Rowyn (rowyn) wrote,

Color Composition is HARD

About, I dunno, three months ago, I spent some time working on a picture. After two drafts and several thumbnails, I got the pencils to the point where I was more or-less happy with it. And then I thought, "I'll finish it up by coloring it."

This decision brought to my attention one of my many shortcomings as an artist. Namely, that I have no grasp of design.

B&W version of image: "Enough Rope"

Most of my artistic development has been purely mechanical: figuring out how to make my drawing look like whatever I'm trying to draw. I'm not all that good at this part, even, but that's still where most of my energy has gone.

There's this whole other side of art which boils down to "making your image look interesting" and I don't grok it at all. I was trying to get all of these bits together for this picture, and it was quite a struggle. my first effort at composing it fell flat, for example, and it took me a while to work out what to put in the background (and even now, I feel like I made a mistake in orienting the page vertically instead of horizontally, but I don't think I want to draw it all again. Especially since this is a gawdawful depressing thing to stare at for hours on end) . Once I finally figured all that out, I looked at the picture and thought, "I have no idea what colors to use on it."

My normal approach to color is completely haphazard. I think of what colors the things I'm drawing would have in the real world and then make it match. Sky: blue. Grass: green. Buildings: brick/stone/wood, possibly painted in neutral colors Etc. This ... sort of works. It works much better with natural scenes, because Nature has a pretty good color sense and seldom makes things that clash horribly. Collections of assorted man-made objects and people, not so much so.

So I asked koogrr for help, and he offered various suggestions, like making all the background people shades of grey, which seemed like a pretty good idea. But I still felt 'meh' about it. I did a couple of color tests and put it to one side. Lately I've been thinking about it again, so today I finally did several more color tests, including trying to get bolder and use less obvious colors. ("Let's try ... purple! for the ground. How's that look?")

I do want the wings to be some shade of red, because this is (sort of ) a character portrait and the character has wings in shades of red and pink. Other than that, I'm not feeling tied to anyone idea except that I'd like it to, y'know, look good when I'm done. Coherent. Instead of haphazard. For a change.

Here're the color tests I've done so far:







I think the fifth one is my favorite of the lot but ... uh. Yeah. I don't know what I'm doing.

Any suggestions? Help? Please?
Tags: art, art talk, composition, tb
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