This week, I’ll be looking at something slightly different from the usual How to Draw Manga books – The Designers’s Guide to Color Combinations. This book is a useful guide to those of you out there who don’t know what to do when using colors, specifically which colors to use with what other color or colors, how much of which color to use, and starting to think about values when choosing colors. This book also talks a bit about layout but mainly, as the title suggests, it’s all about the color combinations.
The Designer’s Guide to Color Combinations starts off with a nice introduction about what the book is about and how to use the book. I think the intro is useful and gets the reader to think about topics such as value usage, but it just gives a short narrative that if you want to learn about those particular topics some more, you’d best pick up another book. With that said, even though this book is an easy read, I wouldn’t recommend it for the beginner or at least the type of person who would like their hand held with step-by-step instructions and examples. This book will not do that.
After the brief intro, it will start listing colors that defined a generation. It goes through the ages from the late 1800s/early 1900s to today or at least till the time when the book was published per chapter and even adds a couple of other chapter afterwards. The beginning of each age (or chapter if you like to think of it that way) will be a 2-page spread of a mural with a mixture of various images from that time period, and a summary of what that period was all about. From there, it will start showing the color combination pages.
These color combination pages are made up of from the top-left an art, poster, or tile from that period with a brief summary to it’s right. Below is a about 6 possible color combinations derived and/or inspired by that art presented at the top of the page. It shows an example design which is the same throughout the book, I might add, with the CMYK (i.e. cyan, magenta, yellow and black) value beneath it. Now, you may wonder why how you can use this book if all the color samples are in CMYK well – let me say this: if you ever want to print your work from digital which is an RGB (i.e. red, green, blue) world to the print world which uses CMYK, at the end of the day you will have to convert your RGB artwork to CMYK.
When you convert your work from RGB to CMYK, some of the colors turn out funny from one to the other. Some artists are fine with working in RGB then coverting to CMYK and fixing anything that occurs in the change over while some other artists work in CMYK from the get-go. On another note, if you’re just interested in the colors and the color combinations, you can overlook the CMYK numbers and just try matching the wanted color in your graphic software’s color palette in RGB. With painting in general, it’s not an exact science so you don’t have to go with the exact number presented in the book.
The Designer’s Guide to Color Combinations is a quick, easy read for any age group. For those of you who are into digital painting, this may be a good fit for you particularly if you’re the type who’s at a loss as to which colors to use with what. The examples, layout and purpose isn’t your typical how-to book and even though anyone can read this, those who take away more about what the book is conveying would, in my opinion, be intermediate and advanced artists.
The Designer’s Guide to Color Combinations: 500+ Historic and Modern Color Formulas in CMYK
by Leslie Cabarga
How to Use This Book
Art Deco Color
Atomic Age Color
Far Out Sixties Color