Learn basic colour theory. Beginners drawing and painting lesson. | Cally Lawson | Skillshare

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Learn basic colour theory. Beginners drawing and painting lesson.

teacher avatar Cally Lawson, “Paint like no one is watching"

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.

      Basic colour wheel


    • 3.

      Colour groups


    • 4.



    • 5.



    • 6.



    • 7.



    • 8.

      Adjacent colour scheme example


    • 9.

      Contrasting colour scheme example


    • 10.

      Tints & Tones example


    • 11.



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About This Class

In this course, you will be learning about basic colour theory. This will teach you how best to apply colour to future art projects. You will learn about primary and secondary colours on the colour wheel, different colour schemes and hints and tips on using colour overall. 

Meet Your Teacher

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Cally Lawson

“Paint like no one is watching"


Hello, I'm Cally. I am an Artist situated in Cumbria, North West England on my family's dairy farm. I particularly enjoy teaching beginners drawing and painting, focusing on building confidence and emphasising the importance of relaxing and having fun whilst you paint. I have been teaching and demonstrating on YouTube for the last few years, where I cover a wide variety of media and subject matters. Here on Skillshare I will be aiming my classes solely on beginners, watercolour and pen & wash. Please feel free to contact me if you have any special requests for future classes.



You can see examples of my own work on my website and by following me on Instagram. I work mostly in mixed media, especially liking using ink dip pens and al... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Introduction: Hello. Welcome to my skill share course on basic color theory. This is for those of you that the Guinness to have a quick look at the very basics, uncle The theory. Have a look at the color wheel. Have a look a different color combinations on a few basic mixes on a few little extra insulin tips about how to use cooler in your artworks. So we're going to be doing three pro japes painting a picture, and it could be the same picture, actually, if you want in three different cool race. So I take three different ones, and I've put those in the reference section for you to have a look at. You can draw your own subjects and do whatever you like, but if you would like to trace, those are copy those those of their fear in the reference section. As a beginner, you'll often hear lots of terms and things used in tutorials that you listen to and you might not be familiar with those, and you might have heard of the phrase elements of design and cooler is one of those elements, along with four and texture and space. So we're just looking at the warm today cooler will come back to the others another time, and it really helps to familiarize yourself with those words and phrases. We'll also talk some time about the principles of design as well. There's a lot more of those. So in the reference section as well as those shit coloring shapes, you will also find that a shoot future downloads on basic cool if there that I've written down for you so that you got everything I've talked about it had written down for future reference later role. Also, there you will find a little color wheel that you could use, but I really would advise you paint in your own call the whale because then you familiarizing yourself where things are so at the beginning of this cost will talk about all the individual elements off the color itself, on the different ways that you could use it in the different groupings of colors that you can use together to achieve different affects. So the three things that going to be looking at our harmonious or adjacent call escape, we're gonna be looking at cooler steam, which uses tints and tones of one color and we're gonna be looking at another color scheme , which uses things that are on the opposite side of the coal away, well known as complementary colors. So these other ones, the type done this one uses tints and tones of the same color. So in this case, it's yellow on. I'll talk about that in a lot more depth later on. This one is using complementary colors, which from the opposite side of the color wheel. So read and agree this what is using things that are adjacent on the color wheel. So reds and oranges that sit next to each other on the color wheel? So that's what we're gonna be producing. You're gonna be producing three pieces in the difference. Coolest games. You don't have to choose red an orange it produces in else off the call away. Let's adjacent. So not necessarily gonna be exactly the same. So bombs the type dumb. Like you said. You could also draw your own pictures. You don't have to do them flowers. You could do them anything. Actually an abstract. Quite a nice If you like working in out structure, could you spell your page with abstract patterns and concentrate on the course because it's the colors that we're learning about today, not necessarily the droid. So I've got examples of drawing all of these and painting them, but you'll be able to do euro. So throughout the course, if there's any problems that you encounter and just do you get in touch and get back to a soon as possible with answers to problems, I'm gonna go over to the work bench. Now we'll talk more in depth about the color wheel, and I'll talk to you at the end when we've finished our projects. 