Easy Peasy Palettes: Quick Color Tips to Transform Your Work | Sarah Beth Morgan | Skillshare

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Easy Peasy Palettes: Quick Color Tips to Transform Your Work

teacher avatar Sarah Beth Morgan, Director + 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.

      Class Introduction


    • 2.

      Getting Acquainted with Color


    • 3.

      The Palette Project


    • 4.

      Tip #1: Limited Color Palettes


    • 5.

      Tip #2: Expanding Your Palette


    • 6.

      Tip #3: Schemes Based on a Mood


    • 7.

      Tip #4: Start With One Color


    • 8.

      Tip #5: Color Picking a Palette


    • 9.

      Distributing Color


    • 10.

      Additional Resources


    • 11.

      Thank You!


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About This Class

Color is absolutely essential to making a work of art unique. Color can affect the concept, mood and narrative of a piece. It can draw the viewer’s eye in a certain direction or make certain elements pop! And if the color feels off, hurts the eye - or doesn’t achieve your conceptual goal - it can make your work flop. 

This class is jam-packed with easy, quick and actionable techniques for leveling up your colour palettes in the digital space. We’ll go over the basics of basic color palettes, and then I’ll dive into FIVE mini tutorials to spark your creativity and boost your color palette-picking abilities. I’ll also cover tips on how to distribute color into your work - the way color is used is so important to the subject matter. 

These tips can be applied to physical work as well as digital work, but I will be using Adobe Photoshop to teach you here. Feel free to follow along in any program, like Procreate or Illustrator. Most of the techniques are concept-based and can be used anywhere at anytime. 

This class is for you if you’re a beginner who’s never played with digital color much, OR if you’re a seasoned professional who’s feeling stuck. You also may be interested in this class if you just want to try something new. 

Lessons Include:

  • Creating limited colour palettes from scratch
  • Expanding your limited palettes
  • Creating a scheme based on a specific mood
  • Starting from a single color 
  • Color-picking palettes from everyday images
  • How to distribute color successfully 

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Sarah Beth Morgan

Director + Illustrator


Hi, you! I'm Sarah Beth - a freelance animation director & illustrator based in Cleveland, OH. I grew up in the magical, far-away Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, where I was deprived of bacon and cable television - but was granted a unique and broad perspective. After attending SCAD and a two-year stint in LA at Scholar, I decided to move onto literal greener pastures in the PNW and join the talented folks at Oddfellows. Now, I work from my own little studio with my fluffy assistant, Bandit.


