Know your Basics - Colour Theory (the manip way)
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Published: September 11, 2011


Most of us have heard about Colour Theory - be it in school or on dA or as a term thrown about by someone somewhere. But what exactly is it? And how do you use it? This is what this article is striving to explain especially in regards to photomanipulation.

The Technical Part

Thankfully, there's tons of reading material about colour theory. Starting with the wikipedia article on the subject (which seems rather dry and boring to be honest) and ranging to tutorials written by deviants for their fellow artists. Those are the ones I'd like to recommend to you to get started in colour theory:



Still too dry and technical?

Okay, let me put it this way: the use of colours in your artwork can determine its mood and atmosphere. If you do it well, it can draw in the viewer and make them see what you want them to see by putting emphasis on certain parts. Colour theory gives you a way to know in advance how certain combinations of colours will affect the mood of your image. Let me give you some examples so you can see the different effects more clearly:

Ex. 1 - Colours & Atmosphere/Mood

Blues usually have a soothing, calming effect while red is associated with danger, passion and even blood and violence. Greens are connected with hope (think about how everything looks so much better as soon the first buds come out in spring) and yellow is a very cheerful colour (possibly because it's the brightest colour we have). Purples and violets have been reserved for royalty (and the church) in the old times (because the pigment to create fabric with those colours was very expensive), while today pinks/purple/violet is considered girly while blues and greens are for the boys. Blues and greens are called cool colours (think ocean, sky), while red and yellow are warm (think fire, skin).

Take a look at the following examples and ask yourself: what does that colour have to do with the way I perceive this image?

The Spectator by Trez-Art --knight-- by Christoph-Michaelis
KAFKA'S METAMORPHOSIS.. by chryssalis Lluvia de hojas by ElenaDudina Hypothermia by Serkenil :thumb184067839: The Future by MirellaSantana Sister Gypsy by artorifreedom Vampire Queen by Pygar


As explained above, the overall colour of the artwork can set a mood, but not only the colour itself (say for example "blue") helps to set it, but also its value: is it very saturated? Or ist it almost grey? The more saturated the colours, the more cheerful the atmosphere becomes (well, generally at least).


Ex. 2 - Colours & Focus

Now, if you start using more than one colour, how does that affect the image's mood and atmosphere? That pretty much depends on the kinds of colours you're combining!

a) Using complimentary colours

Colours on the oposite ends of the colour wheel, like green and red, blue and orange or violet/purple and yellow have a special way of getting your attention. Put side by side they are dynamic and powerful:



b) Using harmonious colours

Colours that are from the same side of the colour wheel (especially consecutive colours on the wheel)  usually feel harmonious. You can still get them to feel dynamic (as shown in the first example) if the range is wide enough:



c) Using the absence of colours

A powerful tool to emphasize something can be to put contrasts next to each other, one of these is having an image void of colours and then emphasizing the most important bit by using a strong, saturated colour:

Sulfur III by MarcelaBolivar Mary Magdalene by Palantirs :thumb256524358: :thumb117804330: room II :: ocd by Princess-of-Shadows


But, but, but!

But the examples above are not all that clear as you make them out to be! I hear you say and I have to agree: some of the examples could well be put in more than one of the above categories. For example, you can of course choose a harmoneous range of colours, maybe with less saturation and then use a complimentary, but saturated colour to emphasize the main subject. The question is always:

What do you want to convey?

Let's say you're in a rather depressing mood and you want to create a manip about it - would you then choose a dynamic colour range and throw in some complimentary colours because, hey, you just learned it gives great effects? No, I didn't think you would. But with the above colour theory, it may now suddenly make sense to you on more than just a subconcious level, what kinds of colours (or lack thereof) you want to choose for such a project.


So, how do I put this into practice?!

As we photomanipulators have a different setup than, say for example digital painters - what with using photographs as starting points - we also have a dfferent approach when it comes to adding/adjusting colours in our work. While it certainly doesn't hurt to go through all kinds of tutorials concerning colours and colour choice (for painters), I'll try to keep with actual photomanip tips and tricks in the selection of tutorials below:

Isolate Colour Video Tut by DigitalPhenom Curves and Adjustment Layers by kuschelirmel-stock
TUTORIAL - Road of Dreams by Seiorai Layer Masks + Colour Gradients by kuschelirmel-stock Walkthrough - The Cathedral by kuschelirmel-stock Tutorial 1: Chestnut to Grullo by kiltsrhott How to colour an eye by Monarda Creating A Mood - Part One by archaicart :thumb148917391: :thumb124790217: colour toning tutorial by siby Photoshop Match colour tute by Sun-Seeker :thumb84139804:


Note that interesting and relevant tutorials can not only be found in the Resources > Tutorials > Digital Art > Photomanipultation section, but also under Resources > Tutorials > Application Reference > *insert-programme-of-choice* and some may even be filed under the Photography Tutorials section, as photographers will use a number of methods to post process their images.


~~~

:new: EDIT: I just found out about colorschemedesigner.com - it lets you choose/play with colours and their complimentaries!

:new: EDIT 2: and some more links: www.colormatters.com/colortheory.html, colortheory.liquisoft.com & www.colorjack.com.

~~~

Thank you IreneLangholm for suggesting this as a topic! - if anyone has a suggestions as to what to write about next (I was thinking "composition" for starters) or if you want to add anything to this one, feel free to comment!

