Understanding Color

Understanding Color

Why Color is so important, Saturation and Value and six Color Harmonies that work.
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using colors is probably one of the biggest hurdles that artists face knowing how to use colors effectively to adjust the mood or the atmosphere or to even pick colors that actually go well together it's really hard for a lot of people to to make it work so that's what this video is all about understanding color by the end of this video you'll discover how to use colors effectively to alter the story or to create pleasing color schemes so I'm gonna break it down into three core concepts starting with why color is so important then saturation and value and finally color harmonies so starting with the why colors when used correctly can guide the viewers eyes to what's important like in this scene your eyes are immediately drawn to these nice green cylinder in the center of the screen it could also be used to tell the story or completely change the mood of the scene entirely however when used incorrectly like in my terrible scene here from 2007 it can make the viewer feel lost nauseous or even irritated basically colors can make or break your scene very very important to get it nailed down even worse in terms of photorealism color is one of the biggest giveaways that your image is fake if you don't believe me take out your latest work convert it to grayscale and notice how it immediately looks a lot more photorealistic getting colors right is just hard throughout the day our eyes soak in millions of hues saturations and shades but we rarely ever stop to study them so when it comes time to actually work we have a hard time drawing from our memory what color is used for one could argue that it goes back to our childhood as kid we learned about colors in their most simplified raw formats red blue yellow etc but when we tried using these raw colors in our art we probably quickly noticed that the results came out really ugly but why is that saturation of value that's why saturation is the intensity or purity of the color and it's one of the biggest culprits when it comes to ugly color work the second is value which refers to the brightness or the darkness of the color so let's have a look at these on the left here 100% saturation really hard to look at but tone it down to 20% and it becomes almost a pink fleshy color again I haven't adjusted the color at all by just changing the saturation gives you very different results let's try it again with value 100% on the Left 20% on the right you can almost barely see it so that's adjusting the brightness of the color basically so you can see that it now looks more like a muddy brown than a red now if you had to tweak both of these the saturation and the value you can see that you can create a whole plethora of different shades all from just one raw color at the start as is demonstrated in this painting I'm fairly certain that the only color used in this painting is red so just mixing it with white and black you know changing the saturation and the value able to create an entire image from just one color very interesting now in the CG world saturation is probably one of the biggest offenders a lot of artists choose highly saturated colors because they think it will make the results look much better but really it couldn't be further from the truth highly saturated colors not only look incredibly fake but using saturated colors everywhere gives your eyes know where to rest which is really important in an image so having a look at this you can see staring at it for too long it becomes a little bit irritating so d saturated areas of your scene are very very important but that's not to say that bright saturated colors are all bad in this example you can see that your eyes are automatically drawn to the red bright mountains in the background there that was deliberate that can be used as a compositional element so your eyes are following back and forth along the same path as the camels are traveling very cool and in this image it's pretty clear that the artist wanted you to notice those flowers it's also called wild poppies which is kind of a giveaway but the red highly fluorescent color of them it almost jumps off the screen edges so really startling and probably the one element that you remember this image for and it could also be used for storytelling throughout history if you have a look at a lot of paintings Jesus is always wearing red and that's basically to focus the attention on him and also to make him look powerful and mighty and in terms of cartoons highly saturated or bright colors can actually work in your favor because it can immediately note to the viewer that they're looking at something which is fake and it really plays to it's surreal unrealistic qualities brightness and saturation can even adjust your mood if you remember at the start of up the colors were very vibrant there was a lot of oranges there was pinks fluorescent grass and really really vibrant colors this was to signify the joyous happy moment in their lives but then it laded turn to sadness and the colors immediately changed to very d saturated tones a lot of Gray's a lot of Browns and if you have a look at that image on the right there I mean there's almost really no color at all I mean it's just a little bit of blue kind of some brown in there but nearly all d saturated so that helps you to feel the coldness and the the loneliness that the characters are experiencing this same effect was used at the start of the Incredibles and as well as the matrix color is a really powerful mood changer and it's used a lot in Hollywood as well as video games which is why Call of Duty is completely desaturated almost it can also be used for composition so having a look at this image your eyes are probably automatically drawn into the background there where there is some dudes wearing some gnarly red pants so it's really it's guiding your eyes from the foreground to the background just by having something highly saturated so very important a similar effect can be seen right here if one for that highly saturated parrot there in the foreground it's unlikely that this image would be as successful as it is the parrot really gives you something to anchor yourself to so you'll then free to explore the rest of the scene so to speak so just to summarize what I've already spoken about saturation and value in a nutshell don't overdo it don't saturate and use high values all throughout your scene it will always come out horrible use saturation and value to guide the viewer to tell a story who is powerful you know what are you drawing attention to you could use it to change the mood use vibrant colors in an animation and desaturate it you know when you want to change it to be sad or you can just use it to draw attention to something that otherwise wouldn't be getting attention so that's the why saturated value which leads us to point number three color harmonies sorry for blinding you there so I love this topic color harmonies basically pertains to the fact that some colors look better together than others it's also known as color schemes or complementary harmonies you know it has a number of different words so what I'm going to be talking about is six popular and common color harmonies that work well they're based on concrete ideas and you can start using them in your work straight away so the first one is monochromatic probably the easiest one to start with because it involves only one color the entire image uses just one color this is best for single subjects because it forces the viewer to focus on the details of the image the changes in the value of the saturation and it could also be used to create a very striking atmospheric effect as will be demonstrated right now so you can see here your eyes are drawn to the silhouette of the rocks and the figures and you're focusing on the story as opposed to the colors very cool and this image here a slide from that yellow moon at the top there is entirely painted with red giving a very striking atmospheric effect and this next one I absolutely love creepy chilling and it's all using one color yellow very very cool effect and yeah use very well all right number two is analogous this one is cool it's about colors that are adjacent to each other on the wheel so generally you know about the distance you can see right there the cool thing about this one is that it's easy on the eyes it generally creates a peaceful and comfortable mood mainly because it is seen a lot in nature with you know green trees blue skies things like that the colors are very related so to give you some examples this image here at the stylet might almost look monochromatic since there's a lot of that that purple in the background there but you can see over here if I put my mouse here you can see there is a blue sort of shore resting on that that chair there and then of course you've got this striking pink flower they're really great use of that color scheme and then here as the example with nature you've got some some you know dark green grass here you've got some light green up here in this tree here and then of course the sky with a nice blue there and in this image really awesome example totally striking so you got this lovely red dress of course and then the use of purple and Pink's throughout the rest of the scene and this image here aside from a couple of areas where there's the blue the rest of it is all really using yellow orange and red so if you look in the background there yellow taxis you've got some orange signs red car etc so really nice effect which brings us to number three the triatic color harmony scheme so this one is probably one of the hardest to pull off it involves colors which are equally distant to each other on the wheel as I said and hardest to pull off it's really best for cartoons or surreal scenes because it can really come across as being quite playful it's probably not the best example to put right after that but you can see here again Jesus is wearing that striking red and then using blue and yellow to highlight other elements and it's created a very pleasing looking result and here really great example it doesn't have to be just the primary by the way the the triadic can be as I said equally distant to each other on the color wheel so this one is using mainly orange green and blues and you can see it's a really great effect it comes across really cheerfully and yeah just really nice alright number four complimentary this one is probably one I'm sure you've all heard of before it's basically colors that are opposing each other on the wheel so it's very very popular a lot of artwork not only today but throughout history use complementary color schemes it's just naturally pleasing to the eye colors that are opposite to each other on the wheel just look better I mean they just looked nice next to each other but something that a lot of people don't mention is that you shouldn't use both colors equally like you shouldn't use 50% grain and 50% red you should be using one color predominantly generally the weaker color so in this case if you're using green and red you'd be using the green the most so you'd be using that for like most of the scene and then using some splashes of red so you know like some really desaturated greens and then some you know saturated areas of red have a look at some examples here we go very similar to the movie brave I think you could see a lot of green she's wearing a nice green dress there a lot of green along the grass there and then of course this red shawl her red hair and the sunset and everything else they're creating a really nice scheme here this one is a lot harder to notice since it looks almost monochromatic a lot of yellow throughout everything but if you look way in the background there you could see some violet color so yeah that is a complementary color scheme and here I love this one it's a great example of using cool and warm colors which are naturally complementary and that can also be used to affect the mood of the of the scene as well if you want a certain part of the of the scene to look sort of cold then using blue cool aqua type colors can have that effect and then using warm colors such as red and orange can make it look inviting or Pleasant and this one really popular one that was on CD Society for a long time by Tony Brett in civic sorry for protests your name wrong using the red and green color scheme coming across really really nicely and very powerful looking effect and this one here very obvious red and green seems to be a very popular complementary scheme and in this example here as I showed you before we've got aqua for most of the elements and then in the background there you've got some highlights of some warm orange lights and especially on the screens there but there's virtually almost no other color in the scene which is kind of interesting and in this one here I love this one Drogo from Game of Thrones it's mostly yellow mostly has this yellow orange tinge to it and you might be thinking where is the blue well it's here it's from the rim light and I would say without that blue this image would not look as striking or as good as it does that blue even though it's really subtle and it's only a small amount it really does help to balance out the heavy use of this yellow color alright so now let's talk about split complementary split complementary color schemes are very similar to the one we just talked about using opposites but basically you take one end of it and then you split it so doing that allows you more creative freedom so instead of just being locked to two colors it allows you to use three colors generally this type of color scheme feels more lively and joyous so I'll give you an example here love this painting really nice use of some Purple's there of course all through the flowers and then you've got some yellow flowers here the the green plants of course and then you know yellow in the background so basically just three colors all throughout the whole thing and it's a really striking very pleasing looking result and this one I love this image we've got some really nice orange trees there this striking green lawn here sorry and then of course the nice cool blue calming sky so those three colors going together they work out really well and even though they're really highly saturated there are elements of low value and desaturation like you can see these trees in the background here they've been D saturated it's really