Week Three Focus: Theories of Colour
Recapping Week Two:
Hey guys! Its really good to see those of you who are sticking with the class to be cruising along and becoming very productive. I have seen really rapid improvement over the course of only one week - and I hope that I have set the classes up in such a manner that they will inspire you to continue and educate yourselves over time. I have a feeling you will all be entering the professional arena over the next few years - and I hope we can keep in touch when you do.
Unfortunately a few people have left the class this week. The Lying Prophet and blinkythemouse have spoken to me privately about their reasons, and have left the class. The others have been removed due to their lack of participation in the class environment and not completing the tasks. I really am not interested in giving lectures - so i will just say that being able to hold up to your own promises and commitments is one of the most important factors of being a professional artist. So is being able to be honest with yourself about what you can commit to. The amount of times I have overcommited or gotten too in love with a job only to lose days of sleep and fall behind on other jobs. Its a really important one.
There are a lot of people messaging me about waiting list - I am adding these people to the list but be aware I will be drawing first from people who have posted along in the lurker threads. W
Welcome to the new members of the class Earendil, Chaosrocks and Robmorfin. I really hope you guys are serious about your commitment and can stick with it. I know some of you personally and am sure we will all benefit from your presence. I am waiting on a reply for the 4th new member, but I wanted to get the 3rd week underway.
As for recapping last week's content there was some seriously great discussion amongst you guys. Lets keep that up. You identified some important rules for establishing atmosphere and i was glad to see some of you integrating what you learned from week one into your week 2 production piece. It shows you are really paying attention Dont forget if you guys have more questions or ideas, the old threads remain open when they are unstickied, and conversation on those topics can continue there!
*Note* In Australian English we spell it COLOUR with a 'U' so you yanks will just have to deal with that, as difficult as that may be After all I have had to put up with these red zigzags under my words for years!
I have called this week's topic 'Theories of Colour' because i think it implies more closely what we can accomplish than 'Colour Theory'; which implies that there is a singular, formulaic approach to colour work that is more correct than another.
The first and most important thing to appreciate with colour is that it is ALL RELATIVE. I dont have the time in one week to eve skim the top of the iceberg of colour, and it is the most abstract topic we have covered yet. But what we can do is analyse the way other artists work with colours, and discuss some of the methods and theories they ascribe to, and through that we can begin to develop our own ideas on where we would like to take our own colour work. I feel like a bit of a fish out of water here - there are so many resources around our amazing forums and I'm BOUND to tread on the toes of some theorist, or worse, get something wrong outright. I will just try to stick to what i know. But forgive me if i make a terminological mistake!
Ok so lets start by talking about the basic elements of colour.
Lesson Begineth Hereth
The difference between additive and subtractive colour!
Ok to begin with - we http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Additive_color
Additive color - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedianeed to understand the difference between the terms additive and subtractive colour. Some of you may never have heard this before, but its an important simple distinction to make when you start working in multiple mediums.
Additive colour refers to the way we see colours produced by TV's, computer screens, projectors and so on. Additive colour begins with black (when your screen is 'off') and then EMITS light of different colours. This red, green and blue combination ADD to each other in different amounts to produce different light effects, all the way up to pure white. Because the monitor acts as a primary light source, we can get much brighter colours than with subtractive colour. Hence why if you have ever tried to print a painting with nice fluro glow effects you may have had a horrible altercation with your printer
Subtractive colour refers to the way we make colour when printing with inks, using dyes, or PAINTING. When we look at a white piece of paper, we are looking at a material that reflects ALL of the visible spectrum of the sunlight hitting it. When we put a paint or ink onto that paper, it ABSORBS or SUBTRACTS a specific part of the spectrum. So the light from the sun/room light or whatever travels through the paint, hits the paper, and bounces back out MINUS the part of the spectrum that the paint removed. Then as we add more paint, more parts of the spectrum are removed. That is subtractive colour.
So this becomes important when we paint depending on if we are doing it digitally or traditionally. Its why oil paintings are so highly valued - because there is a degree of craft in understanding the way your paint and canvas work and the amazing ways they interract with different light. Digital, however, can afford us an amazing range of possibilities.
Oh so many The first thing that is essential to realise - as I mentioned - is the relativity of colour. The reason we can't pin down theories that always work is because colours appear differently in different contexts. There are three factors that affect the outcome of a given colour as observed from life.
1. The pigment/local colour - what the colour 'is' relative to other objects in the same lighting. Ie green grass, blue sky, red tomato.
2. Other objects. For instance that red tomato will look a different colour if it is placed on a blue table to if it is placed on a yellow table.
3. The Ambient light - a red tomato on a blue table will look different if lit by sunlight, or a neon light.
as these factors are always changing, it is impossible to say that 'a red apple should always have bluish shadows'. Because if it is placed on an orange table that theory goes out the window. What we CAN do is make observations of averages. For instance - the idea that colours get 'bluer' as they recede works in MOST situations, but not - as we saw last week - in sunsets, or heavy industrial pollution, etc. We are lucky as concept artists because we can construct some rules for ourselves that have a good chance of working. Painting true to life has a greater degree of challenge when it comes to colour accuracy.