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Level: Beginner

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1. Class Introduction: Hey everyone. I'm Sarah Beth Morgan and I'm an animation director, illustrator, and designer. I personally struggled with color a lot before coming up with some easy peasy techniques that I could fall back on at anytime. I'm here today to share those techniques with you because, why not share my knowledge? It's helped me a lot and I want you to learn about it as well. Now, of course, I studied color theory in college, and that was a full three-month course. Nobody has time for that. Why not learn some of those techniques here, right now, to broaden your technical ability with color. When I'm feeling stuck or lost, I can always resort back to these tips. In today's class, we'll be going quickly over the very basics of color palettes, and then we'll just dive into five tips to get you acquainted with my techniques and then apply those to your work as well. This class is for you if you're a beginner with digital color, or if you're a seasoned professional who's just stuck and doesn't know where to go next, or maybe you're great with color and you just want to learn some different techniques and spice up your work a little bit. For the class project, I'll be taking one graphic illustration and applying these five different techniques to it so we can see how each palette affects the illustration differently. You're welcome to use my downloadable illustration, or you can use your own illustration and try to improve it or play with it or experiment with it in your own style. Most of the techniques are concept-based and can be used anywhere at anytime. All right. Well, without further ado, let's dive into it. 2. Getting Acquainted with Color: Before we get started with the actual techniques, I want to make sure we have a little bit of a solid understanding with color itself. Specifically, the color wheel, which will really help you on your color journey, and it teaches you how these colors work together to create something harmonious. In traditional illustration or painting, different tubes of color were picked in, squashed together, mixed in, and you added white and black to make different hues and tones and shades. But today, with digital color, there's a lot easier options just like color picking from your Photoshop color wheel, much easier in my opinion, I'm really glad I don't have to get messy every time I want to do something fun with color. I'm just going to quickly discuss monochromatic palettes, analogous palettes, and complimentary palettes. I know there are a lot more options for palettes out there like split complementary and using tertiary colors and all of that, but this is just the basics and we're going to be applying these to these five different tips as we go along. I could go on for days about color theory, but you didn't come to this class for theory, you came to this class for easy techniques. You want quick and easy tips for making your own palettes, so let's just get into it. There are a few basic palettes that most of you have probably learned in school or on the job, and I'll talk briefly about three; monochromatic, analogous, and complimentary palettes. This is useful before we get started on tips and tricks, so you can have this knowledge fresh in your brain while curating your own palettes. If you get one one these handy-dandy color wheels I have, they have really nice things on it that tell you and obviously what your primary colors are; red, yellow, and blue. Your secondary colors; orange, green, and violet. Obviously, there are six tertiary colors which are a mix of one primary color in an adjacent secondary color. There's a lot you can use on here. Then if you flip it around, it even has these handy-dandy little charts on how to create complimentary and split complimentary palettes. It'll show you which colors are complimentary to the other and how colors are split with split complementary. It'll even show you how to create a triad color palette and stuff like that. I'm just going to spin the wheel and we'll give you different options, which is super great. Personally, I love being tactile and using my hands. It's really nice to see this in front of me and imagine how it might look in my illustration. Granted, I do not use this physical colored palette every time I'm using color, but this is how I learned in school. A monochromatic palette is probably the easiest one to remember. It's comprised of one primary hue and different tints and shades. Basically, you pick one bold color and then add more black or white to create a spectrum of that one color. There isn't really a monochromatic palette on this wheel, but you can see if you turn this, it'll show you what it will look like if you add white or add black to that color. You're seeing it lighten and darken, which is exactly what a monochromatic color palette is. Obviously, you'd have to apply white and black on all spectrums, which we will be doing in the class. But that's basically how you create a monochromatic palette, just using one of these colors and adding white and black. I'd say an analogous palette is a step up from a monochromatic palette in variety at least. It's traditionally 3-5 colors and contains hues of the same temperature or colors that are situated next to each other on the color wheel. If we look at the color wheel, we can see that an analogous palette could consist of; yellow, yellow-orange, orange, and red-orange, so we've got four colors next to each other on the color wheel. Blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet or green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, all that. It's really nice to see it physically laid out in front of you. Analogous palettes are great for setting a mood or feeling without being too constricted to the confines of a monochromatic palette. A cool palette could feel sad and cold, while your warm palette could feel bright and warm. But in addition, your warm palette could also feel like rage or fires, so it really just depends on what the subject matter of your illustration is. Now, if we flip this over, we'll get more into the complimentary colors. A complimentary palette is essentially picked by picking hues across from each other on the color wheel. Your most basic complimentary palette would be made up of one primary color, say blue, and the secondary color that is created by mixing the two other primaries. If we flip this to blue, we'll see that the complimentary is orange, which is a mix of red and yellow. Blues complimentary color is orange, and yellows complimentary color is violet, and reds complimentary color is green. But obviously, we don't just have those specific primary complimentary palettes, it can get much more complex once you start adding in tertiary colors and so on. You can really see that on this wheel right here, say we go to red-violet, that's the complimentary of yellow-green. It's really nice to see it all laid out in front of me because I don't really think about all these secondary colors when I'm thinking of complimentary colors. The reason I love complimentary palette so much is that they make your work pop so much more than a monochromatic or analogous palette would. Complimentary colors naturally create simultaneous contrast when placed next to each other, making each other appear brighter and more brilliant. 