Managing color in design


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How color works and why you should know: Color for design students

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Managing color in design

  1. 1. Managing Color to Create Better Art
  2. 2. <ul><li>The colors we see are a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum: </li></ul><ul><li>When spectral lights hit our eyes, the eyes react by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>1. Activating three separate kinds of color receptors (called cones) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. Exciting two brain centers, R-G and B-Y </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These create in our brains all the colors we see. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Additive” color (adding lights) uses red , green and blue light to produce the other colors. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>You see this in “afterimages” when you stare at a color </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Two at a time in equal amounts produces secondaries: cyan, magenta, and yellow. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Combining all three primary lights (colors) in equal intensities produces white. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Varying luminosity eventually yields the full gamut of our color vision </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Demonstration of examples in Photoshop document </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Pay attention to two things here: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>how “opposite colors” in the scheme are complementary, </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>and how cyan, magenta, and yellow are secondary colors. </li></ul></ul>Lights
  3. 3. Pigments <ul><li>Paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants create colors by “subtracting” (that is, absorbing) some wavelengths of light and reflecting what we see. </li></ul><ul><li>Black absorbs all wavelengths and reflects none. </li></ul><ul><li>In most color printing, the primary ink colors used are cyan, magenta, and yellow . </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Note that these three primary colors are the secondary colors created by lights. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Each of these is created by the absorption of all other lights leaving only the color we see. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Cyan is the complement of red; i.e., cyan acts like a filter that absorbs red and reflects a mixture of green and blue back to our eyes. Thus, magenta is green’s complement, and yellow is blue’s complement. Combinations of different amounts of the three inks produce a full gamut of colors. </li></ul><ul><li> Mixing these primary pigments in theory yields black. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(However, because pigments and papers are not perfect, printers add K, or black.) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. The Color Wheel <ul><li>For many centuries before all this scientific theory, artists sensed that certain colors juxtaposed against others were more exciting, even though they didn’t know why. </li></ul><ul><li>They used a circular color wheel consisting of three equidistant pigments that were believed to create all the colors we see. They were blue, red, and yellow. </li></ul><ul><li>We now know that this is not how we sense color relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>However, we still use the three-primary color wheel. “The solution is not to discard the color wheel, but to use it intuitively and alertly, as a compass to color improvisation.” </li></ul><ul><li>See demonstration of the evolution of the color wheel, in workshop </li></ul><ul><li>(See more modern color wheels at ) </li></ul><ul><li>Using a color wheel, see how orange is opposite of blue. Blue plus its complement should yield black. (Blue absorbs red and yellow but not blue; add blue, and the mixture absorbs all lights, leaving no light--or black.) </li></ul><ul><li>In , see the Physiology of color. </li></ul><ul><li>Note: Michael Wilcox, the color expert, says there is no “pure” hue, so the practical color wheel should be modified. More later. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Working with Complements from the Color Wheel <ul><li>Because complementary pigments in the color wheel represent colors that our eyes and brains actually perceive as opposites, the juxtaposition of these colors is visually exciting. </li></ul>
