Critique => Pixel Art => Pixel Art Feature Chest => Topic started by: cels on January 07, 2014, 11:28:39 pm

Title: GR#155 - Experiment with Colors - Shading
Post by: cels on January 07, 2014, 11:28:39 pm
Hey guys, I'm doing some colour experiment that I'm hoping someone can help me with. I'm trying to figure out how to work with complementary colours, in this case trying to work with a colour scale with both pink and green. It's something I've noticed other people (http://www.pixeljoint.com/files/icons/full/seeder.png) doing for some time, but I don't really understand how it works. I've read up on color theory, and I understand how people sometimes use complementary colours to neutralize each other, but it seems like there's a lot of art that uses complementary colours to just give more depth and interesting textures.

Here's what I'm working with.

Maybe it needs higher contrast, but I'm afraid the saturation will burn people eyeballs and make it harder to combine pink and green on the same scale.


I'd happily receive C&C regarding the shape of the head itself, and my pixelling technique, but I'm primarily looking for advice in regards to my use of colours. I'm hoping to avoid a normal linear colour scale from a cold and dark to a bright and warm shade of purple.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cauli on January 08, 2014, 02:07:23 am
Hi cels,

First of all, I like your first painting, it may fit really well in a game, with a background. Pink and green is probably the most complicated complimentary colors to start with, because it just feels weird, but in your case it fits the theme and I think it is a good thing.

When I work with complimentary colors, I try to think as if one of them was the main color, and the other was just a supporting color.

This means that if the main color is highly saturated, you probably want the supporting to be less.
If your main color is kind of bright, make the secondary the opposite.

I plotted the colors of your image to a color wheel la James Gurney (His books are GOOD), maybe someone can come up with some conclusion, because I couldn't, :)

It takes in account only Saturation and Hue, not Brightness (we would need a 3d color wheel for that)

Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: HezaKey on January 08, 2014, 02:33:05 am


Yuck, photobucket compressed the snot out of these.  But anyhow, I made this, hopefully so you can understand color better and how to use it.

If it were me, I would increase the value and the saturation of the pink color so that it appear brighter.  That'll pull the horns forward, and will also generally look like some awesome evil glowing light business.
I don't think the one with the higher contrast looks good at all really.  You can probably just add a bit more of the darkest value in a few places to your original (like the eyes and form of the lower set of horns) and everything should come together.

There's also a tangent where the lower horns touch the upper horns.  Either overlap them better or add some space between them.

Actually the example picture you gave is more of an analogous color scheme (colors that are next to each other on the color wheel)  The brightest color might be a yellowish white (my eyes are tired... hard to tell)  which is the complementary of purple, but purple, blue and green are analogous. 

Yours is properly complementary though.  So since you are working with only two hues (which are already warm vs cold), I would pay special attention to value and saturation.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cels on January 08, 2014, 03:11:50 am
Thank you both for your fast and insightful replies! I'm a bit obsessed with this piece at the moment, I just want to make sure I'm headed in the right direction before I can put it down. Probably doesn't make sense.

There's one colour that forms the basis for the whole piece, which I can't change. It's part of some PJ challenge, and the colour is the second brightest pink, RGB 177, 99, 162. It's neither here nor there, but if I follow cauli's advice of making one end of the spectrum high saturation and the other low, then I just need to decide whether the greens should be high or low saturation. And as you can see below, the green doesn't seem to work with high saturation.


Good point about the lower horns touching the upper horns, btw. I keep forgetting the basics! I will clean everything up later, including the shape of the horns, the grooves and ridges, the wrinkles above the brow, etc.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: HezaKey on January 08, 2014, 04:01:19 am

1. changed the darkest value.  Made it even darker, also tinted it blue (cool color) and desaturated it.  Shadows by nature are desaturated.