2. Basic colour wheel: to begin with, it's important to familiarize ourselves with the color wheel. I'm sure that some of you remember this from school on that you are, or perhaps already a little bit familiar with it. However it's not. It's never a bad thing to refresh our memories and to keep it in mind. So I would advise that you do have a go at making your own color wheel at home and keep it for reference. It's a good thing to have for reference. Just pin it up in your studio if you have one or in your workshop wherever you work in. It's a good thing to have. So whatever media use for doing it all I did with this one was draw around to plate and then split it into six sections and quality sitting with some acrylic. So there's two things we need to know here. And Dewberry mind that this is a very basic color wheel, and it does get more complex as we go along, and we can look at that again another time in another cast. Perhaps, but I'm keeping it very, very simple today. So the first thing to know is are three primary colors on. I'm sure you all familiar with those, so we have blue, yellow and red. So those air primaries and the reason that that primers is because they cannot be mixed from another color you have toe have that original pigment. Of course, you get different yellows, different reds and different blues, but they cannot be made from other callers their primary cause. So we must always have thes three in mind. And it's a good place to start when you're buying your colors is to have your primaries, because you could make most of the clothes with those, well, every color with those Really Okay, So those you primaries and then we have the secondaries, so these are mixed from these. So when we mix red and yellow together, we get orange. When you mix blue and red together, we get violet or purple on. When we mix blue, blue and yellow. Together we get green so very, very basic. But you need to know these. You need to know your primary colors and your secondary colors and commit those to your memory, and once again you will find this in the reference section. So if you want to print that out. If you haven't got time to paint your own, you can print that out off the reference section. It's there for you to have a look at. 3. Colour groups: after familiarizing yourself with the color wheel without need to look at the different ways that we can use it on in this cause. We're looking at three different ways. So what way is using what's on the opposite side of the color wheel? Such a very easy and simple thing to do and weak sometimes call this complementary colors Andre sometimes say contrast in, so you'll hear those two phrases used. Complimentary in contrast in and the really are the same thing. So green and red contrast blue on orange and violet and yellow, so anything that's on the opposite side of the color wheel. So again, that's another good reason toe. Have you call away? Look where you can see it so you can quickly look and see what is opposite, and this becomes natural after a time. So that's the 1st 1 and I'll just show you the one that I did. So the one that I did, I chose to use red and green. You can choose to do yours in orange and blue, or you can choose to do it in yellow and purple. That is entirely up to you. You don't need to do it in red and green like I have. And again, this is there for you to trace and copy if you really want to, or you can work on your own design. The next color theme is what I would call an adjacent color theme on this makes harmonious design. Soon you'll hear the word harmony, which is one of the elements of design. And when you think about that and you want a harmonious looking painting that's not gonna jar on the eye, that's gonna be very relaxing to look at and very relaxing on the act, too. Look at you. Want some harmony? You can choose adjacent colors, so if you choose colors that are next to each other two or three, either those two are those three that the next to each other on the wheel. You'll find that your painting is quite harmonious. So for the adjacent one, I used reds and oranges. You could use blues and purples. You could use yellows and greens, yellows and oranges, any that are adjacent. You can use so you can see what I mean. There's nothing jarring on the eye. It's a very peaceful looking picture because we just got those two colors. We've got a few. We've got about far colors in there, but they're all red and oranges, so these two that are next to each other there on you can see the difference in those two. How this one pops out a lot more, and it has got a lot more drama in it because they were on the opposite side of the color wheel. So finally, the last one I'm doing is just from one color on this is using tints and tones of one color , so I'll have to explain the tints and tones. So a tent over color is when we had white to it on a tone of a color is when we are black to it, so it's essentially the same color. But I, the darker, are like to, depending on whether you are dark, black or white, and you can also add gray. And that's going to make a few different colors in this of the same Sorry, a few different tones of the same color on again. That's very harmonious, very gentle on the eye and makes quite an interesting picture. So the one I did was with yellow and you'll see here. This was just yellow on its own. This was yellow, with the white of the paper shining through, so it's a very, very pale yellow, almost white. This was yellow with black out it on. This was yellow with gray added. So we've got yellow on its own, yellow with bart black, yellow with gray and yellow with white on again. That makes a very, very gentle color scheme. And again, you can use any color you want. You can use any of the colors off the color wheel. Mix those of us into it, so those are the three examples, and that's what you're going to be doing. Wrong contrast in one adjacent and one of one cooler. 