  6. 6. Pointillism: Painting Light with Complementary Colors <ul><li>During the 19 th century, in an age of artistic enlightenment, Impressionist artists tried to employ the science of light to their paintings. </li></ul><ul><li>Pointillism is a painting technique in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image. </li></ul><ul><li>In theory, tiny points of complementary colors next to each other would simulate additive effects of light </li></ul><ul><li>Georges Seurat developed the technique in 1886, branching out from Impressionistic techniques. </li></ul><ul><li>The bright effect of pointillist colors arises from avoidance of pigment blending; instead, something closer to the effect of mixing lights is obtained by painting small dots of pigments near each other. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Describing Colors <ul><li>When we talk about the color of an object, we are referring to its hue. Hues have myriad characteristics. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Every Pigment Has a Color Index Value That corresponds to a spot on the color wheel <ul><li>Before you buy a paint, you can look it up by its P value (PY, PB, PR, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>And you can look up where each would be on a color wheel at: </li></ul><ul><li>Find the ratings and everything you need to know about any commercially available paint at: . Click the color at the top and you’ll find brands with names and color numbers. </li></ul><ul><li>More resources in your handout </li></ul><ul><li>However, there are more common ways to describe pigments: </li></ul>
  9. 9.  Temperature Bias - Warm vs. Cool: <ul><li>The terms “warm” and “cool” have been used as descriptors since the 18 th century. </li></ul><ul><li>Warm colors are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included; </li></ul><ul><li>Cool colors are often said to be the hues from blue green through blue violet, most grays included. </li></ul><ul><li>Color scientists now reject the idea but it is still a useful concept for painters. </li></ul>
  10. 10.  Saturation, Purity, or “Brightness” <ul><li>Saturation of color refers to purity, or the amount of color vs. neutral gray or white. </li></ul><ul><li>In painting, we desaturate colors by adding the complementary color in the color wheel. </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstration with Photoshop Color Picker </li></ul><ul><li>See </li></ul>
  11. 11.  Value <ul><li>Every color has a value of light to dark. In watercolor painting, we vary the value by “thinning” the mixture with more water. This is the way we shade objects. </li></ul><ul><li>See </li></ul><ul><li>Change the color values and see how they “recede” in . </li></ul><ul><li>Note: We rarely see black in nature, even at night. Therefore, unless trying to achieve special effects, painters should not add black to their paintings; instead, to make areas darker you can thicken the mixture, add layers, or add a complement to the mix if your colors are dark to begin with. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Describing Paints Physical Characteristics of Pigments
  13. 13. Ingredients: <ul><li>Watercolor paint consists of four principal ingredients </li></ul><ul><li>Pigments :These will be natural vs. synthetic, mineral vs. Organic. </li></ul><ul><li>Arabic gum: A binder to hold the pigment in suspension and fix the pigment to the painting surface. </li></ul><ul><li>Additives: (Glycerin, ox gall , honey, and preservatives. These alter the viscosity, durability, and color of the pigment; also, how the paint “moves” with water.) </li></ul><ul><li>Solvents : Used to thin or dilute paint. Affects application and evaporation speed </li></ul><ul><li>The organic/chemical/mineral composition of pigments each confers specific characteristics. </li></ul>
  14. 14. Watercolor Characteristics: <ul><li>  </li></ul>
  15. 15. Transparency <ul><li>Transparency refers to how much shows underneath the pigment </li></ul><ul><li>Transparent&quot; colors do not have titanium dioxide (white) or most of the earth pigments (sienna, umber, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Cadmium colors are also considered to be opaque. </li></ul><ul><li>Transparency charts are helpful </li></ul>