3. The Palette Project: For this class, I'll be using my own illustration to demonstrate these palettes and how to distribute color through them. My illustration is downloadable in the Resources tab below, but you're also welcome to use one of your own illustrations that you want to improve or experiment on. I would absolutely love to see your work in the class projects. Before we get started with any of the actual color palette stuff, I wanted to introduce you to the project. Basically, I am personally going to be using this PSD right here that has a grayscale design. I'll be using this to apply all my different palettes to, and you are also welcome to use this. I will actually have this in the Resources tab as a downloadable piece of content for you. Feel free to explore the file. I've hopefully labeled everything correctly and you can get in there and start adding colors as you go. You are also welcome to use your own illustration and make various versions of that or even make a new illustration. The way that I typically apply color to my illustrations, and we will talk a little bit about distributing colors at the end of the class. But what I usually do is I right-click on the object that I want to color so it'll select the layer. I choose my colors in my foreground and my background. Say I have these two colors and to change the color of the layer, to fill that layer itself, I use Command Shift Delete, and that will fill with background. Or you can use Option Shift Delete, which will fill with foreground. A lot of times I'll have my palette up here and I'll just color pick from that. Say I want to use this white color and fill my circle in with that, I'll just click the layer and click Option Shift Delete, and I'm ready to go. That's how I'm going to be working here. I will show you how I'm filling in all of my illustrations as I go, but feel free to use your own. I would love to see everyone's design work. I really think that these color tips will carry across all different types of work. I'd also encourage you, as you're going through these five different easy-peasy color tricks to watch them in order, a lot of them build off of each other. You won't necessarily need to do all of these in order every time you create a palette. But I think it'll be really helpful in a central to the learning we're doing here to follow along with the order of the class just so that you get a sense of the knowledge that's building on the previous lesson. In the end, you'll be able to use all these tips individually, but it's going to really help clarify some things as we move forward through the class. 4. Tip #1: Limited Color Palettes: One of my specialties as an illustrator is creating bold, quirky work with colors that pop. To do that, I usually use a limited color palette. Limited color palettes which are six colors or less are great for graphic illustration. Not only do they force you to simplify your range and make your work more flat, they also emphasize the geometric nature of the shapes you've created. I've come up with an easy solution that works for me every time for creating these limited color palettes. I actually went over this a little bit in my other class, playing with shapes and procreate, where I had you set up a still-life, take a photograph of it and bring it into Photoshop and create a geometric illustration. That was a very geometric graphic, bold look, and so I encourage everyone to use these limited color palettes. This is actually what this PDF is from. This is just something I've come up with on my own and is not necessarily from a design website, but I use it in a lot of my illustrations and it tends to work super well for me. I think that it requires a bit of nuance, like playing around with things. But in the end, I always come up with something I love, even if I have to tweak it. My go-to solution for creating these limited color palettes is to use five easy categories. A neutral light, a neutral dark, warm hue, a cool hue, and a color pop. That's what I've got here, and it's really easy to make your own. Let's just go ahead and open up a new document and start playing with those. Feel free to use a circle like I was using here to create your colors. I mean, this is how I do it. You can just brush on colors if you want instead. But I like this because then I can just fill the layer like I was showing you with that option Shift-Delete trick. I just make five little circles. The best part about this is you can group everything and obviously, this isn't going to be perfectly spaced, but I'll just group everything as like Pallet 1, and I can center it. Looks nice on the page, and if I want to, I can make duplicates of it. When I say I want to start with a neutral light, your prime examples are going to be black and white. But I tried to stay away from extreme white like hex code FFFFF, and extreme black, which is 00000, it's just because they're a little too harsh on the eye. It's always fun to go with something a little bit more nuanced and unique, something that will set your palette apart. If you look down here and look at these palettes, I've created neutral light and neutral dark are very relative to the palette they are using, like in Palette A, the neutral light is more of a pink color and the neutral dark is more of this purple color. As long as there's some contrast between these two colors and the other colors in the palette, it should work pretty well, no matter what. I typically tend to use the neutral light as a background color, and the neutral dark is like a line-work color or a shadow color. You can use them however you want. But I just think it helps a lot with distributing and balancing color around the composition. In order to do that, I'm going to start with white for this first one. I'll just drag it around the color picker. You can also use the color wheel like I have here. We talked about the wheel in the beginning of this class. I think it's always helpful to look back at that. You can change the hue of it. I mean, I personally, I'm just super drawn to pink and purple. I'm going to go with this cool or pink. Maybe I'll make it a little bit lighter. I'm using that option Shift-Delete again. Select the second color. Maybe I'll go with a darker brown or something. To go with a little bit of a warmer palette. Then from there we have our neutral lighten and neutral dark. We'll also want to go with a warm hue. When I think warm, obviously you look at the color wheel and you see reds, you see yellows, you see oranges. Even pinks can be more warm. But you can always have a really warm green color. If you dragged the green down to the yellow area, let's just play with the warm green, and then after that, we have a cool hue. If I'm thinking about colors in the typical paths that we talked about earlier, like complementary colors, and I wanted to use that here, I could go with something that's red, kind of the opposite of this green color. It's a cool, hue though, so maybe we go a cool red. I think that ended up a little bit warmer than I wanted. But maybe if we did more like magenta. For the last one, I liked doing a color pop. That's like an unexpected color that's going to make the viewer more interested in the illustration, draw their eye in a little bit. I do like using yellows, unlike really poppy colors. But you saw that magenta color I just pulled off something like that could even be really nice, something that's really hot and bounces off the other colors. But if you want to see how all of these colors work together, you can start dragging them over each other and testing them out. I can tell that this magenta is kind of vibrating with the green here. It would be awkward to place them next to each other anywhere. I'm just going to make sure that the color I use works with everything else, and this yellow seems to work. There is one of my first palettes. I'm going to encourage you to do the same. Create your own palette using the neutral light, neutral dark, warm hue, cool hue, and color pop. Maybe try applying that to an illustration. I am going to duplicate it and make a couple more. You'll have lots of options to play with, bring them into your base design, or you can go back and use this design and bring it