Color Contrast of the Color Wheel

 

Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application

 

Lesson Info

Color Contrast of the Color Wheel

With the color grids, you're exploring contrast of light and dark, warm and cool and vivid and dull initially, and what we're going to be doing is assigning each of you and people at home to khun choose perhaps what they want to focus on. Uh, but one of you will be, or several of you will be working on light and dark and warm and cool on dividend dull, and we're just gonna be talking about those initially, and then we'll get into these other things. Uh, perhaps later, um, will be working with cut paper, as you can see here on the table as well as christine is actually going to do some work on the computer. So for those of you who would prefer to work on the computer, you can certainly do that. The cut paper is the traditional way of doing these assignments, and we have these handy little square punchers, which automate the process somewhat. Um, so we'll just kind of get started. So initially, when we're talking about these colored grids, this's, kind of what they look like on dh, we're...

not using any glue today, you don't necessarily have to use glue, and, in fact, what I recommend for my students is to keep the squares the color squares relatively loose until you're actually ready to glue them down, but in the process, you might take photographs, so if you come up with a composition of colors and arrangement that you like, take a quick photograph with your phone with a camera and then you'll have a record of it, and then you can rearrange and come back to it later. But this is kind of how it looks and sometimes it's probably very, very faint, but sometimes I'll draw a grid very lightly on a board, so I have a sense of where to put the squares. You guys who are working with the cut paper will just be working loosely with a grid, and you'll do your best to kind of keep him in order and will take a few pictures, maybe along the way and see if we can protect some of this stuff. By the way, this is just a contrasts of hue. So the primary colors red, yellow, blue and that's, a good place to start, if if you want to sort of experiment loosely with lots of different colors, contrasts of hugh is all about that contrast of light and dark. Uh, one of you may be two of you will be working on this particular contrast, so when we say contrast of light and dark, it could be one hugh. In this case, yellow andi, we have light variants of that yellow and dark variance of that yellow and you're trying to make the composition and the composition can be very strategic in other words, a very programed, very structural kind of a composition, perhaps a great asian or some kind of a symmetrical composition, or it could be very loose like this more asymmetrical. And here we actually see something where there's what I call a visual hierarchy and value system and ordering to the information that's there. So we have a very light grid square that kind of attracts our attention, and then we have other squares that are very insulated dark that move our eye through the composition. This idea visual hierarchy is really important to us as designers because for designing of communication materials say on ad on infographic you want teo determine where the viewer's eye is going to go first, where second, where third and you can do this with value you could do with light and dark. You do it with warm and cool. You can do vivid and dull it's, a way of getting the viewer's eye to move through the composition in a very predetermined way. Sometimes it works better than others if you think about this, say in advertising, how in a typical advertising like a page advertisement, whether it's on a screen or printed the viewer's eye goes to one thing first say an image and then maybe two a headline sex and then maybe to a body of copy some text third and then maybe finally to a local fourth so those elements are arranged in a way to lead the viewer's eye through the composition and that's the way we create order we think about how we read we started at the typically we started the upper left hand corner of a page and we move our way down to the lower right corner so they're the hierarchy is part of the syntax of our reading we understand that we're all accustomed to that way but in thinking about art and design it's different the most important thing to be at the bottom of the page and we can use visual hierarchy to move the viewer's eye to the bottom. So here when I look at this I tend to look here first is because it's so different now one squares very white or gray and then I start to move around the composition from their contrast of light and dark, warm and cool there we have arranged from magenta that color to a yellow so we're moving from something that would be considered a cooler variant of red to a warm color like yellow passing through orange is on the way this is a really fun one because you can work with one hugh we can work with two hughes are you gonna work with many, many hues of colors, warm and cool colors together? You saw some examples earlier of this again thinking about visual hierarchy. How do you use these colors to move the viewer's eye through the composition and a very programmed away vivan and dull? Of course, we have graze there and again, thinking about colors that are very pure that are very identifiable yellow, red, green, blue, purple and then other colors that are less identifiable that might have some kind of a chromatic presence, meaning that we can see a little bit of color in it. If I look at this square here, it looks warm to me, so I know that there's a little bit of orange, a little bit of red in that grave, and we've heard of that is a chromatic gray. Other greys are more neutral. They don't have as much of that sense of color in it, but the gray's, because of that absence of the identity of a color, can be thought of his dog again. Vivid and dull can be done with one hugh or many hues, and you'll have that choice complementary colors will get to this later. Initially, again, we're going to