Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Colour Theory Continued

Colour and Contrast

In the last session we learned that the colour wheel shows the relationships between colour. We also learned that colour is perceived and not exact and that our eyes fool our brain, as we only see red, green and blue.

 Itten’s 7 Contrasts

§  Contrast of TONE*
§  Contrast of HUE*
§  Contrast of SATURATION*
§  Contrast of EXTENSION
§  Contrast of TEMPERATURE
§  SIMULTANEOUS contrast

*core contrasts

All of the contrasts can happen at the same time, to a lesser or greater extent.

How we perceive what colours work best is based on our skill as a designer to select the right colour.

Contrast of TONE

This is the juxtaposition of light and dark values.
-       Can be monochromatic, shown in the images below.

 Tonal range
-       Monochrome colour values
-       Highest contrast is between black and white.

 The tone can effect the readability and legibility.

 Less tonal contrasts are much harder to read.

Tone and Colour

-       Higher contrast is easier to see
-       The red throws the blue forward
-       Creates vivid and vibrant contrast
-       Blue lifts off of the red

Contrast of HUE

This is the juxtaposition of different hues.
The greater the distance between hues on the colour wheel, the greater the contrast.

Contrast of HUE and TONE can work together.

The background has an impact on the colour. When the background is removed it provides the highest contrast possible.
The background also affects the legibility – less contrast, less readable.

Contrast of SATURATION

This is the juxtaposition of light and dark values within a situation.

   Slides show how the situation affects the colours we see.

 Contrast of EXTENSION

This is assigning proportional field sizes in relation to the visual weight of a colour. This is also known as the ‘contrast of proportion’.

A certain proportion of one colour will balance an amount of another colour.

If the proportions are wrong it is not as comfortable to look at.

 The yellow stripe on its own stands out more than the other equally placed stripes.


This is the juxtaposition of hues that can be considered ‘warm’ and ‘hot’. Also known as the contrast of warm and cool.

Blue                -           cool
Orange         -           hot

Where the colours meet, our perception changes. Optically one colour changes how we see another, creating hradients.


By juxtaposing the complimentaries, it creates the greatest contrast.

Black and white

Red and green

The complimentaries deal with all perceivable colours, reacting with each other, creating a colour discord.
-       All different chromatic values are competing.


§  This is a complex contrast that is always happening
§  This means we cannot trust what we are seeing
§  There is not a fixed constant

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