there. I'll show you how I'm working on that as I go. In order to use this palette, I just like to drag the folder into the file I'm using. Then I can just shrink it down, put it in the corner, and then start distributing those colors. For me right now, because I have this base design, I want to keep it like as its base color so that I can reapply these colors and save my progress as I go. I'm just going to name this gray-scale, and then the second one will be limited color palettes. I'm going to use that first palette I showed you and just start selecting all of these layers and filling them in with that option Shift-Delete. Personally a lot of times, I'll use light-colored backgrounds as you can tell in a lot of my work, you don't have to do that. You could go dark here and make everything else pop. Fortunately, I've already separated everything with value here. You're welcome to follow along with that and just see if your palette works with these values. As you're going with these palettes, you might feel like it's starting to feel a little lackluster. Maybe you don't have enough colors, so you could start adding things in where they feel appropriate. Maybe I want these curlicues to be a different color. Maybe I'll do a darker shade of green or something just to add a little bit more visual interest and then distribute that around the frame. In addition, obviously, you can go in and say like maybe this magenta isn't exactly how I was thinking it was going to feel. I want to do something more red and you think that feels better and makes more of a compliment to the greens. Perhaps you take that and run with it instead. There's no set rules for how you create your palettes. Obviously, it's nice to stick to those five limited colors. But if you really aren't feeling those colors as you're working with them, It's best to play around with them. As a rule, I make sure that I've got all the colors distributed around the frame evenly. We've got this magenta that's leading your eye on the frame. We have little pops of green everywhere, little pops of yellow everywhere, and we've got the main green shape to pull your focus into the center. Just think about that. If you're trying to create a balanced composition, something more graphic, maybe keep some of these ideas in mind as you're distributing color around the frame. Now I challenge you to make your own limited color palettes. Make three or four of them. Choose your favorite one and apply it to your illustration, or obviously my illustration and post that in your class project. I would love to see what you do here. 5. Tip #2: Expanding Your Palette: For this next tip we'll be expanding upon your limited color palette that you've already created or you're welcome to use a color palette that you have already that you love. But basically we're going to be working on expanding our palettes, making those limited color palettes more robust, adding tints and shades for overlays and multiply and all of that to make everything a little bit more realistic, we can add shadows and light and texture with these colors. Let's get going and expand those color palettes. My second tip is expanding on your limited color palettes or say you have a graphic illustration that you've already done and you want to create a more complex palette, this is where I'd go. You can start by using your favorite limited color palette from the last lesson, or a palette that you already have that you like, or maybe just the three primary colors and then go from there. I like to take my graphic limited color palettes and make a secondary palette from that palette by adding tints and shades. There's also some tricks we can do by taking each color and adding overlay and multiply layers to create new hues and dimension, which will really help when you add lighting and shading to your piece. If you want something that's less graphic like this and has a bit more shading and dimension and light play, this is where you're going to want to start. I'm going to choose my favorite palette and then from there we can start expanding that palette. Obviously, I'm pretty happy with the first palette I did and I'll probably start distributing it in a different way because that's what we're all about. Playing with colors and nothing is final. I'm just going to duplicate this first palette. In my palette 1 expanded. I'll bring the original color palette up to the top and start creating some secondary colors based on that palette. The first thing we can do if we want to create tints and shades of everything is just make a smaller version of the circle and make two versions of that actually. Place it underneath and just use the color wheel from there, lighten it even further. Maybe increase the saturation or decrease the saturation and then we have our tints. If we want to shade or to bring up the black level, reduce the white level, and maybe increase the saturation so that it doesn't feel so devoid of color. Then we just repeat the same thing for each color. This will make it so that if you have any object that is colored and needs a light or shadow, this is going to do it for you. Then you have those consistent shadows and lighting across your whole piece. There you have it. You have a bit of an expanded palette, but say you wanted to like visually mix colors together. One way you could do that is you could take any of these three colors that aren't neutral light, neutral dark. Let's bring the green and magenta and the yellow down. This is just a little trick I like to do. I'll take those neutral lights and neutral darks and put them on, multiply and overlay over each one to see how those feel. I always like to put the light color on multiply and the dark color on overlay or screen to get more nuanced tints and shades. You can also go down and play with what soft light looks like or difference or hard light or even color burn can look crazy sometimes it just depends. Everything's going to give you a different look and feel. But these blending modes are really nice. Even if you just duplicated the blending mode a bunch of times that might give you a really opaque, interesting color. It's funny because it's actually creating that brown color that we have up there without even trying. There are some more nuanced tints and shades. I'm going to hide that for a second just so I don't run out of space here. You can also experiment with doing the same thing, but with some of the more bold colors. Overlapping, putting them both on overlay and you can keep expanding from there. You can even take this green down here and plop it over and put that on multiply as well and just see what colors you like from there. You could even start color picking, getting some interesting browns and reds in there and stuff like that is actually really going to help if you're going to create something with local color or something that has light bouncing off of it on the surface. If you're creating something that feels more painterly, this type of expanded palette is really going to help you. I'm going to go ahead and apply some of these colors to my base color design by duplicating my limited color palette folder and renaming it expanded color palette. I'll just do the same thing I did last time by pulling my palette into the base design file. I've got lots of options in here and I'm going to play around a little bit with changing up how I'm using the colors just to get something I like a little more. You might even switch up the background to make it a little more warm. That would be changing my palette. I want to reapply some of those things, but I just feel like it's feeling a little bit cold. I'm going to just adjust the hue saturation slightly and then make it this yellow isn't vibrating so much. I'm liking that a little better. Now I'm going to use my expanded color palette to add