be working with light and dark, uh, warm and cool and vivid and dull. Complementary colors there I think you're going to be working on that on the computer because that's really that's r r means for mixing colors and with compliments like this you really have to think about the mixtures so what happens when you mix green and red together uh that's something we really don't know until we're working with paint or in this case working on the computer and you might be able to employ a little opacity in order to create those effects but all of these colors in this grid are created with red and green that's it all the colors are variants of red and green so mixture colors so we can create a gray a neutral color by mixing two compliments together this is one of the keys of color mixing in order to get this color it's a mixture of those two um compliments and every complimentary set purple and yellow balloon orange red and green have their own neutral mixture colors that are a little bit different from each other in theory all compliments will mix to a perfect kind of gray but it's only theory it's very very difficult pigments are so different from each other what color is very different from oil from very different from gua sh or acrylic the computer is going to mix colors very differently but we're always going to be trying to get to this point where the centre what I call the center of the compliments where that middle color is unidentifiable oh it has lost its its connection to its parents basically so we look at that and we can't say that's red or green it's somewhere in between and finally proportion now this is ah it's a interesting thing is actually based on a theory that garrity came up with back in the nineteenth century and it has to do with the light value of a color so yellow is a very light color it's high on late value scale purple is very low on the late value scale orange is close to yellow in its brightness so it's also very high but not as high as yellow blue is very low on the late value scale so it's not his lowest purple but it's low and then red and green are actually equal in light value so by using those colors those color sets in different amounts and actually different proportions you can create a sense of balance so here when we look at this composition we have three yellow squares we have four orange squares um looks like one, two three four five six seven eight nine nine police squares and one, two, three, four five ten purple squares so you see the progression from yellow the fewest toe orange to blue and into purple and it gives us a sense of balance where no one color is so important or so dominating where the competition is just about that one color we looked at this and yellow has a lot of power the soda's orange and then the blue in the purple kind of work together to create a background that typically happens with contrast of light and dark to that's what's happening here now when you're working with these grids especially if you are working with multiple hughes ah lot of these contracts are going to be overlap right? And so even if you're working with light and dark there might be vivid and dull or there might be warm and cool but your focus is going to be on light and dark so that will be your assignment um we'll talk more about that as we get going I think that's it for these things. Okay, um got a question from side saying his tone different from light and dark tony is a great word it really describes any particular color uh a tent or shade it's not as, um accurate perhaps or as exacting as tense and shades but if you think about tones like it's almost a musical term right it's a term that we normally associate with a music note a sound a tone sometimes it's associated with uh say an emotion or a feeling but tones definitely can be applied to colors as well it's just not such an exacting term I prefer tense and shades yeah, but we could say a warm tone or a cool tone s r s rv dog is also asking line that's saying how do you define the properties of the character of the tenants and shades of a particular hugh particularly think they must work in graphic design they're asking about logo is it possible to define them? Yes, we could so you could say a tent can be warming cool it can be vivid or dull shade can be warmer cool it can also be vivir dull but a shade is always going to be dark and a tent is always going to be light thank you. Okay so the first thing all show and I think I should probably stand up for this maybe sit down so this is johanna cities book to the big version of his book the art of color it's beat up because I take it to class with me every day and on my bike and tends to get kind of wrecked in the process there's his color grid, color wheel and it's what I showed you earlier in the animated version the primary's here the secondaries here and then all of the colors here including the tertiary is which are the in between colors as we move around so this is his invention and as we look at this we can see light colors and dark colors you can see warm colors and cool colors we don't really get a sense of dull or vivid and dull from this so that's a little bit different now as we progress through the book he's going to show us examples of these things so here we have this wonderful color grid and it shows us ranges of light and dark of each of the twelve colors of the color wheel so we can see how we have dark purple and light purple, a shave and a tent. Now we can talk about saturation here so less saturated, more saturated what's interesting about this is that you can probably see that um the most pure versions of these colors are different points on the scales so the purest version of the yellow is right here. The purest version of the purple is down here so blue as we move up right there is the purest version of the green the yellow green tea, the yellow and then back down now this is an interesting point, so yellow has very few tents but many shades purple has lots of tents but very few shades so colors are they have their own properties and each each color each you has these ranges that