Back to basics

PART 1 – Colour Theory.

Hi all;

So after another time away, I’ve decided that after a few questions it might be worth doing a series of “Back to Basics” tutorials. With this in mind, a few people can’t seem to grasp the most important on basics when painting miniatures, and that is, as the title suggests, colour theory.

Now most painters, especially those of us that paint miniatures, go on about washing red with green/blue etc, so what do we mean by this? Well the answer is actually more simple than you may think, though it is also more confusing when the standard RGB (Red, Green, Blue) suddenly becomes RYB (Red, Yellow, Blue.) So I suddenly hear you. my dear readers, shout… YELLOW????

Lets explain a bit more…

RGB is what standard TV’s, computer monitors come in, and the reason for this is because white and black are monochromatic colours and aren’t actually used. However, when it comes to painting miniatures, white and black and all the greys inbetween are classed as chromatic not monochromatic. Monochromatic are three shades of any given colour, say blue/medium blue/light blue.

If you have done art at school, which most of us have at some point, we learn that the primary colours are Red, Blue and Yellow. As you know an equal mix of Blue (Primary) and Yellow (Primary) makes Green, a secondary colour, or Blue and Red makes Purple.. Any shade working either direction towards the primaries are Tertiary colours, for example Turquoise which is more towards the blue end of the spectrum.

So got that?

Now here comes the confusing part, namely hues. Hues are what you get when you add touches of white, or black, to colours, to make them either lighter or darker. So Red with White added makes Pink, with Black added it makes Crimson. As you can start to see, no matter what colour you have, whether its Primary, Secondary or Tertiary has its own set of hues. Shades ofcourse are monochromatic as explained earlier.

So why do we use red to shade green?

Well the answer is because on a colour wheel (see pic below) they are opposites, so the green actually saturates the red and makes it darker and balance better than if you used black, which would send it too dark and out of balance. However explaining this to someone, for example my girlfriend, can be time consuming and is easier to show them first hand how it works.

So thanks for reading, and I’ll be back soon with Part 2