Choosing a color pallet

Jaysen Batchelor
A free video tutorial from Jaysen Batchelor
Illustrator & Designer
4.5 instructor rating • 13 courses • 600,539 students

Lecture description

Color can be a very important part of your drawings. Color can create mood as well as create a focal point in your drawing. Color can also make your drawings very ugly so it's important that you have a good understanding of it. In this lecture I will teach you how to choose colors that look good together.

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English [Auto] There's probably gonna be times when you want to add some color to your drawings and some of you may not ever want to add color so if you don't then you can go and skip this lecture or come back to it anytime you want when you want to learn how to add color. First off we're gonna be talking about complementary colors a lot of you probably know what that is. But if you don't I'm going to explain it really quickly and what kind of complementary colors are is. It's basically the color that is opposite from one color on the color wheel. So as you can see here I have a color wheel and so let's say that we are one of the colors to be orange. Well the complementary color for that is gonna be straight across this color wheel. So it's going to be this color blue. Same with the purple. The opposite is going to be yellow. And so and you just basically apply that all the way around the color wheel. And what a complementary color is is it's two colors that complement each other. They're the colors that look the best together. Now that's not to say that you can't put other colors together you can put purple and orange together or you can put blue and yellow together. There's nothing wrong with that but for the most part if you want your colors to come out good looking good it's good to have can't complementary colors. So now let's talk a little bit about three different aspects of colors that are really important to making your drawings and the colors in them look good. So there's three parts there's gonna be hue saturation and value. Now if you don't get these right Your colors are gonna come out looking really ugly. If you've ever seen a photograph or a painting that looks really bad as far as colors go it's probably because they got one or all of these three different parts wrong. So hue is just going to be the color. So each one of these are different hue of color so green is a hue. This line color is a hue yellow as a hue and so on and so forth. So first you're going to pick your hues. Now we'll we'll move on to explain how exactly you want to pick your colors but for now you just need to understand that the hue is the color of your choice. Next is saturation what saturation is is it's basically how much color is in your color. So it can be from red all the way to straight on Gray. So here's an example. As you can see here the top one is labeled as saturation and at this side we have the completely saturated red. It can't get any more saturated than this. And as we move across you see that it becomes a gray. Now this gray is still the same darkness as or lightness as this red over here. There's just no color in it. So that's completely saturated and that's completely saturated. So somewhere in the middle you're going to find a mid saturated red that's going to be really important when it comes to picking your colors is how saturated Your colors are. If you look at a photograph that has completely saturated colors so it has completely saturated blues completely saturated Green is completely saturated reds and yellows. It's just going to be way too much for the viewer to take there. And it's just not going to look good at all. So it's really important to make sure that you're choosing the right saturation of color. And again we'll move on to that in a minute. But for now you just need to understand what saturation is. Next is a value to really important what you value your color is. So you can have a value of red color which would just be a normal red all the way to a black. Now you could even extend this in this direction and have it go all the way to white. So you would have a white over here and then it would go into more of a pink color about here and then it turned into red and then it turned into a dark red and then a black. So there's different values just like there is a gray scale values. There's also values in color. So it's important that you're also choosing the right values. So if a red is in the shadow or if it's a nighttime scene you're red is probably gonna be really dark or it might even be black. All right. Now let's talk about how to choose our colors and the saturation of those colors. Now you don't always have to follow this rule but this is just a good rule to follow along with if you want your colors to come out looking good. I've never had a color palette that was chosen by using this method that didn't look good. So what you want to do is you want to choose your main color your main color is going to be the most saturated color you can have this color fully saturated if you want to. Meaning that it's going to be as far away from the gray side as possible. So if you were to choose red you're going to be allowed to use the reddest red you can possibly create. So let's say that we want our color our main color to be red. Well now what we need to do is we need to go straight to frost to the green and that's going to be our complementary color. Right. And basically what we want to do is we want to d saturate our complementary colors. So this green right here is actually going to be come more of a grayish green. So it's gonna come from more of this area. If you can imagine that this red was green. We're gonna only be using greens from about this area. Because it's on the opposite side from our main color. And then what we want to do is as we come around these colors the closer we get to red the more saturated our colors can become. So this orange and this sort of purple color we can go ahead and make these more of a saturated color because it's right next to the main color but as we move further way so this purple will become a little bit less saturated. So our purple and this orange right here will probably come more from about this middle area maybe a little bit more over here I guess. And then as we get to this blue and this yellow it's going to come more from the middle because that's actually in the middle of our circle and as we just move around all the way to the green it's just gonna get closer and closer to the gray. So basically this green is almost going