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Color Relationships

Color Relationships


In this lesson you will learn about color relationships and how to define and recognize color interactions.

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Source: Image of Farbkreis Itten, Public Domain Image of De Melkmeid, Public Domain Image of La Danse, Public Domain Image of Blue Green Music, Public Domain Image of Josef Albers, Creative Commons http://www.fotopedia.com/items/flickr-3928424999 Image of Josef Albers Squares, Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/veritatem/7882160448/ Image of Square Optical Illusion, Creative Commons Image of Square Optical Illusion Same Color, Creative Commons Image of Square Optical Illusion Breakdown, Creative Commons

Video Transcription

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Hi everyone. My name is Mario. And I'd like to welcome you to today's lesson on color relationships. So for today's lesson, we're going to cover color relationships and how to define and recognize the color interactions. So as always, feel free to pause, fast forward, and rewind at your own pace. And when you're ready to go, let's get this lesson started.

OK. Another colorful lesson for us today. So we are learning about color relationships. And this is going to be important for recognizing harmonious color schemes.

Colors that work well together harmonize, so this is going to aid in our designs. And visual communicators seldom work solely on monochromatic color schemes, like this one here. And oftentimes, they'll select groups of colors to satisfy project or client goals. So this is really going to hopefully inspire in addition to give you a sense of color relationships and interaction with one another.

So let's jump into complementary colors. Complementary colors are two hues which sit directly opposite each other on the color wheel. So if you were to draw a straight line from one color to another color on the opposite side of the wheel, you'd get that color's complement. So yellow and that kind of violet-purple color, and if we continue, then you get that kind of yellow-orange and blue, and then yellow-orange or oranger and blue, and so on.

And here are some paintings that use complements. So complements in practice. Here this is a painting by Johannes Vermeer, entitled "The Milkmaid." So again, here the compliments would be orange and blue.

Split complementary colors is a combination of three colors consisting of a main hue and the two hues that sit on the other side of its complement on the color wheel. So if we draw a line again that forks two ways this time, kind of like the Mercedes logo, then we get split complimentary colors. So like this yellow, violet, magenta, or orange, green, blue, and that purple, yellow, and lime green color.

So let's jump to an example of split complementaries. And this is a painting by Matisse called "The Dance." So you can see the three colors being used here.

So hues which are next to each other on the color wheel are called analogous colors. And analogous colors on one side of the color wheel are considered warm, so all this would be considered warm. And the opposite side would be considered cool colors. So warm colors, cool colors. Warm analogous, cold analogous.

So these three colors here, lime green, yellow, and yellow-orange would be considered analogous. And if we move down, then we have that orange, red, and magenta. And we continue with our violet-blue and lighter blue there.

Let's take a look at analogous color schemes in paintings. And this is a beautiful painting by Georgia O'Keeffe. This is called "Blue and Music." And really take a look at her use of analogous cool colors here. It's really quite beautiful.

So colors placed next to each other often interact in surprising ways. And actually a man by the name of Josef Albers wrote one of the most important books on perception and the study of color theory. So Josef Albers was an American artist, teacher, and author of The Interaction of Color. And Josef Albers was actually a student at the quite prestigious Bauhaus in 1920, and a student of Johannes Itten, who developed the color wheel that we've been using.

So Josef Albers was a very accomplished artist. And he's best remembered as an abstract painter and theorist. And he was really fascinated by the effects of color and their interaction.

And he did a lot of pieces like this one here. And it seems rather simple. It's just a bunch of squares. But it played again with the notion that colors interact with one another in interesting ways, like simultaneous contrast. And simultaneous contrast is the effect that two neighboring colors have on one another. And this effect is contained in one of Albers' laws of interaction.

So this is a pretty basic example of that idea. And you can see there's a darker square on the left, with a gray square enclosed. And on the right, there's a lighter square and another gray square enclosed within it. So if I asked you which gray square was lighter, which would you choose?

And I think a fair number of people would say, oh well, I thought it over. And I think that it's lighter on the darker side. And the reality is that they are both the same color and value. But the contrast between the light gray and the dark gray and the light gray and again the same gray gives you this perception of contrast and value. So again, it's those combinations of colors that create such an interesting interaction that Josef Albers really tried to drive home, you know, the reactions that you have to color when placed together.

And I want to give you a final example of color interaction here. And this is a checkerboard with a green cylinder. And there are two squares that are labeled A and B. So again, same question. Which one is darker? Is it A or B?

And if you said A, you were close. If you said B, you're really close. In fact again, they're actually both the same value. And the values are interacting in such a way that your eyes perceive different contrasts, different values, and completely change the image really.

So if we were to draw an extra line here between the A and the B checker, it really changes your perception of color and value in this image altogether again. And you can see here, kind of a quick deconstruction of the image. And really amazing stuff, absolutely fascinating what can be achieved by color, color choices, and color placement in design.

Well, everyone, that ends our lesson for today. Let's conclude with our key terms. Complementary colors, split complementary colors, analogous color, simultaneous contrast, and Josef Albers. So I hope you've enjoyed this look into color relationships with me today. My name is Mario and I will see you next lesson.

Terms to Know
  • Analogous Color

    Hues which are next to each other on the color wheel; analogous colors on one side of the color wheel are considered warm and on the other, cool.

  • Complementary Colors

    Two hues which sit directly opposite each other on the color wheel.

  • Josef Albers

    American artist, teacher and author of the "Interaction of Color"; he wrote one of the most important books on perception and the study of color theory.

  • Simultaneous Contrast

    The effect two neighboring colors have on one another; this effect is contained in one of Albers' laws of interaction.

  • Split Complementary Colors

    A combination of three colors, consisting of a main hue and the two hues that sit on either side of its complement on the color wheel.