Adobe Colour Lava for iPad brings true colour mixing one step closer for Photoshop users. Lava enables you to mix colours on your iPad, create swatches and transfer them to Photoshop 5.5.

One of the biggest hurdles to working digitally with colour has been the fixed nature of colour pickers and the inability to mix colours outside the pickers capability. So if for example, I wanted a blue grey with a little yellow mixed to the grey before mixing with the blue, in a standard colour picker I would only be able to choose between a range of blue or green tints/shades, which would not be able to offer me optically what I can get by mixing the colours as you would if you were mixing paint.

I use Corel Painter and find that the ‘mixing’ algorithm in Lava is pretty good. Colours mix quite organically and the resolution of the iPad screen enables you to literally anticipate the blend as you would in real life.

What would be good to see is the provision for working with warm and cool colour palettes. This would allow you to not have to rely on transparency and detail falloff alone to place things in the pictorial space.

In the classroom

Here’s a great way to teach students how to mix colour without all the associated prior organization, mess and clean up. Of course this will only work if you have a class set or even half a class set of iPads.

One of the things that constantly surprises me is that in a senior environment it’s not uncommon to encounter over half a class of students who don’t know colour mixing basics.

Teaching students basic colour mixing (and this could start, in primary school, as early as 2nd or 3rd grade) could be as simple as demonstrating how to mix shades (adding black to colour) and tints (adding colour to white) of colours or tones, (mixing  grey or the complement to either lighten or darken the value) and getting students to create swatches demonstrating a range of shades, tones and tints across primary and secondary colours would be a good place to start. Of course digitally, it won’t matter if you add colour to white or black, or black or white to colour, whereas when mixing paint it would be best advised to stick with the conventions (add colour to white, add black to colour) unless you are prepared to waste a lot of material.

to be continued.

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