Color Theory - the art and science of color interaction and effects. The artist uses color wavelenghts to create intended visual effects, is aware of safety and permanence of pigments/dyes, is aware of our brains reaction to color and light, and what color and light communicate to us psychologically.
Color Physics - Two major color systems. 1) Additive colors are the light (beam) primaries and the colors created by their mixtures. These colors include red, green, and blue or RGB. 2) Subtractive colors are pigment primaries or reflected light off a pigment. These colors include cyan blue, magenta red, and yellow. In mass production transparent primaries or process colors are used which include the above mentioned subtractive colors plus black or CMYK for added detail and contrast.
Color and Light - A prism bends white light creating the color spectrum of hues. Each color has a specific electromagnetic wavelength, red has the longest and violet has the shortest. Color wavelengths are either reflected or absorbed according to the color of the surface. Color reflection and absorption are not absolute. The dominant colors can have variations of other colors within them.
Additive Color - Influenced by intensity of light, the light source (fluorescent or incandescent), the surface quality as in textured or transparent, and the ambient or overall light.
Subtractive Color - Color overtones are secondary hues within primary colors (ex. alizarin crimson with violet overtones). Achromatic is black and white and has no hue.
Color Interaction - the way colors influence one another and us. We define color according to our emotional life experiences. Lighting effects how we perceive color by casting hints of other colors. Also, simultaneous contrast of color as in light/dark contrast, complementary colors next to each other, and the effect of how color changes when placed on different background colors. The Bezold effect is the change of a single color that changes the pattern. The opponent theory is when the brain can only see one complimentary color at a time and is exhausted by looking at one for a period of time and then looking at a white background causing the brain to see the opposed color or afterimage, as from red to green.
- Hue - Literal color or location in the color wheel. Primary colors are red, blue, yellow, secondary colors are green, orange, violet, and tertiary colors are a mix of the secondary color and the adjacent primary color. Temperature is the energy or heat a color generates physically and psychologically. Warm colors advance and cool colors recede. All hues can have a warm and cool range.
- Value - lightness/darkness. Tint is when white is added to a hue changing the value. Tone is when gray is added and the shade is when black is added.
- Saturation, Chroma, Intensity - purity or richness of color. The distance from neutral gray or how much gray is in the hue. The primaries are the most intense. They become less so when mixed with other colors. The value stays the same.
- Monochromatic - Variations of one color creates strong unity but can be boring because it lack variety.
- Analogous - Adjacent colors on the color wheel also creates strong unity because it creates more interest.
- Complementary - Opposite colors on the color wheel. They each play off the energy of the other.
- Split Complementary - Uses two colors on either side of a complementary color.
- Triadic - Triangulating colors on the color wheel. Used when variety and strong impact are necessary.
- Chromatic Grays - Mixes different hues instead of just black and white and creates a subtle effect.
- Earth Colors - Made from pigments found in the soil. Creates analogous harmony.
- Disharmony - Can be as effective as color harmony. Is used when subject matter is disturbing or an unusual impact is needed.
- Illusion of Space - Using warm and cool colors, space can expand or contract.
- Weight and Balance - Colors can give a composition visual weight and balance to increase the dramatic effect.
- Distribution and Proportion - Can harmonize incompatible colors.
- Emphasis - Color can emphasize important information or create a focal point.
- Color Keys - The dominant color that has a psychological and compositional impact. Use of a dominant color can be used to create intense emotion rather than duplicate reality.
- Symbolic Color - Colors have different symbolic meanings according to culture.
- Expressive Color - Color and value can create different moods from simplicity to the more dramatic.