to be a gray with just a little hint of green in it. But if you followed this rule your colors are gonna come out looking pretty good. So let's go ahead and let's do an example of creating our color palette. So I have some charisma colored pencils here. Now you don't have to use present colored pencils. There's other brands of pencils that kind of do the same thing but I really like prison colors so that's why I'm gonna be using these. They have more wax on him and so allows you to draw on darker backgrounds such as this toned paper which is a midtown gray sort of so we have all the color colors here. And what we want to do is we're going to pick our main color which let's just stick with this red color. So the closest color I can find to that is right here that matches that pretty well. And what we want to do is we're just going to make little circles that are close together. They're going to show the colors that we're allowed to use in our drawing. So this will be my main color then we're gonna go ahead and come straight across this green. Now let's see if we can find a green light that so I think that this one matches it pretty closely. It's not right on but it's close enough. And what I'm going to do and since these colored pencils can blend together really easily we're gonna have to blend our colors because you're not always gonna have the exact color that you need with just one colored pencil so we can go ahead and lightly fill in some green. So that way we have some actual green in this color. And then what we're gonna do is the rest of it is going to be filled in with black and white. Now Parisian colors do make a gray colored pencil but you might have to buy that separately or buy a bigger set but you could just blended in with the gray. But since I don't have a gray I only have a black and a white. I'm going to create my gray using black and white. So go ahead start filling this in with a little bit of white now as you can see because these are so waxy they just easily blend in together a little bit of black. You don't want to push too hard you want to blend these a little bit at a time otherwise you're gonna lose your color. You can always add more but you can't ever take it away with these colored pencils so just make sure that you're not doing too much pressure especially with the black. All right. So there we have a greenish gray color. So it's very saturated because we're on the opposite side of our main color a complementary color needs to be the most d saturated color. So now let's go ahead and take a sample from four other places. So I'm going to choose this purple this blue this orange and this green. So let's start with the purple. So the purple I think this match is pretty well so the purple can be pretty saturated. So I'm just going to go ahead and draw and a purple circle here and then what I might do is I might just add a very very light amount of white and very very lightly add in a little bit of black might come back and just a little bit of white maybe just a little bit. A purple so that's practically a completely saturated purple right there. Just a little hint of de saturation but because it's so close to a main color it can be pretty saturated. Same with this orange color here. So we'll find an orange color that's close to that. Now I'm not sure if I have actually I think this color will match pretty well. I think that'll match well we might have to add a little bit more orange to it. Well go ahead fill that in. I'm gonna add just a little bit more of this orange color to it just to add a little bit more of a warmth in there. And then we can go ahead and just very very slightly saturate that with our black and our white. So just slightly add a little bit of white and a little tiny bit of black that we'll go back over that with a little bit of this yellowish orange maybe just a little bit more white. All right. So there's our orange is yellow color next. Let's go ahead and move on to this blue right here. So I'm going to go ahead and go uh this color and this blue is gonna be getting a little bit more de saturated because it's closer to already saturated complimentary color and then this time we're gonna add a little bit more white and a little bit more black since these are gonna be more de saturated then we'll move on to this lime green. So I'm gonna go and grab this color and we'll add in a lime circle and then we'll be saturate that that's a little bit too D saturated so I'm just going to add a little bit more green on top of that but that's looking about good. So now we have six different colors we can choose from if we wanted to we could do this with all the different colors and really you don't need to lay out a color palette like this before you start drawing. It may be helpful for you but you don't have to. You just need to keep in mind that the further away you get from your main color and the closer you get to the complementary color the more D saturated those colors need to become. So just keep that in mind as you're drawing and you're adding in colors now it's really good to do thumbnail color sketches so when you're doing your thumbnails you can go ahead and add some color to that or do completely separate thumbnail sketches so you can redraw that thumbnail that you've chosen as your final thumbnail and you can start adding color to those and try and different color palettes and different things. Also remember that all of these can have different value. So even though that red is very red it can also be a darker version of that or a lighter version of that. Same with all these colors they can all be darker or lighter. They just seem to stay within that same color and saturation level. So let's talk about how to add color to a thumbnail and also how to copy a color palette. Now what does it mean to copy a color palette that just means that you're looking at somebody else's you picture or artwork whatever it is and you're going to copy that same color palette. Now it's ok to copy this because nobody can really own a color palette. Nobody can really say that that's their color palette. It's kind of like keys on a keyboard on a piano you know like you can't own the keys or the notes so it's totally ok to copy somebody else's color palette. So right here I have a thumbnail that I've drawn and we're just gonna go ahead and copy somebody else's color palette and apply it to our own drawing. This will also show you an example of how to draw or add color to a thumbnail. So right here I have a book. This is from the Disney Animation book. It's a very good book. If any of you want to check