IVC - Lesson 07
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  • 1. LESSON 7Brain Sees: Hue, Saturation TOPICS COVEREDHue, Saturation, Value, Movement OBJECTIVESBasic of visual elements….Hue , Saturation, Value. You will understand the grammar ofvisuals to explore the meaning and components of images.HUEWhen people talk about the color of something, they are usually referring to the hue of thatobject. All of the colors of the rainbow are actually different hues in the visible spectrum of light.The different wavelengths of light reflected off of an object are responsible for these differenthues.Most people are familiar with hue through our labeling of three hues as the “primary colors”:red, yellow, and blue. These three hues were chosen for rather arbitrary reasons, but theirsignificance is that with any three different hues (red, yellow, and blue work well), one cancreate any other color by mixing light of these three hues. Painters have these three hues as their“primary colors” because it is easy to get very saturated versions of these hues in paint, and withthem they can mix paints of other hues.
  • 2. Likewise, with three different hues of lights one can create thousands of hues by mixing them indifferent proportions.In terms of visual literacy, however, it is more relevant to group the different hues into twocategories: warm and cool. Basically, red, orange, yellow, and other similar hues are warm. Blueand its close cousins are seen as cool hues. By examining the balance of warm and cool, and thepresence of primary colors, we can get a good sense of what is going on in an image visually.Visually, hue does three things. It adds another dimension to images that once were black andwhite. It acts as a formal element in a composition that directs the viewer‟s attention. It alsocreates moods and feelings in an image that complement the message that the image givesformally.It was not long ago that our photographic images were in black and white. Black and whiteimages translate reality in a different way than color images. In black and white, all color istranslated into different values of gray. There is a greater sense of the abstract forms in a blackand white image than there is in a color image, which classifies things in terms of color, notshape and value. The presence and absence of color in an image can change the formal aspect ofthe image. When black and white images are juxtaposed with colored images, this seems tocreate two different realities. For example, it can shift time and location.
  • 3. The colors in an image play an active roll in determining how the other visual elements willinteract in that image. For example, in an image predominated by cool hues, a warm hue willdraw the attention of the viewer. Colors tend to recede and contract. Placing certain colors nextto each other can enhance dimension. Color adds another factor in how the image worksformally. From The Year of Living Dangerously(Australia, 1983), directed by Peter WeirLikewise, mood can be expressed through hue. Each hue is associated with different emotions.Red evokes feelings of strong emotion or anger. Most likely, this association is derived from thefeelings we get when we see blood. Blood red is the ultimate red. Blood red represents passion,
  • 4. anger, and pain; all very strong emotions. Therefore, in films, red is frequently used forprostitutes, and fast cars. Red suggests extravagance. Blue, on the other hand is cool and passive. these feelings are probably related to the blue oceanor sky. Therefore, blue is frequently used to stand for truth in blue uniforms and the Americanflag, for example.Yellow is cheerful, and warm, perhaps like the warm yellow sun. White‟s association withinnocence may have originated with the pureness of snow, for instance. The epitome ofinnocence in the media would be a girl in a white dress with light blond hair and a white lily.Black represents evil because it is associated with the darkness of the night. Therefore, black isworn by vampires, and burglars. These are a few examples, among many, that illustrate the wayin which the feelings associated with certain colors can affect the way these hues are used inmedia; non-verbal cues that send a message or enhance the mood of the picture or scene.
