What color is the sky? Painting things colors you wouldn't expect automatically generates some surprise and interest.
One thing I look for in cartoons is clever and unique color combinations. You wouldn't think it would be hard to find that, but it is. For this post, I'm not talking about technique. Merely the choices of colors.
It's so easy for an artist to just grab blue, red, purple, pink, green and orange straight from the tubes and slap it on the paintings. It requires no forethought or creativity. Most paint sets come with those colors.
My favorite paintings, whether they come from Disney, Hanna Barbera, Genndy Tartakovsky or Illustrators are the ones where the artists choose odd colors. They mix each color in non-mathematical proportions with other colors, and then combine them with other odd choices.
What's a mathematical proportion? 50-50. Orange is 50% red, 50%yellow. Turquoise is 25% yellow, 75% blue. That's what you see in most cartoons-even in really expensive cartoons that could easily afford good color stylists.
CREATIVITY = SURPRISE
I like to be surprised. I think creativity is largely about surprising the viewer. If you just do what they are already used to seeing, then is that really being creative?
For about 3 years, the Hanna Barbera cartoons were filled with creative colors and color combinations.
Interestingly, the title cards tend to be less creative. They are more primary and secondary.
I like colors that are hard to name, like in the painting above. What would you call that ground color? Burgundian Umber?
How about the sky? Olive-mustard? And how many people would think of putting those two colors together in the first place?
COLOR BALANCE AND HARMONY
I like the kind of overall color stylings that start with one basic dominant color - like this sky color that doesn't have a simple name.
The other colors then are related to the dominant color.
Art put some brighter colors in the reeds. The smaller details are the best places to put more pure colors, because then they add some extra interest and punch without dominating the whole scene and taking away from the focus, which in a cartoon is usually the character.
He still was judicious in his reed colors. Light blue, purple and army green. He didn't put the whole rainbow there. He also applied the colors lightly so that some of the sky green blends in with the brighter colors and harmonizes the whole image.
These paintings are pure eye candy to me.
Here are slightly more normal colors, but still with harmony and a limited palette.
Title card with pink and yellow. Yeeesh.
A little too pure blue for me, but there is still something odd about it.
I really like clever uses of browns. Nature is full of an infinite variety of brown colors and inventive artists will take advantage of this much wider range of creative choices than what most cartoons allow.
The greens in the grass have been blended with milky white to keep them from being too pure. I wonder why they didn't choose colors as odd as the sky colors for the grass.
I actually don't remember the Rescuers looking like this. This may be the product of remastering. They take a lot of old cartoons and get rid of any mixed colors and turn them all into neon primaries and secondaries now. Especially pink and purple. They also seem to turn up the contrast so that dark objects turn solid black. The new Looney Tunes disk has some of the worst examples of color tampering I've seen yet- but not on every cartoon.
These colors don't need a color stylist to choose them. These are the first colors every kid chooses when they start coloring their pictures.
If I had a lot of money to spend on cartoons, I would expect my artists to come up with new colors and combinations all the time. Wouldn't they want to?
You know where to get good color ideas (besides from nature)? In fashion magazines-especially the European ones. I'll save that for another post.