have very specific ideas related to tense and shades and it has to do with their life values so yellow very few tints lots of shades down here purple lots and lots of tense, very few shades kind of interesting to think about colors that way, but it's, what defines light and dark? This is a great example here's itn's display of the complimentary contrast, which is what you're going to be working with a great example of the mixtures of red and green. So we see all of these different variants of the mixtures, you know who would know that this is what you get when you mix you green and red together, or even that but over here he shows us, he has the primaries so red and blue and yellow and the secondaries purple and orange and green, and he shows us the mixture, so if you mix the two compliments red and green together, you end up with a gray or neutral in the middle, same thing with the orange and blue same thing with the yellow and purple, and that mixture color in the center is a cz neutral as you can get, but in reality, and I think you'll find this when you're on the computer and illustrator that these center colors are going to change dramatically based on their parents, so a different yellow is going to create a very different kind of centre color based on it's purple to sew these two colors out here are all going to determine what happens in the center but this is something we're only going to get to through mixing now we might be able to get some successful results through this but it's kind of hard to guess could literally if you try to say oh what is the mixture of red and green without really mixing it physically with paint or on the computer it's hard to imagine that that or that means some people are able to do that it's very, very difficult though otherwise it's not nice example though yeah person it was this like years and years of study that he perfected this book I think was published in the early sixties and he started teaching this in like nineteen nineteen so yeah yeah it's years and by the way didn't teach you the bajos larry long you think about the bauhaus is this thing but it was really only around for about ten years and he was only there for about three years but he initiated the full foundation course and the color course and that was later top of the people paul klee kandinsky and they kind of took over and have their own ways of teaching color saturation vivid and dull so we see these beautiful vivid colors in the centre and as we progress out to the outside dulling the color down to the very corners where it's gray and then over here vivid colors with variance of darker and also less colorful so is we take the colors out does it become less pure diminishing their values they become uh uh dole out here I think that's it what we're gonna look at here and one of the thing I want to show you before we kind of move into the actual hands on is this wonderful thing and the color star and I actually have to take this out of the box but this is again this is an invention of johanna sitton and it's an extension of his color wheel I use this all the time for creating color palettes it's really very beautiful so the color star has all twelve colors of the color wheel arranged here and then as we moved to the inside we have tense and to the outside we have shades and he gives us the wheel here and he gives us he's wonderful little templates weeks and put over the top all right and so we immediately see these complimentary mixtures who even refers to this is a diabetic color two parts and actually calls them color courts just like in music so if you play three or two notes on a piano or two notes on a guitar and they sound good together we can think of that as a cord as a harmonic cord same thing is true for colors and we see them this way so if we spin this and by the way you can look at it with weight or black backgrounds. It's kind of nice to see, so you can start to see the variant, various color combinations and these are all complimentary mixtures. So this will be up here on the table for you guys to take a look at. And perhaps I might give you some ideas about your own grids as you're working with him here's the tri attic cord and we'll start with the primary colors really beautiful. So it's, a three part color court, secondary colors tertiary sze, my favorite, the split complimentary. So this put complimentary literally is like a complimentary purple will be right here, so we have yellow and purple would be here. So this is blue, violet and red violet. You see, red is right here and purples right there. So it's, a really interesting way of thinking about colors and putting together colors in a certain way. If we move forward a four part toward a quadratic cord and just for getting ideas about color relationships very beautiful. So these are all very harmonious colored relationships and color sets continue going through.

Class Description


Our response to color comes from the place in our brain where trust, loyalty, behavior, and decision occur – every successful project relies on a designer making smart choices about color.

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application, Richard Mehl will give you a foundational understanding of color theory principles and demonstrate how to apply them. Richard has studied alongside design legends, Paul Rand, Bradbury Thompson and Herbert Matter and in this class he’ll share insights gleaned from 12 years of teaching and writing about color in design.

Richard takes an accessible approach to the serious study of color theory for designers. You’ll be exposed to a relevant series of ideas and skills by exploring a range of analog and digital projects. Richard will discuss:

  • Color terminology and meaning
  • How to view color in context
  • Contrast grids and color illusion
  • Tips for creating harmonious color palettes

In Color for Designers: Exploration, Theory, & Application you’ll develop a new awareness and sensitivity to color that will bolster your confidence in your personal and professional design work.

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