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Steampunk Fashion: Use of Color Theory and Metals by Windthin Steampunk Fashion: Use of Color Theory and Metals by Windthin

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I've been studying color theory and how I can make use of it in the designing of clothing, jewelry, and various accessories with a Steampunk bent (and in general). These are my observations.

This article is free for download and re-distribution, though if re-published I prefer that I am contacted and referenced. Thank you, and I hope I've helped others in their art!

UPDATE: By the by, I found this as a beautiful reference. The site displays antique arms and armor, with this page being for swords. It displays the vast array of colors you can see in metals due to different curing methods. There are some really great examples of bluing here, for instance, as well as some browned pieces: www.ambroseantiques.com/swords…

UPDATE: Since so many have enjoyed the graphic I created for this tutorial, I offer it in links below its own, in PNG and JPEG format.

Victorian Color Wheel (PNG) by Windthin Victorian Color Wheel (JPEG) by Windthin
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:iconmercury-dreams:
I highly approve of this article on the steampunk aesthetic and the need to still apply colour rules while operating within the genre. In addition to this, the article also highlights important background knowledge needed to perfect the tiny details and intricacies that all crafters need in their works.

The diagram provided says it all and (though I personally disagree with citron as a steampunk colour) provides a wonderful example of the colours that suited both the Victorian and Edwardian eras.

This article would, and should, be used as an excellent resource for steampunk costumers, illustrators, painters, artesians, writers, or indeed anyone interested in the genre.
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Edited Oct 2, 2014  Professional General Artist
Wow, reached 700 favorites!  Thank you, all!
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:iconalphabetsoup314:
alphabetsoup314 Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm not really into steampunk, but I found the art history aspect quite fascinating. I like that it was well-grounded in real life events, trends, and processes. It gives you more to think about beyond 'To make something steampunkish, add some cogs and stuff to Victorianesque outfits!' 
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Jan 17, 2014  Professional General Artist
Thank you.  I figure that the art history part is something that you can take into many projects, really.  I first got onto the Victorian color wheel through a book (referenced in my article) about Victorian-era decorating I was reading for something I was writing.  And I definitely believe there is more to Steampunk than slapping a few gears and clockwork bits onto something.  I try to make my own aesthetic.
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:icondallelleslaul:
DallellesLaul Featured By Owner May 26, 2013
I love the image in this thumbnail...
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Nov 9, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thanks.  I made the design myself.  It's based directly off of the old color wheels, albeit with a bit more flare.
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:iconworldcreator:
Worldcreator Featured By Owner Mar 23, 2013
Thanks for the article. I'm prepping to write a steam punk story and are at the research stage. This helps a lot. Thanks again.
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2013  Professional General Artist
Glad it can help! I wish you the best with your project!
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:iconphotopathica:
Photopathica Featured By Owner Jan 14, 2013   General Artist
Hi!
We have chosen your work for our Featured Folder for January!
This piece has been featured here: [link]

On behalf of:
:icondeviantsgallery:
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2013  Professional General Artist
Thank you, both for the heads up and this honor!
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:iconlopezj392:
lopezj392 Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you! this is very useful for future reference
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thanks! I did this as much for myself as to share, and hope you can make use of it!
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:iconlopezj392:
lopezj392 Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I will! thanks XD
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:iconmscheveous:
Mscheveous Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012
This is just plain awesome - thank you so much!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
Most welcome! Glad you like it!
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:iconmegpie252:
megpie252 Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Student General Artist
I LOVE THIS.
Seriously, the thing with the metals is very comprehensive, and I'm happy you pointed out that Victorian fashion wasn't really all boring neutral colors. :)


Meanwhile on the subject of hats, I myself am accustomed to wearing a tricorne to indicate myself as a sailor... Or, you know, airship sailor :)
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Professional General Artist
Oh yes. We have this image of Victorian fashion as having been so dull and colorless, but this wasn't at all the case, and in fact the Victorian period saw a a time when color became MORE available to everybody. Reading up on design and the sorts of colors they painted home interiors, toward the beginning of the Victorian era they were pretty limited, but as time went on and so many innovations came about this really changed. As early as the 1870s they were really getting all sorts of new possibilities, and things weren't exactly black and white before that, merely more limited.

