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Color Palette -- Are There Trends?


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16 minutes ago, Bruunwald said:

...

But I think color trends in our particularly hobby are more directly influenced internally.  ...

 

In this hobby, most of us stare at other peoples' work a lot. We're all going to lean toward the best of it, or what strikes us most. And that is going to push many of us in the same direction a lot more than the color of a station wagon or a cola can. Not that those things don't have their place, too; we might reference them on modern pieces. But which are you more likely to incorporate into painting robots? A scheme you've scene in Star Wars, or a color from a bicycle you saw riding down the street yesterday? I'd say you're more likely to lean toward the thing that is more relative and more exciting. For most of us, that would be Star Wars, or related.

 

This is interesting.  I find myself drawn to the color itself.  My orange droid is orange because I like the orange.  I really like the orange.  I could paint every mini I have in that same orange.  I need to get 10 more bottles (BTW, it doesn't work at all in an airbrush).  Now I have to deal with the consequences of that decision.  You would not be surprised that I like autumnal colors -- browns, straws and tans, oranges, off yellows, deep reds, recessed dark greens; I could spend all of my time in the hobby just building autumn bases.  And spring is lurking in the back of my mind somewhere.  I have a very hard time with clashing colors -- whatever the effect intended.  So I tend to look for figures that can receive the colors I want to paint -- not figures I like and then have to consider what color to paint them.  Thus, when I look at a figure, the first thing I see is the color.

 

It is not that color is my only criterion; I do grab a figure I like and then have to decide what colors to paint it.  But a good figure that I can unloose my color preferences upon is very satisfying.

 

I do look at others' work, obviously.  What strikes me first is the color scheme.  Sometimes that is as far as I go.  If I find the colors offputting -- to my taste -- I move on to another mini.  Recently, I look at a mini and my mind says, "Another purple and blue; just purple and blue".  Like red and green was for me over the last couple of years.  Then there are the browns and creams and yellows and I got draw in.  Even bright reds and bright blues, if they dominate the palette.  So, for me, if the color hits me as interesting, then I'll invest in examining further.  All of this, naturally, gets thrown out if the painter really gets it right and shows us a mini that demands we pay attention to it. 

 

It occurs to me that one issue with color in our hobby is the size of the figures we work with.  The colors, in general, have to be pretty straightforward ... to much nuance and too much subtlety gets lost in a figure the size of my thumbnail.  Bigger figures, busts, dioramas are a different kettle of fish.

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On 10/30/2017 at 5:49 PM, NecroMancer said:

As someone who is just beginning painting and trying to start to grasp the most basic ideas of color theory, I find this discussion pretty intimidating 

 

For the most part, unless you have a form of colour-blindness to work around, your colour instincts are probably pretty good.  This is because you're used to seeing colours in use quite a lot, so you already have a base standard.  Colour theory is really just additional explanation to give you intent and purpose to your work, so you can use it to do a specific thing.  But you don't really need to know it in order to pick colours that play well together.  You'll know when you messed up because it will look wrong. 

 

Basically it's a handy skill that's useful, but not really something worth sweating about too much - especially if sweating about it winds up making you shy about painting.  That might seems a weird thing to say, but I know of several people painting right now who are way too afraid of their minis.  Sling paint, experiment, see what happens.  What you learn about colour theory along the way will inform your experiments, but you're still going to have to play around.  I figure it's best to start playing around first, and worry about the theory later.  Playing around will help you identify areas where the theory might be helpful in solving issues anyway.

 

All that said, my habitual colour scheme seems to be red/white/yellow*.  I started using more greens, blues, teals, and purples to try and broaden things a bit. 

 

*These are, of course, general categories and not the same exact colour every time.  The yellow may be supplied by blonde, for example. 

 

Edit to add:  Anyone worried about whether they already know some colour theory, do this test:  pick out three colours you would use to do an arctic scene.  Now pick out three you would use for a desert scene.  If they're different, you already know the basics of what colours go well together to create an effect.  That's the art.  Colour theory is the science that brings order to the art. 

