Exploring Color in Your Illustrations Using a Limited Color Palette | Karla Alcazar | Skillshare

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Exploring Color in Your Illustrations Using a Limited Color Palette

teacher avatar Karla Alcazar, Illustrator and Teller of Tiny Stories

Watch this class and thousands more

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Class Project


    • 3.

      Limited Color Palette


    • 4.

      Collecting References


    • 5.



    • 6.

      Color and Mood


    • 7.



    • 8.

      Tension and Balance


    • 9.

      Color and Composition


    • 10.

      Final Touches


    • 11.

      Little Break


    • 12.

      Wind Up


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About This Class


In this class, I will show you how I pick colors for my illustrations, and I will tell you why using a limited color palette has helped me to explore my style and how it can do the same for you.

From sketching a simple illustration, to picking a color palette considering key elements in color theory, to gathering inspiration, and to final illustration, we will explore color by learning how to:

  • Pick colors that go well together and why these work together
  • To think about the relationship about color and mood and how it impacts your work
  • Pick a color palette that works and how color can be a staple in one’s personal style
  • Using the basics of color composition 
  • Finding inspiration around you

This class is for beginners who would like to learn more about color and how to use it to explore their own style and to complement it.  Some previous drawing knowledge is preferred, but not essential. 

For this class, we will create an illustration and we will use the limited color palette method to complement it. Whichever method you choose to use, either analog or digital is ok.. We will use Pinterest to gather some inspiration and references. 

This class will help you see color in a more digestible way, and will encourage you to use color in your daily life and to think of it a bit differently!.

Background music:

Carpe Diem by Kevin MacLeod

Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3478-carpe-diem

License: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Karla Alcazar

Illustrator and Teller of Tiny Stories

Top Teacher

My name is Karla, and I'm an illustrator. I work and live in Mexico doing editorial work for magazines and books :)

I'm fascinated by people (I have a background in psychology soI'm always curious about human behavior!).

This is why I love character design and narratives, and I'm particularly drawn to short ones. I also love botanical illustration!.

I'm a passionate advocate of living a life that inspires you to be your best self :)