You know, a tricorn is one I do not have yet, but would love to get for my collection. I do have a number of unusual hats, including a beret that can only be described as nautical. Fun thing: the tricorn was once the hat of choice for civilized men, and when it fell out of vogue in 1800 it's the top hat that took its place, so there are fun possibilities there for characterization; do you have a character who is behind the times, or perhaps has been away somewhere a very long time, or is wearing his father's or grandfather's old hat? So on!
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:iconmegpie252:
megpie252 Featured By Owner Dec 20, 2012  Student General Artist
Very true. :)
I wonder if the idea comes from Queen Victoria's own mourning. After all she only wore black for most of her life, and certainly people picked up on it. I think it's a major reason why we think black is elegant today.
But floral patterns became really popular around then too, and those colorful by definition.

Oh a beret sounds very interesting! :)
I suppose my character does do quite a lot of travel and she does come from a family of fishermen, but mainly I just think a tricorne is so practical. It's basically the hands-free, hat version of an umbrella, and it's so easy to personalize.
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 21, 2012  Professional General Artist
And very unique. I have over 70 hats myself in all sorts of shapes and sizes, and have modified many (and am in the processes of doing so for many more of them), so I understand entirely!
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:iconoh-nuggins:
Oh-Nuggins Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Banana banana banana terra cotta
Banana terra cotta
Terra cotta pie
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Cottleston Pie!
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:iconducadinsubria:
Ducadinsubria Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Might be useful, thanks
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Hope so! Enjoy!
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:iconkristinaelyse:
kristinaelyse Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for creating this. It's really helpful!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Most welcome! Glad you enjoy it!
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:iconfallenavalon:
FallenAvalon Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks. This'll be helpful for my comic.
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Be fascinated to see what you make! Please let me know when you have it out!
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:iconbagasuit091:
bagasuit091 Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wonderful!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you!
Reply
:icongeocaecias:
GeoCaecias Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist
This has been a really interesting read! Thanks for sharing your research & color conclusions with us. :) Right now, I'm writing a steampunk one-shot comic. I may not color it, but if I do, this will be tremendously useful. :D
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
I hope to see what you create either way, and am glad I can help! I did this as much for myself as for others, as it's really helped me to see my own work in a new light.
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:iconmiserybahamut:
miserybahamut Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Oh my goodness. What an interesting read. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and research!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
It was a real learning experience for me, believe me. While it was difficult to find much directly on the subject at the library and online, what I did find allowed me to pull it all together for folks here. I hope it helps!
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:iconmiserybahamut:
miserybahamut Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Well, thank you SO much for sharing what you have learned with others. You rock!
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:iconcanveysue:
CanveySue Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Photographer
My daughter supplies steampunk jewellery, I like this, very informative!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Believe it or not, it was for me as well. I went through a lot of books and sites and learned a lot in the writing of this, not just about color theory but about all of the innovations and methods of the period. Thank you, and I hope it proves useful!
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:iconbattlebrothertherix:
battlebrothertherix Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Me and a friend of mine are planning a Steampunk literature collab, so this might come in handy.
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
Go for it! Sounds like the two of you will have a lot of fun there!
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:iconbattlebrothertherix:
battlebrothertherix Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Yea, it's a fun genre to write.
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:iconjmshearer:
JMShearer Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
It's going to take me awhile to read this, but it looks interesting.
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012  Professional General Artist
It's not as long as it looks. ::chuckles:: But I hope you find it helpful!
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:iconjmshearer:
JMShearer Featured By Owner Dec 17, 2012
Perhaps not, but it is a little late now, and I should probably get to bed soon. But I'm sure it will come in handy once I have a look at it with a fresh, well-rested head. I've got a few projects coming up where knowing a thing or two about Steampunk might be a good thing.
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:iconlevitating-narwhal:
Levitating-Narwhal Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Student General Artist
Slow down, spin around, Steampunk FASHION! Don't get up or your face'll get BASHED IN!....
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:iconsilverscythes:
Silverscythes Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
What a wonderful resource! Thank you!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Professional General Artist
Most welcome! I hope you find it useful and am glad you enjoy it!
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:iconhippiecheese777:
Hippiecheese777 Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
alot to read at once when you are just expecting a color wheel 0.0 i'll have to download it and read it later definatly though. it may allow me to do something fancy when making swords or knives!
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:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Professional General Artist
Hopefully so! I can tell you that in writing this I learned a lot myself, and now am looking forward to putting a lot of these tricks to use!
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:iconmickbarber:
MickBarber Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Professional Photographer
Well written. Will surely make use of it. Color wheel is great! Thanks
Reply
:iconwindthin:
Windthin Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012  Professional General Artist
Thank you. I've been working on this for a good little while now, and really learned quite a lot myself in the process through my studies!
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