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Thread: The Dimensions of Colour - a colour theory discussion thread

  1. #40
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    Here's another new diagram explaining an efficient way of painting a complex multicoloured surface turning out of a light source. Explanation here.
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  3. #41
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    Just stopping in to say that I think Briggsy should win a prize for all his work...
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  5. #42
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    Hey Dose, glad you made it back! I'm not looking for a prize, but it would be great to get a bit more in the way of specific feedback, especially on my stuff about digital painting/Photoshop. Otherwise, since I'm entirely self-trained and relatively inexperienced at the latter, it's hard for me to know if what I'm posting on those subjects is actually helpful, or just common knowledge.
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  6. #43
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    David solved some issues of chroma for me. The chart of chroma reduction is an excellent concept. Thank you.
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  7. #44
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    O...M...G... I'm guessing there aren't too many people walking around who can claim to have solved some issues of chroma for Graydon Parrish. Thank you! (Looks like I won my prize after all...)
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  8. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by briggsy@ashtons View Post
    I'm not looking for a prize...
    That's probably why you deserve one!

    Did you get my PM in response to yours? I wrote a bit of feedback in there. I can post it here if you think it would be valuable to the discussion.

    I've been giving some thought lately to the placement of the specular highlight. I was taught correctly that the highlight is not at the point of the form closest to the light (which, as you say, is often taught incorrectly). However, I was also taught to largely ignore specular highlights, as for the most part they undermine the illusion of form on a 2D surface. There are, however, times when it useful to put them in when it enhances the feeling of form or conveys critical info about a surface's material. Any thoughts on this?

    Tim
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  9. #46
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    Thanks Tim

    On the question of whether or not to show the highlight, I think it all depends on whether we're talking about drawing or painting, and if the former, what kind of drawing. A specular highlight won't confuse the form as long as it reads clearly as a highlight. The thing is, though, if you are drawing in pencil or pen on white paper, it takes a lot of rendering to satisfy this condition. This effort may be superfluous if the drawing is what we call a form drawing - one in which the focus is more on showing the 3D form of the subject than its appearance in a particular lighting and atmosphere. If on the other hand we are talking about either a tonal painting or a highly rendered tonal drawing, in which the focus is on the visual appearance of our subject, then I think we would normally want highlights. Not only are they a major component of the visual appearance but, as you say, they convey information about the different surface characteristics of the materials represented (By the way, I think that this distinction also applies in general to the question of whether to show or to suppress other complications like variations in local colour, multiple shadows, or multiple secondary light directions within the shadow zone).

    In your PM you talked about how you had been establishing local colour with an underlying layer and shading this with an overlying dark layer in multiply mode, whereas I had represented the pattern of light generated by each light source by a layer in screen mode, and then applied the local colour using an overlying layer in multiply mode. I think the latter method makes it at least easier to represent the additive combination of multiple light sources (in fact I would really have to sit down and think to see if that is even possible the other way). But I think that the real trouble you were having, if I understand you correctly, is that you were trying to change the colour of the darkness, instead of the colour of the light, in the shadow zone.
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  10. #47
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    re: specular highlights

    Ah, good. That's kind of what I was leaning towards- that there's sort of two "modes" of drawing- one to build/convey form and one to convey surface information, and that in the latter the highlight needs enough context to make sense. I hadn't had the chance to test it out for myself- especially because these days I rarely have time for any detailed rendering. I'll still have to do that to get the ins and outs of it, but your response leads me to believe I'm on the right track.

    This also helps me better explain a big difference between the French impressionist technique and the Russian impressionist technique I was taught. For the most part, French impressionists seemed to be mostly concerned with the tonal effects of the light, while the Russians borrowed some of the French impressionist techniques but retained more of an emphasis on form. I had understood this difference before, but it gives me better insight as to why it may have happened.

    re: Photoshop layers

    Yes, I had been going about it backwards. The method you presented is much more flexible- and honestly one that I had heard & used before and is more common. It's closer to the idea of a grisaille plus glazing. Somehow I'd gotten turned around...

    Thanks again!

    Tim
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  11. #48
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    Road Trip

    All of your color work
    is very impressive

    Would be great
    to pop down
    for a visit and
    do a workshop
    at your digs.
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  12. #49
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    David, thanks for the site. A wealth of knowledge.

    I would just like to give some feedback if I may, after reading through the entire site over a few days. I am a beginner to colour theory, so even terms like 'hue' are new to me.

    I found, particularly at the beginning, some of the language to be inaccessible. I tried to unravel what you were saying a few times but eventually learned to just read on hoping it would become clearer, and it did. For example, despite the excellent Hue-Chroma-Lightness diagram fig 1.5, I did not fully understand what hue was until the Hue-Chroma-Lightness section and this sentence: 'A colour wheel represents chroma on a radial axis from the centre, and hue by position around the wheel...'. For my own understanding I translated the hue definition to 'On Fig 1.5 a single hue is the sliver of colour under the chroma line, and the level of chroma in that hue is a point on that line. The single line hue circle as depicted in fig 1.5 represents a range of hues having the same chroma.'

    I can't say I understood much of the scientific stuff in the trichromacy and opponency section but more than likely I just need to read over it again.

    I think you did a good job adding as many visual aids as possible, but I still would liked to have seen less text and more painting or photographic examples (more than one wouldn't hurt) to describe the phenomenon you were discussing, you are dealing with predominantly visual thinkers afterall. In particular I was disappointed by your explanation of your principles. Principles 1 and 2 I understood, and even did some experiments in photoshop to confirm, but I thought 5 to 8 were too briefly explained.