See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Intro : Hi. I'm Karla Alcazar and I'm an illustrator from Mexico. In the last few years, I've done editorial work for magazines and books, and I've also done commission work for different projects. I love working with color, and finding the right palette for my illustrations is always a really fun part of my process. But it hasn't always been like that. When I started illustration, I was very afraid of color and I really didn't understand how to pick the right colors for a palette that could communicate ideas and moods in an effective way. After years of practice, I came across a limited color palette method which really helped me to feel more confident while using color to communicate moods and ideas more efficiently and also to feel less overwhelmed when picking the right colors for your illustration. In this class, I would like to share with you how I pick the colors for my illustrations using a limited color palette. We'll start by doing a quick reference search using Pinterest, and we'll sketch an illustration that will help us as a guide to understand the mood that we want to communicate. We will also talk about creating tension while using color in a way that our illustration looks balanced and how the colors in your illustration can affect the mood in your artwork. We will also talk about different sources of inspiration to find color palettes. For this class, I will be using Procreate, but please feel free to use any media you feel more comfortable with, either digital or traditional. This class is for beginners who would like to feel more confident while using color and for beginners who would like to approach color in a more intuitive way. I really hope you enjoy this class and I really hope that by the end of it, you will enjoy using color as much as I do. Now, without any further ado, let's begin. 2. Class Project: For this class project, we will be sketching an illustration using three prompts or elements. The main one we'll use is a teacup, or a mug, and I would like all of our projects to have that element in them. The next two prompts, can be something personal to you, something that you like. It can be an animal, it could be an object, anything you like, and the reason why I like these elements to be there is because I really want to see a little bit of who you are in your illustration, and how you use color to explore your style and your personality. For my illustration, I am going to be sketching a person, because I really like drawing people. The second element will be a flower, because I really find them really relaxing to draw, which takes me to my next point. Our sketch will be really simple. We don't really want to draw something complex, because at the end of the day this class is about color. It doesn't really matter how technical, or how well drawn the sketch is, we just want to focus on color and how we use it to explore our own style, and the mood that we want to portray in our illustration. Now, before we start sketching our illustration, I would like us do a quick reference search on Pinterest. I really believe that doing this first really help us to step out of our comfort zone. Because we're going to be working with different elements that perhaps are not even that related to each other, a little bit of inspiration is always welcome. The sketch that we will be doing, is going to serve us as a guide for us to explore color and mood, and the use of a limited color palette, and some other interesting stuff that we'll talk about, more in depth in a few lessons. This class is all about exploration, so there are not fixed rules, but I would like to see three things in your final project. The first thing that I would like to see is the three elements in your illustration. That is, the main prompt, which is the teacup, and the two personal prompts, whichever you want them to be. The second thing I would like to see in your project is the use of a limited color palette, and the third thing I would like to see, is how you use those colors, to play with your own personal style, and how those colors affect the mood in your illustration. As I've mentioned before, I'm going use Procreate, but you can use whatever you feel more comfortable with, it could be traditional, it could be digital as well. Media is not that relevant, we can host sketch together. Now it's time to actually start with the class. I'll see you in the next bit. 3. Limited Color Palette: In this lesson, we're going to talk about what a limited color palette really is. We're going to talk about its benefits and we'll see a few examples of how it's used. For this class, we're going be using the limited color palette method, which is a method that I personally have been using for the last couple of years in my work. I really adore it and I think it has so many benefits. The first one is that it is not overwhelming, especially if you're starting to use color or approaching color, it allows you to not think too much about colors. Because sometimes having a lot of options can be scary. It also gives you a sense of harmony. It is simple and easy to process to the senses. It also gives you a sense of consistency because at the end of the day, when we talk about someone's illustration style, what we're really talking about is a certain consistency. It could be a consistency in their use of color, we're talking right now, or it can be in their subject matter or the material they use. Lastly, it is a cheap method. If you're using traditional media, you're going to save a lot of money by just peeking and buying the colors that you will actually need. That sounds great, but what exactly is limited color palette method? It might seem self-explanatory or a little bit obvious, but the limited color palette method is basically selecting a very limited amount of colors and repeating those colors in your illustration, I'm going to use one of my illustrations as an example. This is quite a simple composition. It basically has three elements, which is the girl, the mountain, and the little plants while in the sky and you can see how I repeated the colors several times. I personally find that if you have a complex composition and you're working with a limited color palette is a little bit challenging to repeat those colors in a way that is interesting to the eye and in a way that it keeps a certain balance. This is why our sketches will have three elements to start with because I would like us to play with a very limited palette. But if at the end of this class you feel more confident adding more colors and adding more elements to your sketch, that will be great and I'll be very excited to see that so please don't stop this class is all about exploration and what we can come up with. There are no rules to this method, you can pick any number of colors from three to eight if you prefer. I personally like to pick between four and five colors for my illustrations. This is another one of my illustrations and as you can see here is quite a limited palette and I basically repeated the red more time, than the other colors, but it does create a certain focus on the girl in this case, this was quite a simple composition as well. I would like us to see examples of compositions that are a little bit more complex and how they use color repeatedly. Our first example would be this one by Megan hunter. There's quite a lot of character in this, but she managed to repeat those colors, same four colors in each one of those characters, and that's why it looks so balanced. The next illustration is by Shalece Elynn. Now, please notice how the outer color is present in most of the illustration as like the main color and the pink as well and the other two colors are more like accent colors. The next illustration is by Minereva Me fellow Mexican illustrator. Now, please look at the illustration and the composition of it. It is a quite nice, simple illustration, but she actually decided to use quite a bit of colors for this illustration and the result is a very nicely rich and well-balanced illustration where blacks are the main colors and then yellows are the exit colors in it. For our next lesson, we're going to quickly gather some references so we can start sketching our illustration. See you in a bit. 4. Collecting References: In this lesson, we'll use Pinterest to quickly gather some references for our sketch. I will briefly show you what things I look for when I'm searching for images for my own work. I'm going to start sketching my illustration. The main prompt for this sketch is a teacup or a mug. But for this class, I also want us to add personal elements, something that we like. I'm going to choose drawing a person and a flower. Let's