Jump to content

Using Split Complementary Color Theory


Recommended Posts

When using split complementary color schemes, are you required to use both parts of the "split" to balance the overall color scheme? I guess I assume that is the point of the split in the first place.  The reason I am asking is that I am preparing to paint a cleric figure, and he is a follower of a Sun-god.  Was going to paint his cloak over his armor a washed-out blue and then paint the holy symbol on his shield bright Orange and yellow.  The thinking is to draw the eye to the shield and the holy symbol as I feel that should be the focal point of the piece. The Orange and yellow together I felt would look, well, "sunny".  But I was toying with going with straight orange or straight yellow. I would appreciate any thoughts or guidance on this. Thanks!

Edited by Loup_Garou_Gras
Link to post
Share on other sites
  • Replies 20
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Top Posters In This Topic

Well, orange is the traditional complement of blue. Split complementary would be yellow and red rather than yellow and orange. Complements work fine.

 

That said, a color wheel is a tool, not holy writ. Blue and yellow is a pretty common combination that can work well. (it's one of the more common combinations in heraldry, for instance.)

 

I'll also note that considering only hue contrast is pretty limiting when you're trying to draw attention. Luminance (brightness) and saturation contrast can also work very well. And a combination of the three is often useful, IME.

 

 

Plus I'm a Broncos fan, so you should definitely use blue and orange.  ::D:

  • Like 6
Link to post
Share on other sites

Keep in mind that there are different color wheels too. I've got a book on color harmonies that I've found more helpful than my color wheel other than finding good contrasting colors.

I've found that if your local colors start off with similar values it tends to help with a unified feeling when shading and highlighting.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just as an aside, primaries are up for debate depending on which type of color mixing you're doing- additive or subtractive.  Human vision would lean towards red, blue and green as primaries.  

 

So, I guess it's safe to say color theory is complicated!

 

The best way to test the balance of a color scheme is just to practice and play with it.  You can do this in a photoshop or paint program- take a photo of the mini and mock up the colors to see if you like the balance.  Remember when using strong contrasting colors, a good way to vary the scheme is to find a way to keep one bright and ease off on the other.

 

I do this in a few different ways:

1. use a small amount of the complement or contrasting color.  if you want to use bright colors, pick one to be dominant and use less of the other to keep from making the contrast jarring. example.

2. desaturate or gray-out one of the colors, or both of them.  this keep the contrast from being overwhelming.  example.

...there's probably some other ways, but, uh, I'm just not coming up with them right now! sorry!

 

this may be a similar scheme to what you're looking for in terms of using golds/yellows, blues and reds.  Note- most of the colors are not bright, but desaturated, with the emphasis on the red.  You can still get the contrast, but it doesn't overwhelm! 

 

Feel free to post the mini and your colors and I (and the rest of us, I expect!) would be happy to help poke at them and help!

  • Like 3
Link to post
Share on other sites

Blue covers a lot of hues, from a very cold blue such as deep amethyst to a very warm blue like cyan blue. Depending on where you are on this spectrum, the true complement can be anything from yellow to an orangey red. So you could do a simple complementary color scheme, using the true complement, by picking a warmer (greener) blue to as your complement if you go with orange, or a cooler (more violet) blue as your complement if you go with yellow.

 

In a complementary color scheme, the two colors you choose don't have to be exact complements. You might complement magenta with a greenish cyan or yellow rather than the proper complement (green), for example, and it would still be a complementary color scheme. But it's not a split-complementary color scheme unless you have two neighboring but clearly different hues against something near their common complement.

Edited by althai
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks again, you guys are a wealth of information!  Looking at your examples, well it reminds me of the first time I heard Joe Satriani (guitar heads old enough to remember when his second album was released know what I am talking about). Not sure if it is inspirational or I should accept the fact that I will never be at that level LOL. The gamut painting seems to suggest that you need to desaturate two of the three colors. My plan was to desaturate the blue for the tabard, and I thought I could get away with the yellow and Orange both being bright because they would be limited to the shield as well as a very small and select part of his helm.  Maybe I should just paint him and I could submit him for critique and/or ideas? Oh, and as an aside, I was wanting to paint a (please pardon another guitar reference) sunburst pattern on the shield.  Is that best accomplished wet blending?

Link to post
Share on other sites

Try using Gurney's gamut mask for your split, he gives a nice example of how he mixes his palette and then uses a warm and cool gamut to show how to implement it for believable results.

 

 

I love Gurney.. after reading his books I tried explaining some of the concepts to other artists who weren't familiar and it's funny.. almost every time they looked at me like I was crazy. Shape melding?!?! That destroys the focus and muddies the subjects! Windmill effect?!? That's just bad rim lighting! Then they see it in practice (especially from Gurney) and then it's like "oh.. yeah.. of course!". Thanks for sharing that video. I had read over the gamut section but without the video it was kinda hard to follow and that made it easy peasy!

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Layering and blending with a second brush is pretty easy once you get the paint thickness right.

However, the second brush can be a little cumbersome - as long as your layers are close enough you can get away with just painting each highlight/shade with no blending at all. It really depends how large the surfaces are. From the sounds of it, the areas are pretty small, and won't require any blending. Simple layers should do the trick and still give you a very pleasing result.

Edited by Ghool
  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

Color theories are interesting ways to organize theories of color, but the particular geometry of the color wheel is not inherent in color (and in fact dates to alchemical hocus-pocus of the seventeenth century -- when the previously non-canonical color "orange" was added to the rainbow to bring the number of colors up to the proper mystical magic number -- not even kidding).

 

I find color theories useful as starting points for thinking about color, but not necessarily a reliable guide to possibilities.

  • Like 4
Link to post
Share on other sites

Color theories are interesting ways to organize theories of color, but the particular geometry of the color wheel is not inherent in color.

No, but it is inherent in the biology of human color perception, which is fundamentally geometric. For example, Grassman's law is a geometric statement about human color vision, and can be confirmed by experiment. Color theory may have its origins in hocus pocus and alchemy, but it has become informed by science, and modern color theory has evolved from traditional as a result. For example, modern color theory tells us that the primary colors (for subtractive mixing) are cyan, magenta, and yellow, rather than the traditional red, blue, and yellow. Edited by althai
  • Like 2
Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...