it out it's called the illusion of life. It's a Disney Animation book but I found a picture in here. It's actually background from a cartoon. I think it's from Lady And The Tramp and I really like the colors in it. So what we're gonna do is we're going to break down the colors in this and we're going to apply it to our thumbnail. So if we look at this you'll see that we have a red color and we have a blue color. Those are our main colors. Now you'll notice that if we have a look at our color will that that red and blue are almost complementary colors are close enough. So and this is almost more of a reddish orange. So somewhere in the middle there and you come directly across we're in sort of a bluish green area. So it's pretty close to being exact complementary colors. And so it's just a good example to look at. You'll also notice that a lot of these colors are de saturated. Now you'll notice that this red is pretty red. And then this blue is it's pretty blue too. It's not as saturated as it could be if we were using our method I just taught you. But again you don't always have to follow that method but you will notice that the blue is a little bit more de saturated than the red. And you'll notice that all of this area is very de saturated there's no bright colors and a really important reason for having these saturated colors is because you need somewhere for your viewers eyes to rest. If they if there's nowhere to rest if everything is saturated their eyes are just going to keep going around everywhere and it's just going to be too much. I mean some people that could even give them a headache. So it's important to have these saturated colors and a few saturated colors so don't overdo it the saturated colors. An example of where you might have saturated colors is on a sign like this or maybe your character's hair will be sad more saturated than everything else. But if everything is saturated it's going to be way too much. You also want to use saturation to create a focal point so this sign right here is definitely the focal point of this drawing because we have a bunch of converging lines pointing towards it as well as a lot of contrast as the most contrast right here. And it's also the most saturated object. So usually you want to pick your focal point and make that the most saturated colors and that will give you a good starting point for choosing your main color that you're going to build your color palette off of. So let's go ahead and let's try to copy this color palette. So coming back to our thumbnail what we're gonna do is we're just going to break this down. So let's start with this red. So the focal point of my drawing is going to be this girl standing in the middle. So I'm going to find a red that matches this red pretty well and I'm going to make her hair the focal point or part of the focal point. So just go ahead and fill her hair and very red again. This is a thumbnail. So we're not trying to be an amazing drawing we're just trying to fill in color and filling in blocked shapes and stuff like that just so we get an idea of what the color palette is. So there your hair. Then we'll see that since she's still the focal point. We want her skin tone to be a little bit more saturated and her skin tone might match up with something more like the lady down here the dog. But we probably wanted to be a little bit lighter so that it's more of the focal point. So let's go ahead and let's grab a skin tone color and we can keep this pretty light. You might have to add some weight to it just to make it a little bit brighter we'll fill in that skin tone and we'll add some weight to that just to lighten it up a little bit next. Let's go ahead and fill in her clothes so her clothes let's make her clothes. This green right here. Now we don't want our clothes necessarily to be the focal point. They can be a little bit brighter than the background but I think something more like this green down here or this screen on this awning would be better. It's a little bit more saturated so we'll go ahead we'll grab our green and then we'll go ahead and saturate that by adding a little bit of white and a little bit of black walnut and a little bit more by adding some more white and I think we want that to be a little bit darker so I'm to add some more blacking and then I'm just gonna re outline shape of her body so you can see a little bit better and as we get to more off screen or off the canvas we're just gonna darken it a little bit more just to help create her face as a focal point next. Let's go ahead and add in our sky. So we're going to copy their same sky that we see here. So that's a really nice deep blue. So I think I'm going to use this blue. We might have to darken it a little bit so I'm gonna go ahead and fill that in. I might actually have to mix in another blue because I can't find that exact blue so I'm gonna go ahead and grab is more of a deeper blue and I'm going to add a little bit of that as well and I'm going to go ahead and grab a little bit of white just to saturate this just a little bit we'll go ahead and darken that sky and just a tiny bit. Now this is also kind of more of a purplish blue so I'm actually going to add a little bit of this blue in and I'm just going to lighten that up a bit down here at the skyline of these buildings. All right. Then I'm going to go ahead and fill in the road behind her with the dark black and then everything else kind of just gets washed into sort of just like a brownish gray color. And like I said there's not a lot of detail in thumbnails so I'm just going to fill in the rest of this with sort of a mid tone gray color just to represent kind of What Color is in that area. But when we if we took this on to our final drawing concept sketches and then final drawing we could go ahead and actually add in more detail with the color and the shapes and stuff like that but just since this is a thumbnail This is just to get an idea of what color each area is. So I'm going to go ahead and use my black and lightly for this area and I can use a little bit of white to make that more of a gray and then I can even add in a little bit of brown and I'm just going to quickly outline everything just so we can make it out a little bit better. There you go. That's how you create a colored thumbnail as well as how to copy a color palette from somebody else's work or photograph. Now you can find color palettes anywhere you can take a picture yourself of a landscape that you really like the colors of and just break down the colors and figure out what they are. And then just apply them to your own drawing.