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Daily Deviation
August 4, 2012
[Stock & Resources] Color Theory Crash Course by *pronouncedyou
Featured by Elandria
Suggested by Mauser712
pronouncedyou's avatar

Color Theory Crash Course

This is a basic color tutorial. I'm sure a lot of you guys learned this in school, so it's basically a refresher course. Or it's more of a "put one foot into the door" sort of course. This is definitely no where near an end-all-be-all tutorial. I suggest everyone to look up multiple tutorials and draw from many places to learn. I encourage you to continue to investigate color theory, because we never really stop learning.

I've learned so much since writing this, and I hope you do, too.

Please note that I did not include every color combination ever, this was just mostly a general idea tutorial. Take what you learn and apply it to your own art. I know this is under traditional, but it is used for every type of art.

Thanks to everyone who responded to [link] ! I tried to include a lot of the combinations you guys liked. ;)

~totorochic linked some great websites for reference:
[link] this is a link for color harmonies in popular logos
[link] and this is a color scheme chooser.

The greatest way to learn color is to practice a lot, so get out there and practice <3~

Please also note that this mostly uses RGB model as opposed to CMYK, which is vastly different. If you're into digital art, look up a CYMK model of colors!

I find that gouache is the best paint to use to learn color theory, so grab some and test it out for yourself.
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sebo3e's avatar
Very good tutorial it helps with color combination when i want to choose colors for my characters i want to color
haloveteran's avatar
don't judge me but I am a bit lost after reading this, much info >_>

I tried to use this to help me pick out colors for a character im designing but even after reading this im lost, the character is a dragon with black skin/scales with a light grey underside and a mane/hair/goatee/whiskers that are a dark reddish brown and it has bright golden eyes. Im staring at it (used a maker game) and just feel like its missing something, but I don't know what.
StanleySweet's avatar
Add some red ? to the eyes for instance. it doesnt have to 33% each.
BlazeDriver's avatar
How does one create discord colors?
melobuniiP's avatar
this is extremely helpful!!!! Thanks for this! 
the-midnight-fairy's avatar
Please.. someone can help me?  I'm very confused.. everyone and even in Japanese magazines they  talk about a scheme color and how to pick up colors that match each others... but still i don't understand how to picking colors, based to that color weel...
I read this tutorial, but I have just confusion of colors and nothing else.

I'm doing a drawing and now finished lineart, I need to choose colors. I'm starting from the brown of hair.. but I still don't understand what colors match with brown better... there's tertiary colors, double color, 4 colors in the color weel... but how to actually use ? I dont even seen the brown I want in the color scheme, how can I know how to count to get the colors that match? 

They explain about tertiary color, etc but still when I come to color my own drawing... I can't understand what color take . All that I know is that Ive decided the color of hair (light brown). All the rest, I dont have idea how to picking up the correct colors that give the drawing a nice coloring (because the perfect colors calculation before choose a color. I dont want to use casual colors)... I'm so confused... 
See how they choose perfect colors?

I still dont understand.. how to choose color that match my brown I chose in pratical?

I need help T__T please....
FrozenDiamond267's avatar
Hi! I think I may know what you mean, and I'll try to answer, but I'm not that experienced myself, so I'm sorry if there are any mistakes. 

This tutorial is very helpful, actually, since it tells you about more color schemes than most I've seen. The way to work the color wheel is to find relations on the circle, for instance across from each other or next to each other, etc. Examples are red-green(Christmas-y/festive. The red makes the green more 'green' and vice versa) or blue-purple(calm, like mountains/sunset/sea).

You can use different schemes with different effects you want. If you use mromochome it might seem more 'quiet' or peaceful than a complementary color scheme. The best way to learn this is to play around with it or find color palettes online.

The pages you linked to are also mainly about color schemes. For instance, the first one (orange and blue) used tints of the original complementary colors, blue and orange (they're across on the wheel) as a base color, and used more tints/shades for accent colors.

Brown is a little special since it's not on the color wheel. I've seen some tutorials that call it an accent color, so it should look good next to just about anything depending on the tints and shades and the personal preference of the artist/viewer. You could try to look for color palettes or take examples from other artists work, but I think it's fun to experiment yourself. :)

It's also good to look for examples in nature, since brown is common there. Brown and green is really common, but I feel like brown also looks good with blue or pink (think flowers in a forest or maybe chocolate wrappers :D ). Just play around and find what you like! :)

Normally I also try to have a piece of scratch paper to try different colors out together, so that might help! :meow:

I hoped that helped... i'm not sure how clear that was, sorry if it's still a little confusing... ^^;

(Also tint refers to the lighter versions of a color and shade refers to the darker versions, not sure if you knew. ^^)
AnnaRIART's avatar
Thanks for this =)
bouncy72's avatar
Wow thank u. This is awesome. I'm sticking it on my wall for a quick (gd looking) guide. Thanks again :-)
Drixtina's avatar
Nice tutorial. It's very informative and easy to understand.
Kamihanaki's avatar
Thank you, I really struggle with choosing color schemes, in my mind I know the 'basics', but in application I have a hard time finding what looks good together. This makes it really clear and I think I have a better handle on how to use certain colors. Thanks ^^
Miriye's avatar
Very helpful! Thank you for making this ^_^
5er-Inkslinger's avatar
Simply told, but very effective.  Well done.
riot-wild's avatar
Thank you for this and especially the examples of good combinations. It will really help me to reference back when creating new color combinations. Sometimes its hard for me to find combinations pleasing to the eye due to my color blindness and the basic principle you have outlined are a big help
TamarRei's avatar
As someone who's never been in an art class (small towns and homeschooling, whoo hoo~), this is much needed and appreciated.
G3oM's avatar
Thank you for sharing. This rly helped me understand color theory better.
RayVictoria's avatar
this is awesome!
ewolf20's avatar
thanks it kinda helped
NekkoriAdopts's avatar
I learned all this in art class but I needed a refresher!
I'll be sure to refer to this when coloring, thanks for the tutorial!
Daintyorange's avatar
Nice tutorial, thanks <3 Sooo helpful!!!
TripleRainbowDash's avatar
navanavin's avatar
Thank you! This is veryyyyyyyyy helpful :D
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