  16. 16. Permanent/Light fast vs. Fugitive: How long does the color last on the paper? <ul><li>Often paints made from organic pigments are not permanent, or are “fugitive.” </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the labels . We now have permanent mixtures that were fugitive only a few years ago. </li></ul><ul><li>Often, permanent pigments are also staining </li></ul><ul><ul><li>(Some fugitive pigments may be those labeled “Lake” or alizarin.) </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Staining vs. Nonstaining: <ul><li>A staining paint is difficult to remove or lift from the painting. </li></ul><ul><li>The staining characteristics of a paint depend on the particle size of the pigment. </li></ul><ul><li>Staining is increased if the paint manufacturer uses a dispersant to reduce the paint mixture time, because the dispersant acts to drive pigment particles into crevices in the paper pulp, dulling the finished color. </li></ul><ul><li>Also the composition of the paper affects staining qualities </li></ul>
  18. 18. Granulating: <ul><li>Pigments notable for their watercolor granulation include viridian (PG18), cerulean blue (PG35), cobalt violet (PV14) and some iron oxide pigments (PBr7). </li></ul>
  19. 19. Flocculating or “Clumping” <ul><li>Good for achieving a range of values in a single hue </li></ul><ul><li>This contrasts with the trend in commercial paints to suppress pigment textures in favor of homogeneous, flat color. </li></ul><ul><li>Ultramarines or alizarins are flocculating </li></ul>
  20. 20. Toxicity: <ul><li>Cobalt, Cadmium, Chromium-based paints are toxic. </li></ul><ul><li>Look at the labels. “Conforms to ASTM D4236” means the paint is nontoxic </li></ul>
  21. 21. Other Characteristics <ul><li>Value Range </li></ul><ul><li>Blossom </li></ul><ul><li>Diffusion </li></ul><ul><li>Hue Shift </li></ul><ul><li>Chroma </li></ul><ul><li>Drying Shift </li></ul><ul><li>Ratings of these characteristics by commercial paint name can be found at: . Click the color at the top and you’ll find brands with names and color numbers. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Brand and Grade of Paint <ul><li>Brands and categories will affect the richness of color </li></ul><ul><li>Artist quality paints are usually formulated less fillers (kaolin or chalk) which results in richer color and vibrant mixes. </li></ul><ul><li>Student grade paints have less pigment, and often are formulated using two or more less expensive pigments. </li></ul><ul><li>Demonstration by Jeanne Dutton of student or academy grade vs. artist grade </li></ul>
  23. 23. Your Personal Palette: There Are No “Pure” Colors and how all this information applies to you: The 6-color Palette <ul><ul><li>Jan Hart’s 6-color palette </li></ul></ul><ul><li>The Wilcox 6-primary palette </li></ul>
  24. 24. The Wilcox Color Method <ul><li>To mix a secondary color, use two different primaries (arcs) whose arrows face toward or away from the desired secondary color (ball). </li></ul><ul><li>Both colors pointing toward yields a more pure color </li></ul><ul><li>One or both facing away makes a less pure color. </li></ul><ul><li>To achieve a neutral, mix two directly across the center; you’ll need to add enough of the adjacent primary to finish the final mix. </li></ul><ul><li>All colors are “biased” </li></ul><ul><li>The arcs are primary colors </li></ul><ul><li>The balls are secondary colors </li></ul>There are no “pure” colors; all colors contain more than one hue Michael Wilcox, “Blue and Yellow Don’t Make Green,” ISBN-10: 0967962870 ISBN-13: 978-0967962870; see the wheel at
  25. 25. Jan Hart’s 6-Color Palette <ul><li>6-color palette of “warm” and “cool” primaries: (all these are transparent. you may want to make it 12, and have opaque, etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Also, Jan Hart’s 6-color palette in “The Watercolorist’s Guide to Exceptional Color,” ISBN: 9781600580529; pp. 48, 50, and 68. </li></ul>
  26. 26. Your Favorite Neutrals
  27. 27. Hands-on Session <ul><li>Mixing black and brown with “cool” and “warm” primaries </li></ul><ul><li>Mixing gray with cool and warm hues </li></ul><ul><li>Making secondaries by the Wilcox method </li></ul><ul><li>To mix clean neutrals, try to use transparent paints. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Color Schemes to Unite the Colors In Your Painting <ul><li>Color theory has long had the goal of predicting or specifying the color combinations that would work well together or appear harmonious. </li></ul><ul><li>The color wheel has been adopted as a tool for defining these basic relationships. </li></ul><ul><li>Combining different parts of the color wheel creates various psychological effects: Harmonious/restful, exciting </li></ul><ul><li>For more explanation, see: </li></ul>
