Important Notice:

As of September 15, 2016, we no longer publish new courses on this website. We encourage you to use your Digital-Tutors credentials to sign in on Pluralsight where you'll find all new creative courses, skill tests and paths, 1:1 mentoring and more.
Choosing and mixing colors
See Details
Eddie Russell


Eddie Russell
In this lesson we'll learn how to pick our colors and then mix them on the canvas inside Photoshop. So in the previous lesson we learned about the brush and the eraser tool, the two most basic tools we're going to be using to paint digital. Now, at this point we're ready to begin talking about color. And there are a few different places here in the interface that we can actually choose a color. Let me come over here to the color panel first. And you can see here that we have our default RGB sliders. Now we also have this sort of gradiated bar down at the bottom. You see that if I mouse over that, my cursor changes to the eye dropper tool. Now we'll talk more about the eye dropper tool here in just a moment. So using the color panel we can either mix a color using the sliders, or just by simply clicking and dragging along this hue strip down at the bottom. Now we also can click on this little menu in the top right corner, and change this from RGB to HSB, CMYK, any of the different color modes that Photoshop supports. We can actually choose a color based on that one. You'll also notice here we have our foreground and our background swatches. And notice that when I chose that blue, it actually applied it to the background. That's because I have that one selected. You can tell it's selected because there's a little black outline around it. Now let me go and click on the foreground color once here, and the blank outline moves. Now the background and foreground swatches are a pretty important. Now we learned in the last lesson that we paint with the foreground swatch. But what I typically will use that background swatch for is to actually store a color. Maybe I want to pick another color and paint for a while, but I don't want to lose the color that I had sampled. I'll switch them places, and we can do that by clicking this little arrow right here. That is the exact same as hitting the X on your keyboard. So if we hit X we can switch those places. And this little button right here is going to default them back to their original color scheme. And the keyboard shortcuts do that is D. Alright, great. So now we looked at the color panel, and that's one place we can choose color. But I typically will choose my colors from what's known as the color picker. We can get to that simply by clicking on, say, the foreground swatch here. And you see here we are working with our foreground color, and this is the color picker. We can click and drag anywhere in this big window on the left, choose a color here. We can actually drag this hue strip arrow here to the center of the dialogue, and choose our hue. And you can see here that as we're moving around this window, to the right into the left is our saturation, and up and down is value. Now all this information over here we're not really going to touch on. And I typically use this based on exactly how it is right now. Just pick my color exactly like that. You can see the new color previewed here, as well as the current color. And we can just hit OK. Now I'm going to go ahead and hit D on my keyboard to switch back to the default colors. And let's take a look at what's in this file, this 04_begin file. Now I want to grab my brush tool here, and notice that right away I have a little no sign here for my cursor. If you're going to go ahead and work with this file with me here, you want to make sure to come over to the layers panel and make sure you have the paint layer selected. We're going to talk more about layers in the next lesson. But with this layer selected, I'm going to come in and show you how we can mix colors were right on our screen here. So notice that my flow is set to 50 percent. I'm going to right click here. And let's choose a brush that has sort of this semi transparent beginning and end to it. That's telling me that there is a tablet sensitive feature built into that brush. It's going to allow me to vary the opacity of my strokes as I press harder or softer. So we'll go ahead and choose that were here. And now we mentioned the eye dropper tool a moment ago. The eye dropper tool is great because we can actually sample colors right off our canvas with it. But it's a separate tool right here. We can click on that, come over here, and sample a color, just like so. And you'll notice that there is a little wheel that comes up when I click my mouse and hold down. The top half of the circle is the new color. The bottom half is the current color. And then there's 50% gray ring around that, just to sort of map that in there. So I'm going to go ahead and hit the D on my keyboard to reset those again. Now the eye dropper tool is great, but I never actually picked the eye dropper tool from the tool panel here. Even though the keyboard shortcut is I, it's really easy to remember, I can access this exact same tool right from the brush tool. Let me hit B to grab my brush tool again. And now with the brush tool active, we can use what's known as a keyboard modifier, meaning our Control, our Shift, or our Alt key. I'm going to use the Alt key and just hold that down. And notice that my cursor changes over to the eye dropper tool. So I can come in here and sample that yellow color. And if these grids of squares