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Sunday
Mar172013

Tutorial: Intro to Complementary Color

Today, we're going to take what we learned in the Monochromatic tutorial and turn it up a notch. Enter Complementary colors.

What's a Complement? Simply, two colors that face each other on the color wheel. Blue/Orange, Red/Green, Purple/Yellow etc. We'll get into more depth in later tutorials, but just know that they are color opposites!

So how does this apply to coloring? One very powerful coloring technique I use a lot is using complements against each other to achieve easy contrast. I'll show you what I mean in this example.

We're going to be using the Blue/Orange complement scheme. As before, I'm using Distress Stain. For the blue, I picked Weathered Wood. The orange, I picked Rusty Hinge. I encourage you to try different blues and oranges to see what different types of effects they achieve. In this example, we're going for a sun/shadow look.

First, I used archival ink with a rubber stamp so it wouldn't bleed after applying the Distress Stain. The stamp is from The Time Travelers set I designed for Tim Holtz.

 

Once dry, I apply a very light watered-down coat of Rusty Hinge. I especially keep it light around focal points like his face. The advantage to using a water brush here is you can add water to a spot as you go, in case something is too dark. Let dry or use a heat tool.

Now, Distress Stain is a watered down pigment ink. Unlike other versions of Distress Ink, It has what I call a maximum opacity. Swipe the container along a piece of paper to find out what that is. That is as dark as one coating will be. I want the coat of Weathered Wood to be at maximum, so I make sure my water brush is only slightly damp, NOT wet. Then, I'll let the stain soak into the brush tip on both sides. I've now loaded the brush. Because water brushes have white nylon bristles, it's easy to tell how much ink is on your brush, as well as what color and whether the brush is clean or not.

 

I apply the blue to the areas I've decided are in shadow. I leave the orange exposed in areas I've determined to be lit by the sun. 

Load the brush with more stain as you go. Be careful not to use much water or fiddle around to much, as it could reactivate the layer underneath, and then the blue and orange mix, creating another color instead of keeping it separate. If you're getting green, that's what happened.

And this is what it looks like finished. 

 

Here's a close up of a recent painting that uses the same technique, just in a more elaborate way. She's painted with Rusty Hinge, and the background and shadows are Weathered Wood with a bit of Pumice Stone for variety. 

 

That's it for this week. Next week will be the return of video demos! :)

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Reader Comments (16)

Wow! This is AMAZING! What a fun technique, Brett! Thanks for sharing! I'm going to have to try this.

March 18, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterSara Carns

LOVE your work and the painting with Distress Stains is very inspiring.

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommentersandeeNC

great tutorial. Congrats on the link from Tim Holtz's blog

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterKazooMi

Awesome!! I look forward to more videos from you :D and like Tim said...I can't wait to see what you do with the paints when you start messing with them!! :D

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterDolly

Awesome - will be following from here on in for more of your superb tutorials/work. Hugs, Jenny x

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterButtons

Thank you for another great tutorial, Cathy

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCathy R

fab tutorial Brett. thanks

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRobyn

Love your artwork and fab tutorials - thanks for sharing!

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterb

That is amazing... thanks for the tutorial ! Love your Time Traveler Stamp!

April 6, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRosann

KUDOS for getting Tim's attention and designing for him! Your images are a perfect mesh - Love what YOU do for them as far as coloring. Amazing work~

April 7, 2013 | Unregistered Commentervicki dutcher

Brett, your artistry is amazing, and the way you teach it is so clear! Can't wait to try your techniques!

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterMuddy Kinzer

amazing work Brett...you make it look so easy...I'm definitely going to give it a try...hugs kath xxx

April 8, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterkath

I came over from Tim's blog. I love both the monochromatic and complimentary colouring tutorials. Beautiful works of art! Thanks for the inspirations! I'm going to link the tutorials on my blog.

April 9, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterCecilia Hsieh

Absolutely brilliant! Found you through Tim Holtz blog. I can't wait to get my hands on your stamp set. Your tutorials are excellent. I look forward to seeing more. Thank you for sharing!

April 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterRikelle

Love your professionalism! Fantastic artwork!!!

April 11, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterGayle Montayo

Absolutely stunning tutorial, Brett, I love your stamps, I must have these, and the colouring is awesome.

April 12, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterPatricia Howarth

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