Insider 3-9-2012

So what is color theory?! Basically, the term color theory encompasses the understanding of what makes color and how colors interact with each other. Before we get started with more advanced concepts, it’s important to learn the basic break down of colors.

Primary Colors: These are colors that occur in nature and cannot be a product of mixing colors. The primary colors are blue, red, and yellow.

Secondary Colors: These colors are produced by mixing primary colors together. The secondary colors are green, orange, and purple.

Complementary Colors: These are colors that sit opposite from each other on the color wheel. This relationship is determined by which primary color is left out when two primary colors are mixed together. For example, mixing blue and red makes purple. Yellow is left out of the mix, meaning purple and yellow are complementary colors. Additional complementary color relationships are red/green and blue/orange.

Warm Colors: Red, orange, and yellow are warm colors. These are the colors we usually associate with fire.

Cool Colors: Blue, green, and purple are cool colors. These are the colors we associate with the cold.

Now, we have some definitions, but what does it all mean in regards to miniature painting? You may be thinking I’m crazy by suggesting that red and green go together. Don’t worry, I’m not asking you to paint your armies in a Christmas color scheme. What is noteworthy is how complementary colors can be used to create natural-looking shadows.

Let’s say you want to paint a Khador Red army, but you don’t know what you should use for the shadow. Some people may suggest Thamar Black, but this tends to leave a very dull, uninteresting shadow. I would suggest using Thornwood Green mixed with your Khador Red base coat to create a chromatic brown. By definition, chromatic browns and grays are created when two complementary colors are mixed together.

Additionally, you can use warm colors to shade cool colors and vice versa. Let’s say you didn’t like the chromatic brown created with Thornwood Green and Khador Red. Try a Beaten Purple or maybe a dark, muted Exile Blue instead. Don’t be afraid to mix colors and experiment! That’s half the fun of painting, and I’ve seen far too many people get hung up on color!

Next time I will discuss color schemes! ‘Til then, have fun and experiment with your paint!