Design Skills - Resources and Training for Designers

Colour Rendering
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How do you use colour rendering to communicate your design ideas?

You create 3-Dimensional designs on a 2-Dimensional surface. To do this, you must understand how we see and learn techniques that will enable you to recreate what you see on a sheet of paper.

For example, you learn perspective in order to create 3-dimensional line drawings. To learn how to render your design ideas in colour, you must observe the phenomena of light and colour that surrounds you everyday.

Look around, observe and ask yourself: How do I recreate this on paper? Observational drawing is the best way to develop good drawing and rendering abilities.

Initial considerations

Local Tone: the level of lightness and darkness of an object, regardless of its illumination.

Modelling: the light and dark shading of an illustrated form/object
in order to reinforce its 3-dimensional attributes.
Line drawing

Colour of shade and shadow: in colour drawing, gray to black shading and shadows appear dull and lifeless. It is better to use a darker shade of the original colour for shading and shadows. The degree of darkness for shade and shadows depends on the local tone of the original object.

In certain conditions, the shades and shadows on objects take on subtle colorations other than simply the darker version of their original colour. For example, when an object is illuminated by a coloured light source. Another example is when an intense colour tinges its neighbour with its complement. This is known as simultaneous contrast.

Gradation: surfaces do not appear uniformly coloured or illuminated. In fact, they appear uneven and graduating from 1 colour to another or from dark to light.

Gradation make surfaces more realistic and drawings appear more dynamic. Note that the boundaries between light and colour are very subtle and gradual on a mat surface but much sharper on polished surfaces.

Multiplicity of colour: objects may appear to be one colour but what you really see is a visual average of a multitude of colours. Impressionists painters such as Seurat and Monet used these observations in their paintings.
Multiplicity of colours

Atmospheric perspective: forms that recede into the distance - for example, the drawing of a landscape - appear lighter, cooler (more bluish) and grayed.
Atmospheric perspective

Reflections: reflective surfaces reflect the colours of adjacent objects back to you. On surfaces such as glass, water and polished furniture, the reflected colours are less intense than those of the object reflected.

When a reflective surface is darker than its surroundings, the colour it reflects is less intense and darker than those of the object reflected. Surfaces such as chrome or polished steel, usually distort the shapes of the object reflected but reflect their colour exactly.

Luminosity: Light colours and strong colours appear more intense when surrounded by darker colours. In rendering, this can be used to create the effect of illumination.

Colour and light: We see colour because objects around us absorb certain wavelengths of light and reflect others. This means that the colour you see on objects is the colour reflected. For example, an orange absorbs most of the wavelengths of light except orange, which it reflects back to you.

This also explains the lack of colour in near darkness. As the light level diminishes, so does the amount of light available for objects to reflect. Their colour appears less intense and more neutral.

Arrangement of light and dark: tones in your surroundings vary greatly, from the very white to the very black. However, if you squint your eyes until they are almost close and look around, you will see that every tonal group can fall into one of three category: light, medium, dark.
Light and dark

Using this method to view your surroundings offers clues to understand tonal arrangements and helps you translate them into your design illustrations.

Skills Communication

> Mood and Sample boards > Sketching > Isometric and Axonometric Projections > Perspective Drawing > Model Making > Figure Drawing > Colour Rendering

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