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Using Color Theory to mix and match colors

Discussion in 'Tips & Tricks!' started by Immortal Concepts, Aug 3, 2014.


  1. Immortal Concepts

    Immortal Concepts Detail Decepticon!

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    As per some requests, I found a couple hrs tonight to just type away hehe.

    This is how I approach matching a particular color, but there are many methods to do this. I'm just a very technical person and want to know exactly how everything works and why.

    First you have to start with the basics, the fundamentals.

    The 3 primary colors
    Blue, Red and Yellow. : these are the colors that you cannot mix from any combination of any other colors.
    The 3 secondary colors
    Orange, Violet, and Green. : these are a mix of 2 primary colors. For example: mix primary colors yellow and red to make secondary color orange.
    These 3 primary and secondary colors make upthe basics of the color wheel.
    This is in my opionion, the primary tool the color wheel serves, as for choosing paint to mix/match a color is dependant of factors of your physical paint. What I mean by this is something called "color bias."
    For example: Cadmium red is an orange red, and will be bias towards yellow.
    There is no such thing as a "pure red" or a pure "blue" they don't exist. Every paint brand uses different pigments to acheive their color, and use different colors to make their particular color.
    Take the color crimson for example. You can mix this several different ways. Typically, crimson is mixed using blue and red, therefore will have a bias towards purple. I have used green to tint back the blue so its not as cool before. This would then have a bias towards yellow, IF there is enough yellow in the way your green is made, lol. There really is no exact formula and this is why it's critical to stick with the same paint system and learn it well. This is the only way you will ever be able to match a color by eye.
    Tertiary colors
    These are the mixtures between the 6 colors mentioned above. While important, its not as important for mixing colors. This lends a hand more towards coming up with your color palette or scheme on an original piece.
    Analyzing the 3 properties of color
    To accurately mix or match a color you need to analyse it's properties. This takes a long time so don't get frustrated, it all comes with practice and understanding.

    The 3 properties are as follows; Hue, Value, Saturation

    Hue
    : Best way to explain this is it translates the color. The sun has a yellow hue, literally means if you had to mix the color with the closest pure color you can think of, as in red, orange, yellow etc, but not necessarily bright yellow.

    Value:
    How light or dark the color is if it was a black and white photograph. This is one of the most important factors in mixing accurate colors, but one of the hardest to master. If you have ever notice a painter squint, one of the reasons is squinting helps the eyes'black and white receptors to make better value judgments.

    Saturation
    : how bright, or intense the color is. It's sometimes referred to as Chroma or Intensity

    Now on with the fun part and what we are after. How to match that freaking color!
    Visual representation is best for this part. I don't have any paint near me at the moment, so I will just attach pictures found on the internet that hopefully most monitors will view the same. I will walk you through analyzing the 3 properties I just mentioned, and put them to practical use.

    CC9900.png Target Color

    First Step: analyze the hue - what color is closest on the color wheel?

    Bright yellow paper.jpg

    Lets go with the obvious choice of yellow. I've found that most yellows have an orange/red bias.
    Looking at the yellow against the color wanting to match, you can see that it's too yellow and the target color has a much more orange hue to it. I would add a little bit of red, which most I've found have a bias towards yellow. This should be mixed until an yellow-orange has been achieved.


    FFCC00.png

    Second step: analyze the value - How light or dark is it?

    If you find your mix is too dark, you can add white, if its too light, we can add the complementary color.
    Looking at the color wheel to see what is opposite the yellow-orange we have mixed, you will find a dark blue-purple.

    Third step: analyze the saturation - How bright or dull is it?
    More than likely it will be too bright, so add just a little touch of blue-purple to tone it down. Be careful with using darker colors as they are stronger and tint easily so add very minute amounts and keep mixing until desired color is achieved.

    images.jpg

    The final picture attached shows how purple added to yellow orange will darken to a point, then shift towards purple. controlling this slowly is key to getting a spot on color match. As you add very small amounts of blue-purple to your mix, you should eventually hit the target color.

    Hope this helps someone, I've tried to simplify classic teaching I received years ago when doing oil paintings. The other method is what helped me figure out the bias of the paints, but takes longer to catalog in your head and remember on a regular basis. This would be just mixing colors and see what happens. You will noticed a lot of artists, especially those in the auto industry that have to churn out large amounts of work quickly, will stick to the same color theme for most things. This is because they know their colors well, how to mix and match them, and this comes in handy to always have supplies ready, assisting in speed of job completion, and repairing damages and scratched airbrush work without having to redo the entire thing, saving you time, and making the customer freaking happy as hell. Well sometimes, you can't please everyone in this day and age.
  2. basepaint

    basepaint Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Thank I.C great help
  3. kjukju

    kjukju pretty old tutorling Elite Member!

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    Thanks a lot, will use it on the next pic wgich have a couple of different shades of blue
  4. Andhson

    Andhson Young Tutorling

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    Thanks, now I have an exercise to do, painting myself one of those wheel thingies. I have never been to technical about this, just went with gut feel, but sometimes that just fails. Then thus willcome in handy.
  5. matty171

    matty171 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Very informative Justin thanks, its one of many areas i need to work on getting to know colors and mixes, ill have to re-read it several times before it all sinks in, i think this should be made a sticky by the powers that be
  6. Boltcase

    Boltcase Detail Decepticon!

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    Thx Immortal. Nicely said! :)
  7. Cuda

    Cuda Hot Glue King. Very Likeable!

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    Well done Justin, I've been wanting to print myself out a good color wheel for reference. Since reading this I know for a fact I would've gone a different route and NOT ended up coming up with the same color lol, good info bud!!!
  8. Diegojavbau

    Diegojavbau Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Thanks a lot !!
  9. pugster

    pugster Double Actioner

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    many thanks for taking the time to put this together , if its not been put in already maybe a mod can link my thread in the newbie section to this as its an invaluable piece of information for newbies.
  10. ayr-worx

    ayr-worx Needle-chuck Ninja

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    Immortal - Well thought out and good explanation. Thanks!
  11. hypnochimp

    hypnochimp Double Actioner

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    just starting with color theory. thanx for breaking it down
  12. Kat Wolffpack

    Kat Wolffpack Double Actioner

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    it was so right on and its crazy to think that my child is learning the color wheel in paints and even in college art class we were taught this and it all rings a bell, but how quickly we forget when we don't practice lol. Thanks very informative
  13. matty171

    matty171 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    I remember this, come back and play with us Immortal you have been missed

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