Asked by floatingwoo
Thanks for the question! You’re too kind. I don’t really have a formula or ritual when choosing colors. I imagine that choosing colors is different for everyone. Someone else’s method might not work for me and my method might not work for them.
I always start with a color comp which I roughly paint under my sketch lines in Photoshop (like the examples below). I used to do watercolor color comps but I find it’s easier for me, personally, to change and tweak them digitally. I start off roughing in the colors I initially think would look cool and then I take a little break so I can come back and look at it with relatively fresh eyes.
My initial colors are usually not as cool as I thought they were, so I change and tweak them as I see fit using Color Balance, Hue/Saturation, Brightness/Contrast or just redo it until I have three or four versions I like.
Sometimes I’ll do very small color studies from life or from other artists so I can learn why they chose the colors they did or why I liked the colors of a sunset, a teapot, a flower, whatever. I feel like I have a lot to learn, but thats ok, because learning is fun, right??? At least, thats what I keep telling myself. :)
I’m sure the way I choose colors will be nothing like my future methods and thats ok. There’s always room for growth and change.
The point, I suppose, is that you find what works for you and what clearly communicates your vision for the colors. Also, study the paintings, photographs, comics and cartoons you admire. Do studies from life, film, the golden age illustrators, whatever. Pay attention to their values and the mood they set, almost any color can look appropriate if it’s the right value. Do small studies that you don’t need to finish and show online, do them for yourself, for your own learning and growth.
But above all, color comps, in my opinion, should be done very quickly so that you don’t get bogged down in the details.
And like I said, the process is different for everyone. I know illustrators that color comp digitally for a traditional medium painting and others that color comp with paint for a digital piece. I know folks that make detailed color keys and others that pull it out of their butts. I suppose there isn’t a formula? Find what works for you but don’t be afraid to change and grow.
There is a lot of information on color, value, etc over on Muddy Colors, read the whole blog!