Colour – Week 5

This week the teams got scrambled again so I’m now with Michelle Beggs, Caitlin Collins can’t get rid of her and Rebecca Thompson. The new world my new teammates and I were plopped on this week is the “Dragon Tree” world. It’s basically a giant living dragon that’s made from trees, roots and leaves.

The Dragon Tree (Drawing by Hollie Mackay)

Inside the dragon, instead of the organs there’s chambers/caverns where the characters of this world live and work. Each character is designed to do a specific job in there assigned “organ” for example, the character in the stomach is responsible for making fire for the dragon’s breath – the light generated here will be the main source of lighting in the chest cavity. There are characters in the brain, lungs (birds), skin (werewolves), heart (fairy), Ears (bats), teeth (termites) and in the eyes (fireflies). The eyes are the main light source from the dragon, we’ve also decided that the dragon sits in a world lit by a dim sun, so there’s dim lighting on the dragon. Light, light and light.

This project is colour. We have to decide the colour schemes and any use of warm and cool tones.

Reds, oranges and yellows are the warmer colours whilst blues and greens are cooler. Greens and purples don’t fall neatly into either category so these have to be used with caution. When picking colour it’s easier to start off with neutral ones and add warmer tones for lighter shades (depending on light source) and cool tones for shadows; you don’t just darken your primary colour for the shadow.

By using the directly opposite colour on a colour wheel, you can effectively create contrast with your colours and this along with the use of warm and cool tones can help emphasise your art and/or story.

A basic colour wheel
Basic colour wheel

A great programme for choosing colour schemes and working out complimentary colour is ADOBE COLOUR. However a fantastic site you can use without downloading is Paletton.

I found this website useful it contains a few snippets of wisdomHow to Use Colour:

A small dose of colour that contrasts with your main colour will draw attention. It will give emphasis. Warmer colours advance into the foreground while cooler colours recede into the background.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 00.37.18.png

Complimentary create the highest contrast and attract the viewers eye.

Analogous builds a harmonious and fluid picture and is great to create an ethereal and dreamy quality.

Triadic colours can stand apart but can also retain the harmony.

Colourists create the final look of a film or video by correcting any errors in colour or exposure, matching shots captured on various days or different cameras and creating style and depth.

Some established colourists:  Alexis Van HurkmanPatrick InhoferMark Todd OsborneRob Bessette, and Colin Travers.

Colour correction deals with technical aspects and adjustments made to exposure, white balance, ISO and contrast. Colour grading often refers to the overall look and style that sets the tone of the project. An easy way to remember it all: Colour correction is one individual adjustment. Colour grading is the sum of all the adjustments made.

A fantastic example of using warm and cool tones in a piece of work is this:

Art by Barry E. Jackson
Art by Barry E. Jackson

You can see the reds in the centre suggesting warmth for the well lit street whilst the blues are used for the darker, colder areas on the outside.

So we’re going to look at some movies and graphic novels for some inspiration for our colour scheme.  Michelle started looking at a particular scene in “Tarzan“:

Beautifully bright and colourful, a look at what the forest of the dragon could be like
Bright and colourful, an insight to what the forest on the dragon could look like

Rebecca started researching tree bark and foliage, looking at their colours and comparing warm and cool tones. We’re also looking at some famous dragons such as Spyro, Smaug from “The Hobbit”, Disney’s Maleficent and the “How to Train Your Dragon” movies (please excuse my derpy dragon sketches).

Spryo's colour experiments
Spryo’s colour experiments
Smaug (movie version)
Smaug (movie version)

FullSizeRender (20)


Malificent's colour experiment

Death Song dragon from
Death Song dragon from “How to Train Your Dragon 2″*
The rest of my quick colour experiments
The rest of my quick colour tests

*The movie’s website (How to Train Your Dragon) has a dragonpedia of all the dragons that appear in the movie and it’s pretty cool.*

The light source from the stomach is made by fire so we used a warmer colour than the light from the eyes, as it is made from the firefly creatures so we had explored the use of a cooler colour for them.

The team decided we liked this colour scheme; brown bark, red leaves and green eyes: image

However, it felt too warm for what we were going for so we looked at Rebecca’s colour tests and decided to change the leaves from red to blue to cool it down.

After that we decided on a orangey-red colour for the light coming from the fire in the stomach to contrast against the green eyes and blue trees.


In effect, what we’ll hopefully have is a cool coloured dragon with cold eyes but once he turns towards you, you’re smacked in the face with the contrasting warm light from his stomach. That light will help create a warmer atmosphere within the dragon for the characters, we agreed it wouldn’t look right for the inside of the dragon to be cold because it’s a fire breathing dragon. Here’s two colour “concepts”  I whipped up on photoshop:

Tree dragon
The Dragon Tree itself
tree colours
The trees on the dragon’s back (using the same colour scheme)

The chambers inside are going to be a darker brown with either a warmer red tone or cooler green tone depending on if it’s closer to the eyes or stomach. So the brain chamber will have a cooler, greener brown and likewise the lungs. The heart and stomach will be much warmer. The teeth are closer to the eyes but we’re lighting it with the stomach so it’ll be a warmer red in the mouth as well.

We agreed the colour scheme for the dragon would echo through the rest of the world including the characters inside, Although some of them have bits of contrasting colours to make them stand out. Here’s the final coloured characters and some chambers:


Caitlin’s Photoshop work (environments and character):



Michelle did most of her work using Photoshop, experimenting with the environmental colour schemes and finalising her creatures:


Rebecca took to watercolours to experiment with possible colour schemes and then Photoshop to finalise a few concepts:



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