Wednesday, April 18, 2012

From the Desk: My P3 Color Wheel Prototype

Building my own color wheel has turned out to be more challenging than I expected. When I started out doing this, I merely grabbed the Quiller example and started trying to match P3 paints. This worked out fine for the most part, but left a specific hole that I just couldn't quite get a match for one slot (showen to the right here). That missing color is a red-orange color. Beyond that, the color matches are relatively close. Some of them like Cygnus Yellow, Cygnar Blue Highlight, and Khador Red Highlight are pretty much dead on matches. Others, like Arcane Blue, are not quite as close. And still others, like Exile Blue, are not really close enough. Still though, it made for a rough guide to start with. However this exercise got me thinking: Can I actually make one color by matching its two adjacent colors? Enter the color testing!

At this point I started doing a bunch of mixing of paint to see how things worked out. Now honestly I didn't know for sure how well it would work, although I suspected it would be relatively close. What was surprising to me was just how many of them matched quite well. These studies also went a long way towards finding appropriate matching colors for the wheel by mixing two colors and working from there. To some degree I was quite pleased with how accurate my guesses were. One area that was difficult to work through were the oranges. In the P3 line there are multiple orange and yellow shades, and they have quite a bit of variance to them.

Now at this point I need to make a confession: Although I know the names of most of the P3 paints, I don't really use the names to refer to them mentally. I store all my paint pots/droppers horizontally with the tops facing outward. On the tops I paint a swatch of the contained color and this is how I find the paint I need. This means that I don't remember my "formulas" for certain models because I don't necessarily remember which paints by name, but rather I have to reconstruct by colors used. On the plus side, I reference and pick colors by, well, their color. This has definitely helped my so called visual color IQ.

In any case, my P3 color wheel is still a work in progress. I'm working on a new one more based on the Munsell system, and am trying to incorporate some additional information into it. Why go through all this effort rather than actually just making more progress on my model backlog? It all goes back to my desire to have a better sense of color theory really. It's not specifically about having a "P3" color wheel, but just being able to build a color wheel from model paints. So far the small amount of time invested has definitely been worth while.


Ethelie said...

you might be interested in Color and Light by James Gurney if you haven't read it, great book :)

Scott said...

Thanks! I have actually, and posted a review of my thoughts on it a few posts back. It was a great book. I've been on a real lucky streak with books on color theory lately. We'll see how long my luck holds out. I just started reading Creative Color by Faber Birren.

Ethelie said...

oh, I read your posts in the wrong order :) lots of good stuff in that book