Hey guys. Lately I've really tried to sit down and get a proper understanding of color theory and how different colors are effected under different lighting conditions. I've got a fairly good understanding of anatomy, along with grey scale value work, but it's the color and lighting that I really get stuck on. And I was hoping that some of you might be able to help me out with it or possibly give me an indication of weather or not I am heading in the write direction with my practice and study (or what I should be doing for practice and study.)
I guess the main problems I am coming up against is:
1. Picking good colors, and appropriate color palettes. I'm not sure if I'm just not good at picking colors or if I simply just need more experience and practice, but when I look at the colors other artists have picked for their work and compare it to my own, my color choices seem so amateur. Am I giving myself a hard time over this for nothing? I just can't tell looking at my own work. Is there any tips someone out there you might have to offer on how to pick good color choices, how many colors I should be using in a painting.
Color palettes analysed from other artists, which unfortunately I have a great deal of trouble with when coming up with my own color schemes.
As you can see in the image above, the palette I originally chose came out with very little contrast, which needed to be corrected through adjusting the curves and color balance in photoshop. Which is often the case with my work.
It's as if I am not able to get the correct light to dark value when working in color, where as with my grey scale value studies I am fairly content with my confidence in achieving this.
2. And different colors under different lighting conditions. This is a major issue I'm trying hard to get my head around. I'm never sure how much I should let the color of the light effect the local color of the objects within the scene? And exactly how does the color of the light effect the color choices I make for the different colors on that object. This whole topic seems quite complex. Sometimes I wonder if I am thinking about all this too much, but I feel if I can piece together this jigsaw and get some feedback/clarity on the studies I've been working on from you guys, maybe I will be able to better direct the outcome of my colored paintings. What am I missing here?
I've seen the amazing work produced by the members of this community, and it is inspiring to say the least. It is what pushes me to succeed and get better; to evolve as an artist. Which is why it would be so valuable to learn some of the wisdom you've gained through your own experiences. Any advice or critique will be greatly appreciated.
Last edited by claytonbarton; October 11th, 2012 at 02:51 PM.
The answer to your questions is: "It all depends." Helpful, huh?
More constructively: You're asking questions that concern the "realistic" use of color in terms of light hitting 3D forms, but your basic approach--pre-determining a palette and then trying to make a picture using only that paletts--is an essentially "decorative" one. I think you'd do well to study color by working from nature (either from life or from photos) rather than trying to dissect other people's art.
Basically what Giacomo said, and to add:
Your right in that it's good to start with a tonal image. There's a technique that let's you apply colors to your tonal image instead of applying the colors directly (look up grayscale to color). That might help you more, and the colors can be altered without affecting the under painting.
Do some studies from life, definitely, but not from photos. They tend to alter the colors and aren't very reliable, unless you took the photos and know how the colors are altered.
Lastly, get the book "Color and Light" by James Gurney. It's a wonderful guide to how color interacts with the environment and will probably answer a lot of your questions.
Have you seen Dimensions of Colour (link in sig)? Let me know if it helps ... or doesn't!
hey... is it a good idea to use multiply and colordodge to get realistic colorshifts? it seems to do the math for me and dont let me be lost in guessing too much. sure, i need some color and light understanding to see where to stop.
You have some freedom when deciding light colors. This freedom is a broader range of possible values, like making evening light more reddish or more yellow-ish. However a lot of your non-natural paintings (like character designs or alien planets or artificial light sources) should depend mostly on what color sheme works best to underline the mood you want to give.
As for daylight - this kind of warm white is the kind that appears pretty colorless, it just raises the saturation of the objects own colors, while their own color get duller in shadow and effected by the athmosphere (blueish). In rooms however, there isn't a lot of light reflection beside a bit of what objects might reflect of their own colors. But the color of the light source will dominate everything. It's the tone mixed into the surface's light and it also mixed into the shadows (however a bit duller, as it's darker and probably effected by some different colors from different influences by the rooms own colors, after all the color reaching the shadows is merely what other objects reflect to the spots). And that now counts for all artificial lights, meaning you can decide a lot for yourself what colors you want. Most importantly, and what most paintings really ruins isn't color but the underlying values. Most problems solve if you start out in grayscales and apply the right values.
Edit: I've found time analyzing your first painting a bit to give some more in-depth help, hope this helps:
Last edited by Swamp Thing; March 8th, 2013 at 01:09 PM.