go on Pinterest real quick so we can find some references for our sketch. Don't worry too much about picking many images. I want us to worry more about the color palette and not about the composition or the sketch per se. Let's search for images regarding our main prompt for this class, which is a teacup. I'm going to go to the search bar and type "Teacup". Usually, this is how I get inspiration or references for my own work. I type both keyword and this word can be something that I really want to draw or something that the project requires me to draw, and I do a very loose search. Sometimes I have a very loose idea of what things I want to draw. For example, for this project, I want to draw a teacup that perhaps has an interesting shape, perhaps something like this. I'm not used to drawing this teacups, maybe because I don't have teacups like this at home. Perhaps I would like to acquire some at some point. But for now, I really want to be drawing them. Let's just scroll down and see if something interesting catches our eye. Look, I really like this one, but it's similar to the shape of the one above. But I like the pattern more than anything. Perhaps it's something that I would like to keep in mind, adding a few stars. I like this one right here. I like that the shape is elegant, but it's not too much, nothing too complex to draw. I'm going to create a board, I'm going to click right here and go to the bottom where it says create board just in case you're not familiar with Pinterest. I'm going to name it class sketch, I already had the name there, and I'm going to hit "Create." Now let's try and find something else. One little thing, if you click on the image that you already saved and then you scroll down, Pinterest we'll show you similar images. If you're after a specific object or shape, I think this is a quite cool feature and it will save you a lot of time. Let's just find a couple more images or we don't want to spend a lot of time looking for images for our sketch. This one I really like, again, it's quite simple, but I think it's elegant as well and I like the colors. I'm going to save that into our board, and maybe let's try to find another one, and then that's it. Let's just quickly find an interesting shape like this one, I like. It's not elegant, but I like the shape of the handle, it's gold. Now let's turn find images for our second element, which in my case is a flower. I'm going to go to the search bar and just type "Flower." Again, we don't want to spend a lot of time searching for images. I'm going to save this one right here because it's quite flowy and he really like that quality. Let's just save it into our board. Let's scroll down and see what else we can find, this flowers are a little bit more sophisticated. I just want something that is a little bit easier to draw for this project. Because as I said, I don't want to spend a little time sketching, so perhaps I should go back, and maybe I'm going to save the daisies right here are very pretty, and I'm going to save this flower too that I don't remember what it's called. I'm going to save it into my board, and as I said, I also like the daisies because there's quite a nice shape that I like and it's easy to draw. Now let's go find our third element for this illustration, mine is a person. I tend to draw people a lot. What I like doing for my own personal work is that I just type a little bit more specific things like women poses, references, for example, this will be great, off the bat, I'm going to save this one. I like how her hand is resting on her leg and I like the angle it's creating, so I'm going to save it. I'm going to try and find poses that I find quite interesting, like this one right here, I like it because the pose doesn't look forced. It just looks natural, but it has a lot of energy to it, I really like that. I'm going to save it. I've picked two images of people sitting down so perhaps I should refine my search and actually type women poses reference sitting, so it can give me a more specific result, and let us see what we can find, this one I'm going to save. I really like this pose. I think again, has a lot of energy, but at the same time, is soft and I like the quality and I think it's relatively easy to draw. I'm going to save this one and perhaps one last image. This one because, I feel it's quite relaxed pose so I like that, so I'm going to save it. I think we have enough images. Now, let's go check our board and see what kind of things we have to work with. Usually, when I'm doing my own illustrations, I don't like searching for loads of items because I think that makes me feel a bit overwhelmed between so many options. I think keeping it simple helps a lot. Now, let me show you real quick my board. Some of them are private but I'm going to how you here real quick which ones I have. One thing I really like about Pinterest is that it allows you to organize everything really efficiently. I have so many boards and the one illustration that has a lot of images and that's another thing, I don't even remember what I save, I just save what I like and I never actually look at them. That's why I recommend just keeping your references a little bit short. Perhaps this is something that I need to organize a little bit better. But anyway, this is just a quick tip that probably I should follow. Let's look at our board, we have quite a few interesting elements and I think this is quite easy to integrate since there're just a few, and it's easy for us to pick which ones we actually want to include. Just a quick reminder, this are just references, we really don't want to copy exactly what we see. We just want to have an idea of how to interpret this in our own way and perhaps say, I'm going to be a little bit more clear when we doing a sketch. I hope you enjoy this process of finding references. I find it really exciting, and energizing. I've used the word energizing quite a lot in this lesson. In the next lesson, we're actually going to sketch our illustration using this elements that we've found on Pinterest, see you in a bit. 5. Sketching: In this lesson, we are going to sketch the illustration that we'll use for our final project. Let's start sketching. I am going to be using procreate on the iPad. But as I said before, if you prefer using traditional media or if you like using any other digital program, that's perfectly fine. We can still sketch together I'm going to show you how I usually tend to work when I'm using procreate. Sometimes I like to keep my references open and I like using the split screen so that's what I'm going to do. I'm just going to tap on the icon and just drag it to the right so I can have both open. Here we have our canvas. When I sketch, it doesn't matter if it's in real life or if it's digitally. I really like using an orange pencil to sketch my illustrations and this is mainly because I figured out that if I was working with markers, the orange wouldn't show up as much as if I was using a pencil like a gray graphite pencil, the graphite will be very visible, whereas this orange color wasn't that visible so I just adopted that. Now I use it on digital. Also, I feel like my eye feels a little bit more excited about working with orange pencils that it does with gray pencils, if that makes sense. I don't know maybe this is an interesting thing to try. Perhaps you would like to sketch using a different color and maybe that will make you feel more inspired. As you can see here, I already have a collection of colors that I like to work with. It is really mean just to have to default color that I go for and to have certain sense of consistency in my illustrations. Also when I'm working in procreate, I really like using the HB pencil. I feel it's quite soft and has a little bit of texture. I don't think it's great. Honestly, the brushes that procreate comes with are really good. The first thing I would like to sketch is the teacup. I would like the teacup to be the main element in the illustration and this is why I would like to place it in the middle so the eyes can focus immediately on the teacup. Right now I just want to have a rough idea of where the elements are going to go on the canvas or the paper. Now I feel that I really want to start drawing the flowers. Usually flowers are very symmetrical so a quick tip that I can give you if you're drawing flowers, is to draw an asterix and then replace the lines with petals. The ones I'm using for references, they have a lot of petals, so we'd have to draw a lot of lines for my asterix. I'm going to maybe reduce the number of petals. But of course, if you want to go for something more realistic, just draw many lines in your asterix, as many pedals you would like to draw if that makes