Life is not black and white. And neither is art. One way or another colour will come into play whether you make cloth dolls like I do, or if you dabble in mixed media or textile art, or if you are decorating your home or even just getting dressed in the morning. Here are some free tutorials and tips regarding designing with colour, useful for however you intend to colour your world.
If you've never read the Magic Bean before, every Friday I do a round-up of free craft tutorials on a certain theme. So stop by every Friday for your weekly dose of free crafts, patterns and tutorials. Or browse for more free tutorials by combing through the "Free Craft Tutorials & Patterns" category (just click the link) or use the Google Search function on the top left of my blog to search for something specific.
Basic Colour Theory
First of all, it helps to understand basic colour theory. Read the basics in this article on the Color Matters website which covers the foundations of colour. I remember having to learn this in art classes and after what felt like making the millionth colour wheel, I would have liked to use the colour wheel as a dart board. As much as I resented having to learn the theory, if I had never learned it, I would have really struggled in my fine arts degree. In fact, I would struggle still, in my current line of work. Patience young grasshopper. You must understand the basics before you can earn a black belt in colour.
Alisa Burke, certainly one artist, author and blogger who is not afraid of colour, shares her top 10 tips for making colour work with Cate Prato of Cloth Paper Scissors. Check out some of Alisa's fearless use of colour with a round-up I did a while ago featuring many of Alisa Burke's free tutorials or check out Alisa's blog.
What is a mood board? According to Wikipedia, "a mood board is a type of poster design that may consist of images, text, and samples of objects in a composition of the choice of the mood board creator. Designers and others use mood boards to develop their design concepts and to communicate to other members of the design team." Mood boards are also widely used to create and try out colour schemes.
Rachel of HappayScrappay guest blogged at Cherry Bits about how she uses mood boards for her crafting endeavours. It's simple but you can see how collecting colours in a mood board is a short cut to creativity.
Holly Becker, author of Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home shared how to create a Mood Board to Go on her blog Decor8. This mobile mood board would be great when you are shopping and you need to make sure that whatever you buy fits your colour scheme.
Holly also shared a great idea to make a cheap and cheerful mood board to put up in your studio or workspace. Click the link to see how she did it.
Online Colour Tools
You can even create digital mood boards using online tools. Crystal at The Weekend Homemaker shared a tutorial to use Picassa to create an online mood board.
There are lots of free tools online that you can use to create and to share colour schemes. Here are few:
Kuler - create and share links to colour schemes. This is a particularly great tool when you are working with someone else who needs access to your colour schemes.
Colour Lover's - again this site lets you share and view other people's colour schemes, so if you are stuck for colour inspiration, check it out. This site even has a blog and a forum.
Kristina Klarin shares pictures on her blog where she draws out the colour palettes from her inspiring images.
Everyday and celebrity fashions are the inspirations behind these five colour palettes shared on the Wear Palettes blog.
Pantone colour was something that I used to hear talked about, but truthfully, the whole thing mystified me, but Pantone isn't really all that complicated. Basically, the Pantone Matching System is a standardised colour system that is widely used by the graphics and textile industry. Here is an explanation of what Pantone colours are and why so many people talk about them. If you've ever had a sign made or fancy trying your hand a fabric design, it helps to understand a wee bit about Pantone.
Pantone also releases its trend predictions for colour - what they feel will be the hottest colour of the year or season. Read this interview with Leatrice Eiseman about how Pantone's trend setting colours are chosen.
The Less Technical Way of Playing with Colour
If all that scares the heck out of you, then here are some less technical ways that you can make colour work for you.
Here is a tutorial I wrote a while back about how I often pick colour schemes for my dolls. Basically, you pick one fabric or trim that you just love and work around that.
One of my favourite cloth doll books that covers how to choose colour for making dolls, is Barbara Willis' book Cloth Doll Artistry: Design and Costuming Techniques for Flat and Fully Sculpted Figures. In that book, Barbara talks about choosing fabrics and uses a dress silhouette to audition fabrics, colours and textures. Read this excerpt from her book on the Craftside blog and download a free dress template to try out Barbara's method yourself. Once you've layered up your dress template with fabrics, wouldn't it look great on a mood board or decorating a card?
Whenever I teach, I tell my students how one of my high school art teachers accused me of being a "colour wimp". She said my colour choices were predictable and safe. I would have felt very indignant about that accusation if she hadn't been right. So I made up my mind right there and then to not be afraid of unpredictable colour. And now I am issuing you a challenge - on the next project you work on, do something you've never done before. Your mission: to explore strange new colours, to seek out new palettes and new combinations. To boldly go where no one has gone before.
Disclaimer: Any similarity that the above statement may have to the opening of a certain science fiction program is purely coincedental and has no bearing on colour or what can be done with it. Just sayin.