 

Edited by buglips*the*goblin
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22 hours ago, buglips*the*goblin said:

 

Basically it's a handy skill that's useful, but not really something worth sweating about too much - especially if sweating about it winds up making you shy about painting.  That might seems a weird thing to say, but I know of several people painting right now who are way too afraid of their minis.  Sling paint, experiment, see what happens.  What you learn about colour theory along the way will inform your experiments, but you're still going to have to play around.  I figure it's best to start playing around first, and worry about the theory later.  Playing around will help you identify areas where the theory might be helpful in solving issues anyway.

 

This is pure gold. Its real easy to obsess and fret over minis "What if the paint job is bad, my $3.29 mini will be wasted!" but the thing is, we'll never get better unless we practice. Its true of any skill. 

 

As for color combinations, I do think in a way, we are influenced by marketing, but that's mainly because what works in marketing also works in minis. It's not "Hey, Coca Cola uses red and white, I will too!" Instead its more "Hey, that poster for Coca-Cola looks really nice, I should try to do something similar." (and it just happens to use a lot of red and white.

 

As for Orange and Blue, what's wrong with that! ;P My two-time alma mater is Orange and Blue and even inspired the colors of my favorite football team! Honestly, I try to stay away from Orange and Blue for the most part, but only because where I live it will immediately be seen as Illini colors. 

 

I have noticed though that my palette tends to be a bit limit a lot of the time. A big part of that has to do with colors I like and don't like though. I'm a big fan of red and blue (and they happen to look good together) but try to avoid red and green because it screams Christmas to me. Likewise, yellow is often used as a complementary color to a lot of notable colors, but I personally hate yellow. So I am somewhat starting to try to force myself to use different colors if for no other reason than to get more creativity into my palette. To that end, I recently used the Camoflage Green Triad on one of my Infinity minis and am largely liking the results. I think the triad could use a bit of help in the highlight end, but then that's often my problem and I tend to be too conservative with my highlights (different issue though). 

 

All in all I think the big take away is "Don't be afraid to experiment!"

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Red and green can be a useful combo that many people shy away from for the same reason, but it does tend to only look christmasy when you add in white as an additional colour.  I should note that in my above post I'm using a pretty broad version of the term colour theory, which includes human associations.  White reminds us of snow, which is why adding that to red and green looks like christmas (culturally dependent, of course).  But it also depends on the reds and the greens, because an olive green instead of a pine green and a tomato red instead of holly berry gives you a lush garden evocative of warm climes or summer days.  So within the same broad categories of colour, you can evoke completely opposite seasons.

 

So in the broad use of colour theory we can break it down to three essential categories:

 

1.  Nature - always your best guide

2.  Human associations of colour combos (yellow and black = danger)

3.  The colour wheel

 

All of these things work together, with the colour wheel and related theories being the part that attempts to bring some method and order to it.  But I put it third for a reason, because it's the extra bit that's useful to know.  It is not essential if you have a good grasp of the first two, but it will be a big help when the first two are not adequate.  But colour theory isn't esoteric wizardry, it's just a set of principles that are handy to know.  When you know something, you'll find a way to use it. 

 

When you want to paint something, the first thing you should do is seek references.  So if I'm painting something sort of egyptian, then I need to look up egyptian things and interpretations of them and see what looks good.  If I'm painting poisonous toads, I look up poisonous toads, etc.  Most times this is sufficient.  This can also yield more if I extrapolate from it - so for example, if my egyptian themed search yields a lot of teal and gold in combination, and I want to spice up a mech on a desert base, I might consider using this combo (the gold need not be metallic, just some variation of yellow will do).  Sometimes things can get a bit sideways with fantasy subjects, like Demogorgon.  How exactly should one colour a two-headed monkey creature with a lizard body and tentacles?  Some stuff is just weird, and may be beyond the ken of nature, humans, or colour theory to rectify.