some tints and shades to my illustration. I love doing that by using texture brushes. Have all of my texture brushes divided in here and I'm going to use this spray texture. Then I'll decide where I want the light to potentially be coming from. It doesn't need to be touristic, realistic because it's still really graphic. Then just start applying those tints and shades from there. I like using clipping masks and masks as I go. You can apply it however you feel fit. Another thing you can do is if you're not really wanting to just make a full palette like that, you could even just select the layer that you want to use and have your texture brush ready and then select the color of that layer and just go screen from there to give you that highlight right there. I don't always add texture to everything because I feel like it gets a little overwhelming. I'm just going to apply it where I think it works best. But as a rule I'll probably put the secondary colors on the bigger shapes and lead them smaller shapes untouched so that it doesn't get too detailed. Not everything has to have a tint and a shade on it. You could just add selectively a lighter or darker to each object. If we look back at the first limited color palette as you're seeing it's very well distributed, but then I played around and added some texture and dimension to it and it's starting to feel a little bit more like a full-on illustration. But obviously you don't always have to use texture and this will work just fine. I don't know if I would say this is my favorite thing I've ever drawn. But it's definitely helpful for figuring out those tints and shades and different color palettes and everything. I hope this is helping you a little bit too. 6. Tip #3: Schemes Based on a Mood: Sometimes my limited color palettes just feel a little too graphic for the illustration I'm working on and I want them to feel more moody or unified. I've come up with a couple of techniques on how to do that here. A lot of what I'm saying here might be common knowledge. You might have seen these tricks elsewhere, but I'm just trying to break them down really simple for you to use in your own work. But these are techniques I've learned over the years from artists that I admire, and I really hope that they're useful to you. Sometimes my pallets do feel a little bit too graphic and I want them to feel a little bit more moody or unified. Let's just go back to these first three pallets I was using. How can I make these feel more unified? Say this was all just like one pallet and the colors were all over the place. Sometimes you get those client projects where they send you a weird palette and you're like, oh my gosh, these colors do not fit together. How can I make this work? One of the things I really like to do is use Photoshop overlays or photo filters to unify all the colors. One way to do that is just over everything. Maybe select a warm color, say you wanted your illustration to feel really warm and happy, maybe it feels like sunset, maybe it feels like dusk or something like that and you want to use a color to unify everything, just fill a layer on top of it and then you can start playing with these different blending modes to see how that feels. You can even see how they feel against white by grouping everything and then clipping, masking the colors to it. See how they already all feel like they're getting closer together. Well, you could even take that, press Command U and bring up the hue saturation slider, and just mess around from there and see how everything's feeling. That feels really cool and trendy with these brighter colors. You can just see how as you move across the slider, things gets cooler or more moody. Then the other direction they get maybe more muted or really spanky red. There's a lot of different things you can do there with mood. What I really like to use is this photo filter and it's like the same thing, it'll put like a warming or cooling filter over everything. You can increase the amount. You can also choose what colors you want to use, which is really similar to what I was doing with the color layer, but sometimes this gives you different results, things that you wouldn't expect. I really like playing around here, seeing how each of these photo filters works and applies to my already created pallets. That's how I'll create something that feels moodier or more unified color-wise. Then I can also apply that to my illustration. In addition, obviously, this isn't necessarily always the best way to do things, but you can do the photo filter trick over any of your illustrations as well. Obviously you have permission to do whatever you want, but it's a nice way to bring unity to all of your work. I feel like the warming filter always makes things feel a little bit more vintage, and the cooling filter makes everything feel a bit more clean and new. Sometimes it feels a little too moody for me. I tend to go towards warmer colors. That's just me. Some people love using cooler colors. But I really like seeing how these photo filters apply over everything else. In addition, I can use that same color trick that I was using. It totally gives you different results because of the way that the shapes are overlaying each other. It might actually feel really different from the way it applies to your palettes versus your illustrations. It's crazy. You can say, I liked how this was feeling. I can just turn the opacity down and it will give you a different feel. Well, there's lots of room to play. I'm going to go ahead and apply these colors, because I thought they were really cute, to my base design. Just to unify everything, I'm just going to select all my layers that I liked together and press Command J and then Command E, which will just apply everything. We will just push everything together as a flat layer and then I can just copy and paste that flat layer into here. I'm going to call this mood palette and I'm going to completely change everything up. I might keep some of these textures in here because they think they feel really nice. This part has a romantic feel. It's definitely moody in its own way. Sometimes I like using these lighter colored background or these medium colored backgrounds because then you can have little light white colored accents throughout, which make things pop even more. Honestly, I feel like that blue is maybe a little too poppy. I might go ahead and, since I have all of these options, apply a different color to it. Maybe I'll bring this purple back. That has a totally different mood and feel than something like this, which feels a lot more bold and graphic. It has definitely its own mood and vibe to it. If you wanted to take it even further, you could go ahead and apply even more of these colors over top. Go ahead here with the full layer, I could take this bright magenta and screen over the whole thing, which gives it an even more interesting lighter vibe, makes it feel more airy or even overlay, which gives it a more unified look, but it feels super poppy in your face. The colors really jump off the page. It really depends on what mood you're trying to get across. Try to address what that mood is first and then make your color palette suit that mood. 7. Tip #4: Start With One Color: My fourth tip is just start with one color. When you have no clue what to do and you're just stuck, just think of one color that will apply to your illustrations. Say you have something that feels like sad or depressing and you want it to be blue, start with that color and then expand from there. I'll show you how I do that here. Another trick that I've learned somewhere in my years of working in the motion design industry. Unfortunately, I can't remember exactly where it came from is color picking a palette from the color wheel. There's so many ways you do this, but let's just say you want