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Learning Color Theory


During the holiday season in 2012, I scrounged up time in the evenings to start learning additional information about color patterns and how to more effectively use color. After researching various books I came across "Color Choices: Making Color Sense Out of Color Theory" by Stephen Quiller. Although focused on artists using physical media with brushes and mainly water colors, I found this book to be very interesting and well put together.

Cover of Color Choices: Making Sense Out of Color Theory.

The book contains many sections with hands on activities. I used drawing paper and colored pencils as my initial medium. Over the next several weeks I slowly worked through the activities. Quiller routinely uses scenes from nature as reference points for his paintings. I ended up using screen shots from video games.

Southern Shelf From Borderlands 2.

New Haven From Borderlands 2.

Claptrap at his junk pile in Borderlands 2.


One of my favorite aspects of design and color theory are that they allow the artist to apply rules directly related to human psychology and perception. This helps smooth out the creative process for beginners and simultaneously helps achieve pieces with have a broader appeal.
While none of the pieces are spectacular, they are all practice. In the last few weeks I have also dedicated some time to simple character creation; which has proved interesting. Shading is a very difficult aspect of drawing anything. While not traditional skill based shading, the following use Illustrators gradient meshes..which still require practice.

A drawing of an original character from an old computer.

A drawing of an original character named eye bot.

An original character sketch of a muscle man type figure.

Taking things a little further, I recently animated and programmed the second eye robot character into a full HTML5 based demo application.

A html5 application for animating sprites.

OPEN DEMO IN NEW WINDOW

Still a long way to go, but practice is practice and drawing is fun!

Charles Palen has been involved in the technology sector for several years. He works as a senior interactive developer at Transcending Digital where he can be hired for your next contract project. Charles expertise covers the areas of transformative interfaces, touchscreen programming, creation of original devices, and much more. Charles created Technogumbo as a way to share lessons learned while making original products.

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