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Hi everyone.  I've been thinking a lot about color while painting recently.  It's been a major motivation for some of my more recent projects.  I wanted to talk about some of the things I've been doing and hoped that some of you would share your thoughts about color choice as well.

First of all, my paint collection is fairly modest.  Probably around 50.  But I'm a firm believer that you don't need a ton of different paints.  I add paints periodically to fill gaps - especially colors that I find myself struggling to mix well (purple continues to be a struggle and I need some better options).

 

I love the Reaper Triads - they're a great way to expand a collection and get colors that behave well together.  Also a great way to teach newer painters the philosophy behind layering.  For awhile I was running with the philosophy that I wanted to avoid mixing more than two colors at once.  Especially because it's harder to duplicate.  I was using the triads a lot as a guide while painting.

 

However, I have recently pushed away from using triads.  I have been playing around with more limited palettes.  Not exactly the 3 color challenge, but just really considering whether or not I need to grab a new bottle, or if I can mix what I want using something I already have.  With this philosophy, the triads clash.  So I definitely find myself grabbing the midtones most often.

I've been thinking of this as "mindfully limited palette."  Sometimes I grab the colors I know I want ahead of time, other times I'll grab a new color as I go.  Typically this involves a black and a white and then 5 or less unique colors.  Often a red, blue, yellow, and brown.  Though not necessarily the purest versions of those colors.  I might choose a greener blue.  Or a brownish red.

There's two ways I've been playing with this.  One is by leaning into a more monochromatic palette.  I have found it really fun and challenging to try to imagine the setting a mini is in and reflecting that environment in the color choices of the mini.  It's also a fun challenge to make many different shades and tones using similar colors.  This is what I had in mind while painting this Ice Witch, and Swamp Skeleton.

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The other way I have been playing with these limited palettes is to try for a more unified tone, but not necessarily monochrome.  There's a painting theory behind a "mother color" where you mix a bit of one color into every other color on your palette.  While I haven't gone that far, I have found that reusing colors, even in different mixes, helps unify the piece.  Just like balancing colors across the mini.  I don't have as many good photos of this, as my best examples are the most recent minis I've been working on - really pushing color variety while using limited paints.  This Kobold is sort of like that, though he definitely is a bit more monochromatic.  I'll have to come back and add my more colorful examples.

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What kind of color theory and challenges have you been playing with to motivate and push your painting?  Please feel free to share photo examples.  This has been a major source of excitement and motivation in my painting recently and I feel it's really improving my results.  I would love to see what everyone else is doing!

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I like it!

 

One of the things I've been experimenting with is using metallics when painting Fish/Dragons/Lizards or other scaly creatures.

 

Here are some examples.

Using Gold on some parts of the green scales, I also use coloured metallics like ruby or amethyst etc.

Silver on grey/white or blue paint.

Gold on Greens or yellows

Ruby or purple on Red or purple or dark blue will work also.

 

I don't apply it to the whole creature, just on certain parts to give it some sort of shimmering look,

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, Glitterwolf said:

One of the things I've been experimenting with is using metallics when painting Fish/Dragons/Lizards or other scaly creatures.

That's a fun one!  I did something similar with color-shift craft paints.  I drybrushed them on these dragons to add a bit of shimmer and shine.
 

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@MoonglowMinis I've had much of the same issue.  It was only up until recently that I decided to try and simplify how many colors I had on a mini.  Rather than picking my colors early, I look for what I want as the focal point or biggest attention grabber and then build around that color.  What makes this really, really difficult for me is my colorblindness.  It makes matching or finding color stories that work really, really difficult.  However, my way around this is referring to a color wheel and looking at what I use as adjacent colors to my primary and then for the satchels or smaller elements I use complementary colors to make them pop.  Staying within a family of tones:orange, brown, red; blue, purple, pink; green, cream, yellow - it's helped me quite a bit develop what works.  As I keep testing my understanding of colors and making discoveries I lean into it further.

 

Another key for me has been blending more.  Using less colors overall, but blending colors together.  Example:using brown as a baselayer to the skin color, then using that same brown with a lighter color blended in for boots, pants, a cape - it keeps the color story symmetrical.  Although, one of my weaknesses is highlighting and bringing more color to my minis, so this is also a fault.  In the times I've tried to pick my colors ahead of time, I've failed.  What works best for my style is find a color to start with and then build from it using a color wheel.  

 

Good luck, Moonglow.  Your stuff rocks, so don't feel like you're needing to do it.  If anything you're just broadening your style and skill.

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7 hours ago, MoonglowMinis said:

I add paints periodically to fill gaps - especially colors that I find myself struggling to mix well (purple continues to be a struggle and I need some better options).


That's 'cause, probably, you mix the wrong colors: you have to consider the color bias (this is something that no-one take in consideration when talking about color theory).
You need a bluish red (Quinacridone Magenta) and a reddish blue (Ultramarine, or Phtalo blue red bias) to make a bright, vivid purples or violets.
If you mix a orange bias red (Naphthol) with a greenish blue (Cerulean blue [Cyan] or Phtalo blue green bias) you will get a muddy color.
The same way if you want a vivid orange you have to use a warm yellow (orange bias) and a warm red (orange bias);
if you want a bright, rich green you need a cold yellow (green bias, sound strange isn't?) and a cold blue (green bias). 

