Re: Colour Match Help Needed
What virgil said, you can't actually match real colors, its just nonsense to attempt it, even if you are a realist. Your goal is to do convincing color, and that requires context, illusion really, its a sleight of hand, and tricking a person into seeing what you are seeing.
You can match a photograph, or something which is printed, but those are not the actual colors either, they are just approximations. They are very convincing, but they are not the actual color, they can't be. I tried doing sunsets, now that I really know those colors, I look at photos of actual sunsets by some amazing photographers and know how off they are, the color does not glow like a sunset does, but they still feel right if you look at them during the day. If you saw them during a sunset you'd see how they don't even come close to the real thing.
If your main focus is using photos as references, at some point you have to go outside and learn the actual colors, otherwise you are just copying a copy which often has its own errors of color. Which is just fine, but even copying the colors of photo is nearly impossible.
It is context that matters, not the specific color, if you want something to look orange, and you only have brown, how do you do that. Well in commercial printing, the full colors stuff, like in glossy magazines and color brochures, I am sure you have seen oranges, and they looked real to you.
Here is a secret, and I have worked in commercial printing for 20 years, and did high color correction, and had cingular wireless as our customer too ( remember their orange logo ) which is very relevant. There is NO ORANGE, the closest you get is a color which is duller than the burnt sienna we use, definitely orangey, but its still brown. If you mix 100% yellow and 100% magenta, you get a nice red, but never a nice orange which is 100% yellow and 50% magenta, it is simply physically impossible, it either becomes red, or it becomes yellow. Same with blue, its really a cyan or a purple, the real blue of the sky is likewise out of gamut ( I have had to color correct every RGB photo of a sky for pleasing colors, the original color is always way too purple inside CYMK )
And we did their logo as a spot color ( actual orange ink, much like pyrrole orange ), and as process color, and they looked completely different, and the end users didn't notice. I had to explain why this was to all their print buyers over and over, but they had a brown version used in CMYK, and a really orange one done using spot colors.
Why do things look orange in CMYK, I am sure you remember seeing orange things, even actual oranges, its context. You put duller colors around it, and you use the color opposite it on the color wheel ( blue ). Same with the lighting, if the cast of the lights is yellow, that actually means the blue items are a bit green ( yellow plus blue is green ), but our minds remove this color cast since that yellow is all over.
We don't see with our eyes, we see with our minds - just cover up one eye or the other, see how things move back and forth, yet with both eyes we see things between what each eye does, our minds are changing what we see. When people say the third eye, this is the eye we use to deal with the world, and as artists we must learn how to communicate with it, to convince it that our pictures have the correct color, and dimension.
My suggestion, focus on value, if you get value right, no one is going to notice the color being off, in fact our brains will automagically just fix the issue in our heads, we won't even notice. Remember the act of recording an image on paper, which looks real and has dimension, that is an illusion, the viewer wants to believe it, to make sense of it. Let the painting finish in their minds, not on your paper where it will just be overworked and boring if you finish it for them.
Your job isn't to make a photo, your camera is for that, it is to capture the feeling. In doing plein air, we learn a painting will never compare to the subject you are painting. To think you can do that is assuming you might be able compete with God (or Nature), you are copying the greatest artist of all, your work no matter how genius will pale. Even the most minor thing, like catching the exact color, is nearly impossible unless your pigment is already matching.
It is not until you forget what the subject looks like exactly, when you stop comparing, do you see if your painting captured its essence, only then do you know if its any good.
This is stuff that is hard to learn, but if you get the values right, the rest will fall into place. Focus on that first. Try to think about pleasing color, appropriate color, and color relationships.
Suggest taking all your colors, and charting them. Make a grid, and all the colors along the top, and the same colors as rows, where they line up, mix them 50/50, then do a full, and a tint. Not only is this a good way to start seeing how the colors mix, this will become a reference for you. Next time you need a color, look for it here as your starting point.
Last edited by briantmeyer : 07-16-2019 at 04:14 PM.