look kind of familiar to you, you may have had a color theory class or had some art schooling where you've had to create color swatches. Now what I'd like to do is I'd like to mix this yellow and this red color here in the very center box, and get sort of an in between, right in the middle of them, 50%. So I'm just going to come in and begin painting in this yellow color. Now I'm going to come in and sample the red color, and let's paint right on top of that here. Notice we get this sort of an orange color, right in here. So let's go on and sample that, and begin painting that in. Now that's a little bit too yellow for me. I'd like to go a little bit more orange. So I'm going to click and drag here until I find in orange I'm happy with. Let's go with that one right there. Just begin painting that in here. Now if I want to I can hold Shift and constrain my brush strokes so that we can stay inside the lines here. Really doesn't matter. This is just for practice, mixing colors anyways. And we can always clean it up by switching over to our eraser tool, and grabbing a hard edged brush like the one I have here, and just holding shift and erasing across. Alright, that looks pretty good. I'd say that's about halfway between that read and that yellow. Now if this is your first time to actually mix colors right on the canvas here inside Photoshop, I've gone ahead and set up several more examples for you in this file so you can practice on. If you want to, go ahead and create a middle color here, right in the center between the two provided colors. And then go ahead and mix another color, say combine this yellow with this orange, and mix a halfway color right in here. It's going to be great practice for you in using the brush tool to mix colors right on top of our canvas here. Now what I want to go ahead and show you before we end this lesson is another feature that's built into Photoshop CS5, and it's called the mixer brush. This mixer brush is nested underneath the brush tool. So we can click on hold down on it, and see that it's the very last tool in the stack here. Now I'm just going to click away from that. We can access that tool in that stack by holding the Shift key in hitting our B key. You can see we'll cycle through every tool in the stack until we get to our mixer brush tool. See, it's right there. So this mixer brush tool has a lot of different settings up here in the control panel. I don't want to confuse you with all these settings. We know what the flow right here does, but know that there are several presets here that Photoshop's going to try and mimic a natural brush. You can see that I have mine set to very wet, with a light mixture. Now you can come in and drop this down, choose any one of those presets here. But essentially what we need to do with this tool is we need to hold down the Alt key. And it's going to change our cursor to a little cross hair. And I'm going to sample this light blue over here. We'll just click on that. Notice that this little swatch fills with that color. That's our paint reservoir. Now with that color in my reservoir, I can come in here and begin painting. And you can see here that it's kind of reacting like maybe a traditional brush would. It's also mixing with the white background. So we're getting a little bit of that in there as well. So I'm just going to click and drag it around here a few times until we can get a nice solid coding in the center. And let me come over here and sample from this particular color next. Now if we come in here and start mixing this color in, we're going to get a bit more of a painterly style mixture here. Now this is maybe something you might see on a traditional painter's palette, where they've been mixing colors around to get maybe on a number of different blues as options. So we'll come over, sample this one again here, come over and sample this one. We're just going to kind of begin blending those two colors together. You can see that we get a lot more options to sample from with our eye dropper tool here. We come back over and Shift B back to our normal brush tool and zoom in on that, we've got a number of different blues here to choose from. Just watch as I mouse over different areas here. Here's a very light blue, varying numbers of hues that have been created just by mixing those two colors together. So either way, you can use either one of those different brush tools to actually mix paint right on top of your canvas. Now if you're interested in that mixer brush tool and really understanding what all those settings in the control panel do, I'd highly recommend checking out our introduction to Photoshop CS5 course. And that course will break down that tool in detail, and talk about all those little settings. So for right now, what I'd like to do is I'd like to move on to the next lesson, and talk a little bit about layers with you, here inside Photoshop.
In this collection of lessons we will learn basic terms, definitions and workflows for digital painting in Photoshop CS5. We’ll start off by covering how to create and save new documents as well as how we can navigate around inside them. We'll then take a look at two of the most basic tools for digital painting being the brush tool and eraser tool so you begin creating artwork right away. After that, you’ll learn about several other features such as layers, selections and masks that will add a new dimension to your digital painting experience. And to wrap up this project, we'll go over one possible workflow for painting a digital image.