Color checker on small details

I am okay with using the color checker on bigger areas of color, but the smaller details I have a hard time with.  Any advice?


  • Are you working from a photo or life? If it's from a photo you could always get an enlarged version made just for these cases.

    For very small details I think it's more important to get the values right than the hue, which is easier to judge anyway :)
  • Years ago while studying with Daniel Greene, a portrait artist, he said that when something comes along where he is uncertain of the color, he uses a "place holder" made from black and white . . .  a gray of the correct value for that space.  Several things happen simultaneously . . . you will instantly notice whether it "looks right," that is whether it's too cool or whether it "fits."  If it's too cool, then you know you're going to have to find a warmer color/value for that small space.  If it looks okay, then you know that space is cool, and you job becomes finding the correct cool color.  Once you determine the direction you need to take, it's a simple matter to mix what you need and cover the gray spot.
  • Thanks for the advice.  I have not painted in 20 years, and since then my eyesight is not as good.  I have noticed that my ability to distinguish differences is not as good any longer.  Getting older is no fun.
  • dencaldencal -
    edited February 2017

    Youth is wasted on the young. Don't sweat the small stuff. Paint big canvases from big photos.
    Get your eyes tested, check nutrition, visual acuity improves with color checker use.
    Get a set of headband magnifiers if you need to. Make sure your lighting is adequate.


  • edited February 2017
    @JeffAllen, is it possible that you need a larger eye piece to look through in your color checker? Is it possible for you to modify or make a new one somehow? Visual acuity often does improve with use. Are you getting glare in your color checker, because you can slightly tilt the checker in a way to avoid the glare, yet can still be a challenge to work through, takes some getting used to. Maybe need to re-learn to trust your eye once again and your intuition, this takes time, no rush, get comfortable.
  • @Forgiveness:  Actually I think you are on the right track.  I might make a second checker that has a smaller aperture for smaller areas.
  • Lighting is everything. Too much can be worse than too little.
  • Well too much light can actually have an effect similar to over exposure.
  • I think most people would have some degree of difficulty ascertaining the colour of very small areas - especially if working from life. For example, there might be an area on a bottle or an apple with a particular value/colour that is so small you cannot isolate it in the viewer of the colour checker and can only see it with other values/colours around it. In such cases I'm not sure what the answer is - maybe a bit of black card with a pin hole in it would work. I do agree that one gets more adept with practice.
  • A small painter's spatula with a bit of color on it, bring it right up to the object (careful), and do the checking?
  • @Forgiveness:  Yep I think something like that will work.  thanks
  • I think if you get the value right the color isn't quite as important. Let us know if a color checker with a smaller aperture works for you.
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