How did you are you become good with color?

  • This has been the most shocking aspect of coming to SVS. I realized I am trash when it comes to understanding color. All these years all I have been doing is ripping color schemes from other artists, and never thought for some reason that these artists have to figure this out for themselves.

    My wife seems to be able to just look at colors and make anything look good together, but not me.

    I did take the classes on color, and I got a lot of good advise, however, I am still horrible at it. Any tips on how you got better in this area?

  • Darn, the header is totally written poorly. I tried deleting it, yet it remains.

    Let me add, does anyone have any good grammer books? lol

  • By responding, I am in no way assuming I am good with color. But becoming good with color requires the same process as becoming proficient in any/all of the aspects of a good illustration (line, composition, value etc.) Practice, practice, practice. So here are my suggestions on how/what to practice:

    1. Start with knowing the basic rules-- all of which are covered in multiple SVS courses. Obviously the Color and Light class, but also the bonus lecture in Marco Bucci's digital painting 2, and there are some color gems in the Painting in Photoshop class--if I remember correctly. When choosing colors, intentionally think of and use those rules (like: the eye goes to red more than any color, so put it where you want your eye to land; Complimentary colors create excitement and/or tension; Cool colors recede...etc.)

    2. Learn, practice, and use value to help with your color. Value can make any 2 colors work next to each other. You may have colors that in theory work together, but if they are the same value, they won't read well.

    3. I don't think there is anything wrong with "ripping color schemes." In fact, I would argue that the artist you are "ripping" "ripped" from someone else. And don't just look to other illustrations/art. Look at nature, fashion, home decor etc. Look for the "rules" that those color schemes are following. How did they use red? Is it a tertiary scheme, or monochromatic?

    4. Keep your color palette simple...very simple. There are amazing illustrations that use only 1-2 colors. Once you feel confident with those 2 colors, add more.

    I hope that helps. The key is to practice a lot. Good luck!

  • I very much agree with @Joy-Heyer (on all the points) and have something further to say about #3. I consider myself pretty decent with colour (I am a graphic designer in my day job so I've had a lot of practice in it, not just with illustration but with design), and yet I fully admit I 'rip-off' other people's colour schemes all the time. Not for every piece, but if I come across one that I particularly love and will work for my own illustration, of course I will.

    In terms of getting inspiration from others on colour schemes, I love Pinterest (search for 'colour scripts') and Adobe Color (formerly 'kuler'): Adobe Color is particularly good for showing a whole range of schemes that you may never have thought of yourself!

  • @Joy-Heyer @DanetteDraws thank you very much! I have been working with the advice you both gave, and have started to see some positive results,

    One of the things that has been hard to get down is traditional art and color theory. I do not have the ability to just drop colors in very quickly, and mixing can make me feel like going crazy. However, digitally it has been working out.

  • Making color scripts helps a lot aswel. What you do is design a color scheme, by setting local colors. For example decide what is the color thats not effected by light? what is the color of the light? and what color does the atmosphere has, sky is blue, but when your setting is in site, there can be a different atmosphere or a second light source.
    When you are satisfied you start with the real thing.


    So the local color in the light is changing to the color of the light source. The shade side is mixing with the atmosphere. In this painting it very exaggerated but it makes quite clear what I mean. Now don't forget that when you keep asking yourself 'Am i doing the right thing?' you will get stuck and that doesn't help at all. So keep lose.


    It helps me to stay on track.

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