Also keep in mind that miniature paints are premixed pigments, rarely pure pigments, so it's quite hard to use a limited palette using miniature paints (unless you buy something like Kimera colors that are pure pigments paints).

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3 hours ago, R2ED said:

What makes this really, really difficult for me is my colorblindness.  It makes matching or finding color stories that work really, really difficult.  However, my way around this is referring to a color wheel and looking at what I use as adjacent colors to my primary and then for the satchels or smaller elements I use complementary colors to make them pop.  Staying within a family of tones:orange, brown, red; blue, purple, pink; green, cream, yellow

This is such a smart way to work around your color blindness!

3 hours ago, R2ED said:

In the times I've tried to pick my colors ahead of time, I've failed.  What works best for my style is find a color to start with and then build from it using a color wheel.  

 

Good luck, Moonglow.  Your stuff rocks, so don't feel like you're needing to do it.  If anything you're just broadening your style and skill.

So I have been choosing colors ahead of time, but not arbitrarily. I do kind of what you do just upfront. If I know what my core color is it's easy to pick a secondary. And from there any outliers I might need (maybe a red for some skin tone, or a random color for an accessory).

 

Also thank you! Definitely don't feel like it's mandatory, but it's a fun challenge to focus on and I'm learning more about my paints and colors as I go. It's motivating me more than limiting.

 

2 hours ago, Cicciopiu said:

That's 'cause, probably, you mix the wrong colors: you have to consider the color bias

This is a really cool break down. I know that I don't have the right colors to mix certain hues because of that exactly. The best purple I had made prior to buying one I like decently was a blue and pink combo. The warm red made a muddy blob as would be expected. 

 

2 hours ago, Cicciopiu said:

Also keep in mind that miniature paints are premixed pigments, rarely pure pigments, so it's quite hard to use a limited palette using miniature paints

Yeah, I've heard some good things about Reaper clears, but im truthfully not interested in having pure color. I don't mind the pre mixes they just aren't always cooperative.

 

Though that's been part of the fun in limiting my palette. Discovering what colors I can make.

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As an event technician I work a lot with coloured lights, but I've just recently started to delve into colour theory for paints and pigments and it seems to be a completely different beast: The more books and articles I read, the less clear everything becomes for me. I have yet to find THE colour theory everyone agrees on and I'm thankful for every hint that gets me in that direction. My most recent find is a project called "Real Color Wheel" by Donald Jusko. The webpage looks promising but I haven't found the time to thoroughly read everything yet. Also, it's a bit chaotic, and a lot seems to be hidden behind paywalls.

 

Until recently I rarely mixed paints other than for tinting and shading a colour. But a few day ago I just finished a colour challenge I set for myself, where I used three paints (plus black and white) to paint a mini. The paints were chosen by random dice rolls (Mini is here, WIP is here -  my weathering products added more colours to the palette in the final product).

 

I learned a lot in the process and I'll definitely repeat this challenge in the future. With this random approach I didn't have to tackle a whole theory, it was more like a little game I played. However, you do want a wet palette for this, because you need your paints to stay open for a bit, especially when you paint a whole mini with this method.

 

 

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On 4/10/2021 at 3:56 PM, Cicciopiu said:


That's 'cause, probably, you mix the wrong colors: you have to consider the color bias (this is something that no-one take in consideration when talking about color theory).
You need a bluish red (Quinacridone Magenta) and a reddish blue (Ultramarine, or Phtalo blue red bias) to make a bright, vivid purples or violets.
If you mix a orange bias red (Naphthol) with a greenish blue (Cerulean blue [Cyan] or Phtalo blue green bias) you will get a muddy color.
The same way if you want a vivid orange you have to use a warm yellow (orange bias) and a warm red (orange bias);
if you want a bright, rich green you need a cold yellow (green bias, sound strange isn't?) and a cold blue (green bias). 

Also keep in mind that miniature paints are premixed pigments, rarely pure pigments, so it's quite hard to use a limited palette using miniature paints (unless you buy something like Kimera colors that are pure pigments paints).


Actually I would say many of the instructors you would meet at ReaperCon definitely take color bias into consideration.

 

I would recommend this thread, that Anne started, as it goes into some of the “why” into how MSPs are made.

https://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/55113-msp-equivalencies-for-artist-colors/&tab=comments#comment-887209

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1 hour ago, Heisler said:


Actually I would say many of the instructors you would meet at ReaperCon definitely take color bias into consideration.

 

I would recommend this thread, that Anne started, as it goes into some of the “why” into how MSPs are made.

https://forum.reapermini.com/index.php?/topic/55113-msp-equivalencies-for-artist-colors/&tab=comments#comment-887209


Thanks for your comment, I'm sure a teacher will talk about color bias (at least he/her should!) :) I was referring to normal discussion between normal people (like me); for sure pro and veterans artist know well the theory, it's just something they won't tell at school (at least not to me). 

The classic knowledge is Red/Blue/Yellow as primary colors or "Purple is a mix of red and blue" is ok but not correct for painting purpose.
If my comment sounded swallow, rude and/or arrogant, sorry about that, it was not intended (language barrier).

Also thanks for the link, very useful info!

Edited by Cicciopiu
grammar -.-
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