How do you go pick your colors?

I was looking at the arts I save and realize how much I envy the boldness of their color/ not just the color itself but the stroke.

Watching the artist I like i realize there is quite a variation of the way people pick their colors.

Some plan it, some seems to just go on spontaneously.

I was interested about how artists here go on about coloring?

Do you plan the colors ahead, make swatches in a scratchpad or use gamut mask?

How about strokes? do you use colorize after a fine lineart, or do you go with blockings and building the forms as you go?

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I think the very same artist would use a variety of approaches depending on what he aims for. Is he trying to nail a specific mood for a scene in a story, or is he just freestyling/exploring…


I always use reference photos so I just sample from that and adjust the color as needed.

Then I just color in what I’ve sketched as I would in real life. (I don’t use that many layers at all - keeps things simple for me.)

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I like to try out new colours on a fresh, empty layer to see how they might “play” with the other colours.


I usually use a colour reference, or several. Just something that has a kind of dynamic I like for what I’m doing, usually something pretty random in terms of content.

Underpaintings help. Often, if I’m going for some subtle tone, I will first block that shape in with a really strong colour. For skin, I often use either red or green, depending on what I’m going for. It helps me be be bold about my colour choices, having a “wrong” colour I need to offset.

Also I like to imagine what component colours a shade I’d like to see would consist of, and use all of them separately. Optical mixing. If I’m looking at a reference Injust let my eyes unfocused and see what colours seem to pop out. They tend to be surprising, and there are always many of them in any given shade.


One approach is painting whatever colours/shapes feel like and see what happens, but also have one main palette of favourite colour combinations that tend to use in that eg earthy/grasses, pre-raphaelite, blueberry/apple tones, skin range, complementaries and their shadow colours. Find it easier to have the one main palette, with black squares separating sections, so can just jump in.

Or use gpick to sample colours from image and then screenshot the image with the illustrated list of colours alongside; store that for any time might use those colours, and can bring it into the (old) ref docker and just colourpick and splodge a few main circles of colours down the side of a layer above.

Other times, pick main tones across from reference image as paint, if just want to concentrate on practicing drawing/texture/lighting, rather than thinking too much about colour.

Using minimum layers and a more traditional approach I find helps me keep clearer about colours and what am doing, as do these different things. Am interested in looking into using the gamut mask at some point though.

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Interesting. Its alot closer from my approach If I do something from photo. Though I tend to eyeball color and start with something not exactly the color but more less saturated and go from there. My color matching is suspect though.

does the new layer has thumbnail or its empty and more for color play?

The approach for the skin is really interesting.

I love the mood you create with colors in your painting.

Pretty interesting about components of a shade and the application of optical mixing. My curiosity is going overdrive - now i kinda wanna open krita right now and play.

you game an idea. Maybe I should store swatches from painting with colors that interest me. Sometimes I would see a work that interest me and when i get back working and try to evoke the mood - i tend to get lost, and then i cant find the artwork again.

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This is quite interesting, there such a varied approach in picking colors for an artwork. some i think i can incorporate.

As for me. I pick some main colors and swatch them out, then pick anything i can match with it along the way as i prepare those swatches for the artwork. If i have reference image, i eyeball the base tones and work from there.

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Awesome! Always good to know they’re backed up for whenever you want them. :slight_smile:

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I don’t do well with eyeballing colors too. That’s why I like to pick right from my reference and then make adjustments as needed.

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The new layer is empty and is above all the other layers in my art. That way I can brush on new colours over my work and observe which new colours “pop” and which ones seem to recede.

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Most of the time I do some kind of trial and error, I test some colors in a layer to feel how they look, and if I like, I use it! Of course, sometimes I end up changing a few colors at the last minute, but thats the way it is, you have to feel good about your work!

I think that eventually you end up creating a style of your own with your colors, because you will end up choosing colors that you like, right. That’s the cool thing about art, there is no right or wrong!


I just go for any color I think fits the drawing I’m working on, but I lean more toward the warm colors.
I choose as I go most of the time, but occasionally, it is planned, and other times I pick colors off an image I like.
It actually depends on my mood and how much I want to get done. :pen:


You contradict yourself instantly. If there is something you like, there is also something you don’t like. That literally creates a right and a wrong about art because you choose something over another, because one was more pleasing than the other.

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I tend to use reference images for colour squemes like colours in nature or some other random photo with a given lighting.

If I make from scratch I use colours that are within a harmony set and try to make a pleasing combination within the rules. I see gamut more like a Instagram filter kind of deal so tend not to use it but I guess I should too.

My issue however is despite having cool colours selected there is something about the mixing on the canvas that does not really work. I say this because I do the colour math for the mix and it is not what it should be so I am forced to correct the selection always or force the correct colour in the middle. Ussually the colours I end up with do not makes as much sense side by side.

Yeah, but what I meant was that there is no universal right way to choose colors, it’s kind of a personal thing, I think. But in a sense you are right, if you feel like some colors are “right”, other colors will feel “wrong”, I get it.


I agree, and don’t see colours as innately right or wrong; just down to preference, the colours you enjoy using in a particular painting. :+1:t2: