Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Color Theory 101

Breaking down the color in a photograph. Start with a magazine photograph. You want one that has two or three strong colors and natural lighting, and not too much going on--food magazines (like Martha Stewart, Saveur, Sunset) seem to have the best photos for this project. Choose paint chips that match as closely as possible the colors in the photograph. Look for shadow and reflection colors as well as the strong colors. Assemble the paint chips in a pattern that roughly matches the composition in the photograph.
Step three is to copy your collage using paint.

This is an optical illusion that demonstrates the fact that VALUE IS RELATIVE. Squares A and B are exactly the same shade of gray. I even sampled them in Photoshop to test this out and they are, in fact, identical. So the dark squares lit are the same value as the light squares in shadow.

Three identical value scales look different on different backgrounds. Value is relative.

Color is the same way. A color can look very different depending on its context.

Robert Gamblin's paint company is located in Portland. They make high quality artists' oil paints and have a great website with lots of information for artists. I recommend watching the video describing what RG calls 'color space,' the three-dimensional model of color that maps hue, value, and chroma, and relates it to Gamblin's paint products. Very useful for painters.

Adobe Systems (where I had a summer job once) offers a site for playing with color and creating color palettes. It's called Kuler.

ColorMunki has a Munsell color sorting test you can take (it's worth registering for) as well as a 'Knowledge' section with an excellent glossary of color terms.

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