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November 26, 2012
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Picking Colors

:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
How do you choose the colors to use in paintings to make the images vivid or give them more pop? I've read somewhere that using only monochromatic colors can make the image flat, and that you should use different colors that you normally wouldn't think of to make the coloring more dynamic, but how do you do that when painting something like portraits? Wouldn't it stand out too much if you add blue or green or some other unusual color to a peach-skinned person's portrait?

Do you chose certain color palettes for certain people, and if so, how did you know to use those colors?

An example where I tried to do more vivid shading is here [link] . This is an anthro piece but I have the same problems with humans.
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Devious Comments

:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
It starts with simple colour theory and the colour wheel. (ie primary colours, secondary colours and tertiary colours)

When mixing paints irl you usually add the darker colour to the lighter colour (such as blue into yellow) and do it in teeny bits til the colour is perfect. Learning to mix traditionally can really help digitally.

Also studying colour schemes such as triads and cold colours, warm colours etc rather than just picking a red, pick a cold red or a warm red depending on your purposes.

Mostly though.. look at art you love from all genres and see how they do it. I remember being shocked to discovered that art I thought was in 'full colour' was actually only in shades of red and yellow or green and purple.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I didn't know you could mix colors that way for some reason. I originally thought the only way to get different colors was adding more or less water to the brush (my paints are watercolor), and even after that, I'd only heard of mixing white and black into different colors, but never other colors. I seem to have a lot of misconceptions to deal with... Thank you for your advice!
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Professional General Artist
Much as I love digital art, it has a lot to answer for with the fact you can just point and voila colour.

If anything you should never mix in white or black to get a lighter or darker colour unless utterly necessary.

Blue and Yellow mix to Green
Yellow and Red mix to Orange
Blue and Red mix to Purple
And if you mix Red to Green you get a deep grey colour, so if you want to darken off a red you can actually add a green to dull it down. Same with Blue and Orange or Yellow and Purple...

I would totally recommend learning some colour theory and colour mixing no matter what kind of art you do...
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:iconblack-allison:
Black-Allison Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012
A good way to learn colour theory is get real life paints. Like get what the store owner will tell you is a good starter kit, it will probably be a tube of only 5-8 colours. Mixing colours is really hard, but colour is something you learn easier in real life.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have some real life paints that I've used before but I really don't know how to use them. I can't figure out how to get the colors I want without either wasting a lot of paint or using so little pigment that the image comes out too light. But the few times I did use real life paints I learned a little. Do they have tutorials for learning how to paint in general?
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:iconbongoskillz:
BongoSkillz Featured By Owner Dec 3, 2012  Student Digital Artist
When working on portrait it would probably be beneficial to emphasize the colors of the eyes. After all...they are the windows to the soul ;) I think a lot of it depends on how vivid you want the eyes to come off. I know that sometimes my pictures, or at least the way I imagine them in my head,are based off of the hair and the eyes. The clothing and backgrounds only exist to compliment them. But there are tons of ways to do it and It's all about what works for you ;)
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the advice. I'll try to make the eye color stand out more next time. Do you have any suggestions on how to do this?
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:iconbongoskillz:
BongoSkillz Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Student Digital Artist
I'd check out [link] 's gallery! She has an amazing sense of color in my opinion. Find some pictures where you can see how the eyes determine the theme of the colors in the picture.


[link] : in this one, their outfits are themed around their individual eyecolors.

[link] : but in this picture, the eyes really really pop because of 1: Their unnatural color, and 2: they don't really blend with anything else in the picture. they pop

[link] : This one has the entire theme off of the picture based off either the eyes or the background.

Just play around with it, I guess is my best advice. I've always struggled with color myself, but looking at other artists and learning from them is super helpful!
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you very much for your suggestion. I've never seen this artist before, but I see what you mean and agree with you totally. I'll go through her gallery and see what I can learn. Thank you for your help!
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:iconbongoskillz:
BongoSkillz Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Student Digital Artist
No Problemo! :D Good Luck! :D
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:iconmoonyeah:
MoonYeah Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
If you look closely at photos, you can see skin is never one color, it's about subtle changes in colors, colors are different between ears, nose, around eyes, chin etc.

