Tutorial: Intro to Complementary Color
Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 10:00PM
brett weldele in color theory, coloring, distress ink, ink, tim holtz, tutorial

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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