this main foreground we've got this orange against this blue which are naturally complementary as well they go really well together and then you've got some dark areas in the grass etc and then this one here this one's a little bit harder to notice but you can see obviously you've got some yellow on the robot itself and then of course the blue sky and you might be looking where is the orange and it's in the sunset in the background there so very subtle but again it does give you a little bit more freedom using three colors as opposed to two and this one here love this one by Carlos it's uh it's a great use it looks like two colors but really it's it's three so we've got this this blue color which is of course going through a hair on the dress but then the plant itself you've got some especially on those those stamens if I say pronounce it of the flowers there they sort of come out as this aqua color almost a greenish sort of color in the background even a little bit of purple there I didn't notice that before but yeah really nice use of us but complimentary scheme there this one again you might think this is just a complementary scheme thinking that it's just blue and orange there on the book but if you have a look at a hair you can see that it's red it's got a nice red tint to it especially on this curtain over here as well there's a little bit of red so a nice use of three colors they're coming out really nicely and of course this one here really love this image great use of colors especially for a cartoon scene highly saturated lively joyous look to it you've got of course the yellow bananas the pink flower very vibrant in her hair and then the green trees and this dress here as well you could argue that there's some blue like there's a little blue sky and the sea but I would say there's a lot of green in that like it's not it's more of a greenish aqua sort of color and as you can see I mean the results speak for themselves lovely just dazzling looking image great use of the split complementary scheme all right finally let's talk about that tetra Tech or let's just call it the double complementary at its other name I prefer to call it double complementary so this is basically the complementary color scheme doubled so it's just choosing two pairs of opposites really it doesn't really matter where they are on the wheel just choose two different pairs so it's best used for four grounds and backgrounds like I would wouldn't really recommend using it for like mixing everything in the same sort of area I'm sort of hard to describe I'll show you some examples in a sec but like for example using the foreground you might want to have you know one pair and then way in the background maybe balance another pair never ever use 25% of eights like what I said before about using complimentary colors don't use 5050 same with this if you use 25% of each it would just look horrible just chaos so you want to have you know some like the weak colors use them primarily and then use the splashes of the brighter colors hard to pull off but it can produce some pretty pleasing looking results having a look at this one for example this is an example of the foreground background the foreground is using the green and red parent and then way in the background sort of hard to see but you've got some violets and some yellows coming through there so that's an example and this one here this one you might not think is a double complementary but you have a look at it more and you'll notice it you've ofcourse got this reddish orange building there so that makes up the red then you've got the yellow coming through on this light here as well as in these buildings here the blue coming through on the sky which just leaves the green left and that is in the water very very D saturated really nice use of it but the it's this nice green sort of murkiness and as well as that you've got some splashes of green in the plant here and the vine as well so a really nice use of using four colors together and this one I love it's an excellent use of course the the the main color for this image which your eyes are most drawn to is the Red Hat and then opposite to that is this jacket or hoodie that is wearing which is this green color so looking at this color wheel you can see they're paired the red and the green so where's the other two colors in the background you can see the background mostly blue with some little yellow bouquet effect lights in the background there so again that's foreground background just pairing the two foregrounds paired and the background is paired creating a really nice pleasing result and then finally to leave on this one this one you probably wouldn't think is using four colors but again it is there so you there is a lot of blue but you could see that there's a difference you've got this aqua greenish bright blue and then you've got this deep sort of murky blue so those are the two different blues there and then you've got this nice blonde yellowy hair here and that goes in really well with that deep blue so those are nice complementary colors and then the skin is this more warmer oranges color and you've got some even some red lips there as well and and that goes balancing the this aqua color which is in going into her mermaid tail they're really nice use of it those nice vibrant funky colors again really plays to the surreal qualities of a cartoon render so that's it to summarize this whole video saturation use it sparingly not over the whole thing use it to highlight the areas of interest and to help tell a story think about the overall image values use values of high content of high contrast to draw attention to things and that's basically brightness versus darkness and then talking about the color harmonies these are the six again first monochromatic which is one color – analogous using adjacent colors triadic using equally distant colors three of them complimentary opposing colors on the wheel split complementary one complimentary end extended and then finally the double complimentary just the two pairs of opposing colors so that's pretty much it guys I'd leave on one final note and that he's don't stress colors can be really fun it can be stressful when you're trying to you're experimenting and you're trying to play with it and try to make something that works it sometimes does just take a lot of practice to come up and have a like develop an eye for seeing a combination that will actually work with your scene especially with 3d scenes where you've got a lot of different shading as well as bounce lighting and stuff like that and that can kind of mess up your scheme sometimes so just basically have fun with it it can be fun provided you don't stress and just enjoy the process of learning the colors and yeah yeah if you wanted the notes for this presentation as well they're up on Blender guru and as well as that I provided some resources so to some sites where you can read up more on some color schemes as well as some programs will help which will help you develop some color schemes and finally special thanks to all of these artists who were nice enough to let me use it in this presentation big thanks to all of you that's it for me guys I hope you enjoyed this video have fun with colors and I'll see you next time bye