 

I also want to make it clear that I'm not dissing colour theory, only putting it into context as one tool of several that you can use to help yourself along.  Over-reliance on colour theory is, IMO, one of the reasons behind the subject of this thread - oversaturation of trends.  I do however think it is stuff worth knowing, every tool you put in your toolbox is good!  It's just that nobody is gonna come to your house and beat up your family if you mess it up (they would have come for me already). 

 

As you develop and learn, you need to learn more and develop more to build an arsenal of useful things.  Much of it will simply proceed naturally step by step as you practice and gain confidence, so I think those are the most essential elements.  As you unlock methods and refine them your thinking will begin to change and make you seek out new things to try. 

 

What is most important is absolute fearlessness.  You're going to make mistakes, so don't worry about it - it's not just a way to learn, it's the best way because you'll discover the nuances nobody can ever tell you about.  When you really screw it up you'll remember not to do it again and probably find a better way to do what you were trying (occasionally, you may even discover something completely new that other people then copy).  Sometimes a mistake may prove useful, too.  When I painted my Vulture Demon I wanted a weird look, so I took ral partha sembia red (a sort of pale reddish purple) and darkened it with brown liner to make a greyish shade.  Then I used it unadulterated for my midtone.  To this point it was all proceeding pretty much by-the-numbers, but I wanted a bit of oomph for the highlight, and thought using white with the sembia red would be too pinkish.  I used pure yellow instead and it turned into this weird, kinda orange inflamed infection colour.  In any other circumstance, it would be hideous - but for a vrock demon it was the perfect colour.  Because a Vrock is hideous, and it's better that he look more like a horror than a cute pink plushie. 

 

I couldn't tell you where that experiment falls within colour theory, but I wouldn't have my rancid-looking vulture demon any other way. 

 

In any case, if anyone reading this has a huge hoard of figures (and if you went big on any Bones kickstarter, you do or soon will) then you have plenty of practice ahead of you.  Paint something the best you can, and then move on to the next.  At some point in the future you may wish to revisit this early work and re-do it, and that's fine - but you won't get anywhere being stuck.  There is always another figure to paint, and there always will be. 

 

Remember!  This:

 

http://www.destroyerminis.com/portfolio/thief-of-hearts-cleric/gallery/darksword-miniatures/

 

Began with this:

 

http://www.destroyerminis.com/portfolio/number-1/gallery/reaper-miniatures/

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On 10/31/2017 at 11:39 AM, alchemist said:

I just let my minis tell me what colour to paint them.  I find it's futile to argue with them.

Same here. Unless they tell me orange. I hate orange. I will argue with them if they ask for orange. Occasionally they still win. 

 

On 11/2/2017 at 1:51 PM, Gargs said:

 

This is pure gold. Its real easy to obsess and fret over minis "What if the paint job is bad, my $3.29 mini will be wasted!" but the thing is, we'll never get better unless we practice. Its true of any skill. 

To further add to Buglips and Gargs - I found that once I stopped caring about how good my painting was, my painting actually got better. 

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1 minute ago, kristof65 said:

 

To further add to Buglips and Gargs - I found that once I stopped caring about how good my painting was, my painting actually got better. 

 

That actually makes a lot of sense. By "not caring" you probably get a lot more done, which means you are practicing more, which means your skills are getting better. Whereas if I try to get everything "perfect" I tend to not really get much of anything done because I'm constantly fretting about the mistakes on the current project. I think that there can be a fine line between trying your best, and simply "getting reps" in and improving that way. I probably need to look more at "getting reps"in and worry less about the final outcome. Easier said than done though. :(

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On 11/2/2017 at 11:51 AM, Gargs said:

 

This is pure gold. Its real easy to obsess and fret over minis "What if the paint job is bad, my $3.29 mini will be wasted!" but the thing is, we'll never get better unless we practice. Its true of any skill. 

 

Over twenty years of unpainted miniatures are a testament to how hard this thought process is to break.

 

And that's after having only one miniature that I've ever painted that has actually turned my stomach...  For some reason, ice blue skin and purple claws/chitin just did not work on a Hormugant.  I think I ended up burying it deep in a box of unpainted Tyranid minis...  :unsure:

 

My 2 yen,


Akiosama

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