sense. I would like to draw a smaller daisy. I feel that playing with different sizes in your composition makes it feel quite dynamic. Now if I look at my reference here, I can see that the daisies has had some stem and I'm going to be drawing them dangling off the saucer. I think that could be quite interesting and flowy. Now let's sketch the person. From the images I picked, I like the one that is more sideways so I can move things around or erase things without compromising the illustration that we already have. I have quite a lot of space here at the top. Perhaps I should add another element to connect everything and perhaps I'm going to draw a little stem as well going upwards. I'm going to feel out the space at the top and I would like you maybe draw some different flowers. Since the stem I drew is flowy, perhaps I shoot drove flowy flowers. I'm going to go for these ones right here. I also like this little buttons. I'm going to draw a few. Perhaps at this point I could actually start thinking about drawing the person. Let's look at the reference. Now that we have more elements, I can have a better idea of the size without the flowers at the top, I was struggling a bit. Now I think that is a bit easier for me to know where the person should go. Now, as I said before, we don't really want to copy the reference. We just want to use it as inspiration right here. Perhaps she should be holding the stem or the flowers instead of just leaning or being sitting like that. Perhaps her leg should be at the front instead of the other way and that makes it a little bit more playful perhaps. Maybe she would be looking down, maybe she will be a little bit pensive. Perhaps she should have short hair. I think in composition wise, I think short hair will be best because longer hair would occupy more room in the composition. Perhaps shorter hair could go best with it. Maybe I should draw more flowers right here on the right side because it looks quite empty. Again, I'm going to be playing with different sizing and the flowers just to keep it more interesting so I'm still, then it draws this flowy flowers. I'm going to draw a tiny one right here. Maybe this one actually should be looking to the left, I think drawing different shapes or drawing the shapes in different directions is like drawing different elements in different sizes. Because I think it does create that contrast that is interesting to the eye and right now it looks busy, but I think it helps that the bottom is not that busy. The stems are going down, but it's not occupying the whole page. I think it looks okay so far. However, the teacup is still a bit generic, so I would like to give it a more sophisticated shape using a references and perhaps the teacup is a little bit too big now that I'm looking at it. I'm going to cut it so it doesn't look too big. I still want the teacup to be the main focus in the illustration, but I also don't want it to be overwhelmingly big if that makes sense. As I said before, please don't worry too much about the sketch if it's technically correct or accurate. We just want to have fun and explore the colors. Honestly, the sketch is not that important, it's just going to give us a guide to work with later. Also please feel free to share your process in the project and resources tab. I'll be really happy to see your process and I'm pretty sure all the students would really like to see what you come up with deuce. Also, if you're on Instagram and you want to attack me there, I'll never leave my Instagram right here as well. I'm on it all the time so I'll be really happy to see it over there too. I think that we're done and this is my final sketch, this as the final result. Now that we have our sketch, it's time to start picking colors for our illustration. In the next lesson, we're going to talk about color and how it influences the mood in your illustrations. We're also going to talk a little bit about color theory but don't worry, nothing too overwhelming and we'll also pick the first color for our illustration so see you in a bit. 6. Color and Mood: In this lesson, we're going to talk about how color can influence the mood in your illustration. We're also going to talk about color properties such as hue, value, saturation and warmth, and we're going to see a couple of examples of this. We're also going to pick our first color for our illustration, so stay tuned. Now that we have our sketch, it's time for us to fully think about color and what color palette can work best for it. The first thing we need to consider before we start picking the colors, is the mood of our illustration. We know that certain colors can be associated with a specific mood or emotion. For example, if I show you this color and I will ask you, what do you associate this color with? Perhaps you will tell me things like anger, love, or even danger. If I show you this color, perhaps you would associate it with peace or freedom. If I show you this one, perhaps you would associate it with joy or happiness. How about this one? I honestly just associate it with grapes and nothing else. However, interestingly enough, this other color I associate it with calm and peace, even though they are the same color, both are purple. I just tend to have different associations. This is because each individual color has different and unique color properties and those variations will make us feel a certain way. Now these variations are hue, value, and saturation. Please don't worry too much about learning these terms. I think that by the end of this lesson, you are going to be able to use them and think about them in a more intuitive way. Now hue is just a fancy name for color, so you can say it's a pink hue, it's a blue hue or it's a yellow hue. Now when we're talking about value, we're actually just talking about how light or how dark a color is. Maybe talking in a more practical way, It just means how much white or how much black a color has in it. Finally, we have saturation, which just means that a color has a bit of gray in it. I made a little slide so I can show you visually what I mean by this. We're going to use this pink salmon color or hue as an example, and I'm going to sample it and leave it to the right so we can remember what the original color looked like. I am going to add a little bit of white to that original color we had, and this is the new color we get. I'm going to sample it and leave it to the side. Now I am going to add a little bit of black to the original color. This is the color that comes out. Now if we're talking about how light or how dark a color is, we're talking about value. This is a color property that is really easy to spot. Let's go back to our original color. Now what happens if I add different levels of gray to this color? I'm going to add a little tiny bit of gray, and this is a color that we get to the left, you can see it. I'm going to keep adding a little bit more gray, and this is the other color we get. I'm going to keep adding gray and finally, this is the color we get. You can definitely see how the colors on the left look a little bit less vibrant. When we're talking about adding gray to a color, we're actually talking about the saturation of the color. I could keep adding a bit more gray. You can definitely see how much gray is in it. Now back to our original color. You can see how much the color has changed by adding gray, or by adding white, or by adding black. We can add different levels of saturation to colors with different value like I'm going to do here. Now I added a bit of gray to the colors that we had on the right, and we created a very muted color palette. One last thing that I would like us to think about when we're picking colors is its warmth. Now we know that there are certain colors that we consider warm like reds, oranges, and yellows. There's other colors that we consider a cool like blues, purples, and greens. However, it is important to remember that colors that are typically warm, like reds, can also have a little bit of blue or a little bit of yellow, which will make them cool or will make them warm. Now thinking about color properties is very important when we're thinking about mood, because in our brains, we tend to associate bright colors with more light, like daylight, sunny days, that makes us feel a bit more upbeat or energizing or happy. When we're thinking of dark colors, we usually tend to think of less light, perhaps nighttime, and we tend to associate it with sad or scary mysterious environments. Now these moods or sensations are associated with the value of the color. If we're talking about muted colors, that means that they're neutral. That means that they have more gray in it and they usually give us a sense of calm, they're