    Additionally I found myself many times wishing there were some photoshop exercises I could follow along with to confirm each section of the site. Perhaps a simple sphere painting exercise in Photoshop or Painter for a lot of the sections could be devised where the reader had to translate what is learnt into a correct colour selection for any given situation?

    There is certainly more to praise than criticize however. I did get a lot out of the site. As a beginner I don't think I could have a better start in my understanding of colour theory. I feel I now I have a rock solid foundation of understanding that will serve me well for ever more, so thanks again.

    With regard to warm and cool colours, interior decorators use warm colours to make a large room seem smaller (make it more cosy), and they use cool colours to make small rooms seem bigger. In effect putting to use in a practical way the advancing tendency of warm colours and the receding tendency of cool colours. I find thinking of colours in this context helps me to classify whether a colour is warm or cool. For example, I once mistakenly thought a dark brown coloured rock with a blueish tinge that was sitting by a flowing river, all slicked over with water, was a cool colour, but it is not despite its context. All I had to do was imagine this colour painted on the wall of a room to realize it would make the room seem more 'cosy'. The same thinking can be used to clarify purple as a warm colour. Yellow is the colour that doesn't quite work when thinking like this however - paint a wall yellow in a room does it make the room more cosy? Perhaps its lightness and closeness to white makes it difficult to judge? There is no doubt warm and cool associations can be ambiguous.

    Lastly, I submit the typos I noticed:
    051 - In programs such as Painter that cleverly [simulate] the appearance and physical behaviour...
    063 - Figure 6.11. Effect of adding white to opaque pigments. Unlike transparent pigments, addition of white to an opaque pigment like Cadmium Red Deep does not increase the chroma, but steadily [reduces] it.
    074 - In digital painting programmes, the usual conceptual fr[a]mework for hue is the...
    075 - Quinacridone Magenta, Pthalocyanine Blue (Green Shade), and any bright Lemon Yellow mix [is] about the greatest gamut...
    077 - Since "warm" and "cool" are psychological associations, it is not [surprising] there is a great deal of inconsistency in usage.
    082 - Figure 8.4. Chroma and colorfulness. A surface of a given chroma is more "colorful" in higher illumination (B,D) than in low illumination (A,C). [Tonal] painters would observe this difference in...
    083 - Screen (RGB[)] colours have a more complex...
    083 - Screen (RGB colours have a more complex geometry for a largely different reason. Among the full-chroma RGB (screen) colours... [You interchange 'screen (RGB)' and 'RGB (screen) - not consistent.]
    083 - These differences [can] be accounted for by the fact that in the secondary colours, pixels of both the adjacent primaries are glowing.
    083 - These differences be accounted for [because] in the secondary colours, pixels of both the adjacent primaries are glowing. [Pet hate, the use of 'the fact that' - up to you, just thought I'd highlight. Refer Strunk&White The Elements of Style pg24 ]
    101 - My advice is that anyone who doesn't understand colour should not use black, but now that you've got this far you're certainly ready [to] join the black-using party...
    '...fashion everything
    From nothing everyday, and teach
    The morning stars to sing'
    -William Butler Yeats
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  14. #50
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    mentler

    That's a huge compliment, bone doctor!!!! It sure would be great to cross paths with you sometime soon.

    b1_

    Thank you very much, that's exactly the sort of specific feedback I've been hoping for.

    I completely agree that the section on principles needs more content - I've already said on a few occasions elsewhere that that section is still very much a work in progress. I've recently been making various additions and corrections in the earlier sections, and I hope to get onto that section over the next few months when I have time.

    I hadn't really thought of the site as an introduction to colour theory for complete beginners, so it's really good to know that with some improvements it might serve well as such. Some accompanying exercises in Photoshop is a great idea! The site in its present state is very much a reaction to the predominant confusion and disinformation about colour circulating in print and on the internet. I guess I had in mind a target audience of somewhat more advanced students, practitioners, and teachers who were already familiar with these myths and legends. I structured things to try to get everything straight for that audience from the ground up, but it looks as if this layout is giving the impression that the site is pitched at a more introductory level than it really is at present. You've done extremely well to go from learning the meaning of the word "hue" to finishing reading the site in a few days!

    Thanks very much also for the help with the typos, I'll deal with them in the morning. (Glad you didn't see the site a month ago, though!)

    David
    Last edited by briggsy@ashtons; April 16th, 2008 at 10:37 PM.
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  15. #51
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    You sir are an asset to this community. Although I haven't read through the whole writeup yet, You're Dimensions of Color is a wealth of information. Thanks You!
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  16. #52
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    Hi Brigsy@ashtons,

    I've been reading through your site and there's so much information. Most of it is out of my league and I have no idea what you are talking about mainly because I am a beginner at color theory, english isn't my first language and there are so many words which are very particular to color theory(case sensitive) and are new to me. So I have more reading to do and going through the vocabulary.

    But I think what would help like some people have said is adding more demonstrative pictures. The more the better. It's easier to understand hard case sensitive words if I can see it in a picture with the context if you know what I mean.

    Also one feedback about the site design. I would very much encourage you to change the brown background texture behind the text into a single color non pattern background. The current background really entires ones eyes and especially since there is so much to read. This would be my biggest concern.

    I can't express how thankful I am that you've seen the effort and time used to create the site and share it with everyone. Hope my feedback helps and keep at it.

    Thank you,
    "Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway."
    -Anonymous

    Jussi Tarvainen

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