drawing Drawing Tutorial

Basic Color Theory

used-and-proved color schemes, how colors change with lighting, secondaries, and lots of little tips about choosing colors.

Tutorial category: drawing  
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Tools used: Preferably a graphics program, but anything that will color works.




Step 1

Color is very important. Depending on your ability to choose colors, a picture can be dull or amazing. I'm not an expert on colors, but I'll try my best to teach what I've learned by experimenting.

For this tutorial, I'll assume that everyone knows what the color wheel is. The cruddy sketch on the left is what I'll be using as an example for this tutorial =D

Sorry It's manga, but I really don't feel like killing myself and sketching something in realism x[ (boy/girl?) Androgynous. :>


Step 2

Now, this is the dialog box you would find in photoshop, but generally all graphics programs have a color box like this (with the exception of painter, which has that weird triangle thing, but it's easy enough to figure out)

Saturation is very important with colors. Less saturation would make the colors look faded- more natural and earthy. 'Pastel' colors are colors that are on the left side of this box (meaning, less saturated)

More saturation, on the other hand, gives colors a bolder look. I do NOT recommend using colors on the far far right of the box with the exception of black, because those colors usually look fake. However, they're very useful for pop art, where bold colors=good. There are also some isolated occasions when they'd be helpful... well, use good judgement if you decide to incorporate those into your drawing.

I usually use colors that are in the middle region unless I'm going for a specific effect, but that's a matter of personal preference.



Step 3

Moving on to color schemes and how to choose colors accordingly. Here are some examples with that sketch. I'll point out some stuff for each.

For this one, I used very pale colors, and I left many areas still white. The effect is dreamy and soft.

For this effect, I suggest using the watercolor tool if there is one, or using a soft-edged brush. The colors are all very similar, and blend well. The colors I used were very close to each other on the color wheel. (yellow and blue) DO NOT use complementary colors if you want a dreamy effect- It will only look out of place.


Step 4

This kind of color scheme is my personal favorite. Complementary colors. (in this case, Orange and blue)

This color scheme creates a muted color effect. It's neither realistic nor seriously dreamy like the first one. This is more of something I stumbled upon while experimenting and liked.

Of course, the main colors are the two that are complementary to each other. The satruation is somewhere in the middle, and the color contrast isn't very high, giving it more of a faded look.

The colors are not pure. I moved the arrow selection a little bit for each part. (i.e. When I was coloring orange parts, sometimes I strayed towards the yellow, other times towards the red, and ditto for blue with purple and cyan)


Step 5

Cel-shading. I don't use this method much (except on RMD lul~~) but it's the usual anime screenshot look, and there are certain tricks to it.

The colors used in cel-shading are usually more saturated than other styles of coloring. Also, the contrast is very high and the edges are sharp. I use the lasso when cel-shading in photoshop or open canvas, but the RMD fill tool works wonders with this.

I suggest crazy colors with cel-shaing, since there's not much variety otherwise. Cel-shading is good in that it's easy, quick, and there's lots of room for creativity with it.

and my favorite part about cel-shading... it preserves detail very very well, meaning you can have uber-complex linework, slap some cel-shading over it, and people will love it to death, thinking you've exerted yourself drawing it when really all the effort is in the lines. 8D



Step 6

Moving on to secondaries and ambient light. First, let's do an experiment C:

Grab something colorful that isn't transparent and is a single solid color. A blue towel works great. Get yourself under a bright light, like those bathroom lights in front of the mirror~~ (you can see how I discovered this trick)

Now, move your hand closer to the colorful object, then away. Repeat. Notice anything?

........you should've seen the side of your hand turn just a little bit more to the color of your object. And THAT, is secondaries. Light reflecting off certain things make the surroundings a bit more of that color.

Now, Ambient light. If the room is blue, everything else in the room is tinted just a little bit blue, too. It's simple, but something very important to keep in mind.

needless to say, if you have a blue light source, well.... your highlights will be blue, while the shadows will be a tint blue too because of reflected light.


Step 7

This might seem a bit rushed, but we've come to the end of this tutorial. Remember your color theory, and no one will care even if your coloring technique isn't great. ;D

Sorry for the bad coloring throughout this tutorial. I'm somewhat rushing the drawings, but I hope they're good enough for people to tell the techniques used. To the left is a (recycled) combination of ambient light and secondaries with blue light~

My art teacher said something great during the one year that I took art. He said that there are no pure colors. Even white and black are not 'pure' white or 'pure' black. They contain spots of purples, blues, reds, greens.

So far, it's the best piece of advise I've ever received about my art, and I hope you will learn something from that statement,too.

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