. Printing & Scanning: Color in the Real World: If your art ever ends up in a computer or if you need to send it to a printer, you're likely going to want to know about CMYK and RGB. CMYK is the way colors are reproduced using ink, it's how colors are actually printed, while RGB is the way that color is displayed using light, it's the way that computers, phones, and TVs display color. So which should you use when you're creating digital art or saving your scans of your physical art? The answer isn't as simple as I would like it to be, and you need to understand why before you make the right choice for you. Let's take a look at this graph. In the real world, there's an amazing amount of colors, and there is more color that we can see with our human eyes than a computer or ink can reproduce. So the biggest part of this graph represents the amount of color that humans can see. The larger circle in here is the colors that RGB can display. An RGB can display a lot more colors than CMYK can. Now, you can convert an RGB image to a CMYK image, because when you convert an image to CMYK, it just removes any of those RGB values, and replaces them with the computer's closest guess to what that CMYK color would be. The results are often disappointing though, because CMYK just isn't as vibrant. It doesn't have as many colors available, and the problem is, you can't take something that you've made or saved in CMYK and then convert it to RGB, because the computer doesn't know which colors you want to change. It takes an artist with a great eye like you to do that kind of magic. In the past, printers printed out artwork using traditional CMYK, and that's only four inks. CMYK stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and black. It's amazing what they were able to do. If you've ever looked at old newspapers up close, you might have noticed that some images were made up of tiny little dots really close together. Just like pointillism, those little dots of four colors made a shocking amount of colors, and mixing those inks together in different ratios, they could produce an impressive, but not limitless amount of colors. However, as technology has advanced, so has printing. Now, many printers use more than just those four colors. Some use light cyan along with cyan. It's not uncommon to have six or eight color printing, instead of that traditional four CMYK. There's special printing techniques like using gold foil or UV printing that can add even more colors that traditional CMYK couldn't always. So by creating art in traditional CMYK color space, you are limiting the colors available to you even in the modern printing world. Now, there's definitely exceptions to this, if you know that your work is going to be used in offset printing, which almost always means it's traditional CMYK, you might want to start your work in CMYK, but offset printing is almost always used for giant printing jobs, I think like hundreds of thousands of flyers, but if your art is going to be printed in small batches, say a few 100, or if you don't know if your art is going to be printed at all, well, then chances are you can probably safely use RGB. Many printers now even request files in RGB, and they do any necessary convergence on their end. In my opinion, it doesn't make sense to limit your colors prematurely by using the old CMYK color spaces. At least that's how I feel, and I can always convert to CMYK and make any necessary edits if I do need to convert CMYK, especially considering many printers are getting way more skilled at expanding the range that their CMYK is printed, traditional printers can print. So should you use RGB or CMYK in your digital art? That's a personal choice and if you don't ever want to deal with losing colors by converting to CMYK, then maybe you will be happy if you start by working in CMYK from the very beginning. For you watercolorists out there, have you ever had the experience of creating a beautiful, vibrant watercolor painting and then been disappointed by scanning it into your computer and finding that the colors just aren't the same? Blame that on your scanner lights. The lights your scanners use to capture your painting just might not be able to capture those beautiful violets or purples that your paints are capable of making, another reason why original artwork is so much more valuable than a print. You can use tools like Photoshop to increase the vibrancy and saturation after you scan your art in, or you could skip the scanner altogether. I know some artists that have had great success in the color department by taking photos of their paintings. Of course, it is harder to get a perfectly flat photo and make sure that it's high-quality, and there are some expensive high-end services that can photograph and scan your artwork for better color accuracy. One more color issue you should be aware of; your art will be displayed slightly different on every single screen and will be printed differently from every single printer. Every screen is calibrated differently, so they show colors differently. The easiest way to see this, if you have an iPhone and you know somebody who has an Android, open up the same Instagram page and compare your screens, you're going to see a significant difference in the way that those two devices show color, and this is true across all devices. TVs display color differently than laptops, and laptops vary from laptop to laptop. You can buy a calibrator for your computer, and this will help you make sure that your screen is showing colors as true to life as possible, but even if you do that, it doesn't mean that everybody else is calibrating their screens. Another crazy thing is that printers vary from printer to printer. There's no true consistency between them either. I've worked with an Inkjet printer that would print the same piece of art differently depending on the day, why? Well, more humid days would dry the inks faster or slower and that would slightly change the way that color ended up. If you are working on a project that requires you to get your colors a 100 percent exact, you can work with a professional printer using Pantone Colors. Pantone is a company that works to create standardized colors around the world, so they will be able to match exactly the color that you want. It will be much more expensive to print that way, but if you absolutely need control over your colors, that's the best way to do it that I know how. So in my opinion, it's useful to understand these things, but realize that you just don't have full control of the way that your color is displayed or printed, and that's going to be okay. If you use a good combination of colors to begin with, your art will still look good, even with those crazy variables that are outside of your control. If your value and contrast between your colors is good, your piece is still going to look good, even if there's a slight difference between what you made and what your printer printed. 15. Final Notes: If you found this class helpful, I want to ask you a favor, please leave a positive review, a comment, or a project. Your interaction with the class really helps it rise in the Skillshare rankings so that other people can find it. Even a simple thank you for the class in the comments really does make a big difference, and it makes me feel good. If you have a friend who mentioned they're struggling with color, feel free to mention his class to them. I occasionally share student work on Instagram, and if you'd like me to share your project, share it on Instagram using the hashtag draw with Brooke and tag me at paper playgrounds. 16. Learn More: Looking for your next class? I have classes on drawing, intro to Procreate, animation in Procreate, and even how to make a living as an artist. You can find all of these on my website or on my Skillshare profile. Happy learning.