Managing color in design

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

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

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  • 1. Managing Color to Create Better Art
  • 2.
    • The colors we see are a very small part of the electromagnetic spectrum:
    • When spectral lights hit our eyes, the eyes react by:
      • 1. Activating three separate kinds of color receptors (called cones)
      • 2. Exciting two brain centers, R-G and B-Y
    • These create in our brains all the colors we see.
    • “ Additive” color (adding lights) uses red , green and blue light to produce the other colors.
      • You see this in “afterimages” when you stare at a color
      • Two at a time in equal amounts produces secondaries: cyan, magenta, and yellow.
      • Combining all three primary lights (colors) in equal intensities produces white.
      • Varying luminosity eventually yields the full gamut of our color vision
      • Demonstration of examples in Photoshop document
    • Pay attention to two things here:
      • how “opposite colors” in the scheme are complementary,
      • and how cyan, magenta, and yellow are secondary colors.
    Lights
  • 3. Pigments
    • Paints, dyes, inks, and natural colorants create colors by “subtracting” (that is, absorbing) some wavelengths of light and reflecting what we see.
    • Black absorbs all wavelengths and reflects none.
    • In most color printing, the primary ink colors used are cyan, magenta, and yellow .
      • Note that these three primary colors are the secondary colors created by lights.
      • Each of these is created by the absorption of all other lights leaving only the color we see.
    • 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.
    •  Mixing these primary pigments in theory yields black.
      • (However, because pigments and papers are not perfect, printers add K, or black.)
  • 4. The Color Wheel
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • We now know that this is not how we sense color relationships.
    • 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.”
    • See demonstration of the evolution of the color wheel, in workshop
    • (See more modern color wheels at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_wheel )
    • 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.)
    • In http://poynterextra.org/cp/colorproject/color.html , see the Physiology of color.
    • Note: Michael Wilcox, the color expert, says there is no “pure” hue, so the practical color wheel should be modified. More later.
  • 5. Working with Complements from the Color Wheel
    • 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.
  • 6. Pointillism: Painting Light with Complementary Colors
    • During the 19 th century, in an age of artistic enlightenment, Impressionist artists tried to employ the science of light to their paintings.
    • Pointillism is a painting technique in which small, distinct dots of pure color are applied in patterns to form an image.
    • In theory, tiny points of complementary colors next to each other would simulate additive effects of light
    • Georges Seurat developed the technique in 1886, branching out from Impressionistic techniques.
    • 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.
  • 7. Describing Colors
    • When we talk about the color of an object, we are referring to its hue. Hues have myriad characteristics.
  • 8. Every Pigment Has a Color Index Value That corresponds to a spot on the color wheel
    • Before you buy a paint, you can look it up by its P value (PY, PB, PR, etc.)
    • And you can look up where each would be on a color wheel at: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/labwheel.html
    • Find the ratings and everything you need to know about any commercially available paint at: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/waterfs.html . Click the color at the top and you’ll find brands with names and color numbers.
    • More resources in your handout
    • However, there are more common ways to describe pigments:
  • 9.  Temperature Bias - Warm vs. Cool:
    • The terms “warm” and “cool” have been used as descriptors since the 18 th century.
    • Warm colors are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included;
    • Cool colors are often said to be the hues from blue green through blue violet, most grays included.
    • Color scientists now reject the idea but it is still a useful concept for painters.
  • 10.  Saturation, Purity, or “Brightness”
    • Saturation of color refers to purity, or the amount of color vs. neutral gray or white.
    • In painting, we desaturate colors by adding the complementary color in the color wheel.
    • Demonstration with Photoshop Color Picker
    • See http://poynterextra.org/cp/colorproject/color.html
  • 11.  Value
    • 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.
    • See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_value
    • Change the color values and see how they “recede” in http://poynterextra.org/cp/colorproject/color.html .
    • 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.
  • 12. Describing Paints Physical Characteristics of Pigments
  • 13. Ingredients:
    • Watercolor paint consists of four principal ingredients
    • Pigments :These will be natural vs. synthetic, mineral vs. Organic.
    • Arabic gum: A binder to hold the pigment in suspension and fix the pigment to the painting surface.
    • Additives: (Glycerin, ox gall , honey, and preservatives. These alter the viscosity, durability, and color of the pigment; also, how the paint “moves” with water.)
    • Solvents : Used to thin or dilute paint. Affects application and evaporation speed
    • The organic/chemical/mineral composition of pigments each confers specific characteristics.
  • 14. Watercolor Characteristics:
    •  
  • 15. Transparency
    • Transparency refers to how much shows underneath the pigment
    • Transparent" colors do not have titanium dioxide (white) or most of the earth pigments (sienna, umber, etc.)
    • Cadmium colors are also considered to be opaque.
    • Transparency charts are helpful
  • 16. Permanent/Light fast vs. Fugitive: How long does the color last on the paper?
    • Often paints made from organic pigments are not permanent, or are “fugitive.”
    • Look at the labels . We now have permanent mixtures that were fugitive only a few years ago.
    • Often, permanent pigments are also staining
      • (Some fugitive pigments may be those labeled “Lake” or alizarin.)
