Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video Working with grays and browns, part of Color for Design and Art.
- Let me show you something about browns and grays using watercolors. You can make browns and grays simply by blending complimentary colors. Complimentary colors come from opposite sides of the color wheel. Here, I'm working with the complimentary pair of blue and orange and that's it. There are no other paints involved. If you mix a dose of blue into orange, you get a nice brown and mix the two in different proportions and you can come up with a good-looking, warm gray.
If you were to start with a puddle of blue and then add a touch of the orange, you could mute the blue all the way down to a cool gray. So that, in a nutshell, is where grays and browns can come from in the real world from mixes of complimentary hues and I show you this because, even though me mostly work digitally, I think it's important to understand why colors behave in certain ways within art-based programs like Illustrator and Photoshop. In fact, let's switch to digital mode, and yes, if you're painting in a program like Photoshop, you can produce neutral hues just like you would with actual paints by blending transparent shades of complimentary colors.
But there are even easier ways to come up with browns and grays using the computer and one of my favorite ways is to take advantage of certain digital aids. Like, if you're working in Illustrator and dealing with a bright color, you can just double click on the color at the top of the swatches panel, and you'll bring up the color picker. Once you're there, you can click anywhere in about this region of the panel's gradated area to find either a brown, a warm gray or cool gray depending on what color you started out with and if I'm working with warmer colors, then it can also find warm, pale neutrals, like beiges, tans, ivories, and buffs, right in this panel.
Next, let's talk about how neutral colors like these can be combined into palettes, which is actually pretty simple. You can just start with a standard, color wheel-based palette, like a monochromatic, analogous, triadic, complimentary, or split complimentary color scheme, and apply it to neutrals. By the way, we'll be defining each of the palettes in detail in the next movie, just in case you're not too familiar with them.
So, for example, I'll start coloring this pattern using the hues of a triadic palette. Which is a palette made from colors taken from three equally spaced slices of the color wheel. We've got bright versions of red, yellow and blue in this case. Next, I'll go with muted versions of each color, hues that are in the realm of grays and brown to come up with a nice looking pattern of neutral tones, and right now, the value differences in this pattern are strong.
If I were to narrow down the differences in values and shift everything towards darker hues, this would make a nice backdrop for a nice, bright accent color. You can also take entire color schemes, like the one we just started out with, and use Photoshop's hue and saturation controls, to desaturate all the colors at once, and you can play with around with the hue and the lightness sliders while you're at it, to find different looks.
So, how about trying these things out on your own? Turn on the computer, create a pattern, make some good looking, color wheel-based palettes out of ordinary colors, and then dial down the intensity of your hues, and make muted palettes for your pattern, and use that color picker in either Illustrator or Photoshop, or the hue and saturation panel in Photoshop, as your helpers. If you do this, I can pretty much guarantee, you're going to have a good time, and you're going to learn a bunch about grays and about browns. You'll also experience this big boost in your appreciation for neutral hues and for muted color schemes.
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