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November 20, 2012


Replies: 11

How do you choose your color scheme?

seanv93 Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Usually if you're drawing fan art or drawing with some kind of reference you have an idea in your head of what colors to use. Most of the time though I just make general drawings of things from imagination and I end up with a finished, clean line drawing and everything and I sit there thinking, "now what?"

How exactly do you go about laying down your basic colors and making your color scheme? Do you just pick random colors, place them on a palette and then adjust them until they look right? Do you take your colors from another drawing or photograph?

Personally, I make a layer under my finished lines and lay down a bunch of colors in the general areas that I think they should go until I have something that roughly resembles what I want, then I keep a small copy of that open in a window on the side or something, and I make a new layer and make my cleaned-up colors while looking at that as reference. Something like that. I'm wondering how most of you artists do this and if there is a better approach to this.

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Devious Comments

FionaCreates Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Professional General Artist
If I intend to colour it, I plan the colours as I'm drawing, so that the balance is right between the colours of the image. You might reaaaallly want a green outfit but if the outfit is just one huge block of green it will look a little weird, so you have to plan the balance so you don't just get blocks of colour, which you might get if you just did a lineart sketch with no colours in mind. That's not to say you can't go "oh this looks nice I'll colour it" but it's also good to plan as you go.

I quite like to sketch with blocks of shade so I know which areas will be darker as this also effects composition.
MrFeline Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Student Digital Artist
Looking at other pieces and photos is easily the best way to start incorporating color into your work. Color theory is great but the application of it to your own piece can leave gaps in how to handle say an orange light bouncing off a colored surface surface onto skin. Seeing the way other artists have handled the colors and transitions into other colors on a form can teach you a lot, and bring you to the point where the stuff you pull out of your head will be as colorful as you want while still retaining their accuracy. As with drawing, studying from life is the best way to pull stuff out of your ass later on.
narutokunobessed Featured By Owner Nov 22, 2012  Student General Artist
Mostly in my mind, I usually think of color theory and then apply to it what is appropriate to the picture.
seanv93 Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I agree with the idea of a mental image. Thank you for your responses
egypturnash Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
1. Pick a color. Don't make it hyper-saturated.

2. Pick a couple of other colors that look good next to it. Ideally they should have different values and saturation, so there is contrast going on there, as well as in hue.

3. Draw shapes. For shading, I'll usually just add one of the colors in multiply mode. If I'm being super-graphic I'll just have a sharp transition to one of the darker colors in my palette.

4. If I need a new color for some detail, then pick it too.

5. At any point in this process, I might tweak the colors. I work in Illustrator, so I have this magic ability to make everything drawn in one swatch change when I change the swatch. Sometimes there's a dramatic color change as one of the very last things I do to a drawing!

Sometimes I'll start with a quick messy color rough under my sketch, other times I just dive in and start making shapes, and tweak the colors as I go. Sometimes I'll limit myself to just two or three swatches; this results in a very unified palette.
Cnids Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I do a rough concept sketch of where stuff is going to be placed in the image, and then I just slap down colours until I end up with something that I like. I usually try to figure out what kind of "atmosphere" I want the piece to have (so like, warm versus cool colours), and I've been trying to pay attention to things like formal colour theory but it's mostly just trial and error.

I'm not super comfortable with colours so I tend to do very limited palettes, usually with more narrow areas of the colour wheel, and I use a lot of neutrals to balance things. Also I really like blues and golds. A lot.
weremole Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Metal image, basic idea behind the picture and the atmosphere I'm after. Applied through color theory and lighting.
Naariel Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012   Digital Artist
Whenever I'm in doubt about colors and what would fit with what, or just after ideas, I use the Kuler plugin in Photoshop.
PhantasmaStriker Featured By Owner Nov 21, 2012
I go via mental image when I come up with color schemes.
Rovanna Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012   Digital Artist
I usually paint the whole canvas a colour that is roughly the colour of what the background will be. Then I just mix up colours and paint as I go. I don't like making palettes.
Katy-L-Wood Featured By Owner Nov 20, 2012  Student General Artist
I put down all my flats first in what I think will be a good scheme, and then I make any adjustments to them I feel are needed. Once I've got a flat scheme I'm happy with I go in and start shading. It's much easier to make adjustments when your colors are still just flats.
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