  • 17. Staining vs. Nonstaining:
    • A staining paint is difficult to remove or lift from the painting.
    • The staining characteristics of a paint depend on the particle size of the pigment.
    • 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.
    • Also the composition of the paper affects staining qualities
  • 18. Granulating:
    • Pigments notable for their watercolor granulation include viridian (PG18), cerulean blue (PG35), cobalt violet (PV14) and some iron oxide pigments (PBr7).
  • 19. Flocculating or “Clumping”
    • Good for achieving a range of values in a single hue
    • This contrasts with the trend in commercial paints to suppress pigment textures in favor of homogeneous, flat color.
    • Ultramarines or alizarins are flocculating
  • 20. Toxicity:
    • Cobalt, Cadmium, Chromium-based paints are toxic.
    • Look at the labels. “Conforms to ASTM D4236” means the paint is nontoxic
  • 21. Other Characteristics
    • Value Range
    • Blossom
    • Diffusion
    • Hue Shift
    • Chroma
    • Drying Shift
    • Ratings of these characteristics by commercial paint name can be found at: http://www.handprint.com/HP/WCL/waterfs.html . Click the color at the top and you’ll find brands with names and color numbers.
  • 22. Brand and Grade of Paint
    • Brands and categories will affect the richness of color
    • Artist quality paints are usually formulated less fillers (kaolin or chalk) which results in richer color and vibrant mixes.
    • Student grade paints have less pigment, and often are formulated using two or more less expensive pigments.
    • Demonstration by Jeanne Dutton of student or academy grade vs. artist grade
  • 23. Your Personal Palette: There Are No “Pure” Colors and how all this information applies to you: The 6-color Palette
      • Jan Hart’s 6-color palette
    • The Wilcox 6-primary palette
  • 24. The Wilcox Color Method
    • To mix a secondary color, use two different primaries (arcs) whose arrows face toward or away from the desired secondary color (ball).
    • Both colors pointing toward yields a more pure color
    • One or both facing away makes a less pure color.
    • 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.
    • All colors are “biased”
    • The arcs are primary colors
    • The balls are secondary colors
    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 http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com/2009/03/wilcox-color-bias-wheel-yellow-and-blue.html
  • 25. Jan Hart’s 6-Color Palette
    • 6-color palette of “warm” and “cool” primaries: http://www.fountainstudio.com/watercolor%20tips/tip-mixing_colors.html (all these are transparent. you may want to make it 12, and have opaque, etc.)
    • Also, Jan Hart’s 6-color palette in “The Watercolorist’s Guide to Exceptional Color,” http://www.northlightshop.com/product/watercolor-artists-guide-to-exceptional-color/ ISBN: 9781600580529; pp. 48, 50, and 68.
  • 26. Your Favorite Neutrals
  • 27. Hands-on Session
    • Mixing black and brown with “cool” and “warm” primaries
    • Mixing gray with cool and warm hues
    • Making secondaries by the Wilcox method
    • To mix clean neutrals, try to use transparent paints.
  • 28. Color Schemes to Unite the Colors In Your Painting
    • Color theory has long had the goal of predicting or specifying the color combinations that would work well together or appear harmonious.
    • The color wheel has been adopted as a tool for defining these basic relationships.
    • Combining different parts of the color wheel creates various psychological effects: Harmonious/restful, exciting
    • For more explanation, see: http://www.tigercolor.com/color-lab/color-theory/color-theory-intro.htm
  • 29. Complementary: Vibrant
    • The juxtaposition of complementary colors (opposite on the color wheel) results in visual excitation.
  • 30.
    • 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.
    Analogous: Harmonious
  • 31. Split Complementary: Vibrant but Less Tense
    • This color scheme employs a range of analogous hues, "split" 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.
  • 32. Triadic: Vibrant, Primitive
    • This color scheme adopts any three colors approximately equidistant around the hue circle.
    • Tip: Make one color dominant
  • 33. Tetradic: Rich, Full
    • Tip: make one color dominant
  • 34. Monotone or duotone:
    • 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.
  • 35. Tip:
    • 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.
  • 36. More Tips on Painting
  • 37. Determine the Key
    • Overall light vs. dark impression of a painting
    • 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.
    • Decide on the key of the painting as a whole and make that value range 2/3 of your painting
  • 38. Decide on the Temperature
    • Decide on the temperature: Do you want a warm or a cool setting? Is the painting describing morning or afternoon?
  • 39. As a rule, don’t use gray or black for shadows. Painting Shadows:
  • 40. Shading Objects
    • 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.
  • 41.
    • The shady side also reflects light from the surface below. Remember, the light bounces both ways.
  • 42.
    • 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.
    Painting Cast Shadows
  • 43.  
  • 44.  
  • 45.
    • Things far away have little contrast and are always bluish. The bluer, the farther away they are.
    • Overlap various elements within your composition so that some are forced forward or backward in the scene.
    • Use less detail, texture, and definition when painting objects in the mid-ground and background of the landscape.
    • Paint with lighter values and less contrast for distant elements
    • Distant objects should not have shadows darker than mid tones.
    • Use cooler colors to push elements farther into the background.
    • Use warmer, darker colors to bring elements forward into the foreground.
    • As elements recede in the distance, paint them at a much smaller scale than objects in the foreground.
    Painting distances
  • 46. Painting morning light vs. afternoon light
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • .
    • Therefore, even when painting sunny daytime scenes, paint with cooler colors to represent morning and warmer yellows and oranges to achieve afternoon lighting
  • 47. Tips
    • Test your colors on a small sheet before you apply
    • 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.
  • 48. Read More
    • http://www.handprint.com/LS/CVS/color.html