Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Shadows part 6 - Warm & Cool Shadows

It's been a while since I added to the discussion on shadows. Today I'd like to talk about what colors work as shadows and how they change the feel of an object. For this post I strongly suggest that you download the Copic Color wheel to understand what I'm saying. This post will be short and confusing so read through it a couple times and follow the links to be ready for later shadow posts.

Warm/Cool color theory
First, a general rule of thumb about cool and warm colors so we're all starting from the same place:

Basic Cool colors: Blue, green, purple
Cool colors recede- they make people think things are farther away, colder, and are less inviting. Metals would be shown with a cool gray because we see metals as cold, hard, and uninviting.

Basic Warm Colors: Red, Yellow, Orange
Warm colors are close- they feel closer to us and more inviting. We would think of the white wool of a sheep being warm gray because it's natural, warm, fuzzy, and you feel comforted by these colors.

However, Cool colors don't have to be only blue, you can have a cool red and a warm red, since most reds have hints of warm or cool built into them. Likewise, warm colors don't have to be reds and yellows, since you can have a warm blue just like you can have a cool red.

This is why I suggest not jumping all over your color wheel to mix and match your blending colors until you're more familiar with your markers or you'll be trying to blend a warm blue with a cool blue and it just won't look right.

Are you confused yet?

Color families don't always play by the rules that I've so carefully explained as Natural Blending groups because this is a flat chart for a 3 dimensional concept. If you really want to easily understand colors on a wheel in 3 dimensions, I strongly suggest you watch the Gamblin Oil Paints Navigating Color Space video. It's about 10 minutes and it is VERY worth it. This is for oil paints but relates to any coloring medium and you can see better what the Copic color wheel is trying to simplify for you.

After you watch the video then come back and read my post again. One of my upcoming color posts will go more in-depth on the concept of close/far using shadow tones.

In following the movie, if you mix a warm and a cool they cancel each other out and make a neutral (usually an ugly neutral). Grays and browns are your result. Grays without a tone flatten your image and make it look blah, so you need to carefully choose your colors when you mix and blend. This little color square was made by taking the cool and warm color squares above that I made in Photoshop and put them on top of each other with a transparency so you can see how the colors cancel out. The bright blue turned dark and most of the other colors turned brownish gray. Not nearly as vibrant as the original swatches.

Today I'm going to color a simple object first with cool grays and then with warm grays. I challenge you to do the same. Keep the main colors the same, just change the shadow tone. Which one do you like better? Which one feels right to you? Take the same picture and try coloring the whole picture in a warm palette and then again in a cool spectrum. I colored this hat with E30's seqeunce because those are fairly neutral browns (which is partly why they're so popular) however, browns tend towards the warm spectrum. What if I colored the hat black, then used the cool gray shadow? Experiment! Image: Crafty Secrets Clear Art Stamps, Paper: Neenah Classic Crest Solar White Ink: Memento Tuxedo Black

3 comments:

stamps&cars said...

Ahhhhh, now the copic color wheel makes more sense to me after viewing the Gamblin video. To me, I like the cool shadow with the warm hat.......that is my personal preference but is it the right way to think?

Nicole said...

GREAT tips as usual! Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!

liquidopacity said...

(About the Gamblin Video) I always thought the coolest (meaning both not warm and that it's splendid :) ) yellow was the translucent icing on lemon meringue pie. Or just lemon icing. Wonder what the COPiC color closest to that would be.

I like the warm shadow on the hat more because it's more earth-toned and goes well with the hat. That would be the shadow I would use if someone actually wore the hat in the sun. The cool gray shadow would fit well on a metal automaton, or on a lifeless mannequin. Both look relatively fine, but it really depends on what the hat's put on.