39 thoughts on “Understanding Color

  1. i subscribed right away 🙂 Ive been struggling on improving my art. Your way of teaching is great and easy to understand. Thank you!

  2. Not really on "understanding color" but just more of the basics. Not really what I was looking for but definitely deserves a watch if you were looking for something to start you on color. ^^

  3. No wonder why I get stressful when I paint my projects during my highschool, I just chose different colors randomly, now that I know thanks to this video, I'd be able to get it right

  4. I can copy paste and compare color in my mind from an image that preexists I however cannot imagine color itself which puts me at a bad placement for making artwork that isnt nature or pre existing which annoys my artistic mind lol.

  5. In the image by Sergii Andreichenko, I also see the blue and orange pair in the skin and the light that reflects off of it.

  6. I learned more from this 20 min video than what I learned in my Color class last semester, thank you so much!

  7. Excellent presentation. The basics of color theory is clearly explained and immediately applicable. Much appreciation for producing this video. ~Namaste

  8. Awesome video!! Color just blow my mind. When digitally painting, some tools have those color wheels and even a square in the center where it's vertices keep the color selected on the wheel, also the white, the black and the grey colors. I see saturation as a scale from the selected color to the grey color and the value as a scale from the selected color to both white and black colors. Is that correct?

    P. S.: Sorry for my bad english…

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