An Introduction to Color Theory
Note: It is important to note that dealing with color on the computer screen is quite different than dealing with it in paint, markers, crayons, pastels, pencils etc. There is a limit to the number of colors that can be represented accuratly on a computer monitor and each monitor will desplay colors differently. On that note, please do not take these graphics as the definitive in color theory, but rather as a crude example that is not real accurate in the world of artistic mediums. I hope you find these examples helpful to you in understanding color and how to use it.
What is Color?
Where does color come from? Well, color is all in our eyes and how the brain interprets the reactions of the rods and cones in our eyes to certain wavelengths of light being reflected by an object. This means that your favorite green sweater is actually reflecting light at a wavelength that corresponds to what our brain interprets as green and absorbing all other wavelengths of light. Because we interpret color based upon reflections, the same piece of card stock can vary in color depending upon where you are looking at it under the fluorescent lights of the store where you bought it, the incandescent light of your living room or outside on your porch. The spectrum of light that hits an object plays a large part in the color we see that object as.
It is always best to work with the truest light possible. In this case, light that matches the sun. If things look good in sunlight they will generally look good in all light, but what looks good under the bluish fluorescent light might not look good in the yellowish incandescent light or even white sunlight. There are many light bulb and lamp products on the market these days that come close to replicating the natural light spectrum. There are incandescent bulbs and compact fluorescent bulbs that emit the same color temperature as the sun. Many companies make these products and they are readily available in large home stores and hardware stores in the US and are often branded with terms like "full spectrum" and "true light". I don't know about availability outside of the US, but I would assume these products are also available abroad. One of the most known "true light" products among crafters and artists are the Ott products.
Here you will find a brief introduction to the color wheel, including the three main color groups primary, secondary and tertiary. You will also learn about color descriptors, colors perception and some basic tried and true color schemes. I'll also provide some resources for further exploration of color theory at the end.
So, grab your cup or glass of chai, some examples of colors (paint chips, samples of your card stocks and papers or even your paints and brushes to mix some colors of your own) and get ready to explore the wonderful world of color!
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