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Traditional media to digital: The long and winding road of color

From: Foundations of Color

Video: Traditional media to digital: The long and winding road of color

The compulsion to make images that tell stories, document history, or communicate something is part of being human. We have language. But before language we had pictures. How we translated our thoughts into pictures plays into our conversation about color. Because our ability to communicate through imagery has changed drastically through time, and our use of color has changed right along with it. When the first images were created, at least the ones we know about, the medium was limited to the blackness of charcoal and the tone of a caved wall.

Traditional media to digital: The long and winding road of color

The compulsion to make images that tell stories, document history, or communicate something is part of being human. We have language. But before language we had pictures. How we translated our thoughts into pictures plays into our conversation about color. Because our ability to communicate through imagery has changed drastically through time, and our use of color has changed right along with it. When the first images were created, at least the ones we know about, the medium was limited to the blackness of charcoal and the tone of a caved wall.

Using what was available made sense. As time marched on, natural pigmentation became a part of visual language. Using dyes and stains in a multitude of cultures, and on a variety of surfaces. Pigments were made with colored powders, derived from such natural sources, as mango leaves, cuddle fish, metallic salts. Coke meal beetles and even ash from the bones of mummies. The medium of communication shifted from walls, to pottery, caskets, paper, and every day objects.

Using a variety of surfaces made the application of color more about the surface it needed to cling to, and the limitations inherent in it, than color as a source of meaning. Binders have been used and still are used to help (INAUDIBLE) adhere the surfaces. In Egypt, the primary medium used was water color which combined natural pigments with gum arabic to hold the color to the surface. Water color was the primary medium used on paper scrolls and silk in ancient China.

The works of art were shown and then tucked away from the light. Exposure to light has always been an issue for this medium, as the light makes the color less permanent. Color permanence has been a source of concern for artists through the ages. And was modified by the introduction of oil paints and egg tempera. During the Renaissance, when more complex painting techniques and styles were being developed. The yolk of an egg binds the color to the surface and the medium of egg tempera, and produces a color that lends itself to durability over time.

Vegetable and linseed oil in oil paints allowed for glazing and rich color combinations. With the chemical formulas being perfected for vibrancy and permanence. Talented color mixers, known as color men were the apprentices who blended the perfect combination of colors by mulling or mixing the pigments and binders in the 17th and 18th centuries. The industrial age in the 19th century changed the equation by blending science and art to produce color in massive quantities, allowing the amateur artists access to readily available art materials.

The introduction of new chemically developed colors in the 20th century, and materials such as alkyds and acrylics, extended the permanence and durability of works of art. But the most dramatic change happened with the introduction of the personal computer in the late 1980s and Adobe Photoshop in the early 1990s. For the first time, mixing, layering, designing with color, lay at the fingertips of anyone able to type on a keyboard or click a mouse, changing everything about the application of color.

Having access to so many ways to make color expands the language of images, and gives rise to new cross pollinations of materials and methods of combining traditional and digital techniques. Unlike the limitations of cavemen and women, we've more ways than ever to play, speak, and revel in color.

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Foundations of Color

42 video lessons · 15060 viewers

Mary Jane Begin
Author

 
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  1. 5m 20s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Traditional media to digital: The long and winding road of color
      3m 48s
    3. Exercise files
      22s
  2. 14m 40s
    1. Introduction: How color shapes meaning
      2m 23s
    2. Universal, cultural, and personal symbols of color
      2m 52s
    3. Concepts made clear
      4m 1s
    4. Brand identity and language
      2m 53s
    5. Sequence and pattern
      2m 31s
  3. 14m 18s
    1. What is the color wheel?
      2m 20s
    2. Primary colors, primary concerns
      3m 59s
    3. Playing with complementary colors
      3m 40s
    4. Tertiary colors: The basics of brown and gray
      4m 19s
  4. 17m 20s
    1. An overview of elements
      2m 48s
    2. Value is not a moral judgment
      2m 26s
    3. Saturation to neutralization
      3m 22s
    4. Temperature: How hot is hot?
      3m 12s
    5. Textures, marks, dashes, and dots
      2m 59s
    6. Seeing through color: Opaque, translucent, and transparent
      2m 33s
  5. 12m 25s
    1. What is contrast?
      3m 10s
    2. Creating focus: Living on the edge
      1m 15s
    3. Creating the readable image
      4m 6s
    4. Connecting contrast with content
      3m 54s
  6. 17m 29s
    1. Illuminating light
      1m 54s
    2. The effect of contrast in light
      1m 53s
    3. Value and saturation
      2m 27s
    4. On temperature
      2m 58s
    5. On complements
      2m 10s
    6. Secondary and reflected light
      3m 5s
    7. RGB vs. CMYK
      3m 2s
  7. 14m 24s
    1. An introduction to palettes
      2m 15s
    2. Limited palettes: A harmonious color palette
      2m 35s
    3. Harmony and discord
      2m 33s
    4. Unifying color grounds
      2m 40s
    5. Unifying glazes and layers
      2m 13s
    6. Charting a color family
      2m 8s
  8. 20m 25s
    1. Balance of shapes: How much is too much?
      3m 36s
    2. Weaving textural color
      2m 50s
    3. Color in context
      2m 31s
    4. Color blindness
      3m 15s
    5. Challenge: Deconstructing color
      1m 28s
    6. Solution: Demo of deconstructing color
      6m 45s
  9. 1m 3s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 3s

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