It's really subtle, and it depends on the model, an old man has a different skin compared to a very young woman.
It's also about the thickness of the skin, for example around eyes there are veins under a thin skin, so the color is defferent, if you look at the ears, and if light comes for the background, blood will give ears a red pinky color etc...

Also, be careful about people with makeup.

This one is a really good example, by sycra :
[link]

If you put the picture on photoshop (or else) with the color picker you can try to pick colors on different faces parts and see it's not always the same.

hope it helps.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the advice. I've never really looked too close at photos before, at least, not enough to really pay attention to really subtle differences in color on their skin. And sadly, most of the time when I see people's photos, the people are models, and are covered in makeup. The photos I see also tend to have little to no lighting, so I only end up seeing about two or three tones. Finding different photos and studying them more throughly would probably help.
I'm not sure why I haven't tried the color picking thing with a real person before. I've tried it with professional art before, but I felt like I was cheating and never did it again. I'll try this too.
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:iconmoonyeah:
MoonYeah Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
i just typed "without makeup" on google pictures, and i end up with thousands of good pictures of people without makeup and under a normal day lighting for most of them.

I think you didn't look closely at photos cause you were too busy looking at a "painting faces tutorials".

I mean, of course, tutos are good (not all of them are good, some teaches you wrong things) for learning, but real life is better when you need comprehension. cause other artists still have put their own style and interpretation, so you cannot really learn how it works by "only" looking at paintings.

and if you look at paintings, maybe boring old times paintings are better, like this one : [link]

or those ones : [link] [link] [link] [link]

hope that helps
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 10, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I see. I've never thought to do that, but then again, you're also right about me always looking at tutorials. I didn't look at real people to learn color, but solely at other artists. The tutorials helped a little, but not much.

I can't see the first link; it says I need to log in to something to see it, but the rest are good examples. Thank you for your help.
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012   Digital Artist
Have a look at this

There's a bit of blue and green in the skin. Skin reflects light and colours from its surroundings.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the advice. One of my problems is that I normally don't have characters in surroundings; the backgrounds are always sort of thrown on after the character was painted so there was no really different colored light source besides the one that was used for basic shading. Thank you for the example you provided; it's going to help me too.
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012   Digital Artist
Try putting a background in first, or at least the basic colour of it. I usually do that, so I can get the colorus looking cohesive throughout the whole design. :)

Something with a bg, like Play With Me, you could have blue from the water refleceting onto the boy's stomach.

With something like Taini, you don't have to use the blue of the BG, but you could use a transparent purple colour to shade the shirt under the folds or under her hair. Purple is a common colour for shadows.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I will do that now. I usually think of the background as separate from the character, but that doesn't seem like such a good way to do it anymore.

Thank you for the insight on those two pieces. I'll use your advice next time I paint water or shadows.
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:iconrovanna:
Rovanna Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012   Digital Artist
Yep, I've started thinking of the complete picture rather than figure+background. Helps a lot. Good luck! :la:
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:iconacrasai:
Acrasai Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I would advise looking from real-life.

If you look closely enough you should see the colours (and I don't mean "Oh that's a tree, tree bark is brown, I'll make that brown") try and see the light sources - if you have a pink light, and a shiny grey surface, there will be a faint pink shade of colour where the light is reflected.

I hope this helps a little :)
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm going to try this from now on. I've never thought of colored light sources before, but I'll look for them more now. Thank you for your advice.
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:iconacrasai:
Acrasai Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You're welcome :D
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:iconurus-28:
Urus-28 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist

Colour theory, this is what you need =)
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
This is very helpful. I've learned some basic color theory, but this is much more in-depth. Thank you for your help.
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:iconurus-28:
Urus-28 Featured By Owner Nov 28, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The best for you is to find a book on the subject, check your local library there are probably some books talking about colour theory in detail :p
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've read some of them back when I just started learning about art, but they mostly went right over my head. I'll try to read some again now; hopefully I've improved enough to understand them better.
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:iconurus-28:
Urus-28 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's not an easy subject, it's normal having to experiment to really understand things =)
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
When you look at art you like, don't just study the subject, for example "nice dress" but study how that artist uses colour and what you can steal from them (as such). Like if you love the way they coloured in the skin, really look at what colours they used and say to yourself "Oh I could try that."
Even in real life, hold up your hand right now and I gaurentee you if you spend some time looking you'll see colours not flesh tone. The light in my room is slightly yellow some my whole skin is tinged yellow but the midtones are red and the shadows are almost a dull green colour. Then I could take this information and paint my painting with it, simply from looking at my hand.