to start with your favorite color. Say your favorite color is this yellow right here. I'm going to make sure that this color wheel is a little easier to see. Choose your favorite brush, probably just fine the user very normal looking brush. Start in the middle of your canvas and just pop that color in there, and then start using tints and shades of that color. I'll just start by going lighter on this color wheel. The best way to do that here is bringing that saturation down, because it is already such a light color. Then color pick the center color again, and start going darker. Maybe three or four colors in both directions. This is creating a monochromatic palette, which we talked about earlier. But just using the color wheel we already have here. Then if you want to, let me get cleaner, you can just select a rectangle of the colors and press Command J, which will bring it into a new layer, which looks like this. I'm just going to make it a little bigger for you to see. Now, obviously you have this monochromatic palette. But if you want to expand on that, basically just use some of the things that we were using in the last little video. Overlays in the hue saturation slider to really switch it up. If you want it to be more yellow or if you want to feel more warm, bring it more towards the left. We want it to have a cooler version. Then just keep expanding it from there. Then you get this really wide diverse range of colors. Obviously, this is like something you could probably figure out on your own. But I find it's really helpful if you want to keep your colors consistent across the board. Especially if you're doing something that's more painterly. Say you've also got these colors. Let's group them together. But we can also do what we've been doing with our color overlays. Maybe we feel like this is too bright and basic. We want to put a color filter over it. Clipping masks that color filter to it and just get going. We can put a cyan on it, make that density stronger. Magenta, which makes it feel romantic. Add this underwater. You're going to get some weird colors in there. Maybe you don't use all of them, but you'll find something that you like. I think it just creates a really beautiful palette. It's really nice to look at, but also it can really help you, when you're trying to use analogous color schemes. Perhaps you want to go even crazier and you want to duplicate this palette that you already have, and create a complimentary color scheme using this second palette. You could even just flatten that second palette and add a hue saturation. What's the opposite of yellow on the color wheel? Well, that's technically violet. What if we look at this middle color and just try to get it to more to a violet feel on the top. If we look at this violet compared to this yellow, they feel like complimentary colors. We have like a complimentary expanded analogous palette going on here. We've got a lot of colors to use. I personally don't use this technique way too often because I like to do more graphic illustrations like I've been showing you with this color based design. But for the sake of it, let's just merge these pallets together, and add it here. Your illustration will just start looking more and more complex. Let's drop that palette in here and maybe I'll add ingredients using these colors. I got this color here. Maybe I want to use a darker version of it for gradient. That's going to make things really crazy because now I have to figure out how these colors are all going to work together. Perhaps we start with yellow because it feels more like the complement of this background color, a lighter yellow. Then go from there. We're going to have the darker colors in the bottom right corner and the lighter colors in the top right corner. We're going to create a mood in a different way. Here's something that I accidentally did. I just accidentally apply this purple to the bottom right and I actually like it a lot better. Happy accidents. I'm going to channel Bob Ross here and just hope that it turns out well. There's another happy accident. But I'm going with this original happy accident. As I'm going, I'm just making sure there's no colors like that feel like they're too close to each other. Like this pink and this gradient background aren't really working. I'm going to make this pink little darker and see how that goes. Then now I feel like I need to distribute the color evenly so I'm going to apply it somewhere else. But since we have such a big palette, there's so many things we can do with it, and it's just really coming together nicely, may have to change some of those texture layers. In fact, you could even go in with a big soft brush. I know this is more of a textured thing than a color thing. But if we want to use that gradient to our advantage, we can use big soft brush to create those shadows. Do the same thing with these flowers here. Using something from our palette. Maybe more warm color. Then we could put that on overlay or you can put it underneath the lines. Just experimenting with how things are layered and how playing with the colors that interact with each other. There's some really interesting stuff going on here. I'm pretty excited about it. It's not something I normally would have decided to go with. But I think it looks really cool and it's really fun to look back on all the different versions. Lots of different staffs you can do with palettes. Super exciting. 8. Tip #5: Color Picking a Palette: So when all else fails, I'll color pick a palette. The easiest way to do that is using a photo you took, a collection of photos you might have found on Pinterest or Google Photos, or you can take a large collection of reference illustrations and pick from those. I wouldn't recommend taking colors from one photo or one illustration because that's basically just ripping someone else's work. I'm going to show you the best way to do that here, so that the colors are unique to you and you've created your own palette. Obviously, it's a no-no to go to someone's Instagram and just take colors from someone else who's already curated their palette. This class is all about creating your own palettes, making something that's unique to you, and distributing those colors on your own. This is about learning and practicing and doing your best, so we don't want to copy anyone else. But there are ways of color picking a palette, that you like from different images and the key to that is just not choosing a color from one image. There's a lot of ways you can go about this. You can go to Pinterest and maybe say you want to do an illustration that feels moody. Maybe just type in night time photos or something, and then you start getting this curated imagery. That is really creepy. I don't know why that would be my first image, or you can even get more specific. Say you're looking at this and you're like, wow, I really like pictures of people on the street at night time. Maybe I'll say street at night time and then you start getting a more curated look. Perhaps you just screenshot those first few images, bring them into your Photoshop file and start color picking from there. Say you want to create a really moody illustration that uses darker colors or maybe you want to create something that has neon lights or something like that. You just start picking from different photos and see where that takes you. I would not just pick from one photo because I think that's where you're going to get into trouble. It's going to start feeling like something that's not yours. Just try to randomly choose colors and see where it takes you. I know that's probably not the best thing I could ever say, but honestly, I do it and it works sometimes. Say that's our night time palette. We can even add some more darker hues in there. I end up feeling pretty warm because a lot of these