Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Colour Theory

Building an army is hard. Most importantly, I want it to look good hence have been looking for any colour tips I can find.

This link is amazing: http://www.coolminiornot.com/go.php/go/articlephp/aid/194?

Color Theory

Okay, most people here are not highly trained in the art of painting and color, but it's been driven into me since day one in kindergarten and it's hard to forget. But even though color is a basic concept, it can be tricky and once mastered it will work for you.. or you can go and through the rules out the window, like some modern artists, But it helps o know what rules you want to break before you can break them, and so I give you my article on Color...(It can get a bit confusing at times, but I promise a comprehensive look and pretty pictures! )

How we see color:

Yeah, the above even looks like a Modern Art piece, but it's actually how we as humans see color. Now, the sun sends it's white, invisible light out in all the spectrums, but we can only see a part of it. That is, the white part which is actually all colors together, which make White in the light Spectrum (not the art spectrum, wait a bit for explanation....) Now, the light hits an object, an apple in this case. What is important to remember is that we DO NOT see just the red spectrum of light, but we see every other spectrum except that one! Every color except red is absorbed by the object, our eye sees this and sends a message to our brain. Our brain then interprets this as a red apple. The best example of this dependent effect of light on color is seen when a colored lamp is put on something. If we had a red lamp and turned it on in dark closet, everything would be red... that's because there's only red light to bounce off of it!

Now, in the world of art all colors do not make white. White must be used in it's pigment form, just like black. White and Black cannot be made by any other color, and even though white in it's purest form is light we cannot bottle light, just as we cannot bottle shadow for black. White and black still have interesting properties, though.. White reflects all color (because of light) and black takes in color (not light, that would be a black hole). If you set a black and white piece of paper out in the sun, the white one would be cool and the black one would be hot. That's because the black one's been sucking in energy and the white one's been reflecting it away. This is why White and Black are not really colors, they are called Mediums in the art world, because they have a different effect on colors used with them, as we shall see later in Tints & Shades...

Color Wheel

You probably made one of these in school and you may know this stuff already, but then again one of my best friends spent most of his life believing Dark Green was a primary.... The Primary colors, that is, those colors that cannot be made by any other color and must be made by natural pigments in the earth's crust are Yellow, Red, and Blue. These colors make up anything we need in the world of painting. In priniting and graphic design, the primary colors are Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow which look totally different, but we don't need them much in painting... The Secondary colors (those made by mixing half one primary with another half primary) are Orange, Purple, and Green. All of these can be seen on this colors wheel:

This is a very small and easy configuration, which I'll be using to show you other stuff, but the Secondary can be made into Tertiary colors, that is, mixing the Secondaries with primaries again, making 75% of one, 25% of another. This can be seen in the bigger wheel below:

The names of these depend on their placement, the one between Green and Yellow, for example, is Yellow-Green. Now, this can get a bit confusing with the two names, but just remember the primary name is never last, and it always lets you know that the color looks a bit more than that primary than it would be just half and half. The only exceptions on the color wheel with Tertiaries is that it is not called Red-Purple, it's known as Violet, and sometimes Blue-Green is called Turquoise... I don't know who made these rules, I just follow them to a point. Note that it's easier to get all the Secondary or even Tertiary colors rather than big bottles of the Primaries, because you would be mixing all day and not painting.. In fact, in mini painting, the more paints of varied colors you have, the less mixing you have to do!


It's strange how the human mind works.. we like things of opposite ends to come together to please us... The sweetness of chocolate and the tartness of strawberries, for example.. the same thing can be said about the color wheel. Colors right across from each other are called Complementaries because they look better near, or "Complement", each other! You can see these drawn together by a line below:

Now, this is important to remember in the mini world because it helps break away from monochromatic, or one colored, paint schemes. If you use Blue a lot, use Orange in some place. Now, some of these can be tricky, as with Red and Green make things look "Christmasy" if you're not too careful, but the areas do not have to be of equal size and close to one another. Heck, if you have a ranger in a long, green cloak, think about adding red to his rings, or even make him a red head! Below you can see a pic of how this can work to you advantage:

In Brom's "Loveless, most everything is red. The women's lips, her skin, her hair, the background stone, but one thing stands out the most: her green eyes. Of course this was by design of the artist's thoughts, even if he didn't do it consciously. This configuration makes her eyes glow and sparkle. Thus, complementary colors stand out if one is placed on top of or near another.

Another good trick with Complementary colors is they can add contrast. By mixing yellow with purple, you get a mustard brown color that is perfect for shading! The same can be done with all colors, and in fact I advise you to mix a complimentary in just a bit next time you're doing shading and see if it stands out more!

Colors can also be Complementary by Threes. That is, in a triangle you get three colors of the color wheel that look good together. The Primaries are Complementary by three, or a Triadic Complement, and so are the Secondary. The Tertiaries would be, too but they're harder to figure out just a bit.. A good way with any complement is to remember that all complements make Yellow, Blue and Red.. So two complements like Yellow and Purple would make all the colors (Yellow being a Primary, and Purple being a mix of Blue and Red). There are also complements in fours, but o a colors wheel of 6, you're taking most of the colors. It's best to remember this works for all major details like cloaks, shirts, pants, and boots and tiny little details factor in the color scheme, but not that much.


Analogous colors are right next to each other on the color wheel if you "spun" it. Usually only three to four colors are analogous, on a 6 color wheel anything else would be like painting a rainbow. As show, yellow, orange and red are analogous:

Analogous colors when placed next to each other come together, but do not really excite the eye as much as Complementaries. When most people start out, their colors are analogous on most of their miniatures without even knowing it! This makes them seem a bit dull, and the best way to rectify it would be to use complementaries, as above.. However, if the analogous colors are varied enough, it can have good results:

Sturmhalo's Harbinger of justice is the best example of a muted, Analogous color scheme. Note the skin matches the cloak, which matches the boots, which matches the bow, which matches the hair to an extent.. about the only thing not brownish is the metal, but it's a given metal should be metal colored!

Now, do not get Analogous and Monochromatic confused. Analogous is colors really close together. Monochromatic is just one color for everything. like if you sprayed a mini all red and said it was done.

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