It is important to demistify these misnomers - ideas about colour 'systems' that work, and rules that are essential. You just have to come to gribs with contextual colour. The other big misnomer is getting opinion mixed up with theory, and claiming certain colours 'clash' when that is in fact more about your own SUBJECTIVE opinion of the colours.
The human eye can see over 10 million hues, and every concievable combination is present in the world outside your window. You would never look at two colours in the street and say that they defy the laws of the universe - they simply exist. The question IS... do they work for your painting?
The elements of constructive colour.
Now we come to terminology used by us digital paintoids. To avoid confusion, I will be using additive/digital terms here. Any traditionalists amongst us should not be painting unless we can do our own research into the different terms between additive and subtractive methods
I will be working on the assumption that you are painting in RGB (i dont know of anyone who paints in CMYK unless it is specifically for a print job, but if you are doing a print job you should know how to take your stuff to print. That is perhaps a class best left for another time).
The terms we will be using to control our colour are:
Hue is the pigment or local colour we are using. This is what we label as red, blue, green etc.
Saturation is the luminosity, or strength of that colour. In subtractive method it would be lowered by adding grey paint to the mixture. In digital work it is achieved by the monitor altering its emmission of light.
Value is how light or dark the colour is on a greyscale tonal system.
Temperature is a somewhat relative term derived from actual scientific properties of light sources (a 'hot' flame) but for the purpose of painting can be simplified (for now) to a relationship between colours which are warmer or cooler relative to each other.
We will also be discussing a selection of particular methods of using colours to achieve certain effects that add to our 'illusion of reality' we seek to capture in our paintings.
Counterchange is what happens when areas of colour in the same picture change at different 'paces'. Imagine a piece of red string in front of a wall. The left half of the wall is painted white, and the right half is painted black. On the left side, the red string appears darker than the wall, on the right (black) side, the red string appears lighter than the wall. That is counterchange oversimplified
Temperature heirarchies are about establishing relationships in your paintings between cools and warms with specific intentions (beyond just aesthetically 'liking' those colours).
Magic Greys is the term (used and perhaps coined by Vance Kovacs? Perhaps he got it from somewhere else) for using desaturated colours to create harmony and temperature balances. More on this later.
The emotion and Narrative of local colour
Colour post-processing your images
Due to the size of this topic, im not going to put all the info here in the first post. I think there is enough to contemplate already - and we will need LOTS of discussion this week to come - so please stay active.
I want to credit Richard Schmid for a paragraph or two in 'misnomers' because i couldnt remember them from the top of my head. I may have mentioned it, but his book 'Alla Prima' is an amazing resource for any painter... it taught me a LOT. We will leave it here for now... we will discuss more after the first part of the first task.
The study task this week will comprise of one activity split into two parts.
Study Task: Standing on The Shoulders of Giants
Your first task is to find 2 classical landscape/interior paintings and 2 contemporary digital paintings that you find inspiring for their colour. I want you to tell me AS MUCH AS YOU CAN about the colour they have used and HOW they have used it to achieve the communication of their message. You need to POST the paintings here along with your discussion so people dont need to browse 50 tabs looking all over the intarweb!
Once you have posted this, the second part of the task will be refining your observations as we unfold more about the techniques above and I will guid you through it. This is really all the same task - but you will get 2 marks on the marking sheet from me - one for your initial observations on the 4 paintings and one for your ongoing exploration.
[B]Week Three Portfolio Artwork: Focus on Theories of Colour.
A motion picture director has come to you to previsualise an idea he has about a film depicting dreams. He has lots and lots of ideas - interiors, exteriors, panoramics.... all sorts of different dream environments. Fascinated by the mechanics of dreams, he points out how some people dream in black and white and others in colour.
" I really want to emphasise the difference between these two ways of dreaming. The black and white dreamers represent people who lead mechanical, boring lives. The colour dreams represent creatives and humanitarians and artists. So the colour should be really dramatic, and people should notice it consciously... we can even play with optical colour illusions if you want!"
You ask him what scene he would like you to paint - and he asks you to paint something from your own dreams. All he asks is that the treatment of colour is the top priority.
Within a week, you need to come back to him with a painting of an environment from your dream. You also have to provide to him an explanation of how you have worked with the colour - the theories behind it and what you wanted them to achieve.
Go for a pro mark this week guys! I think some of you are close
PLEASE READ THE DEADLINES. NO MORE EXCUSES.
GMT + 10 (my time) = 5PM TUESDAY
GMT - 8 (pacific time) = 11PM MONDAY
As usual, there will be a mark for involvement level.
PS. I have had my eyes checked and I will be good to see this through to the end and beyond. So I will be around a bit more this week. SO NO SLACKING!