a bit subdued, and remind us of something soft. These are properties that have to do with saturation. Now as I said before, I don't want you to feel overwhelmed by thinking about all of these terms. I feel that being able to identify these color properties as a muscle that it gets developed over time. When you finally master it, you're able to just pick a palette right away without having to think much about it. I honestly feel that identifying these color properties in objects is a great exercise to develop that muscle, so I would encourage you to look around and find objects and try to pinpoint the value and its saturation. Is it a bright color? Is it a dark color? Is it a muted color? I think it's quite a fun exercise that is going to help us to feel more confident when using color. Now I would like us to look at some examples and to analyze how the colors and the properties of these colors influenced the mood in the illustrations. We have this illustration by Stephen Collins, and we can see that there's quite a lot of energy in this illustration. Some of the colors are little bit muted, so you can see that they're a little bit grayish, but overall, we can see the palette is quite bright. This other example by Marcos Farina is really, really beautiful. Look at the really soft colors that he picked for this illustration. It does make you feel quite calm and cheerful. This illustration by Paul Boston is really cool because there's so much energy to it and definitely the bright greens and the fuchsias give it a lot of energy. This illustration by Ruby Taylor is quite striking. It has a lot of brilliant colors, and it looks really energetic. Finally, this illustration, by Akira Ousama. The colors picked here are really muted, so they're mixed with a lot of gray and they give you a sense of calmness. Now we have talked quite a bit about color properties and how certain colors can influence moods. But how can this be translated into your own personal style, and how are we going to pick colors that communicate well what we want to say. As I have mentioned before, usually when we talk about someone's style, we're talking about consistency. Now this doesn't mean picking the exact same colors for every piece we make, but perhaps it means that we have a certain theme or mood that we communicate frequently in our illustrations. Maybe that has a lot to do with the illustration we do. When I'm talking about picking colors for our style, it means for it to be consistent with the mood and the story that we usually communicate with our stories. An excellent example of someone who uses a limited color palette and communicates a certain mood with the colors he picks and has a very consistent style is Wes Anderson. He not only uses different color palettes for each one of his movies, but he also selects carefully which colors to use in different scenes depending on how intense or how soft or calm he wanted them to be. Now we could analyze and say that what keeps his dial consistent color-wise is that he overalls prefers muted colors or he plays with saturation, but he also plays with the color value depending on how intense the scene is. I have linked a tiny video on how he uses color and plays with mood, and it's going to be in the projects and resources tab if you want to check it out. We're going to start picking the colors for illustration, and to help us with the task, we're going to be using a couple of websites. I am going to write the names here on the screen, but the links to them are going to be in the projects and resources tabs too. Let's have a look at the sketch we did. Now let's just ask ourselves what mood we want to communicate with this illustration, or what elements did you draw or what do they mean? Now for mine in particular, I think that I want to communicate a sense of calm, but I also want it to be cheerful and to have some energy to it. Now usually when I'm picking colors for my illustrations, besides the mood I want to communicate, I just tend to think of a color that I'm really craving to use. In this particular case, I really want to use purple, and since I'm want to communicate a sense of calm, perhaps I should go for a less saturated version of purple, and perhaps a value of purple that is not too bright. Perhaps, I should go with this kind of color for my illustration, for my first color, and we'll talk about the rest of the colors we're going to pick in the next few lessons. If you're still having difficulty trying to think of what color to use or if you're still want to play a little bit with different values or different saturations, these two websites I found really useful, just to play around with and just to give us a few ideas. This one, it is quite old school, but you can see that the first line here has all the colors, so we're talking about the hues here. The next one we can play with value. The next one we can play with the saturation. You can see that if you slide this thing, you get a little bit of gray mixed in it. In the third one, you can play a bit with the values of the color. The fourth one is just opacity, so you don't have to worry too much about that. Now if you're working digitally, you can check that in your program. If you go to Procreate, there's this little thing right here where it says,"Value," and then you can play with the hue, saturation. Over here says "Brightness, " but we know it's value. Now there is this third website, which I think is pretty cool because it actually has the color wheel to it. If you already know a little bit about the color wheel and how it works, you can play around with it. I like it that it goes from white to black and has gray in the middle, so I think it is easier to find different values and different saturations with this website. But of course, it depends on which ones you find more an easy-to-use. We're done with this lesson. Well done. We covered quite a lot in this one. In our next lesson, we're going to talk about which colors can complement the one that we already pick, and we're going to start building our palette. We're going to go over the color wheel real quickly, and we're going to talk about the important of tension and balance while we're picking our colors. See you in a bit. 7. Inspiration: In this lesson, we'll talk about gathering color inspiration from different sources, and we are also going to talk about different ways to collect that inspiration. I think it's pretty cool that nowadays we have a lot of resources online to find inspiration like Pinterest. It's just simply really easy to find what we're looking for. However, I would encourage you to find color inspiration in different sources, especially in your daily life. I have mentioned this before in this class, that personal style is really linked to personal preferences. We like what we like for a very profound reason, and even though we're not fully conscious of that, each one of our choices have a meaning behind it. This is what I would like you to look around and pay attention to your surroundings. For example, what colors are you wearing right now? Do you have a personal preference? Maybe open your closet and see what you can find there, and what kind of colors you are actually buying. One day I realized that the clothes that I was actually buying and wearing are clothes in the same colors of my markers that I had already purchased. I would also recommend taking photos of things that you like and you can even upload those pictures to an Instagram or Pinterest board so you have quickly access to them. These are photos that I've taken, and taking photos like this has become a really, really nice exercise for me. Whenever I see a color palette that I like, I just have to take a photo. Also, when we're looking for color inspiration, don't look just at illustrations or illustrators that you like, maybe try and branch out and try and look at different kinds of art that play with color as well. Another great way to find inspiration is in nature. Honestly, nature has the most gorgeous color combinations, they're effortless, and they usually tend to catch our eye quite a lot. Maybe you can take a picture of something that you liked, a flower, for example, and then play with the color and saturation and find a color palette that actually suits your style. Another recommendation that I would like to give you is, don't box yourself in. Sometimes I used to feel really boxed in when I had to draw outside scenes because I felt like, well, I have to draw the sky blue and that limits my option. However, one day I went out for a walk and I happened to see this beautiful, beautiful pink sky. Then I was like, well, actually, I don't have to limit myself. I could actually draw pink skies if I want to. That's