2.  Took me a moment to figure out why this bothered me, but two reasons.  Blue doesn't fit with your color scheme.  Even if you had something blue it would appear as grey due to the light (pink) and surrounding colors.  It's also cool, so it recedes away, rather than highlighting things, since it is your highest value.  Changed that to yellow.  You already have a lot of warm orangish colors in the green, so it fits right it.

3. This is your highest value of pink, so I saturated that more so that it would pop forward more.

3b. (Apparently I can't count)
This was your second darkest value.  Mostly I just desaturated it and made it a cooler color.

4.  Four is kinda optional, but I messed around with making the shadows cold versus warm.  This more of changes the feel of the colors, rather than their quality.

And I reworked the top version a bit, which you can see a lot more in the greyscale version.  You can also see how your values in the original are still pretty flat.  Notice the values and saturation in the color version are also supporting and are informed by the values in the greyscale version.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cels on January 08, 2014, 04:38:06 am
1 and 3: Again, a case of me forgetting the basics. Thanks for correcting those!

2: I agree that a warm yellow works better than blue as a highlight. But I already changed this in my latest edit (the one titled "better?"), so I was a bit surprised that you would make the point. But nevertheless, it's always nice to arrive at the same conclusion separately   ;D

3a: Same as above. You're suggesting something I already did in the very image you're editing. But the important thing is that we agree. Now I will compare our two new pinks with increased saturation. Yours is even brighter, with greater saturation than my updated version.

4: This is a very interesting bit, and it's exactly the kind of stuff I'm trying to come to terms with and understand. You see, I was looking at this piece (http://www.pixeljoint.com/files/icons/full/rocklobster47.gif) by iLKke and trying to understand what he's doing. I'm talking about the small planet in particular, not so much the robot. He moves from bright green to a warm and less warm brown, then to a dark cyan with low saturation, moves back to green, then to purple, two dark browns and the two darkest colours are shades of purple. Now, if you look at the robot from a distance, it basically looks grey. But the planet has a very interesting texture, and I'm trying to understand how people make this work. I do feel like I'm getting closer, but I can't quite come to grips with it. Notice he's jumping back and forth between higher and lower saturation, warmer and colder colours, as he moves from light to darkness.

Thanks again!

(http://img208.imageshack.us/img208/4157/v8od.png) (http://img7.imageshack.us/img7/9655/jb4q.png)

I think I've used too much pink light from the crystal on its forhead. Makes his head seem much flatter than before. Will fix that.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: HezaKey on January 08, 2014, 05:19:14 pm
My bad.  I was editing the unedited original cause I liked the quality of the greens on that version much more than the next stage.  Especially since you were trying to saturate them more.  But uhh, good job!  You already did half the things I suggested. XD

Also here's a tutorial by someone else that's much more organized and better than mine:  http://androidarts.com/art_tut.htm
It covers color, but also lighting and a couple other things.  You can't really discuss color without lighting.

I'm going to break down how I see iLKke's piece is working. 
Their colors are a little bit fantastical (made up essentially), but they still follow real world lighting principles. (as an aside, if it were a real object, it would have to be iridescent to get that kind of color out of it.) 
The planatoid has a very warm light shining on it, and then shifts to cool colors.  The band of more saturated green before fading into the shadows is because light does  create a more saturated band around the edges of shadows.  (blue could have been substituted instead, but I think they used green just to have more a more funky feel to their colors)
And then their shadows are warm, but they do get a little cooler as they terminate to the darkest value.

In the overall composition, the robot has just hints of color on him.  Making him remain mostly grey makes him a focal point in contrast to the colored planatoid, which is still rather muted in saturation or it would draw too much attention to itself.  Also the planatoid's brightest value is not as bright as the values used on the robots face, so it directs the eye rather nicely to what we should be seeing.

In general I see orange, green, and purple as the overall color scheme.  Also with saturated vs unsaturated as a big part of the composition as well.