  • 5. SaturationTree Frog - Michael David WardSaturation, which is the amount of gray in a particular color. A color with more gray isconsidered less saturated, while a bright color, one with very little gray in it, is considered highlysaturated. The amount of saturation does not affect the basic hue of a color and it also isunrelated to the value (amount of light or darkness in a color.) For example, if we take away thecolors in an image, the tonal values will remain. However, taking away the colors themselveswill make the image completely unsaturated. A more saturated color is also called a more „pure‟color because it is undisturbed by gray.The four images at the top of this page are the same watercolor of a frog reproduced at differentsaturations. The image on the top left is fully saturated, and the one on the bottom right iscompletely unsaturated.JFK - from White House video, Clinton, Steve Liss, 1992 Oval Office -Susan Biddle, 1992
  • 6. More saturated colors are also considered more bold and tied to emotions, while unsaturatedones are softer and less striking. The producers of an image often have a choice of how saturatedthey want to make the colors in that image, and their decisions reflect their intentions.A black and white image (in reality, made up almost entirely of shades of gray) is an example oftotal unsaturation to the point where color is actually absent. Unsaturated black and white isoften used to represent the past while highly saturated colors are frequently used in depictions ofthe future. When Time magazine selected Bill Clinton as their 1992 Man of the Year theyfeatured photographs which juxtaposed images of the past in black and white, (A teenagedClinton shaking John Kennedy‟s hand, the Bush Oval Office) with images representing thefuture (A triumphant post-election Clinton shaking his fist; Clinton, the then president-to-be,walking into the Oval Office) which were highly saturated, right down to the color of their skin.Advertisers often use saturated colors in order to catch the passing attention of readers andviewers. Unsaturated colors and non colors (black, white and gray) are restful and sometimesdepressing, and we usually avoid those kinds of feelings. We focus more on saturated colorsbecause the more boldly-colored objects seem closer to us. In some advertisements, neutral andlively colored images are put together, creating a remarkable contrast. For example, thefollowing color picture illustrates a magazine article presenting eight models. They “come fromincredibly diverse backgrounds.” The saturated colors in this picture exaggerate this diversity ofcultures. If we lower the saturation of the image, we don‟t notice the contrast and the effectchanges dramatically.Mademoiselle advertisement, Troy Word 1994.The colors are not as affecting, and the contrast between the color of the models‟ skins is not asstriking.The saturation of a color can also affect our emotional reaction to an image. Colors that have lowsaturations are often seen as dull and boring, but can also be thought of as restful and peaceful.Highly saturated colors, on the other hand, are more vibrant and emotionally aggressive. Whenwe look at an image in which the colors are highly saturated, our attention is grabbed. Moviemakers use this aspect of saturation all the time in order to convey particular feelings. Forexample, notice the difference in saturations between the still from Howard‟s End and the stillfrom Do the Right Thing.
  • 7. Howard’s End directed by James Ivory, 1992The colors in Howard‟s End are much less saturated because the movie is much more tranquiland serene. Do the Right Thing , however, is an intense movie which expresses highly charged,extreme feelings. Therefore, the colors the director and cinematographer use are very saturatedand emotionally loaded.Saturation is an important component of color that affects us every day, often without ourrealizing it.VALUEThe visual element of value or tone is, in its simplest form, the juxtaposition of light and dark. Itis defined as the intensity of lightness or darkness in anything that is visible.Value, along with hue and saturation, make up the three components of color.In nature there are hundreds of different steps in value that are sometimes not easilydistinguished by the human eye. In the graphic arts and photography, however, there are farfewer steps because they are simply to subtle to perceive visually. Images derive a simulatednatural tone from pigment, paint, or nitrate of silver. Thirteen steps in value have been identified,which range from white to black. These steps are based on a tonal scale, which defines thevariations of shading.
  • 8. A work composed mainly of the lighter end of the scale is a “high key” work, for example, thelandscape works of Claude Monet. While “low key” works, such as those of Rembrandt, aremade up of the darker end of the value scale. “The Petit Bras of the Seine” Claude Monet. 1872. “The WomanTaken in Adultery” Rembrandt. 1644.The element of value is used to express emotions, form, space, and movement as well as to giveoff the illusion of light. Since the scale for value is so limited in two-dimensional images, it isimplied through several techniques. The juxtaposition of elements within a work determinesvalue. This is achieved by placing the lightest element next to the darkest. One way tocomprehend the importance of value is to count the shades in an image from lightest to darkest.Each color has its own tonal value; as pink is lighter than brown. An image is often described interms of its value and chroma. Chroma is defined by the other two elements of color: hue andsaturation. Value is independent of, and exists without, chroma. Both the element of value andthe elements of hue and saturation (chroma) create their own patterns. Often these value patternscross and camouflage chroma. A monochrome image depicts the importance of value in a work.This type of image is composed of different degrees of value for one color or a fewcomplementary colors.
