Friday, September 13, 2013

Colour and Mood - Use Deco Art Americana in your backgrounds

COLOUR sets the mood:

Often artists and designers become attached to certain colours to the detriment of thei work overall.

Using combinations of colours that are outside your comfort zone can really add atmosphere to seasonal designs.

Lets look at some examples using digis from my shop and designs from my HAUNTED PLACES rubber stamps for Smeared Ink:

My first panel puts my GHOST TOWN image against various background combinations of Peach and payne's grey.

Notice how the different configurations can highlight a certain area, add an oppressive feeling or just generally "spookify" the scene.

My samples are done in photoshop but one could use transparent watercolours, gouache or premium liquid acrylics like DECO ART AMERICANA to achieve these looks.

Working on BRISTOL BOARD-especially VELLUM finish Bristol which has been coated with 2 even coats of GESSO followed by a smooth even coat of a base colour will give you a wonderful foundation for your "art cards".

One you have your well dried base tape off the area you want for your background using DRAFTING TAPE-be sure to use drafting tape and not another type as drafting tape will not lift the acrylics-you can also paint the tape down by adding a coat of the premium acrylic over the tape and allowing to dry completely.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to allow paint and mediums to dry thoroughly and also avoid the urge to speed things up by using hair dryers and heat guns unless absolutely necessary-air dry finishes are the best abd also how the products were designed-high heat can alter the chemical composition of a product and make it work differently tha intended (or not at all).

This second panel uses blue greys for a cold, wintery feel-once again notice how the placement of light and dark makes a big difference on the feeling of the project.

Chrome or Naples yellow with brown makes a sick, nuclear winter sort of feel.

One might not immediately think of this colour combination for skies or backgrounds but see how effective it is and notice when watching old cartoons how often this sort of palette is utilized!

Cartoons, especially the Warner Brothers Looney Toons series from the 40's and 50's is a great place for those new to experimenting with colour to see what artists did back in the day when THEY were experimenting with a new medium-a wild array of colours were used to creat mood and shadows on those old cartoons and they are remarkably fresh colour wise today!

Using the STONEHENGE image from my Haunted places set for Smeared Ink I have used colour combos drawn from Cartoons; ACID GREEN, YELLOW and RED combined with contrasting darks to show how fantsy colour can work to set a mood.

It' so important to plat and experiment with colour and colour combos to see what emerges and how it will enhance your projects.

Opaque backgrounds combined with transparent washes on your digis will give your work a great atmospheric feel and a wonderful "theatrical" quality.

You might consult books from your local library about rendering set designs or storyboarding art direction for films for inspiration points to set you off on your colour journey.

Once again here is a panel using fantasy colours, blues, aquas and fuchsias to lend atmosphere-I think it's clear how certain combos add a real atmospheric feeling to the image-in this case I love the ble but the Fuchsia is also working for me and sends me off in a different direction than I might have gone with the project.

Finlly here is a little more finished vista-I have used a basic background and kept my colours in the stormy, autumnal palatte to frame this vignette of a ghost town on the prarie-this image uses one of my Haunted Churches, Phantom Rest graveyard and the GHOST TOWN image.

I wish more designers would experiment with these sorts of VISTA compositions-they could be tri-folded in order to fit in standar envelopes and I think unfolding these wide cards and displaying them-they stand up like a folding screen-is very impressive.

One could add a small swatch here and the of diagonal verticals using a micro glitter paint to suggest rain falling-you can do your basecoat in yellow then friskett out a circles for a "smoky sun" remove the friskett at the very end to expose the yellow dun orb.

I hope that there is something here that Inspires you to try colour and DIFFERANT colours and techniques than you may be used to-its such fun when the smallest thing can lead someone off on a path of discovery...Happy Crafting with COLOUR this Halloween Season!


  1. Verrrry coooool :-) I love all those examples. Awesome :-)

    IKE xx

  2. WOW, how interesting, thank you. I think I may even try some of these ideas, I've never been "arty" but it's worth a try.

    Thanks again

  3. Love what u have done. The ghost town is wonderful.

  4. Your examples are so well thought out and explained. Thanks for the inspiration - I know I get in color ruts a lot. Have you been reading Paolo Bacigalupi's "Drowned Cities" or "The Windup Girl"?


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