photos have warm tones. Let's say we wanted something that felt more airy and maybe we're illustrating someone running through a field so we can say like day time nature or something. Well, that didn't exactly work. It's all about just finding things that you actually want to use. Let's say fields photo. Here I might start getting something a little more interesting. I don't really want portraits of people, but it doesn't hurt to maybe color pick from some of these, so we'll just go ahead and do that. You can get inspiration from anywhere. These have a lot more light, airy vibes and I'm going to start picking those colors that feel more light and airy to me. It's got these nice yellows and greens. Even some blue for the sky. Charlie has a different feel and obviously you can take these palettes and curate them. If I was going to curate this one, I would probably get rid of this weird auburn color. Maybe I don't actually need those black. I've got an even more cohesive powder. It doesn't actually feel like night time anymore, but maybe it's something I can use and same with this, or maybe I wanted to feel even more light and airy. I just want to expand upon that by maybe just using our Hue Saturation tool again, to create something a little more saturated and a little brighter. Then you can take that palette obviously, and bring it into your file to apply a new color palette to it. It's going to be low contrast if we're using these lighter colors as our shadows, but I think that can actually be really cool. As I'm working with these colors I'm realizing that yellow doesn't really work with all the other colors, so maybe in order to remedy that, I will adjust the background so that the yellow pops a bit more. You're going to run into issues as you go, like some colors are going to vibrate and some aren't, so you just got to play with how that feels. Maybe I want a darker background here like, whoa, that's cool. Maybe all of the main colors are light, or we have this poppy dark backgrounds and that's created something even more unique and interesting that I wasn't expecting. Here's to learning things while playing around. Something I definitely would not have done on my own without just playing around with that hue and saturation slider. I did end up getting that night feel that I wanted even though that wasn't really where that palette came from. But there's just so much you can do with all the resources out there. Color picking palettes from images, try to say where you're taking them from, but I think it can be really useful practice for curating your own color palettes. 9. Distributing Color: I know throughout this whole class so far I've been showing you how I'm distributing colors, but I want to expand a little bit on that here, so that you can apply all of these palettes to your own illustration with ease. If you have a beautiful palette, but you're not sure how to distribute it, then it actually won't work for you, you have to understand how to create balance, and harmony, or on the flip side, maybe you want to create chaos or you want to create some mood. Definitely comes with practice, and your own technique, and maybe you'll have your own style for distributing color, but I'll show you a little bit about my process here. Obviously, I've been distributing colors, as you've seen throughout this whole process of this class, and in each of the illustrations I've been doing here, there's lots of different ways of doing it. Obviously, mine is a very centered composition, so it's probably a little different than other illustrations you will see, but I wanted to talk to you a little bit about distributing the colors you have, and the only way that you can make these color palettes work well is if you know how to use them. Try pushing your palettes, use colors, and unexpected places, or if you're not trying to add like a mood or drama, maybe distribute your color evenly around the frame. Sometimes you might want things to feel off-balance though, and I'm going to show you a couple of examples of all of this here, and other people's work, just so that we can look at them together, and see different ways of distributing color. This first piece is by Benjamin Flouw, and I'm not sure if I'm pronouncing that correctly, so Benjamin, if you're out there, please correct me. Obviously, this piece is very stark in environment, but what really draws your eye in is the warm colors contrasted with the cool colors of the environment. Your eye immediately goes to these characters with the more bold, warm colors, and then travels up the mountain because they're looking at it, leads your eye to it, and the mountain itself has a lighter color that contrast with the background. It's really helpful to use color to lead your eye around the frame, and we'll see that in all of these here especially this piece by Colin Hesterly, we see that he's using dark colors to frame the illustration, so your eye is leading towards the lighter colors in the center, and that really helps us focus on what's important. In this piece this is something a little bit different by Daniel Triendl, I think that this is closer to what I was working on. It has color more evenly distributed around the frame, and a more graphic manner, so you can see he's got this medium blue going throughout the whole piece, and then we've got the red that's also leading your eye around. All of the colors are bouncing off of each other, and Mickey, look at the piece as a whole rather than individual elements that you're supposed to be focusing on, so it really just depends on what you're trying to get across. The importance of distributing color is often based in concept, so if you think about first how you want to lead the eye or what the main focus of the illustration is, then that will actually help you distribute those colors. You want to create balance, but you also might want to create a visual hierarchy, and in this piece by Dave Prosser, we actually see this like super dark chunk that's a shadow, but it makes the smoke stand out, which is pointing to the right side of the frame, so your eye really goes to that big lighter chunk on the right side, creating more of a moody atmosphere, and drawing your eye to the action of the scene. Even if you're using somewhat of a monochromatic palette, you can still lead the eye or on the frame. In this piece by Mark Boardman, he's using contrast of the lighter colors, and the darker colors to really show you what's important, your eye tends to wander toward the most contrasting elements, so I really look at this car, and I look at this character, and then in third place, I probably look at the sky because we do see a little bit of contrast with the buildings, and the light coming through, so it's a really nice your distribution of value in this piece. I really love this piece by Mary Blair, she's a Disney concept artists from back in the day, but she was such a wonderful job of using color, and contrast to lead your eye to the characters. This Rune Fisker piece, I also love because he's really using too brightly saturated colors that bounce off of each other to create a very bold focal point. Even this blue blob at the top is pointing to this focal point, so it really just helps you stay focused on what is most important, and what details matter to the artist. Some key things I would say would always be one, start with the background color, as you saw is doing with all of these, I tended to fill in the background color first because that helps you decide how to distribute the other colors, and perhaps if they're vibrating, you definitely don't want something that is vibrating. Vibrating is an occurrence where the two edges of directly adjacent colors appear to merge or bounce off of each other in a really visually horrible way. I don't know if that's the right way to