"Wouldn't it stand out too much if you add blue or green or some other unusual color to a peach-skinned person's portrait?"

Try it and see? That's how art works. You just have a go and if it fails, it's not a problem, you try another approach.
Just from going to the portraits section of dA, the most popular section is giving me a whole range of colour usage.

That's the most popular 3 and not a "peach" amoung them, yet they all portray Caucasian "peach" skintone.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the advice. I think one of the reasons I thought painting unusual colors on a person would look strange was because I rarely ever have real backgrounds with my pieces like these have (excluding the close-up, but I've never done those either). Colored light sources are something else I've never considered. I'll try this too. Thank you for the examples; I'll study them for my next piece.

I did hold my hand up like you suggested, and the light from the room made my hand slightly yellow while the computer screen's light made a strong bluish color. I've never paid much attention to small things like that; I'll make sure to try and study them as well.
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
I warn you, once you start watching things like the colour of skin, hair, clothes etc and the lighting, on yourself, and on your friends and family, random strangers on the bus, you'll never ever stop and it'll become one of those strange things you do other people think is odd, however it'll improve your paintings.

With a painting even if it's just a figure, try to start off with a coloured background, something neutral or even something bright, instead of just white, then you'll already have a colour to play with :D
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:D I did this once or twice and people did think I was odd, but I got some inspiration.

I'll do that from now on. Thank you very much for your help.
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Nov 27, 2012  Professional General Artist
I like to look at how things look in different lighting conditions, such as dusk, rainstorms, articifial light, department stores, sunny days, under a tree.. it does indeed get addictive.

I mean Monet the artist was obsessed by painting light. He used to paint the same scene 3 or 4 times at different times of the day in order to capture the different light.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I've seen art where the artist played with different lighting effects. It's very interesting.

You've given me something else I need to study. I've probably seen them, but I can't say I know any of Monet's pieces. Unless the piece is really famous (eg. Van Gogh's Starry Night), I probably can't put a fine artist's name to a piece. I'll add looking up Monet to my to-do list.
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:iconfionacreates:
FionaCreates Featured By Owner Dec 2, 2012  Professional General Artist
The impressionist, of which Monet was, were the first people to really and trully obsess over light, because they liked to paint out of doors which previously was impossible.

All previous painting, even if it was an ourdoor scene was painted in a studio, but thanks to the invention of tubes to put paint in (such a simple thing we take for granted) suddently Monet and the other Impressionists could go outdoors and paint in nature what they saw right in front of them.

I'm sure you know if you try to memorise something and repaint it later the colours wouldn't be the same as if you just looked at it. That's what made the impressionists such a revolutionary art movement.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Dec 5, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the art lesson. I haven't taken Fine Arts Studies yet so this is all new to me. Would you recommend I study impressionists to learn about light? Are there any other art movements that emphasize light?
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(1 Reply)
:iconochanotsuki:
ochanotsuki Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It might be worth your time to put different features on different layers and then shift the hue of one layer and see how it effects the piece. You'd be surprised how shifting the hue just a little can impact the overall feel of a picture ^_^
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the advice. :D I'll try that the next time I do a painterly piece. Should I have the background be affected by these adjustment layers too?
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:iconochanotsuki:
ochanotsuki Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
just put the background (or it's components) on separate layers. If everything is on different layers you can really play with the colors without worrying about messing with other aspects of the painting.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Alright. Thank you for your help! I'll try your advice too. :D
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:iconochanotsuki:
ochanotsuki Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
no prob :D
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:icondavidscript:
DavidScript Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Lots and lots of contrast. Play around with different hues when you shade.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Okay, thanks. :) Do you have any hues in particular you prefer or do you just pick randomly?
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:icondavidscript:
DavidScript Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
It's all about color theory. For example, I've seen people who use a bit of purple to shade yellow shirts.
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:iconstarcandy12:
starcandy12 Featured By Owner Nov 26, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'll try that. Shading things with contrasting colors is something I've never tried before. Thank you for the advice.
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