Setting the scene

Last week I shared an uninvited look into a little bit of my process. I thought I'd share another now, this time looking into how I play with colour on my landscapes. Here's my drawing of Newhaven Harbour.

My landscapes take around 8-12 hours to draw. Natural shapes such as sky and sea take less time than buildings. (For example, this view of the three bridges over the Firth of Forth took forever because of the underside of the road bridge, which I thought I might never finish.)

Once the primary drawing is completed, using colours based on the original image, I then spend around another two hours testing other colour palettes on the drawing. Using Adobe Illustrator, they're applied like so.

Eventually, I'll end up with a selection of roughs that I will whittle down to the final chosen few.

These colour palettes come from many places. For the published examples I used on my Newhaven drawing, they are both by chance taken from vintage railway posters. The first one is taken from this art deco delight.

With some fiddling about on Adobe's online colour palette generator, I created this selection. (I make these colour palettes whenever inspiration hits and have them to hand for when I need them.)

So my Newhaven Harbour drawing, when recoloured with my 'LMS Morecambe' palette, becomes this. I really like the intense turquoise contrasting with the subtle orange hits in the harbour, and all grounded with the warm grey band. 

The next version comes from this LNER poster. (Read about Bennie's mad scheme here

For this colour palette, however, I wanted to concentrate on the warmer tones, rather than those greens. It's a little less representative of the poster, however it fitted a space in my palette collection.

(Aside here. Using Adobe Color defaults, these other options were available.)

When I applied my custom 'LNER George Bennie' palette to the original this is what I created. The original, a cloudy near-sunset image becomes a warm and sunny seeming day.

…and that's a quick look through how I work with colours on my landscapes. It's one of the most enjoyable parts of the process, particularly seeing how different palettes can vastly change the feeling of a scene, as above.

I hope you've found this meander through a bit of my process interesting. Thanks for reading!

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Thanks for letting me know, Ken. It’s good to know and I hope to do more of these. (And the Bennie story is pretty wild!)


Stewart. I love these explanatory posts, particularly the sourcing of your colours. (And the Bennie story!)

Ken Hare

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