Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video Borrowing and applying hues, part of Color for Design and Art.
- Instead of creating a palette based purely on either color wheel theory or personal invention there are times when borrowing colors from an existing work of art or photography when that makes sense, too, and I'm talking about borrowing in two contexts. One, like when you borrow an inspired set of hues, from something like an early 17th Century masterpiece, and you apply them to a layout or an illustration, and two, in the case where you add a photo or an illustration to a layout and you borrow colors from it and you apply them to other elements of the design.
So let's talk about the first scenario first. Painted masterpieces from earlier times, these can be great resources for color ideas. Pallet's from these works of art might be just what you need to give a layout or an illustration exactly the look and the feel that you're aiming for. You want some ideas, some ideas about who to look at for this kind of inspiration? Well, here are a few of my favorites. Now I'd say that each of these painters is really worth a look. You can go to Google or the library, or the bookstore and check out Vermeer of course, and Paul Klee a real favorite of mine, and Mary Cassatt, Sandro Botticelli, and Gustav Klimt, and also check out the work of Joan Miro, he's a great colorist.
So, exactly how can you borrow colors from a masterwork of art? Well as you know, Illustrator and Photoshop do have a nice little color sampling tool called the eye dropper, need I say more? All right, enough about borrowing colors from the masters of painting, let's move on to creating a layouts color scheme by borrowing hues from an image that it contains. Say you're working on a page layout for instance and along with the headline, a sub-head, and a decorative sidebar, and some text, you're working with this photo, so you've got the layout pretty much figure out, and now it's time to add some color.
Why not choose colors based on what's in your photo? I mean after all, that will help make sure the photo looks right at home in the layout. Let's start with the layouts backdrop color. I want something subtle here, something other than white. I'll begin by going to the toolbar on the left and activating the eye dropper tool. Now I'll hold down the command key to temporarily turn the eye dropper into a selection tool, and I'll click on the layouts white background panel. Next, I'll release the command key, and with the eye dropper active, I'm going to aim for a light area of the tan colored surface in the photos backdrop, like way over here to the right toward the top, this little area.
I'll click on it and there, our pages backdrop is this tan color. It's a little bit dark, so I'll alter it by double clicking on the color swatch at the bottom of the toolbar to bring up the color picker panel. While here, I can click on a lighter tan, like so and the new color shows up here. Let's go with this. That's better. Now the headline. I want two colors, so I select a word and then sample colors from the photo with the eye dropper tool until I see something that I like.
Same for the sub-head. And now I'll choose colors in the same way for the pattern off to the left, and I'll use the color picker as needed to fine tune any of my choices. And there we go, it's not bad at all. Some nice color echoes going on between the image and the rest of the layout. Here are three other solutions that were created by sampling different areas of the photo and applying the colors in different ways throughout. I got one with a darker backdrop, one where the backdrop is left white, another with an overall palette of brighter hues, and one that keeps things highly muted.
As you can see, there's a huge range of different outcomes that's possible when sampling and applying colors from an image. My suggestion, try out both of these color borrowing techniques for upcoming projects, you know the one where you borrow from a masterpiece of painting, and the one where you borrow from an image in your own layout. This can be really effective ways of coming up with good looking color schemes, and digital technology makes them relatively easy and quick to pull off.
Primarily aimed at designers and illustrators, the course leans heavily toward digital tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but concludes with some challenges using real-world media (inks and paints!), so members can get a solid understanding of mixing colors and what tools and combinations work best.
- Navigating the color wheel and color vocabulary
- Why a color's value is so important
- RGB vs. CMYK vs. spot
- Finding the perfect color
- Working with grays and browns
- Building a color palette
- Borrowing hues for palettes
- Establishing color hierarchies
- Fixing color problems
- Altering color in photos and illustrations
- Using texture with color
- Painting for learning and fun