On the traditional color wheel developed in the 18th century (see 1708 illustration by Boutet below), used by Claude Monet and Vincent van Gogh and other painters, and still used by many artists today, the primary colors were considered to be red, yellow, and blue, and the primary–secondary complementary pairs are red–blue, orange–green, and yellow–violet (or yellow–purple in Boutet's color wheel).
In the traditional model, a complementary color pair is made up of a primary color (yellow, blue, or red) and a secondary color (green, violet or orange). For example, yellow is a primary color, and painters can make violet by mixing of red and blue; so when yellow and violet paint are mixed, all three primary colors are present. Since paints work by absorbing light, having all three primaries together results in a black or gray color (see subtractive color). In more recent painting manuals, the more precise subtractive primary colors are magenta, cyan, and yellow.
Complementary colors can create some striking optical effects. The shadow of an object appears to contain some of the complementary color of the object. For example, the shadow of a red apple will appear to contain a little blue-green. This effect is often copied by painters who want to create more luminous and realistic shadows. Also, if you stare at a square of color for a long period of time (thirty seconds to a minute), and then look at a white paper or wall, you will briefly see an afterimage of the square in its complementary color.
|A color's complimentary partner is located directly across from it on a color wheel. For example: Orange is the complimentary color of Blue, Violet is the complimentary color of Yellow and Red or Scarlet's complimentary color is Green.|
Preparation for class:
- Print the above color wheel out for your notebook in color. An accurate reference for the complimentary colors comes in handy when comparing your color combinations.
- If you'd like to use the same coloring sheet as the one shown above, you may print it out from my Easter Egg Crafts blog here.
- Both primary and secondary colored pencils: red, blue, yellow, orange, green and purple
- printed coloring sheet of flowers
- Ink pens for blackening text if there is any.
- pencil sharpener
- I have uploaded many greyscale coloring sheets onto several of my journals for students to learn use this technique. Once you have gained confidence in the process, you will no longer need shaded coloring pages to help you accomplish similar techniques on your own. The greyscale coloring pages merely suggest where to put shading for those folks who are unable to take more formal art lessons from teachers in person.
- Do not apply too much pressure to your colored pencils while learning this technique. It will take time for some of you to adjust to this concept. You want to be able to mix the layered colors together and if you press too hard it will not work as well.
- By the same token, if you apply too little pressure to your drawing, your shading may not be obvious enough to suggest a three-dimensional illustration.
- Choose first the complimentary color of that color you wish your final petal or stem to be finished with. So if you wish to color a flower yellow, first shade it with a gentle application of purple. I say gentle because purple is so much bolder in intensity than yellow when using this technique. If you want to color orange lilies than shade them first with a blue and so on...