1⁄35Introduction to Shading with Complementary Colors
Illustrated on the right is a colour wheel similar to those you will have seen before, the difference being I have removed the 'primaries' and the 'secondaries' to more clearly show the hue positions you will actually encounter. Notice for example on either side of the position for yellow there is one that leans towards orange, the other towards green; similarly if you look at the red position you will see two types, one leaning towards orange the other violet. All colours exhibit some bias of this type, however faint, and the ability to see this is the first step in accurate colour mixing.
The Palette & Complements
More or less colours?
If we extend the underlying principle from the example of a mixed orange above, a workable palette would have to include at least two of each 'primary', one leaning in each direction: an orange-yellow and a green-yellow, an orange-red and a violet-red, a green-blue and a violet-blue. My personal preference is for a fairly small palette with the six hues above forming the basis. The advantages of a limited palette have been mentioned by myself and others many times before but are worth repeating here. Even if you consider the most basic two-primary palette as mentioned above (8 colours) the number of colours you can achieve by mixing is surprisingly large. If you imagine three steps from one colour to the next, for two-colour mixes there are 84 possible colours; if you expand to include white and black the number rises to 135. With a palette of 40 colours, certainly within the levels some have, the possible combinations are staggering: for two colours alone it comes to over 2,000! To put this into perspective, if you wanted to document the two-colour combinations with 8 colours, taking say five minutes for each mix it would take you 7 hours; for a palette of 40 colours, assuming you worked 8 hours per day, this process would take almost five weeks!! Work out for yourself how long the two-colour mixes would take with your own palette and you will see the benefit of being able to predict with a reasonable degree of accuracy the outcome of a given mix. In addition to the minimum requirement listed above, the earth colours are very useful time-savers when it comes to representing a host of natural materials from hair to groundwork. The ones I use and consider most useful are Yellow Ochre, Raw Sienna, Burnt Sienna, Red Oxide, Burnt Umber and Raw Umber. These and their equivalents will be discussed more fully below.