  29. 29. Complementary: Vibrant <ul><li>The juxtaposition of complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) results in visual excitation. </li></ul>
  30. 30. <ul><li>Colors next to each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors. They tend to produce a single-hued or a dominant color experience, which is supposed to evoke a feeling of harmony. </li></ul>Analogous: Harmonious
  31. 31. Split Complementary: Vibrant but Less Tense <ul><li>This color scheme employs a range of analogous hues, &quot;split&quot; from a basic key color, with the complementary color as contrast. It creates a more “chordal” (like a musical chord) rendition of colors than would simple complementary colors. </li></ul>
  32. 32. Triadic: Vibrant, Primitive <ul><li>This color scheme adopts any three colors approximately equidistant around the hue circle. </li></ul><ul><li>Tip: Make one color dominant </li></ul>
  33. 33. Tetradic: Rich, Full <ul><li>Tip: make one color dominant </li></ul>
  34. 34. Monotone or duotone: <ul><li>Truly single-hued, printers or photographers sometimes employ a duotone color scheme, generated as value gradations in black and a single colored ink or color filter; painters sometimes refer to the same effect as a monochromatic color scheme. </li></ul>
  35. 35. Tip: <ul><li>Unless the subject is a riot of flowers or a carnival, choose your theme. To add interest to an analogous or monochromatic scheme, some artists use tiny bits of a complement or a primary color for excitement. </li></ul>
  36. 36. More Tips on Painting
  37. 37. Determine the Key <ul><li>Overall light vs. dark impression of a painting </li></ul><ul><li>The term key has to do with lighting in television; the more lights on a scene, the higher the “key.” The same applies to painting. </li></ul><ul><li>Decide on the key of the painting as a whole and make that value range 2/3 of your painting </li></ul>
  38. 38. Decide on the Temperature <ul><li>Decide on the temperature: Do you want a warm or a cool setting? Is the painting describing morning or afternoon? </li></ul>
  39. 39. As a rule, don’t use gray or black for shadows. Painting Shadows:
  40. 40. Shading Objects <ul><li>When shading an object, use darker values of the same hue as the object. The shady side of objects is also a slightly cooler color. </li></ul>
  41. 41. <ul><li>The shady side also reflects light from the surface below. Remember, the light bounces both ways. </li></ul>
  42. 42. <ul><li>Cast Shadows are an interplay of the surrounding colors; they contain the colors of the surface beneath, the atmosphere, and a reflection of the color of the objects that are casting shadows. They are not black. </li></ul>Painting Cast Shadows
  43. 45. <ul><li>Things far away have little contrast and are always bluish. The bluer, the farther away they are. </li></ul><ul><li>Overlap various elements within your composition so that some are forced forward or backward in the scene. </li></ul><ul><li>Use less detail, texture, and definition when painting objects in the mid-ground and background of the landscape. </li></ul><ul><li>Paint with lighter values and less contrast for distant elements </li></ul><ul><li>Distant objects should not have shadows darker than mid tones. </li></ul><ul><li>Use cooler colors to push elements farther into the background. </li></ul><ul><li>Use warmer, darker colors to bring elements forward into the foreground. </li></ul><ul><li>As elements recede in the distance, paint them at a much smaller scale than objects in the foreground. </li></ul>Painting distances
  44. 46. Painting morning light vs. afternoon light <ul><li>Have you ever noticed that as a train approaches you, the sound is higher, and as it moves away, the sound gets lower? Spectral lights work in the same way. </li></ul><ul><li>Because in the morning the sun is speeding around the earth toward us, its light waves actually get squeezed a tiny bit, creating shorter waves which result in a bluer effect. Likewise, in the afternoon, as the sun hurtles away from us its light waves become a little longer, moving into the redder part of the spectrum. This is called the Doppler shift. </li></ul><ul><li>. </li></ul><ul><li>Therefore, even when painting sunny daytime scenes, paint with cooler colors to represent morning and warmer yellows and oranges to achieve afternoon lighting </li></ul>
  45. 47. Tips <ul><li>Test your colors on a small sheet before you apply </li></ul><ul><li>Use ceramic, Corelle, or china to mix your paint. The paint doesn’t bead so you can better see your mixture right on the tray. </li></ul>
  46. 48. Read More <ul><li> </li></ul>