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Color Harmonies

2015-03-26 21:51:11 by Art101

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Color theory is a broad subject and today I'll just be focusing on one of it's most useful aspects, color harmonies.  There are many different color schemes you should be aware of, but first you need to understand how a color wheel functions:


This is a color wheel.  Note how the primaries (red, yellow, and blue) are equidistant, with secondary colors (orange, purple, green) falling between them and so forth. Tertiary colors (red-orange, red-violet, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-violet, and blue-green then fall between those.*

Now, color harmonies: It's easiest perhaps to think of most of them as potential dials on the color wheel, that can be spun in any direction but maintain the same distance between their chosen colors.

2740186_142742058953_wheelcomp.png  2740186_142742219162_ne7ers_mirror.jpg

Complementary color harmonies are simplest. Essentially a straight line, a work of art with a complementary color diad will be dominated by colors from opposite locations on the color wheel. (source)

2740186_142744288681_wheelsplitcomp.png  2740186_142744338021_impendingriot_i-made-it-booker-bioshock.jpg

A split complentary triad is like a complentary diad but one color is replaced with the colors on either side of it. (source)

2740186_142744526862_wheeldoublesplit.png  2740186_142744689942_jagondudo_home.jpg
A double split complementary tetrad. Like a split complementary triad, but split on both sides.

2740186_142744541843_wheeltriad.png  2740186_142744198392_donstracci_red-tie.jpg

Equilateral triad- three equidistant hues. Primary color schemes are the most popular expression of this. (source)

  2740186_142742089832_wheelanalagous.png  lintire weeabocalypse
An analagous hexad draws from one full half of the color wheel. (source)


Equilateral hexad. Three pairs of complementaries equidistant on the wheel.


lovingthedark valerie june  2740186_142744916051_okoo_little-red-riding-hood-1.jpg  jagondudo death

Neutral color palettes are made up of heavily desaturated colors, mostly browns and grays. Accented neutral color palettes are made up of neutral hues plus a splash of more saturated color. (source source source )

turkey on a stick bloke in a dress2740186_142744915981_rockethorse_lady-of-the-trees.jpg

Earth/sky: Earth tones paired with blues, very pleasing to the human brain. (source source)


2740186_142744198171_fifty-50_comic-pages.png  ninjar the portal

Monochrome art is made with one color, plus white and/or black depending on which interpretation of the word you're using. Just white is the more common usage. Check out the Monochrome Collab for more examples.  (source source)


A few notes on how some of the art regs use color:

Both Zanezansorrow and Jagondudo are quite fond of gamut masking.

Lintire says, "Normally I choose two main colours - one warm and one cold. Doesn't have to be particularly warm or cold, don't have to be opposites, shadows can be warm and lights can be cold. Whatever it is that serves my whims at that particular time. Picture is based around that. There can be three or four colours, or sixteen if I'm in the mood for it.

I wouldn't call it random (well I would but smarmy assholes have called me out for it in the past), but it's certainly not overthought. Colours don't really matter, as long as your values are right you can get away with anything."

A common approach to coloring is starting with a greyscale image and fully fleshed out values and then coloring from there. Mlillustration has an excellent example of that process here.

*This is a pigment-based color wheel- the primaries for light wavelengths are red/green/blue, so depending on where you look you'll see wheels designed differently. Printers use the primaries cyan/magenta/yellow (+ black for cmyk). Over the centuries many different arrangements of color wheels have been developed- they're all useful, use what you like. I prefer this one.

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