so, lately ive been getting (almost daily) notes from deviants asking on coloring tips. and while i never mind helping others and thats one of the biggest foremost reasons im on dA, i find that im repeating a lot of the same basic tips. so i thought it might be helpful to some of you if i were to just make some of this general knowledge public and...whatnot.
so first thing i always get are people asking me how i pick colors?
first thing i always say is, color theory! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_theory http://colortheory.liquisoft.com/ and http://www.colormatters.com/colortheory.html
that last one has a good little mind blowing point there. see the one showing the plant? "A color scheme based on analogous colors" a lot of people want to use just a lighter shade to color, or a darker one, sometimes using white or black (or burn and dodge, shame on you! lol) but the colors there are a more blue green through a yellow green, it changes shades and doing so makes it much more believable, and in the end makes a much more pleasing and interesting painting.
and also it helps by starting out with pulling up a real photo and using color picker here and there to make palettes, and see just WHERE on the color picker those colors are. especially on skin, you'll notice the colors are almost always generally on the left side of the color picker. with the choice of infinite colors and values and hues, people can get a bit lost.
people have a real hard time figuring out what colors to use when they're starting. knowing color theory really is a big big part of all of this.
second part of the advice i find myself using constantly, nearly every time, is lighting. people that are getting frustrated with their pictures and want help the most seem to be people that are failing to even try lightsources. im seeing lots of pieces that lack really any lightsource. they're hitting walls, because ambiguous lighting doesnt work hardly anywhere.
so i'm usually saying, try light sources. find things to color with one drawn in, or make one! think about it before you start throwing down shades. i notive this a lot because of the prevalence of pinup art here with no backgrounds on it. just the character, and all white with no lines around it. easy, quick for beginners, but not great at teaching.
aside from color choice, lighting is the most important part of a picture. pick the greatest colors in the world, but unless you have effective lighting, its going to fall flat every time, literally.
sometimes i will actually go as far as to recommend that people try recreating a photograph. that can mean anything! even http://cache2.asset-cache.net/xc/89830974.jpg?v=1&c=NewsMaker&k=2&d=6C4008C0FD9EB5A50E80C28AE3F9245D3E772F025E294BD6017AD52DD3513A16 something simple.
also, this doesnt hurt http://www.photoworkshop.com/pages/light_cage.html a light cage to help you along, because guessing is never good.
thats my last point. lots of artists start using references with they're learning to draw, but few really do this sort of thing when they are coloring. using real life or photos as your guide is every bit as effective in learning to color.
Hope it helps!