what I started doing. You don't have to follow any rules. Another way that I use to find color inspiration is to get color swatches. I tend to grab these ones by Copic because that's the brand that I actually tend to buy for my markers. I have a little wish list right here. You could also go to the home improvement store and get some paint chips. I found this image online, and you can actually keep them in a little trapper if that's useful. There are several websites in which you can upload a photo, and the photo will generate the color palette in the photo. You can try with photos that you've taken yourself, or you can also find different images online. But again, I would encourage you to not copy the exact same palette, especially that other artists use. That reflects someone else's style, but perhaps it wouldn't sit yours. I think it's great that you explore your own and find something that actually works for you and makes your work even more special. Being aware of the things that we like will give us a really interesting guide to start finding inspiration. In our next lesson, we're going to add color to our sketch and we'll quickly talk about color balance as well. See you in a bit. 8. Tension and Balance: In this lesson, we're going to talk a little bit about the color wheel and how we can use it to find our next colors for our illustration. We're also going to be talking about tension and balance between colors and how can we use this to create an interesting palette. I would like to share with you really quickly my experience with color. When I started uni, most of the students already had a notion of color theory and I knew nothing. Sometimes I would ask other students how they come up with their color palettes. They would say things like, "Well, just look at the color wheel. The color wheel can give you any number of combinations. There are so many." Already you can see why I used to find this really scary. When I would follow that advice and I would look at the color wheel, I never got the colors I really wanted to get. The reason why this used to happen was because in all honesty, I didn't fully understand how the color wheel works. I would like to go over a few color combinations that you can find in the color wheel, just in case that you are in a similar position and the color wheel confuses you a little bit. We have our color wheel. To start using it, we need a starting point. My starting point, and the one I'm going to use as an example is this mauve, lavender color that I said I was going to use for my final illustration. Because you cannot find that purple right here, I'm going to select this purple with little asterix and I'm going to use that as a loose guide to select the next colors. Let's begin. The analogous scheme. This is a combination of three colors that are side-by-side. In this case, we have our starting color, which is the purple that I have selected with an asterix, plus the one at its left, and the one at its right. In this case, we're with this violet color and this raspberry color. Next one is complementary. This is my favorite one, and I think this is a one that I tend to use the most as a base. We'll talk more about in a minute. Basically, a complimentary color palette or a scheme is created by selecting two colors that are opposite from each other. In this case we have the purple and the opposite is this bright yellow. Usually complimentary colors will give you a very shocking or striking color palette. Next up, we have the split complementary. I know that sounds a bit much, but hear me out. You get this scheme by picking two colors next to the complimentary color that you first picked. Remember that the complementary color of this purple was yellow. Well, for the split complimentary, we're going to pick the two colors next to the yellow, ignoring the yellow. So we're going to pick the green and the orange. Next one is a triad. This just means that you're going to pick three colors that are equidistant to each other. In this case, green and the orange, that dark orange, and we get this combination. The last one we're going to talk about is the monochromatic. There are other combinations that I didn't cover but I encourage you to keep exploring other combinations, because at the end of the day, we want to find combination of colors that work for you. I'm going to suggest a few websites in a few minutes that can help you with this. But now let's go back to monochromatic. This palette will give us different values of the same color. This means that we're going to get the same color but in different levels of lightness or darkness. As you can see for this scheme, we really don't need the color wheel, or perhaps not this color wheel in particular. I'm going to show you a different one that can help us play with values and saturation at the same time. We have a different color wheel with every single color of the rainbow in it. You can also see here to the left that we have all the combinations that we talked about plus a few others. This website will generate a palette based on the scheme that you select. Back in my uni days, I used to use, I don't remember if it was this website in particular or a similar one. This is more when I meant that I didn't use to get the colors I wanted to get, because the colors are automatically generated, or a little bit too bright for my liking, and I didn't know that you can play with saturation as well. So I'm going to tell you how in case that you're not familiar with it. As you can see here, all of the colors selected are really close to the rim of the color wheel. I didn't know that the closer you get to the center, the less saturated a color will be. Now I'm going to start moving these colors a little bit, so you can see how it changes. That automatically will give me a complete different palette to my eyes. Now I can see that this is something that I'm more interested in. If I play around a little bit with the different combinations that the color wheel can give me, I'm going to see that they're a little bit more to my own taste and something that I can definitely see myself using. Like this one right here. I'm going to show you a mix of illustrations that I've done throughout the years, what's their variations, and the saturation, and their value. But purples, and yellowish, or ocher colors are something that I really like using. As you can see here, these two colors are complementary colors. Personally, I like creating color palettes using complimentary colors as a base. This is what I usually do when I'm picking my palettes. As I had mentioned before, usually my color palettes range between four or five colors. For this particular illustration, I am going to use that purple lavender color, plus it's complimentary which is this yellow one, which I think it goes really well with a mood because I wanted something calm, but at the same time something energetic. So that's perfect. This is going to be my base. This means that now I have to pick two or three colors to have the full palette. What I tend to do is that I usually tend to pick the colors that are next to the complimentary colors that I picked or my base. I'm going to try and explain it using the first color wheel that we used at the beginning of this lesson. I have my two colors here, the lavender colors that I first picked, and this yellow one. Since we didn't have those exact same levels of saturation in this color wheel, I'm going to put an asterix to the ones that correspond to him, the purple and the yellow right here. Now I'm going to pick the ones next to him. In the case of the yellow, I'm going to be picking this green color, and perhaps I will pick this raspberry color that is next to the purple. I could have also picked the orange or the violet. It's not a fixed method per say. I just go for what I feel goes well with the illustration or the mood I want to convey. I get this result. Now, perhaps you look at them and you're like, "Well, that's not a nice color palette. It looks quite off." You're completely right. The reason for that is because the purple and the yellow one have the same saturation. Whereas the green one and the raspberry one they have different levels of saturation. So it does look quite off. What happens if I change the level of saturation of the green and the raspberry ones? This is the palette that I get. You can see that it looks more balanced. Usually palettes with the same level of saturation will work quite well. These are a few examples of how other illustrators have successfully used a limited color palette in their work. Some of them have used a really bright color palette, and other ones have used a muted color palette. Now, this doesn't mean that we have to pick the