There are many ingredients that help to create a stunning coloring page; coloring materials, page design and hours of practice, but probably the most important ingredient of all is knowing what colors to choose for your coloring page and how liberally you use them! Put simply, you need to know your color theory!
In this article thecoloringbook.club gives you 3 tips of color theory that will help you produce stunning coloring pages.
Understand the basic rules of color theory and you will avoid your coloring pages looking like a car crash in a candy store!
Tip #1 – Know Your Color Wheel
To understand what colors work together you need to have a basic understanding of how colors are created.
Our Back to Color School takes an indepth look at the color wheel, but to make a first step in color theory we revisit the basics.
Primary colors are the colors that all other colors can be made from.
Secondary colors are created by mixing two primary colors together.
From our three primary colors we now have six colors we can work with. Finally, by mixing a secondary color with a neighbouring primary color we can create six more colors (known as tertiary colors). By putting all twelve colors together we have created our color wheel.
But wait! I have more than 12 colors in my coloring set? What are the others?
This is where color tint, shade and tone come in. Our color wheel describes the twelve base colors that most artists and designers use. Further colors are either a mix of those twelve or are created by adding black, white and grey to those twelve colors.
Tint is achieved through adding white, thus lightening your color. Shade is created by adding black and tone is achieved by increasing the amount of grey in your base color. In the picture above you can see the various tints, shades and tones of yellow that were created by following these rules.
But where are white and black on the color wheel? White and black are generally considered neutral colors (like gray) and as such do not appear on the color wheel. The color wheel includes only those colors that can be made by mixing primary or secondary colors together.
Understanding what the color wheel looks like and how the colors are arranged on the wheel allows you to consider color harmony.
Tip #2 – Understand Color Harmony
The color wheel describes the 12 basic colors, color harmony helps you understand which colors work together to create pleasing results.
When we get a new pen or pencil set it is sometimes tempting to try and use every color in the pack – stop! A coloring page rarely looks good when a kaleidoscope of colors have been used without thought for how those colors work together. This is where color theory and color harmony come in – understand the basic rules of color theory and you will avoid your coloring pages looking like a car crash in a candy store!
Five theories of color harmony
Monochromatic. Various tints, tones and shades from the same color. Monochromatic color palettes produce a subtle and conservative color scheme.
Choosing various shades of the same color for a coloring page can produce a calming and balanced page.
Analogous. Analogous color palettes are created by choosing colors that are side by side on the color wheel.
Use three or four of the colors alongside one another on the color wheel and you will produce a balanced coloring page.
When working with an analogous color scheme consider where the colors are located on the wheel as this will determine how warm or cool your finished page feels.
As well as evoking thoughts of temperature, colors can stir up our emotions, take a look out our article on the hidden emotional effects of colors to learn more.
Complementary. Colors opposite one another on the color wheel are considered complementary colors. Choosing complementary colors for your coloring page produces a high intensity, high contrast color scheme.
Be careful when working with a complementary color palette as too much contrast can sometimes create a page with a clash of colors!
Split-complementary. Select any color on the color wheel and combine it with the two colors either side of its complement. E.g: Yellow with Blue-violet and red-violet.
A split-complementary color palette provides strong contrast but with a more subtle and balanced effect than the complimentary color scheme.
Triadic. Select any three colors that are separated evenly around the color wheel.
Triadic color palettes tend to create a vibrant coloring page. Because of the boldness of the colors in triadic color schemes it is good to try and allow a single color to dominate whilst using the other two colors as accents.
We have covered the basics to color theory by introducing the color wheel and describing various rules for choosing a balanced color scheme for your coloring page, but how many colors should you use in your coloring page?
Tip #3 – Limit Your Colors
Keep it simple! In color theory, less is often more. The more colors you try to use in a design the more likely you are to end up with an unbalanced, manic rainbow of colors on your coloring page. When first getting to grips with color theory try and select three or four colours that fit one of the color harmonies we described above and restrict yourself to only use those colors on your page.
Split-complementary and triadic color schemes make it easy for you to select three colors that will work together. The next step is applying these to a page to create a balanced result.
One tip for applying color, often used in art and graphic design (that originates from interior design), is the 60-30-10 rule. Select your three colors, choose one to be the most prominent (i.e the color you want to apply most to the page) and then use the other two colors as accents, roughly splitting usage 60% for your prominent color, 30% for accent color 2 and 10% for accent color 3.
Often the strongest or most vibrant color in your color scheme can be used as the 10% accent color to grab attention without overpowering your coloring page.
The 60-30-10 rule can work well with coloring pages that have strong design elements, like mandalas and pattern based artwork.
What if you want to use more than 3 colors in a page? More colors of the same shade, tint and tone can be used with any of the color harmonies described above whilst still remaining color balance.
White, gray, black and beige are thought of as neutral colors, meaning they work well with most color harmonies without making your final page feel unbalanced.
By bolstering your main color choice with various shades and tints or introducing amount of neutral colors alongside your chosen color scheme you can soon expand the amount of colors you use in a design.
Will you use these 3 tips on color theory in your next coloring page? Or maybe you have a good tip for getting to grips with color theory that you want to share?
Let us know in the comment section below.