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liltingzephyr
01-05-2015, 10:02 AM
I don't have any art background to speak of, so I'm working on acquiring a basic understanding of color theory. I'm using a limited palette to force myself to start to acquire some skill in layering. I am working with Polychromos colored pencils.

The problem that I am having is with browns. How do you mix a good array of browns and tans? What colors are you using? With three pencils in RGB, I'm having no trouble mixing blacks, greens, and oranges. I'm struggling with violet and failing miserably with browns. What advice and tips do you have?

Tiny test in green:
http://www.wetcanvas.com/Community/images/05-Jan-2015/1893054-image.jpg

Patrick1
01-05-2015, 10:17 AM
Browns are a darkened orange or orange-red color (depending on which exact color you have in mind). For dark, rich browns, it's important to have little or no white in the mix. In my limited experience with colored pencils, they were limited in value and saturation compared to oils and acrylics.

For brown, try various oranges + black or various deep purples. Also, it might be best to layer the more transparent color over top the more opaque one.

Tans will be generally be browns or yellow-browns lightened with white.

liltingzephyr
01-05-2015, 11:11 AM
Thank you! That's really helpful. I'll play around with that today.

llawrence
01-05-2015, 10:06 PM
With three pencils in RGBThere's your trouble right there. RGB are additive primaries. For paint or ink - or colored pencil - you need subtractive primaries: cyan, magenta, and yellow (or something close to that).

To get orange, for instance, you need to mix red or magenta and yellow - and you don't have yellow in your current palette. Brown is just a darkened, desaturated orange, so if you can't get orange you'll have trouble with that one too.

With your new CMY primaries: mix magenta and yellow to get orange, then darken and desaturated with cyan to get brown.

I might add that I personally don't think colored pencil is the easiest medium for learning color theory.

liltingzephyr
01-06-2015, 12:27 AM
There's your trouble right there. RGB are additive primaries. For paint or ink - or colored pencil - you need subtractive primaries: cyan, magenta, and yellow (or something close to that).

To get orange, for instance, you need to mix red or magenta and yellow - and you don't have yellow in your current palette. Brown is just a darkened, desaturated orange, so if you can't get orange you'll have trouble with that one too.

With your new CMY primaries: mix magenta and yellow to get orange, then darken and desaturated with cyan to get brown.

I might add that I personally don't think colored pencil is the easiest medium for learning color theory.

That's quite helpful. I was actually using red, blue, and yellow. RGB was a typo. I also wasn't sufficiently taking into account warm vs. cool colors. I read Blue and Yellow Don't Make Green today and found that helpful as well. I'm working exclusively in colored pencil, or at least attempting to work with that medium. I just want to be more in touch with the colors I'm using. I don't think I'll be using a limited palette exclusively, but I want to be able to layer consciously. I want to take advantage of existing research and scholarship to enhance my understanding.

Mythrill
01-06-2015, 08:35 AM
From what I understand of colored pencils, using, say, Prismacolors is quite different from using Polychromos (from Faber-Castell). Prismacolors don't layer as much, but colors are more vibrant, which make up for it. In all cases, though, mixing is limited, so you have to rely much more on specific colors.

Zephyr, if you want to stick to a few colored pencils, why don't you add an ochre or a brown color to your small palette? In Polychromos, there's "Raw Umber", "Vandyck Brown" "Yellow Ochre". In Prismacolors, a few interesting matches are "Sandbar Brown", "Chocolate", "Sienna Brown" and "Yellow Ochre".

Gigalot
01-06-2015, 10:11 AM
RYB palette is useful for oil painting, but mostly for artists who never use color which can be described as violet. And when very dull green is their only choice.
RYB is not useful for colored pencils, unless you like ultra-limitation in you color gamut.
36 colored pencils kit is good, but 48 colored pencils kit is better. Don't limit yourself, take a little money and buy a good box full of fine pencils! :D

liltingzephyr
01-06-2015, 10:25 AM
I actually have a set of sixty. The limitation is an intentional learning exercise. I just want to know the abilities and limitations of my tools. I'll go back to using the full set soon. I've got a few more books on color theory coming in at my library that I'm going to work through. I like layered color affects, but I'd like to avoid unpleasant surprises with a little forethought and experimentation. :) Thank you everyone.

Gigalot
01-06-2015, 11:52 AM
I actually have a set of sixty.
:thumbsup: :clap: Limited color set can work better with Watercolor pencils. Adding a tiny amount of water, you can intermix strokes and lines subtractively, while regular colored pencils have additive mixing properties, just optical mixing.

liltingzephyr
01-06-2015, 12:54 PM
:thumbsup: :clap: Limited color set can work better with Watercolor pencils. Adding a tiny amount of water, you can intermix strokes and lines subtractively, while regular colored pencils have additive mixing properties, just optical mixing.

Oooh! Thanks for the tip. I'm playing around with adding solvent to my colored pencils, and I am getting better color blends with that.

dougmccallum
01-06-2015, 01:07 PM
To expand a little on how colored pencils work, each layer that you put down is translucent.Light goes through the layers and is reflected back out rather than the colors being mixed. You can mix the colors if you use a solvent but the dried mix is stilll translucent. You can get an idea of how the order of layering can make a difference. A simple test is to select a couple of colors, say 4, and then construct a box with 4 columns in it. Fill each column with a layer of color. Now add 4 rows and color each row with a layer of color in the same order as the columns. The resulting squares will show the order dependence of the color layers. The diagonal of the pure colors separates. The upper triangle will have the colors of the diagonal color on the bottom and the bottom triangle will have the diagonal color on top. With some color paris there isn't a big difference but others will show more.

Doug

liltingzephyr
01-06-2015, 03:32 PM
Great information, Doug. Thank you. I've seem some swatches done in that style. I might just need to do a few sheets of swatches so that I have my own reference library.