Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video The painter's color wheel, part of Color for Design and Art.
- There's nothing like hands-on experience with paints to solidify and expand what we know about color. So whenever I get to talk to designers about color, I suggest strongly that they paint, just for fun if nothing else, to really come to grips with both color theory and color application. Now before I get into painting supplies and actual painting projects, I want to return to something we talked about way back at the beginning of this course, it's the color wheel. This color wheel. The standard model that most art schools use when they're teaching about color.
Well, how do I put this? This color wheel, the one that we all know and love, it's a lie. Well, okay, it's not really, like, this outright lie. But it's not exactly true, either. The traditional color wheel with red, yellow, and blue as its primaries, it doesn't quite mesh with the reality of how colored pigments behave in the real world. But don't go and throw away everything that we've talked about here about the color wheel. This standard model color wheel is actually so close to reality that you're going to be perfectly fine using it for all the palette-building and color formulating work that we've been talking about, but it is worth knowing that there's a lesser known color wheel that works even better, especially when it comes to using actual paints and inks.
It's called the CMY color wheel. C is for cyan, M for magenta, and Y for yellow. These are the primary hues of what I like to call the painter's color wheel. Very interestingly, cyan and magenta, two of the primary colors of the painter's wheel, it can't even be made using hues from the standard color wheel. If you've painted much, then you know what I'm talking about here. You just can't mix red, yellow, and/or blue to make a true honest-to-goodness vibrant cyan or a good-looking magenta.
Can't be done. The painter's color wheel not only includes true cyan and true magenta, it features them as primary colors. This wheel also includes red and blue, primaries of the standard color wheel. It's just that red and blue count only as tertiary hues on the CMY wheel. By the way, CMY, where have we heard these initials before? Oh yeah, they're three of the four initials in CMYK, as in CMYK printing inks. That's right, printers learned a long time ago that if they were ever going to print a maximum range of colors, they needed to go with the CMYK color wheel instead of the traditional red, yellow, blue wheel.
Because of this connection between CMY color wheels and a CMYK colors of printing, I'm going to suggest in the very next movie that you actually start painting using cyan, magenta, yellow and black paints. Plus white. These tubes of paint allow you to mix more colors than you can get with tubes of red, blue and yellow. Not only that, but every time you work with cyan, magenta, yellow and black paints, you're going to be learning color-related lessons that can really help you out the next time you're either choosing or adjusting a CMYK formula for a layout or an illustration.
One more thing, you might be wondering, "Why don't more people know about this "CMY color wheel, the painter's color wheel?" I mean, I wonder about that too. I think it's just the matter of traditional. People started getting used to this standard color wheel a long time ago, and they just keep on using it. And really, that's okay with me. I like using and knowing about both of these wheels. The CMY wheel and the standard wheel, they're both very useful when it comes to formulating colors and creating color schemes. And guess what? You can download copies of both of these wheels.
PDFs are included with the course. Go get them.
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