How to Draw Cartoons > Color in Cartoons

It is fun to work with color. Get an inexpensive water-color box or some colored crayons and play with them to see what you can do.

You can have just as much fun and learn as much with inexpensive tools as you can with the most elaborate equipment. Study the color chart long enough to sense some elementary color theories. Then forget it and let your inherent color feeling guide you.

Of course you know that the primary colors are red, yellow, blue; that you get violet by mixing red and blue; green by mixing yellow and blue; orange by mixing red and yellow. Here is a color circle for your reference.

Colors come in families. A family consists of two primary colors and all the intermediate colors you get when you mix these primaries in different proportions. Color families are often called "harmonious" colors. The parents and offspring of the orange, green, and violet families are shown below.

Colors which lie opposite each other on the color circle are called contrasting, or complementary, colors. Experiment and you will see how they glorify each other or fight with each other, depending upon the amount of each contrasting color you use in one picture. The little red boy and the little green boy below, directly under the color wheel, or circle, are quarreling. They cannot tolerate such close association because they are exactly the same size and also the same degree of brightness, or color value.

But the violet and yellow dancers are not fighting. They enhance each other's beauty. One reason for this is that one of the dancers is smaller than the other, a little lighter in value, and tied to the other with a thin little line of violet-like a fine, filmy scarf. The orange and blue dancers to the right are congenial too. That is because one is smaller than the other, and each of them carries a tiny touch of the opposite color in her hair.

Here is an interesting experiment to try. Color a circle or square of about five inches in size. Use colored paper if you wish. But be sure the color is strong and bright, whatever hue you use. Stand off about eight feet and fix your eyes on this color for one full minute. Then look at a blank paper or a white wall. Soon you'll see the exact color opposite, or complementary color, in the very same shape and size as the original color on which you fixed your eyes. If you don't know what a particular color's complement is, and haven't a color circle at hand, this is a good way to find out.

Colors are often deceiving. You'll discover this when you color your pictures. A bright, warm color, like yellow or red, makes a shape appear to be much larger than it really is. A cool color, like blue or green, makes the same spot look smaller. The value-or qarkness or lightness-of colors makes quite a difference too. Experiment with coloring one picture in different ways and see what happens.

There is great merit in simplicity. Besides, if you go into commercial art extensively you will often need to limit yourself to a few colors, to keep reproduction prices low. So practice coloring a picture in the simplest way you can. Use first one color and black. (Engravers call black a color, so if you were doing this commercially, you. would call this color effect two colors). Next, use two harmonious colors with black. Use two contrasting colors and black. Then use three colors with black. And here's a suggestion for which three colors to choose.

Place an equilateral triangle on the color circle. The three points of the triangle will fall on three colors. Use those colors for your color scheme. Technically, this is called"a "color triad."

After you have made some of these "by rule" experiments, forget them. Be yourself in color. Color just exactly as you wish. It's wonderful fun.

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