I'm trying to be an expert for choosing colors and combining colors. So I found a tutorial making schools sets icons and for a start, I am making a pencil but I'm not going to follow the same exact color on the tutorial. I'll do it my own with a touch of red with the flat pencil vector as an exercise for me, I am choosing the monochromatic method of color theory but how do you know exactly if your lighting or shadowing of red on the pencil is correct or industry standards? I am having the hard time understanding people I encountered in youtube on how they choose a light or shadow color of the main color. If there are any question please free to ask. Thank very much.

My Work:

enter image description here

The Tutorial I'm following:

As you can see how the tutor made the pencil yellow color beautifully from lighting to shadows. enter image description here

  • And, lucky for us, there is no industry standard for this.
    – Rafael
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 1:04
  • @Rafael, thank you for answering. I checked the first page and tried it out with my colors. However, the red was too dark and the skin like color has a dark green after minimizing the RGB by 50% as shown in the answer. The 2nd question I realized you were the person, how did you corrected those colors? Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 5:35
  • You do understand that there is no correct color?
    – joojaa
    Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 10:14
  • @joojaa, I know there is no correct specific color but I do believe there is an appropriate way(s) to color an object. As you can see the Yellow pencil it was colored attractive to the eyes not irritating and I'm finding the correctness of approach. Sorry for the misunderstanding. Commented Nov 19, 2016 at 11:03

2 Answers 2


Which color is best to use is a matter of opinion although there are many resources online to help you find color pallets and color schemes for certain purposes. I can help you find the shading for a color though. To make a color look naturally blended to light and dark you should find the tint and shade of that color and use them as the highlight and the shadow. A tint is a color with white. A shade is a color with black. Open your color pallet with the main color selected (Note the hex value of your main color). Go straight up from the main color and click to find your tint. Make note of the hex value. Go straight down from your main color and select the shade. Note the hex value. You now have three colors, your main one, a highlight and a shadow. Apply them to the three sides of your pencil for the desired effect, or put them in a gradient for a smooth round colors surface. You must decide how far to go up and down for your colors. Main color, tint and shade. Gradient result

  • Hi Webstarian, thanks for your answer, it's a useful method. The question asks specifically for correct method or industry standards, like in a color theory way where you can calculate the exact values. Could you elaborate on why your method would be more advisable than a numeric one?
    – PieBie
    Commented Jan 6, 2017 at 10:03

Smashing magazine have sevral good articles about the "Theory of Color" I recommend reading this 3 parts series from the beginning, but to answer your question you can jump to part 3: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/02/color-theory-for-designer-part-3-creating-your-own-color-palettes/

  • 2
    Welcome to Graphic Design SE. Please note that link-only answers are frowned upon here, as they may get useless if the link dies. Can you please summarise the essential aspects of the link, lest your answer be deleted.
    – Wrzlprmft
    Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 0:27
  • Yes Yurikleb, I aware of that and studied them but I am finding the appropriate group colors used for illustration. However, I found something helpful in the link like the examples given and that is some parts of the answer I am looking for. I hope you have more link or supporting facts about the appropriate pallette for illustration. Please comment as soon as possible. So that I may consider your answer as correct. Commented Nov 20, 2016 at 7:12
  • Hi, sorry for the late response.
    – yurikleb
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 15:13
  • there is no correct colour for an illustration, it something that comes with practice. the colour palette is defined by the artist depending on what he wants to convey thru the illustration, you can draw the same pencil in 1000 different ways, and all of them will be correct. If you are Illustrating a children book you will probably go for a colour palette which is "calm" and and consist of colours that are close to each other on the colour wheel. if you are illustrating a pencil on a "Soviet Propaganda Poster" your colour palette will probably consist of colours with more contrast.
    – yurikleb
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 15:21
  • there are many books talking about colour theory that help designers get started and understand how colours work and how to use them for their benefit, but most of the understanding comes from practice and experience. Drawing as much as possible yourself and looking at other works and learning from them.
    – yurikleb
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 15:25

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