Warm and cool: Simple color mixing

I like to play with color in my drawings. There are a lot of great artists who capture realistic skin tone to create amazingly accurate drawings. This takes a lot skill and practice, which is certainly worth striving for. However, I prefer to be more experimental with my figure drawing and choose a subjective color palette. This gives me the latitude to select the hues and values I want to convey the mood I’m looking for.

When drawing the figure, I like to start with the basic shapes, defining the outline of the model. I make corrections as I go along until I get the shapes just right. I want to capture the posture of the pose, so that the mood and gesture of the model is reflected in my drawing. To me, that’s more important than capturing the proportions perfectly. Once I’ve achieved the shapes I want, I add color.

The lines of the drawing capture the figure and mood of the pose while setting the groundwork for the entire composition. Blue becomes a natural shadow color; the value is darker, which adds depth and rounds out the form. Using the light yellow-green adds warmth to the skin, while providing contrast to the blue. Contrast is a great way to add interest to any drawing or painting, so I always try to add some strong contrast my work. The red hair provides a great final pop to top off the image. One other thing to notice is how the same colors are used in different places throughout the figure. This helps move the eye around the drawing and keeps any one color from garnering too much attention. The red behind the arm balances with the red in the hair; the blue in the hair, neck and arm brings the eye from top to bottom, then back up. The one thing I’d like to fix is the balance between the eyes; one is darker than the other. Next time I’ll need to be more precise in my line making.

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