4. Distance: court is also a great way to achieve distance in your paintings, and this is particularly useful to those of you that enjoy painting landscapes. Blue is what we call a receding color. In other words, it appears further away than what it actually is. He's quite cool color and, as is Violet and they tend to recede, appeared much further away. Yellow jumps forward, and it appears closer to us than it actually is, and actually white. Was this a little bit us? Well, a great example of this is if you're in church and you sat right at the back on, there's a pedestal of flowers at the front of the church on there's something white or yellow in that you that will immediately jump out to the I. If there's a blue flower in there and you're at that distance, it will appear as if that blue flowers almost disappeared. And if you've got blue flowers in your garden, observe them a different times of day and you'll see that the color changes a little bit. And they appeared further away sometimes when they've not got that bright light on them of midday. So when you're doing a landscape start at the back with your mountains, with plenty of blue in them. These are doing tink tens blocks. It's just that very quick and immediate to show you the colors. And as you come forward, you can start a nuts from yellow to make that into green, then much more yellow, a much less blue and eventually coming all the way to yellow. And you can see how that distant hill is going to appear further away than this foreground grass. And just by doing that, just by adding much more yellow to your foreground, a much less yellow to your background and more blue unless blue in your foreground you're going to get that depth in your painting and make that landscape see much more three D. So if you've got time to do that as an additional exercise, make an imaginary little landscape just of some hills in the distance and mix up some blues and yellows together to make some greens. Start with blue on its own, then a lot of blue and a little yellow and gradually great that as you come forward and end up with just yellow and you'll find that you have quite pleasing little landscape, even if it's just an imagine route. Very abstract little landscape, another project you could do as part of this loaning about cooler. 5. Emotion: Another thing that we need to think about with color is how it affects our emotions on the subject that we're drawing or the subject that we're painting. So with something like red, it's often people think of it as danger, but they also think of it as passion, so you might want to use color in a way that conveys those emotions. So just think about that, I mean, and it will mean different things to different people, but something that yellow to me is warm. It's sunny, it's fun. You don't think of yellow has been a very calming or depressing call. You think if it is a bright, jolly cooler, whereas if you want to be on the blue side, you might think of a painting being much more calm and relaxing, and this is the same in interior design. When you're putting your curtains on your wallpaper and everything in you think of colors that do specific things, so if you want to feel cool and calm, you might want more blue. If you want to be brightened up, you might want more yellow on. This is exactly the same thing when you're painting, so before you set off any painting, just think about that and think about what you want to convey. Overall, we all might do exactly the same painting that you might. If you want to trace those ones that have done their there in the reference section, we could all do them in completely different color ways. In fact, you could do 1/4 1 if you want using all the colors on and really making it pop and making it very personal to you make it great psychedelic. So really think about before he set off, which, what sort of feeling the whole picture wants Overall, doesn't want to be calm and relaxing. Does it want to be jarring? Doesn't want to actually shriek at you, in which case you might want to use opposite cause as well. 6. Mixing: knowing about the color wheel and knowing which are three primaries are also helps us with color mixing because, like I said earlier, you could make most coolers that you need from your three primaries. So if you've not got many colors, but you've got those, you can mix lots and lots of browns and grays. And again, this is particularly helpful. If you enjoy doing landscapes, you can mix the graze of your skies along with the browns of your walls and buildings and your trees using the same three colors. You can do the whole landscape using just your three primary cause. And again, that's another little project that you could do. So do. If you do do all these extra little projects of learning about cooler, they won't load those as well. So that's another one you can do is try doing a full landscape just using your three primaries. Okay, so I'll just very quickly show you a couple of examples of making a nice brown or a gray with your three primaries, so we'll use the same blue that we had used there and some yellow so that you've got your green and then, as soon as you as you read to that, you're gonna be turning