Which colors do we choose?
How do we mix colors to get interesting grays or darker values?
How do we avoid getting muddy mixes?
Let's find out what our colors can do, discovering the relationships and properties of colors while we take a trip around the color wheel.
There is no easy way to do this, we each have to practice and find out how to make the right choices on our own – we know that two or more of us could draw the same subject and end up using completely different color combinations. Atmosphere, lighting, surrounding objects etc., these and more determine the colors in our lights and darks.
Most color mixing problems come from over mixing and or not understanding the relationships between colors.
There are plenty of color combinations to explore.
Bare in mind many of us use a variety of brands – so please try list the colors and brands you are using when you join in.
Before you begin, if you're completely new to this, do some research on color theory, get some books from your local library or search info on the Internet or even closer still - do a search through the Colored Pencil Library here or other places on WetCanvas.
Study the terminology and read about the science behind it all. I'm not an expert, I'm learning along with you, I have done a lot of studies with my pencils and plenty of reading and I would recommend every beginner start by making a color wheel and understanding the history behind it.
Throughout the thread I hope we do discuss the various aspects and properties of color and color theory etc., but I just don't want to spend too much time developing a long introductory trying to cover every detail in one post.
Here is one of a few color wheel's I've made over the last few years.
Go ahead – make one too! While you're at it, I'd recommend starting a notebook or journal to record your color mixing discoveries
Now let's take that trip around the color wheel...
Beginning with YELLOW since it's at the top of the color wheel and the lightest in value. First trying a bunch of different color combinations using yellow, how light and dark can we go with yellow? I'll do some value scales later, first I want to share some swatches I've made.
Then I plan on trying some sketches or drawings, using the combinations I come up with.
Yellow does not have quite as much of a value range as other colors, but you can significantly darken your yellows in a variety of ways.
You'll notice throughout this thread that I will not be 'avoiding' fugitive colors just yet – I do think serious colored pencil artists must take light fastness seriously, but I also think that in the process of learning about color theory and color awareness, we should understand how to mix color properly in order to work with a limited palette and or specifically a LIGHT FAST (also therefore limited) palette (?) That may not necessarily be the right approach, perhaps one should just throw out those fugitive colors and only learn to work with the more light fast ones... but I can not deny, for me, over the past few years playing with ALL my pencils and learning what you can do with the various colors has been fun and rewarding.
Here are a few examples, I've used all Prismacolors for these – I will try other brands and share how they compare when I have some time, I am going to spend a long time on ''yellows'' – everyone else joining in is welcome to go faster, but I'm going to take my time and try cover each color thoroughly.
1) To go darker and warmer with yellows, I often go this route, sometimes skipping some of the middle colors, but these all help for a smooth gradual change in a large area.
2) This is a common combination with flowers or trees etc., usually I use 'True Blue' instead of True Green, magic happens when you add Violet in the mix and unfortunately it doesn't translate well in the photograph of this swatch. Prismacolor's Dark Green could probably be thrown in, but the Indigo Blue does a nice job for darks.
3) Instead of using Violet, the complementary color to Yellow, the Dahlia Purple which is a little warmer and a little brighter, makes for a more livelier gray, perfect for shadowy areas, the Black Grape really helps for strengthening the darkest areas.
4) Before studying color theory or understanding how complementary colors worked, I tended to almost always go this route (as with #1), seemed the most logical to me. Sometimes it is called for obviously, depending on the subject - great for sunset scenes for example. I may use Tuscan Red to go even darker.
5) Using just the (complementary) color directly opposite to Yellow on the color wheel. If you were to mix the exact same amount of Yellow with Violet, you ought to get a true neutral
. A beautiful colored gray
is produced when there is much less of the Violet as there is of Yellow. It doesn't show quite as well in the photo, but in the top right and or lower left of this square example, I see a really lovely grayed yellow.
6) This combination is simply gorgeous off-screen. Mixed just the right amounts in the top left corner to get a very handsome gray. Does not translate quite as well in the photo - so you've GOT to try this one at home. It's so attractive to see the three colors shine through each other and make an excellent dark for yellow.
In the top right the Blue Violet is mixed with the Yellow and in the bottom left the Mulberry is mixed with Yellow.
7) So far this is my favorite, it is actually more of a reddish brown in the top left corner, a stunning warm neutral
- I love it, the Chartreuse shines through the brown - really lovely, I'll be using this mix of colors a lot, mostly because I love an 'earthy' palette.
I've started a lemon drawing to incorporate all of these mixes. Will try to post it soon when it's finished, I also plan on trying more mixes with other brands and watercolor pencils. If you wish to try this along with me, please join in and share your thoughts.