Choosing Colors, Part III – Simple Options

Image: Pixabay

In Part I  of this Choosing Colors series we learned about the 12 colors of the Color Wheel as well as color harmony. In Part II  we covered Tinting (adding white to a color), Toning (adding gray to a color), and Shading (adding black to a color).

In this installment, we’ll learn some simple ways to use the Color Wheel when choosing colors that will give you great looking coloring projects that are also enjoyable to make. You can use these basic approaches whether you are using markers, pencils, pens, or a combination of any of them.

First, though, don’t feel intimidated: working with color is NOT an exact science. The Color Wheel is very logical and is invaluable for avoiding jarring color schemes.  However, there is a lot of room for using your creativity, and using the Color Wheel can be fun.

Color Effects

When choosing colors, what you use can give your coloring experience, and finished product, certain feelings or effects. Here are some of the most common color effects:

Click to Open Larger Image

Simple Methods

The “freeform” method for choosing harmonious color palettes involves two simple steps.

STEP #1: Choose Your Base Colors from the Color Wheel

Here, again, is  our Color Wheel, including tints, tones and shades.

Adult Coloring ColorsAdult Coloring Tints Shades

Method A: Keep it Simple
Choose three colors from the 12-spoke Color Wheel to create your “base” palette:
• Choose one main color that you will use in most of the illustration. This color will set the tone for the colored-in design as a whole.
• Choose a second color to back up the main color. This color should either be next to the main color on the Color Wheel for a calming effect or directly opposite it for an energetic look.
• Select a third color to act as a highlight. This color should contrast with the first and second colors.

Examples (using Prismacolor Premier pencils in Lost Ocean):

Green (Grass Green), Blue-Green (Light Aqua), Red (Crimson Red)
Blue (Mediterranean Blue), Red (Crimson Red), Green (Grass Green)







Method B: Mix It Up a Bit
• Select three colors from one spoke of the Color Wheel: basic color plus tints, tones, and shades.
• Add another three colors from a spoke that is at least three spaces away on the Color Wheel. The difference in colors will add visual interest to your color scheme while still keeping harmony and balance.

Examples (using Prismacolor Premier pencils in Lost Ocean):

Choosing Colors
Red-Orange (Poppy Red, Peach, and Carmine Red), Yellow (Cream, Canary Yellow, Dark Brown)
Green (Grass Green, Jade and Dark Green), Violet (Lilac, Parma Violet, Violet)
Blue (Sky Blue Light, Light Cerulean Blue, Copenhagen Blue), Red-Violet (Process Red, Mulberry, Raspberry)







STEP #2: Extend Your Palette
Whether you use Method A or Method B, you are not limited to just the colors you have chosen:
• One of the easiest ways to create a great-looking color scheme and to add impact is to use black, white, and gray on their own on some elements.
• Make Blends: Mix your selected colors to create an exciting range of colors that don’t clash

In our next post on choosing colors, you’ll learn about the traditional, and more structured, ways that artists use to choose colors.

Dive right in and remember: everything you try is a learning experience. There are no mistakes – only experience!

Previous posts in this series on Choosing Colors:

How to Choose Colors – Part I
How to Choose Colors – Part II

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3 thoughts on “Choosing Colors, Part III – Simple Options”

  1. I’ve been coloring for about a year. So happy I’ve found your site. Wonderful useful information! Never knew about “toning”. Thank you for sharing and all the best! ;-D

    1. adultcoloring101 says:

      Thank, you Andrea! So nice to hear from my readers – makes this “labor of love” worthwhile!

  2. I really have enjoyed this series. It was really informative! Thanks for a great series!

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