that into a gray brownie cooler. At the moment, that's quite brown. We need a little bit more blue. And this is where you can just keep a Justin on deciding whether you want it to be a blue gray or a warmer gray or, if you want to brown and adding more red. So we've got the three primaries there without lovely gray color that you could use in some dark clouds. Now, if we add more yellow to that, so the same color in there on a little bit more red, we've turned it into brown. We've got a brown there, so the same three colors a brown, a really nice warm brown that could be used as a soil or pathway. I don't know a stone. You've got the same three colors, making them completely different colors there, So a game we can change that and all you're doing all the time is at in different quantities of the same three colors and look at all the different cause that you can get in all of gray's that you can make with that. So, with your own paints. You might like to get a piece of paper and make lots of different greys and browns, just a za practice and make notes about the quantities that you've used in the colors that you've used, so that another time when you want to make that specific color for a painting that you're doing, maybe a landscape. You can look back at that reference and gives you a little bit of a guide as to what you need to use, because each set of three primaries will make very different grades. Actually, what I'll do is I'll just show you that so we'll use a different blue. It's so lovely, bright blue, a different yellow on a different red, and we've got a completely different brown gray to the ones we had before the game. We could make it more brown and make another lovely dark color that's obviously a much darker, richer blue, and it's making these colors much darker. Okay, so give that practice and make yourself a little chart 7. Opposites: So the last tip I'm going to give you is about mixing complementary colors together. So if we use, use them opposite each other next to each other in a painting. The gunner at Drama. So you got that nice bright red against a nice bright green, and that's going to give you a dramatic painting Now that green looks quite artificial, and you might think I don't to use that for grass or anything like that, because it's such an artificial looking color on a tip I can give you is to out some red to that because it's off the opposite side of the color wheel, and it will make that color much more natural and tone it down a lot. This is also a good way to make a shadow cooler. So if we look at yellow but mochi, I would sit that next to violence, which is obviously the opposite again. You look very nice and dramatic against each other, but if we mix some of age, that color that it makes makes a lovely shadow cooler. So when you stuck for knowing what shadow colors to use, you can use the two mixed together so just think about that about as well as putting the next to each other, mixing them just to tone down that cooler. And you can see there how much more natural that green looks with that tiny touch of red added so, you know, add in equal quantities. You just adding a little touch of red to this one to make it a much more natural cooler. And that's a really, really 100 tiptoe have for the two things for making it more natural on a more subtle color , but also for making a shadow cooler if you stop for any shadow cooler just at a tiny touch of the opposite color to the one that you're using and that makes a great shadow color. So with all those tips in mind, you know now need to move on to do in those three projects, I hope you found all this information useful. Do go back and look at it again and listening to date again if you need to. Unlike, say, I've put that in the reference section as well. With all those little hints and tips and things about color, I've kept it quite basic on. We can go into more depth in on this another time. So all you need now for your painting is really to do some pencil guidelines. I would always do pencil guidelines before you do your ink drawing. If you're not doing drawing, that's fine. Just do it all in pencil. Then you need to have it on a nice watercolor paper if you using watercolors. But this exercise is really more about color, not necessarily about what you use in, so you could do it in crayon. You can do in felt tip. You could do it in whatever media you want, whether you want to do in acrylic or anything, that's not the important. But the important bit is getting those colors right and having those three color schemes. So enjoy doing that, and I will look forward to seeing the results. 8. Adjacent colour scheme example: you only change way. - So if you want with expect Really Thank you. So you way you wanna be with I know way like 9. Contrasting colour scheme example: 10. Tints & Tones example: 11. Conclusion: so to conclude, I hope you've enjoyed doing that. I hope that you've learned too little bit more about cooler call. That is very subjective. We'll have our own favorites. Well, then get really creating our own palette as we go along, buying colors that appeal to wars. As we develop our own style, I look forward to seeing you work. I hope you do get a chance to loaded for everyone to see for me to give you some feedback. I really hope you found that useful information on cooler on that. You can take that forward into work that you do in the future. Thank you very much for taking part in this course. As always. If you've got any questions or anything at all, please do get in touch and I'll get back to you. Assume way