Understanding Color For Watercolor

Color is an aspect of painting that can take a lifetime of study to really understand.  This section is meant to introduce you to the various aspects of color and simple ways to explore color schemes, color choices and color combinations for your paintings.

The Basics Of Color

There are 25 lessons included in this section organized by topic and presented in to help build a strong foundation in the basics of color.  It’s a good idea to start with the Characteristics of Color and work through the Color Wheel lessons, then Color Schemes and then the experiments with Primary Triads.  Once you have worked through all the lessons, you will have a solid base of color knowledge to build on.

Characteristics of Color – We tend to think of color in simple terms, but the broad term ‘Color’ includes four different aspects, or Characteristics.  This learning track gives shares an overview of the various aspects of color, followed by basic information on each of the four Characteristics of Color.  As you work through the Learning Tracks that follow, you’ll be working with these four characteristics in various ways.

The Basics Of Color

The Characteristics of Color – Hue

The Characteristics Of Color – Chroma

The Characteristics Of Color – Value

The Characteristics Of Color – Temperature

Value, Chroma and Temperature In Practice – These three lessons are easy ways to practice using Value, Chroma and Temperature shifts and contrasts to show light, which also reveals three-dimensional form.

 

Light and Form With Value

Practice With Value

 

Light and Form With A Single Hue

Practice Chroma

Light and Form With Color

Practice All Three

Learning Track: Simple Use Of Hue, Value, Chroma and Temperature

Simplifying and Manipulating Color For Effect – Each of the Characteristics of Color has a place in creating the illusion realism in any painting.  These two lessons show basic ways to use Value to compose the painting, choose simple Hues for each object, and to manipulate Chroma and Temperature to simulate the effect of light, shade and shadow in creating the illusion of three-dimensional form.   One rule can guide you in everything else – SIMPLIFY!  It’s hard to believe, but simplifying is the fundamental step in the creating a sense of complexity in your paintings.

 

Value Study For Composition, Light and Form

Color Study For Understanding Color

Advanced YURMBY Color Wheel

A Contemporary – and Accurate – Approach To Color Relationships

Advanced Color Wheel – Don’t be intimidated by the word ‘Advanced’.  The Advanced Color Wheel is built on six basic colors. As you work through the three lessons building the wheel, you’ll start to learn about Chroma which is the primary Characteristic that is changed as the wheel is built.

Most of us learned Color and Color Theory using color wheels based on three primary colors – red, yellow and blue. This approach has provided a useful guide for many years.

Artists know the deficiencies of using physical pigments to re-create the effect of visible light. Traditional color theory based on three primary color wheels devdeloped to classify and organize color in ways to assist in this task.

Color Theory has evolved over the years (centuries really) as scientists learned more about the properties and character of light and as artists worked to create lthe effect of light with imperfect pigments.

The YURMBY Color Wheel is the most current step in that evolution. Its main strength is the even distribution of hues – balancing cool and warm hues equally. In doing so, it provides artists with a map of color relationships that make it easier to understand and use the hues on ones own palette.

At the same time, it solves a major problem with the traditional three primary (Red – Yellow – Blue) color wheel.

 

Advanced YURMBY Color Wheel – Part 1

Bright Colors, A Different Color Wheel Idea

Advanced YURMBY Color Wheel – Part 2

Neutral Colors, Neutral Grays and Browns

Learning Track : Color Schemes

Characteristics of Color – We tend to think of color in simple terms, but the broad term ‘Color’ includes four different aspects, or Characteristics.  This learning track gives shares an overview of the various aspects of color, followed by basic information on each of the four Characteristics of Color.  As you work through the Learning Tracks that follow, you’ll be working with these four characteristics in various ways.

Color Schemes are nothing more than simple “formulas” that make it easy to select the limited set of colors that will be used in your painting. The four schemes shown in this learning track are well-tested and proven to work. These lessons show how to use different schemes for expanded color expression.

Complementary and Split Complementary Schemes

Analogous Color Schemes

Tetrad Color Schemes

Triad Color Schemes

Learning Track: Primary Triads

Primary Triads – The Triad Color scheme is very common in paintings. It is simple and direct and employs a set of primary, secondary or tertiary colors. Triad schemes are balanced and offer the greatest range of hue, value and temperature.   This learning track explores a variety triads based on primary colors.

This section has four lessons. They build on the information in both the Advanced Color Wheel and Color Schemes sections. As mentioned before, building your color composition on a limited set of colors has a number of benefits: it will create great harmony in your paintings; it will develop your color sense and color mixing ability; it will also develop your ability to use VALUE to express light, form and mood; believe it or not, it will expand your expressive possibilities. Take the time to work through these lessons and then use the process to create your own triad with other choices of colors on your palette.

Most painting lessons here on Watercolor Methods are based on very limited color palettes. Often we use an expanded triad – one that includes perhaps two versions of one of the primaries.