And as a further note, everybody kind of develops their own color preferences.  I wouldn't have particularly chosen the colors that iLKke used, but it doesn't mean they don't work, since they follow the basic lighting principles.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: wolfenoctis on January 08, 2014, 06:41:05 pm
Messed around with the colors and contrast, you have a lot of colors that aren't really contrasting with each other ( too close ). Anyway hope it helps
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cels on January 09, 2014, 09:43:00 am
Thank you both!

@milokey: The tutorial was really helpful. I'm not sure if I'm meant to go "eureka" and use the knowledge to fix some things right away. I guess it's a long process of learning more about the theory and then understanding how to apply it :)

@wolfenoctis: Thanks for taking the time to do such an extensive edit. Now, this is where people apply theory different. I notice that your second darkest colour is quite warm compared to what milokey suggested, and you've also increased the saturation of the green while maintaining equally high saturation on the pink, which conflicts with cauli's advice. Which is not to say that I don't trust your advice, I'm just interested to see several good artists have different suggestions.

Right off the bat, I agree that your version looks better with the extra contrast. But I do think I'm going to stick with low-saturation greens. So I'll find a way to make that happen, I think. Your edit was also extremely helpful in illustrating areas where my lighting and shading needed more work. And the purple reflection in the eyes was a good call - it really calls attention to the imagined pink light source.

It looks like the progress is slowing down right now. It's not because I'm spending less time, it's because I'm messing more with details and polish, trying to get all these new colors working properly across the whole piece. So I haven't really finished making all the changes based on the feedback from you guys yet.

Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cels on January 10, 2014, 10:06:28 am


A few further changes made. I'm not sure about the new "texture" of the horns. I wanted them to look less smooth, but maybe the individual pixels stand out too much. Will look closer at that.

Any kind of feedback is still very welcome. I've worked so much with this that it's hard to keep seeing new mistakes.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: NaCl on January 10, 2014, 12:10:57 pm
I like the progress you're making with this. Keep it up.

One thing you may want to experiment with, is ramping the colors differently on the face and the horns. For instance, is the face more reflective with greater speculars? Does the face ramp up into the same green as on the horns or does it ramp into a more pink color? Right now it looks like a sort of mask, because the material seems to be the same over the entire thing.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cels on January 11, 2014, 10:12:39 am
See, this is what kills me with pixel art. Just when I've finished a full week with several hours a day working on a image the size of my toe, and I click save with my sweaty hand, trembling with a caffeine overdose, someone like you comes along and says something like "Keep it up!" or "Oh, this is headed in the right direction. I'm looking forward to seeing the finished version."   :'(

But thanks! I absolutely agree with you in regards to the use of colours, but I only had 18 colours to work with for the challenge. If I had more colours, I would try to experiment with that. I could try to juggle the colours around to free up a couple more colours, but... I'm going to stop here, before I go postal.

After deciding to go with a pink-green palette, I actually did start out thinking that this may be a bronze statue, so your impression of the mask is quite accurate, in that regard.  :)

Final version here:

Thanks a lot to everyone who helped me. I need some more coffee. And maybe I'll start smoking.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: Mathias on January 11, 2014, 05:11:00 pm
No, don't start smoking!

Coffee - yes. Cigs - no.

Did a color edit, for fun, cuz I like this demon face thing. Has a really nifty old school feel. Plus, your colors feel muddy to me, so I tried a few revisions.


Only actual pixel placement change is the upper outline I added.
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cauli on January 11, 2014, 05:35:40 pm
Cels, for me it is great. Congrats, nice piece!
Title: Re: [WIP] Experiment with colours
Post by: cels on January 11, 2014, 08:13:38 pm
Thanks, guys!

@Mathias: Are you by any chance a fan of Busta Rhymes (http://youtu.be/ZaT1dwkOw0A?t=2m35s)?  ;D

I love both your edits, really. Particularly #1. I may have to steal that idea for something later! And you're right, it does have an old school feel, like some kind of 1990's fantasy art. It's really weird, because it's not intentional, and I'm not even sure I like it. It's the second time (http://www.pixeljoint.com/pixelart/65042.htm) this happens to me.