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Activities for kids: Playing with colours

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This short exercise is an excellent way to become a little bit more familiar with painting and colours. Use the tubes of gouache (magenta, cyan and yellow) lying around in your drawers, a paintbrush and a sheet of Canson® "C" à grain paper.

1. The primary colours

Magenta, cyan and yellow are the 3 primary colours. They are at the base of all the others: by mixing them with each other, you will be able to obtain every possible colour.

2. The secondary colours

  • By mixing equal amounts of 2 of these primary colours, you will obtain 3 secondary colours: purple (magenta + cyan), orange (magenta + yellow) and green (cyan + yellow).
  • By modifying the quantities of the colours in your mix, you will of course create different colours. For example, a green made with much more blue than yellow will be a lot darker (and a lot lighter the other way around!).

3. The tertiary colours

Look out! This is where it gets interesting! Tertiary colours are made up of 50% of a primary colour and 50% of a secondary one. They allow you to add nuances to your colours.

Here you can see green-yellow, orange-red and blue-green. Blue-green (or turquoise), for example, often comes up in conversations because nobody can ever really say for sure if it is blue or green, when actually it is...both!

This tertiary colour is in fact composed of 50% green (obtained by mixing cyan and yellow) and 50% cyan.

You may find it difficult to remember all of these combinations at first. It is therefore a good idea to print and hang the corresponding charts above your desk so you can access them whenever you need to.

4. Put them into practice!

The secret to successful colouring? Refrain from using an abundance of different colours so you maintain the harmony of your drawing. Here, for example, the pink of the tongue matches the colour of the gloves and glasses. The blue of the glasses matches the blue of the jumper. Even details such as the small bracelets are simple and done in colours which work with the rest of the character.

Practice finding your own colours by completing this drawing: colour the hat, tie and background (which should bring out the entire picture).

5. Solution

The coloured checks of the hat and tie contrast beautifully with the more understated colouring of the rest of the character. They are done, however, in the same tone!

The background must bring out the drawing without being too noticeable. Its job is to highlight the drawing as much as possible. You can use a light pink that goes with the mood of this model, but be sure the colour is subtle enough not to "interfere" with the expression.

6. Another example

Practice by drawing several different characters side by side. Colour each one of them with its own range of colours: this is how you will differentiate the one from the other.

You can get your inspiration from this model:

  • the boy on the left, with his suspicious-looking face, is done entirely in lacklustre colours;
  • the young girl in the middle (who just stuck her tongue out at you!) is dashing with the pink and red hues in her outfit;
  • the blond child on the right, "dressed" mainly in primary colours, looks like a rather down-to-earth little boy.