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4 Tutorials that teach Color Relationships
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Color Relationships

Color Relationships

Description:

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

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Tutorial

What's Covered

Color relationships are important for recognizing harmonious color schemes. Colors that work well together aid in your designs.  Visual communicators seldom select monochromatic color schemes.  Oftentimes, they select groups of color to satisfy project or client goals.  This tutorial will cover: :

  1. Complementary Colors
  2. Split Complementary Colors
  3. Analogous Colors
  4. Josef Albers

1. Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are two hues which sit directly opposite each other on the color wheel.

Term to Know

    • Complementary Colors
    • 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.


Yellow and purple are complementary colors:


This light orange and blue are complementary colors:

Below is a painting by Johannes Vermeer, entitled "The Milkmaid."



2. Split Complementary Colors

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.

Term to Know

    • 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.

So if you draw a line that forks two ways, then you get split complementary colors. 



Below is a painting example by Matisse called "The Dance."  The three colors used are quite obvious since there are only three colors in the painting.




3. Analogous Colors

Analogous colors on one side of the color wheel are considered warm and the opposite side are considered cool colors.



Term 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.

Take a look at analogous color schemes in this beautiful painting by Georgia O'Keeffe called "Blue and Green Music."

Look at her use of analogous cool colors here; it's really quite beautiful. Colors placed next to each other often interact in surprising ways.


4. Josef Albers

A man by the name of Josef Albers wrote one of the most important books on perception and the study of color theory.

Term to Know

    • 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.

Josef Albers was an American artist, teacher, and author of The Interaction of Color. Josef Albers was actually a student at the quite prestigious Bauhaus in 1920, and a student of Johannes Itten, who developed the commonly used color wheel. Josef Albers was a very accomplished artist and he's best remembered as an abstract painter and theorist. He was really fascinated by the effects of color and their interaction and he did a lot of pieces that seemed rather simple but played with the notion that colors interact with one another in interesting ways, like simultaneous contrast.

Simultaneous contrast is the effect that two neighboring colors have on one another.

Term to Know

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

This effect is contained in one of Albers' laws of interaction. Below is a pretty basic example of that idea.  You can see in the top image, there's a darker square on the left, with a gray square enclosed. On the right, there's a lighter square and another gray square enclosed within it.


Think About It

QUESTION:  Which gray square is lighter?


ANSWER: A fair number of people would say the one on the left. 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.



Think About It


QUESTION:  Which checkerboard is lighter - A or B? 

ANSWER: 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.


If you were to draw an extra line between the A and the B checker, it really changes your perception of color and value in this image altogether again.






Summary

This tutorial focused on how to use the color wheel to identify complementary colors, split complementary, analogous colors. Complementary colors are opposite each other and analogous colors appear as three in a row on the wheel.  Josef Albers is responsible for the idea of how neighboring colors can impact perception, called simultaneous contrast.  

Keep up the learning and have a great day!

Source: SOURCE: THIS WORK IS ADAPTED FROM SOPHIA AUTHOR MARIO E. HERNANDEZ

TERMS TO KNOW
  • Complementary Colors

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

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Simultaneous Contrast

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

  • 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.