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Color bias (why does yellow and blue make brown not green)

Discussion in 'General Airbrush Tutorials' started by haasje dutchairbrush, Nov 10, 2014.


  1. Cuchullain1900

    Cuchullain1900 Young Tutorling

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    I appreciate this is an old thread and comment....but it's new to me and I'm interested in the subject. The Cyan Magenta Yellow Black viewpoint of making colour is an interesting one for us airbrushers. Here's why: The process of building up colour for an airbrusher is almost identical to printing.
    Imagine you as an airbrusher have only the above colours and they are mostly transparent (the Quinacridone Magenta is transparent, Hansa Yellow Light is another and you will have to figure out a Cyan but it's close enough. There is probably a black that is transparent, there are enough variations). You can literally overlay one colour over the other, analysing as you go and get yourself the colour you want.

    Radu Vero in his first airbrush book laid out with a graphic how paint from an airbrush lays on the surface differently from a brush. He explained we spray out a tiny set of dots one over the other. Depending on the type of paint it may flatten a bit but it doesn't lay down like you would from a brush. I think that is why many of us like the look of airbrush. If you were very close up and the paint thick enough, you might see the individual dots. From a distance we see it as opaque or a shade or tint or whatever colour we sprayed. But in essence, that paint from an airbrush is dots combined together. That is not functionally different from a printer. You would see this even better if you waited for the paint to dry between each pass of the airbrush. With some paints I could literally see the layers of dots on top of each other.

    I'm fascinated by the intermixing of colour. I could go a bit deep into the theory of this but I won't. I would have to study up and I'm too lazy for that! But I will say this: there are some artists who go on about this type of mixing adn present as the true way to paint or the only way to make colour. I can't say their results inspire me even though the theory does. I think they miss the one step airbrushers have over traditional painters. Their colours don't spray dots; they are laying down a swath of colour. The airbrush can replicate in miniature what the printer does. You could, and I've done it, build up a painting with just three colours and black. And if you are really clever you leave out the black (it seems jarring to the eye to me) and build up with the three colours because they are subtractive and will eventually get you the dark black you want. As was said above, nature doesn't create black, it creates dark.

    If you would like some proof of what you can do take a look at a Maxfield Parrish painting. His process is complex and painstaking but it is the same. He pounced his colours on the canvas in variations of printer colours for oils, layer one colour over another. We are used to seeing his colours as one colour because of printing but what captures the eye of people, beyond his superb draftsmanship and classical composition, is the ethereal colour he created. And he did it with essentially three separate colours. There are some great books that capture his painting process mid stream and you can see the use of magenta, cyan and yellow in building up colour.

    You may ask as I have; if it's so great then why haven't more artists tried it? In answer, think of the great Chuck Close and George Seurat among others. They do a large scale version of what you do with an airbrush. They are out there. They may not use CYMK specifically because there are organic colours that can be used just as nicely but it gets done.

    I hope my little book (sorry!) above starts a thought and discussion about this process and how we can utilise colour for our specific approach to art.
    C0y0te, doc1, jord001 and 2 others like this.
  2. jord001

    jord001 Air-Valve Autobot!

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    Thanks @haasje dutchairbrush that info is very interesting and somehow I had missed it 1st time round.

    Lee
    haasje dutchairbrush likes this.

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