Drawing and Color Theory Resources and Overview

Drawing is one art medium that can involve a variety of elements, including shape, scale, contrast, shading, texture, lighting, and color. Studying drawing basics can help virtually anyone improve their skills, helping you to create breathtaking sketches and drawings. Some drawings might be best left in black and white, while adding color to drawings can take them to a whole new level. Studying color theory can help you learn how to best apply colors to drawings.

What Is Color Theory?

Color theory involves the study of how color works and how the different shades contrast with and complement each other. A color wheel forms the foundation of color theory, and this wheel is made up of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. Primary colors are the building blocks of color, and all other colors include some amount of two primary colors. The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue, and these colors combine to make secondary and tertiary colors. The secondary colors are purple, green, and orange. Purple comes from mixing red and blue together. Orange is made from mixing yellow and red together. Green occurs when yellow and blue combine. Tertiary colors are made when a primary color and a secondary color combine or two secondary colors mix. Colors may be analogous or complementary, depending where they sit on the color wheel. Analogous colors are next to each other, and these colors share a similar warm or cool palette. These colors tend to blend well with each other. Complementary colors sit opposite each other on the color wheel. These colors contrast with each other, and using them together helps create a vibrant and energetic feeling.

The Science of Choosing Colors

Selecting colors to use together in a piece of art takes thought and skill. The colors chosen can create an overall feeling of calm or energy. Colors can also carry cultural or historic meanings. For example, some colors are associated with certain periods in history, such as psychedelic orange and pink from the 1960s, bold flamingo pink and lime green from the 1980s, muted reds and grays from the 1990s, and glossy metallics from the 2000s. When using color to convey a meaning or feeling, it's important to consider the cultural context, as different cultures associate different meanings with colors.

Developing Drawing Skills

While drawing requires some innate artistic ability, anyone interested in drawing can learn and get better. The ability to see people and objects, understand what is seen, and draw it on paper takes practice. Spending time drawing can help you notice more details and get better at capturing them. Shading is useful for showing contours and shapes. Understanding how areas of lightness and darkness work together to create an overall effect is crucial. It can also help create a sense of depth, along with tricks that give the viewer a sense of perspective.