exact same level of saturation for it to work. We can play a little bit around with it. But definitely this is something worth considering when we're picking our color palette for our illustrations. Now we have talked about balance, which you can achieve by playing with the saturation of your color. However, there is another element that we need to consider when picking colors, and that is tension. As you can probably imagine, to get some tension in your colored palette, you can play with the value of the color. For example, we have our color palette here and it does look well-balanced. These colors don't have the exact same level of saturation, but they're more or less similar. If I want to create some tension, that means that I want the colors, or certain colors to pop a little bit more. I get to play a little bit with how bright or how dark the color will be. In this case, I think the yellow and the green have more or less the same level of value and saturation. So perhaps I would like to change the green for something a little bit darker. To me, this looks a little bit more interesting. I have four colors, but I would like to play with the fifth color. I look at it and I feel like it could do with something a little bit brighter. My next option is to add a lighter pink. I feel this works well because it has a certain level of balance, but not only in the level of saturation, it's also balanced in the level of brightness and darkness that this color palette has. It has two colors that are a little bit darker and three colors that are a little bit lighter. So that more or less creates some balance. Remember this color palette that came about when I was picking colors for my palette? Perhaps when you saw this, maybe you thought, "Well, actually that looks quite okay. That actually will work." If you thought that, well spotted. It's okay if you didn't, that's okay too. But if you actually spotted that, it's because this color palette, it's also well balanced. It has two lighter colors and two darker ones. Now I know that we talked quite a bit about balance being the same level of saturation. However, this palette is quite interesting because it keeps a very different balance. Two of these colors have a similar level of saturation, which are these two, and these two ones have a very different level of saturation. However, because they're quite balanced, dyes in two and two, the palette looks actually quite okay. You can explore some of the color schemes that the color wheel can give you like a triad, or a split complimentary, or an analogous palette. Feel free to use the scheme or the amount of colors that actually enhances your illustration and feels good for you. Remember, there are no set rules. This is what I love about art. You can play around with whatever it is that makes you feel best, or whatever you think it suits your illustration best. I would like to recommend a couple more websites where you can play around with the color wheel just in case that you found the first one a little bit not that user friendly. I actually preferred these two. In this one, you can play with the value of the color moving this little outer circle, and you can play with the saturation getting closer to the center of the color wheel like in the previous one. This is the website that we used in the previous lesson and I quite like it because it has this little slider and it helps you play with a value of a color. Same with the other one. If you get closer to the center of the color wheel, you can play with a saturation. In the next lesson, I would like us to talk a little bit about inspiration, just in case that you're still not sure about the colors that you would like to use for your illustration. We're also going to talk about the importance of collecting that inspiration for future reference. See you in a bit. 9. Color and Composition: In this lesson, we're finally adding color to our sketch, and while doing it, we're also going to talk a little bit about how to find balance when adding color to our work. Finally, we're going to add color to our illustration. This is the color palette that I am going to be using. As I said before, I feel more comfortable working with a color palette that ranges from 4-5 colors. But if you prefer, and if you just want to use one color for each one of the elements present in your illustration, that's completely fine. When I start sketching an illustration, I like to create a layer per color. So I'm going to start creating the first layer, and this is just going to be the layer in which I am going to play around with the composition. Usually, the first color that I pick when I'm creating my palette is the color that I like to use the most in the illustration. In this case, was a purple. I think for this part, it is important for us to consider mood. I'm going to show you two illustrations, and I'm going to tell you real quick what my thought process was when I selected the colors and how I used them. For this illustration, I really wanted to portray a calm and relaxing energy or environment. I decided that the purple was a good color for that. I do tend to associate this level of purple with calm, maybe because it reminds me of Lavender. I also want her to look happy and with a certain level of energy, but relaxed at the same time. Now, for this one, I actually wanted to depict a certain level of energy for it to look nicely and homely, but I actually want her to look like she's having a good time. She's dancing, a lot of energy in it. Perhaps they're portraying a very different emotion, however, I used the exact same color palette. I think they just feel different because, well, the pose is one of the things, the pose of the girl, but also because of the ways I use color and how I distribute it. In the one on the left, the main color is purple, while the one in the right, I try to use more yellows to show that energy in the illustration. This is one of the reasons why I decided to talk about mood quite a lot, because it does impact the composition in our illustration and the quantities of certain colors that we will use for it. Now, back to adding color. Just let me show you, real quick, my color swatches that I have in Procreate. Basically, what I did, I just went on the Copic website, and I used the swatches of those colors to create the palettes of markers that I already have and use them on digital, if that makes sense. I already have this color, that it's a morph. Right now, I'm just going to create a really rough sketch on how I'm going to be using color for this illustration. I'm going to start with this water-color brush. It could be any brush. I've just decided to use this one. Perhaps, I want to use it as background. Now, I want to use, perhaps, the yellow, which is this one for the girl's hair color, for the flowers' centers, and maybe for the tea. Maybe it's chamomile tea. Maybe the flowers need to be pink. When I'm doing my illustrations, it's like this as well. I like to think about balance in the way that I apply color. For example, if I want to use a different tone of pink, I really would like to balance that so the eye doesn't focus in just one particular bit of the illustration. Perhaps I should play around with the different colors of pink. Maybe this one right here, and maybe this two need to be dark pink, and maybe this one needs to be light pink. It creates some balance so the eye doesn't just go to one corner of the illustration, for example. Usually, I use this pink as shading. Maybe I'm just going to use this as an idea, or maybe that's a little bit much, as an idea of where the shading should go. Now, the colors that I've got left are the green, and that's it, I think. Now I'm going to color the teacup green, because I want it to be the main focal point. I think that right now, I'm quite happy with the color composition because it does look balanced, and I think it does portray the mood that I want to convey. I am going to just click right here and change the opacity of the sketch. This way, I'm just going to color over the sketch, and I think it makes it a little bit easier. I'm going to leave the name right here of the brushes that I use for my illustrations. The reason why I picked these ones in particular is because I want my digital illustrations to look a little bit more traditional. So I'm trying to find brushes that look more like actual Copic markers, because I really love the really soft look of them. For this illustration, I'm going to be using the watercolor flow-on because I like that it has rounded edges. This remind me a lot of Copic markers as well, so it's a familiar shape. As I have mentioned, I like to use one layer per color just in case that I need to make some changes, or