say it, but if you have two really brightly saturated colors, like we just drop some colors in here, and they're the same value. If you look at where those edges meet there, a little bit painful to look at. Let's see, maybe there's a great example of colors on vibrate off each other, once they're next to each other they do appear to merge, and almost create motion, so that's why you'll see things like this where it looks like it's moving almost because of the way those vibrating colors are distributed. When you create something that's vibrating, it's really hard to read like especially even just as a word, it's hard for your brain to visually connect what's happening, so just try to avoid that phenomenon whenever you can. In addition, try to create either a visual hierarchy or some balance in your piece, like in those images I just showed you, and something else I've taught you with the limited color palettes was to juxtapose those cool, and warm tones. If you're not going with an analogous or monochromatic color scheme, try to distribute those warm, and cool tones evenly across the frame, and that will really help you. Even in this piece has warm pinks, and cool pinks, and they distribute evenly around the frame to create a circle that leads the eye in. It just really depends on what you're trying to get across, and what story you're trying to tell. But those are some really quick tips I have on distributing color, and of course, the technical tips of using Shift Option Delete or Shift Command Delete are really going to help you as you move forward with your colored journey. 10. Additional Resources: Sometimes, you still have those days where none of these work for you. Your brain isn't connecting things like it does and I know I have days like that all the time. If I'm really lost, I'll use some additional resources from the Internet that I really love. There are some great color-picking tools out there. Tools that will give you a virtual color palette or color wheel, and then give you options for how to create those split complementary or harmonious or monochromatic palettes. Then that gives you a jumping-off point, for creating your own palette or just using that palette and applying it to your work. There are a lot of lovely tools out there, but these are some of my favorites. I'm pretty sure I've recommended a couple of these in my other classes, but I always fall back on color.adobe.com. I think it's such a great resource, and you can split up your palette choices by analogous, monochromatic, triad, complementary, basically things that we were doing in this class already. But then, you can go in a little deeper and create split complementary palettes and just play around with what happens when you move these cursors around the color wheel. Then because you've been using this amazing tool and it's on adobe.com, you can export these pallets into your actual libraries, which will show up in your Adobe programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. But if you're not using an Adobe product, you can still get the hex codes from here and it's just a really lovely tool. In addition, there's also this explore page, where different users have created palettes and it will also break things up based on photos. There's a lot of things to look for and discover as you're looking through color. adobe.com. Another one I really like is colorhunt.co. This one's a little bit more basic. It's really just color palettes that are created and then put on this main page and you can just peruse them. You can look at the popular ones, like all-timer of this month or you could select things by genre like vintage or warm or cool. It's a little less based on traditional color wheel, but it is a really refreshing place to look for some colors. Then this last one that I wanted to share with you is something that I discovered recently that's a little new to me and I thought it was really cool. You can obviously choose the different types of color palettes you want to play with and it says, "Hold shift to move shades individually." If I want to move them out of this line, or I can move them together to mess with the tints and shades of the actual colors, and then you can move these different notches around the color palette or color wheel itself, they will change as you move these sliders to give you an idea of what you're working with. There's a lot of options here and then it creates this cool little visual on the right side which I love. You can actually go and export them. Obviously, you will get the color hex codes and the RGB codes, but you can also export them as HTML or CSS. If you want to use and for a website or something, or you can use a color swatch like PNG image. There's a lot of ways you can use this and it's really cool and it feels a little bit more, I don't know, engineered like there's a lot more of a virtual aspect to it, which I like. But it's just a really lovely tool and I love how technical it gets, which is something that I didn't really find with the other two resources. In addition, I also want to showcase this color wheel that I was using in the class. Honestly, like I said, I haven't really used one of these since college, but now that I have it, I really love it and I've actually been using it for some projects. It's a really great visual way to experiment with how the different types of color palettes work together. It's also really nice seeing those complementary colors across from each other on the wheel and seeing how things mix together. Finally, I just wanted to share this really cute little book that I found. I actually have it myself and I was going to take a video of it for this class, but I cannot find it. I'm just going to show you on the website here. It's really cool. I can't read Japanese obviously. I love being able to physically interact with the pages, and it shows you these great color combinations you can play with. Then if you go to the back of the book, which has an example of here, it actually has these CMYK color codes, and all the Pantone color numbers and all that. There's a lot you can do with this little book here. I wish I could read it, unfortunately. If anyone who's watching this is Japanese and wants to enlighten me a little bit, I'd love to hear more about it. But it's just a really cute little book to carry around in your pocket or [inaudible] with you when you're feeling stuck. These are just some lovely resources that I recommend to you if you're feeling stuck. Obviously, I'd love for you to try these five quick, easy color palette tips first. But if they're just not working for you, they're not working for you. Here are some places you can look next. 11. Thank You!: I really hope you enjoyed this class. I know it was pretty quick and easy and simple and you were like, maybe someone already knew these techniques, but it doesn't hurt to have them all laid out in front of you to come back to and try again in the future. Now, I would love to see your work. Please post it online, post it in the class projects, and then on social media, tag me @wonderful, so I can see your work and your beautiful palettes. In addition, follow me here on Skillshare, follow me on Instagram and social media so you can see some of my upcoming classes. I'm always here checking Skillshare, looking at discussions, answering questions, so please post your work, ask questions, if you're confused about anything or you need additional resources, please reach out. On that note, I'm so excited to see your work and see what types of palettes you come up with. I'm sure there's going to be a lot of unique projects, and I can't wait to even learn some from you as well. Please share it, review it, and enjoy it. That's all I really want, is for you to get something good out of this class. Thank you again and good luck on your project.