:heart:
Jasmin




All Articles

Know your Basics - Colour Theory (the manip way)
Most of us have heard about Colour Theory - be it in school or on dA or as a term thrown about by someone somewhere. But what exactly is it? And how do you use it? This is what this article is striving to explain especially in regards to photomanipulation.
The Technical Part
Thankfully, there's tons of reading material about colour theory. Starting with the wikipedia article on the subject (which seems rather dry and boring to be honest) and ranging to tutorials written by deviants for their fellow artists. Those are the ones I'd like to recommend to you to get started in colour theory:

Still too dry and technical?
Okay, let me put it this way: the use of colours in your artwork can determine its mood and atmosphere. If you do it well, it can draw in the viewer and make them see what you want them to see by putting emphasis on certain parts. Colour theory gives you a way to know in
Know your Basics - Composition (the manip way)The Rule of Thirds is another one of those expressions that you have probably heard before somewhere but aren't quite sure what it means. This article strives to shed some light on this rule as well as on how to use lines and shapes in your compositions to lead the viewer's eye to the important bits. There are some compositional rules and pointers that no artist should go without knowing!
The Technical Part
Rule of Thirds
Thankfully this time, there are no hours upon hours of dry reading to be done because the Rule of Thirds itself can be explained rather easily:
"The Rule of Thirds states that an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections." (from the wikipedia article)
Or - summed up in one image:
<a href="http://fav.me/d37v261">
Photomanips for BeginnersWhat is a photomanipulation?
Photomanipulations are images that have been composed of two or more photographic elements to create something new.
This is what the gallery description states. But what does it mean?
It means that a photomanipulation is based on photographs.
Not sketches scanned in (like line art for example) or screenshots from a video game. However, if you scan a photograph or for example dried flowers, it would be considered a photograph; while a photograph taken of line art still remains a sketch and is not consiered a photograph. Video game screenshots are copyrighted images btw and as such cannot be used at all.
It means that you need to use more than one photograph.
Retouching work as well as work that uses brushes or texture overlays only to "spice up" a photo that was taken by yourself(!) should be submitted to Photography > Darkroom, while work that uses stock images (i.e. images that you did not take yourself) should be


Journal Stock Credits: Kaotiksymphony-Stock and iMouritsa.
Comments129
anonymous's avatar
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WizAhmad's avatar
WizAhmadHobbyist General Artist

Glad I came upon this - I need it badly. I don't want to compete with the unbeatable greats like you and @Ellysiumn, but I do need to step up my game to be more realistic and decent.

Competition can be a lethal killer of motivation, passion, and happiness.

kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist

Thank you so much for the wonderful compliment! I am blushing :love: :love: :love:

maryamoli's avatar
maryamoliStudent Digital Artist
muchas gracias!!!
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist

:heart:

clegath's avatar
Lots of great info, thank you.
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
:heart:
Marazul45's avatar
Marazul45Hobbyist Digital Artist
:wow:muchisiimas gracias por toda la información me ha encantado leerte!,algunos tutoriales no los conocia,de este modo de nuevo Muchas gracias!!
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
leider kann ich kein Spanisch ^^; Aber ich schätz mal das war ein Kompliment, also vielen Dank :love:
Marazul45's avatar
Marazul45Hobbyist Digital Artist
Haha, ich auch nicht, aber ich Deutsche zu übersetzen, keine Sorge, jetzt sagen Sie, was du hast, ich hoffe, dass der Übersetzer arbeitet, tut mir leid für das Sprechen meiner Sprache, sprechen kein Englisch, ich habe immer traduccir und heute so viele Tage habe ich mehr 2 Stunden Kurzmitteilungen ... und dass es nur in meiner Sprache, sorry .......... ich habe dir gesagt .. vielen Dank für all die Infos, ich liebte das Lesen Sie einige Tutorials wusste nicht, nochmals vielen Dank.
Ich hoffe, dass die Übersetzer ihre Arbeit gut und kann gut lesen Sinne der Sätze.:iconloveitplz:
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
:heart:
NatiaGreenleaf's avatar
Normally I just read journals. I don't fav them but this one was so informative that I just had to. Thank you for sharing this and the articles.
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
great to hear it's useful! :love:
tamaraR's avatar
tamaraR Digital Artist
:iconblinkthanksplz: for the great article. :iconcutecinnamorollplz:
Hi Jasmin. This is also a great site for color schemes and such [link]
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
thanks for the link! I'll go have a look :hug:
Canankk's avatar
Thanks for this amazing knowledge dear Jasmin! :icondragonhugplz: :heart:
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
:huggle:
TriZiana's avatar
TriZianaProfessional Digital Artist
Hi, I read this and tried to apply it here ->[link] . Please take a look and tell me what you think.
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
done! hope it helps :heart:
TriZiana's avatar
TriZianaProfessional Digital Artist
Yes,ALOT!! Thank you very much!! :tighthug:
JamminJo's avatar
JamminJoHobbyist Photographer
Thank you :)
kuschelirmel's avatar
kuschelirmelHobbyist Digital Artist
you're welcome
Trez-Art's avatar
Trez-ArtProfessional General Artist
Thanks for this feature! Great article. Greetings. Trëz
Starlit-Sorceress's avatar
Starlit-SorceressProfessional Artisan Crafter
My favorite color theory tutorial: [link]
anonymous's avatar
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