Sunday, October 22, 2006

Color Theory 4: Pee and Poo colors versus Colorful Greys

There is one other color style that is sometimes used in features. When the feature directors want you to think they are doing some kind of serious statement, they use dirty colors. Colors of waste products and boogers. This is a sort of limited palette and is the opposite style of the all primary and secondary color palettes of most cartoons. It's not warm and rich or inviting.
These kinds of color schemes make you depressed. They are the colors of musty old animators who probably aren't having much fun anymore and their cartoons reflect this lack of joy.

Here are some pee and poo colored BGs from cartoons you are to take seriously as you contemplate suicide:

This looks like an overuse of art school color theory, where they tell you to mix yellow ochre and burnt sienna in everything to make it look like waste products.

So, all the above, to me seems to be the opposite of fun or mood or life. They sure don't say "cartoon". Dingy colors make me depressed. It looks like the painters never clean their brushes and all the colors are dirty and muddy.

On the other hand, limited color palettes when done by artists with taste can be very colorful and fun indeed.

Grey Can Be Colorful
Now, it's funny, but these color schemes from Blame It On The Samba are actually supposed to show that Donald and Jose are depressed and down, but when I first saw this cartoon it was like a color revelation to me. These colors look like candy, even though they are greyed.


These Mary Blair trees have a bluegrey BG behind greyed down light green leaves. The leaves are close enough in value to the grey behind making them blend together to create a new total color as if they were mixed.

This blue-green-greyish BG lets the more colorful birds contrast against it and they really pop.

Almost every bird is its own bright color scheme. The colors that make up each bird are related-they harmonize to keep the bird a complete, non-broken up image. Notice that the shadow colors on the birds aren't the same exact tint as the color they are supposed to be darker versions of. This makes the colors richer and happier.

The birds are the important point of the picture and they stand out against the BG, unlike the dark and dingy stills at the top of the page where you can barely make out the characters from the BGS because everything is the same (sickly) color and value.