just in case that I want to change the colors, or that I need to erase a very specific bit without compromising the other layers. This part for me is basically like using a coloring book. I find it really relaxing and fun. I'm going to speed up the process right here, but I'm going to tell you what I'm doing while I'm doing it. Even though I have a rough thumbnail and I know exactly where a color should go, it is quite often that when I'm actually coloring the illustration, I can make changes as I go. Because it isn't until you are working on the final image that you see that there's an imbalance, or that perhaps you should be using more color here, or more color there, or less of this and less of that. For example, I'm starting to notice that the mug, that is the main point, but it seems too dark and heavy, and perhaps having a green saucer would have been a little bit too much. I've decided to change it to that darker pink because I realize that we don't have that color at the bottom. Maybe it is good to try out and create some sort of balance by adding the pink saucer. For the background, I like using this fluffy brushes because they're quite big and allow me to cover quite a lot of illustration. I'm going to delete certain bits that actually look a little bit too dark now that I've added the background. Usually, my process using Procreate is more or less the same as my process when I'm using Traditional Media. I start sketching my illustrations using that orange pencil, then I erase it, and any traces of orange will be covered by the marker, so it's not going to look dirty at all, I think. Then I just start coloring. Then I add details with the colored pencil and add shadows with the same marker that I've used. Maybe this is just personal taste, but sometimes when I'm talking about balance, for my illustrations, I like to use different textures because I feel that in this way, I'm also playing with tension and balance but with textures. Right now, I'm using the HB pencil to draw this little daisies. Also, I've decided to color them white because I feel the illustration could use of something a little bit lighter down here. Up there, you have the light pink flowers, whereas down here you only have the dark saucer. So maybe it is good to add something a little bit lighter. For my details and my outlines, I'd like to use this two colors that I already have saved in my palettes. I feel that they are quite similar to the hues I'm working with right now. I'm going to be using them just to create the little outlines for the petals, and the outlines of the girl, and so on. I also decided to add little stars to the mug, just for the same reason: I felt that it was a bit too heavy, and perhaps little tiny elements will make it look less overpowering in the illustration. The tiny details will draw attention to the mug, but without making it look overwhelmingly heavy. For the shadowing, I like using a watercolor brush, any brush. I like using one of the blending modes, usually it's color brown. When I'm working traditionally, I just use some markers several times over the same spot, and it creates a really similar effect, actually. This brush is already quite textured, so I don't have to do much to it in order to achieve this texture. But if you don't have these brushes and you would still like to use some sort of paper texture as a base, I would recommend scanning any piece of paper you have or your favorite kind of paper, and just import it into Procreate, and then you can play with the blending modes. You can use multiply, or you can use overlay as well. You could just play around a bit and it will show quite nicely. Okay, so this is the final result. I actually do think that it looks quite balanced and I'm happy with the mood it's portraying. So we can move ahead and talk about the final touches for this illustration. We'll talk about this in the next lesson, where we will talk really briefly about exporting files and what kind of settings to use if you're using Traditional Media and you want to scan your work. See you in a bit. 10. Final Touches: In this lesson, we're going to talk about exporting your files if you're working digitally, and how to skin your art work when using traditional media. If I'm working directly on Procreate, I just save them as procreate files, and then if I need them for Instagram or something like that, then I would export them as JPEGs. But other than that, I just like to give the original format just in case I need to go back at it at some other point and edit them, I think it just makes it easier. By these I actually mean that I save it into the iPad. I just click Procreate, save to files, and I'm just going to change the name, and just because I think it is important to keep things organized, and I just save it onto the Procreate file just to have access to them later. If you do now work on procreate or use procreate plus other several programs, I suggest you saving your files or your illustrations as PDFs or tiffs, so you can actually have access to them without having to convert them or doing anything to them. Also don't forget to keep your files organized by year or by subject, but it will save you so much time in the long run. This is how I usually like to scan my illustrations. I have this scanner. It is a Canon PIXMA MG5510. It's a really good one. I think all Canon scanners are really good. This is how I scan my artwork that I sent traditionally. I would really recommend cleaning the scanner bed. I know this is a little bit obvious. There is just so many times that I have not done this, and when I scan it I always find little tiny particles of either dust or even paper. I don't know. So I recommend cleaning regularly the scanner bed just in case. Also if I'm going to be editing my artwork because sometimes I like enhancing it a little bit with Procreate, I think tiff files are really versatile because they don't lose quality while you're working with them and you can open tiffs and work with tiffs in many different programs, and don't forget to save them at at least 300 DPI. If you don't have a scanner and you work with traditional media and you want to take a photo of it, I think that's perfectly fine. I would just suggest for you to make sure that the light is quite even and we'll distributed. Just a really well-lit space, and that the surface you're taking the photo on is actually nicely leveled because sometimes it's a little bit crooked and that affects the light in the illustration, so I would definitely recommend that. Keeping your phone level as well, so making sure that it's not tilted for the same reason. Hey, so we're almost done with the class. Let's wrap things up in the next video. 11. Little Break: Hi. Just a little break here to invite you to please leave a review if you like this class. Your review will help me know what to include more of in future classes and it will mean a lot to know what you enjoyed the most. Thank you. 12. Wind Up: Guys, we are almost done with the class. Well done. We actually covered quite a bit. We talked about what a limited color palette is, we talked about mood, we talked about well personally how I combine my pallets using tension and balance, and we sketched an illustration that hopefully you'll feel pretty happy with. I really hope the color theory bit didn't scare you too much and didn't put you off. Color and using color, is a really a fun process. I really see using color as developing a muscle, something that you have to train hopefully on a daily basis. The good thing is the more you train yourself to use colored and think about color, the more confident you are going to feel, perhaps using it in ways that you never thought you would. One thing that I would like you to take away from this class, is that sense of curiosity and exploration. I really want you to feel curious about color and to explore it on a daily basis. Please feel free to post your illustration in the projects and resources tab, I really would like to see it. I'm pretty sure other students would like to see what you coming up with. If you have any questions, I'll be more than happy to answer them all year round. Please leave a review if you like and also let me know if there are any other topics that you would like me to cover. I'm also on Instagram, so if you'd like to follow me on there as well to see what I'm up to on a daily and to see works in progress as well, I upload quite a bit of those over there. I'm going to leave my handle right here. It's not called handle. I don't know what it's called, my username. Once again, thank you so much for taking this class. I really appreciate all the support and I really hope you enjoyed the class. Thank you and see you in our next one. Bye.