Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Prismacolor Color Wheel Exercise

I was asked about a prismacolor color wheel, and I could have simply answered the question. How much more fun is it to do it for yourself?

Haha.. ok, ok, ok.... I know color wheels are boring, tedious and well... a necessary evil. Knowing your medium is so important to creating successful pieces. You can read all the books you want, but until you actually put pencil to paper you really won't know the magic for yourself.

I've created a Tertiary Color Wheel for you to use for this exercise. Feel free to right click>save as in a folder where you know you can find it. For personal use only please. This should print out 8"x8" (at least it does for me)

Here is the list of prismacolor pencils you'll need for this exercise, in alphabetical order :

Aquamarine PC905
Canary yellow PC916
Chartreuse PC989
Dahlia purple PC1009
Orange PC918
Poppy red PC922
Scarlette lake PC923
True blue PC903
True green PC910
Violet PC932
Violet blue PC933
White PC938
Yellowed orange PC1002

I've intentionally not told you what goes where, because I want you to figure it out. Really, it's not hard. Your primary colors are yellow, blue and red. Secondary colors are your primaries mixed together. Tertiaries are your secondary and primaries mixed together. Did I lose you on the tertiaries.. have your eyes glazed over? When you actually start your color wheel you'll understand! ;)


Please allow plenty of time for this exercise, take your time in your applications, in order to get the most out of it.

Either print out the color wheel on printer paper and transfer to your usual support, or print right on your regular drawing paper, whichever is better for you. Please do not do this exercise on typing paper, you'll most likely be very unhappy with the results. If you transfer using seral paper or graphite, lift any excess dark lines with a kneaded eraser, as needed. Graphite will contaminate your colored pencil and for this exercise we need clean applications.

Select your primary colors, apply each of them in their own color triangle. Use light layers, a sharp tip on your pencil, whichever pencil stroke is comfortable to you, and gives you a consistent, even application. Did I mention a sharp pencil? The primary colors triangle will start whenever you want, but in between each one there will be 3 blank triangles. Complete the entire triangle, and don't worry bout the inner circles, those are for later, just do the entire triangle. Use several layers, (sharp pencil!) we want a nice vibrant color application, with almost no paper showing thru, but don't max out the tooth of your paper quite yet.

Next comes your secondary colors. Keeping those pencils sharp, use the same application but the secondary color triangles will be found in the middle of the 3 blank spaces between your primaries.

Lastly.. the tertiary colors!! whooohooooooo lol... remember sharp pencils! These are the colors that you get as a result from mixing your primary and secondary colors together. Same application as before.

To finish up, go back to the orginial outer ring, and saturate the big end of the triangle with a sharp pencil. The goal is to completely saturate the paper, no "powderd sugar" specks! If you had kept your pencil sharp, and used an even application then you really shouldn't have any paper or "powdered sugar" showing thru.

Now.. isn't that pretty?

Next were going to add the complements for each color, in the inner ring. Using the complement ring shown in the diagram below your going to add a few layers of the colors complement here. What is the complement you ask? The complements can be found directly across the color wheel from each other. The complementary color in this ring should be applied just as the original pencil was. You can apply a couple layers, then another of the original, back and forth until the ring is fully saturated. Complete the complement ring for each triangle with the complement for each specific color.

What did you find?

Now, on to the tints. A tint is a color with white added. Your going to take your white pencil and apply it the same as you did the rest, except over the top of the tint ring, which is the pointy part of your triangle. You can layer the white with your original color, as long as white is the last color used. Also, I want you to use a little firmer pressure when your paper is full, to burnish this tint ring.

All done! Wasn't that easy? :D

Even after using colored pencil for as long as I have, I still refer to my color wheel on a regular basis. It's really an invaluable tool, keep it handy and when you have a color question, you might have the answer right in front of you!

More to come, I know your really excited.

Keep those pencils dancing!



Wendy said...

Hi, Just want to thank you for this color wheel lesson. I'm doing a mock color blending brochure for school in my Graphic Design Class. Wendy

Toni James, Toni, Tj, pencils4me said...

Your quite welcome Wendy, glad your able to use it. Good luck with your Graphics Design Class!