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Color comps: The key to good art

Below are five good reasons why one should create color comps in the same media as their final illustration or painting.

One mistake I used to make was doing my color comp in a medium other than the one I was going to use for the final illustration. But after looking at Rockwell’s color comps, and then trying it on my own, I came to realize the benefit of creating color comps in the medium of the final.

Some among us are uber talented and great color coordination just oozes out of them and they don’t have to worry so much about planning for color, because everything they do with color is perfect. My wife Cherish, is one of them. For the rest of us, color planning is crucial for making sure the final piece becomes something we can be proud of. (And even Cherish, though she doesn’t really need to do color comps, does them anyway, making her color choices even that much better!)

1) Different mediums produce different colors. You may do a gorgeous comp in pastels, only to realize that it’s next to impossible to recreate those same colors in acrylic paints.

2) The assumption is, you will be premixing your colors to do your comps. Thus, when you are ready to work on the final, the palette is already laid out for you.

3) Doing a color comp is sort of like stretching before exercising. It’s good to get warmed up in the medium you are going to be working in, before starting on the final.

4) Because comps force you to be loose and look at large shapes, this will only benefit you when you jump into the final. My biggest temptation is to zoom in immediately onto the details, which then takes me FOREVER to finish a piece. Doing the color comps before hand helps me to loosen up.

5) Doing a color comp is pretty much like doing the underpainting. So when you do start on your underpainting (and you should be doing underpaintings), you’ve already done it once before!

The piece included in this article was the color comp I finally ended up doing for my Iris of Hope for Joplin piece.

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