  • 9. A full color image of “Reclining and Standing Nudes” by Picasso. 1942.The same image lacking chroma illustrates more precisely the different degrees of value.In real life, value is upset by texture because surfaces react to illumination. Since in nature thingsare obscured by shadows, artists developed techniques to show this notion. Sfumato is thetechnique of using graduated values to blur images and to make them ambiguous, as well as tosuggest movement.Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” demonstrates sfumato in the eyes and mouth. Specifically, the eye featuredhere depicts this notion by suggesting movement.Another technique that allows artists to manipulate the element of value is chiaroscuro. Thiscontrast technique exploits the difference between light and dark.
  • 10. Value is not, however, perceived in absolute terms. Instead, it is perceived in relative terms, inwhich degrees of value are influenced by their surrounding environments. Specifically, contrasteffects change the perceived values of an image or object by the juxtaposition of adjacent darkeror lighter tones. Value is one of the most fundamental visual elements, as without variations inlight intensity images and objects could not be perceived by the human eye.The Basics of ScaleSince the Renaissance, scale has become an integral part of visual literacy as a whole. Scale in animage, like a scale in a produce market, acts to show relations between objects. Rather thanmeasuring weight, however, visual scale deals with apparent relative size of objects. Bymanipulating the apparent size of objects, scale can be used to produce a number of effects.Manipulation of scale can give greater meaning to a basic image, lending it new life.Scale is most commonly used in order to create the illusion of depth on a two-dimensional plane.The pioneer of this technique was Raphael, a Renaissance artist whose works introduced theconcept of using scale as creation of depth to the Western art world. The basic principle behindthis technique is that objects diminish in apparent size as they approach the horizon. Artists overthe centuries have adopted this technique as a standard for representing depth in painting,photography, and film.Since the dawn of film, the use of scale has been further developed. No longer is scale restrictedto the creation of an illusion of depth, but may be used to give information in the form of visualcommunication, concerning the characters and relations between them. The positioning ofcharacters and the scalar relationship between the two reveals, without dialogue, the relationshipbetween characters, as well as defining traits of a character or characters.Finally, scale may be used to create an emotional response in the viewer. By clever use of scale,the director may manipulate the feelings of the audience in order to invoke a strongerrelationship between the characters in the film and the viewer.
  • 11. DimensionThe notion that objects occupy three-dimensional space in our physical world is not a culturalconstruct but a vivid reality. We know this because we can grasp a solid object, feel its contours,and move it from one place to another. Because of this spatial and tactile awareness we makeassumptions about our physical environment based on visual stimuli perceived by ourstereoscopic vision. In the visual arts, this means that a two-dimensional representation (drawing,painting, photograph, etc.) can imply three-dimensional reality by mimicking its effects on ourocular system. According to Professor Donis A. Dondis, this is done primarily through the use oflinear perspective, which is often supplemented by tonal manipulation in the form ofchiaroscuro, the dramatic emphasis of light and shadow.Since perspective and chiaroscuro are extremely representational methods of expressingdimension, photography in particular excels at them. The precision with which the photographiclens can record minute details is unmatched by the eye. However, man-made optics cannotduplicate the human eye‟s wide peripheral vision without the tremendous distortion ofperspective that results when using a wideangle or fisheye lenses.Gerald Mast argued that the moving image can illicit a sense of dimensionality within the viewerthat is simply unattainable by the static image. “The enlarging or shrinking of an object over aperiod of time or the length of time it takes to travel between two points are two familiar ways ofdefining terms like „close‟ and „far.‟” These changes in scale appear so natural that we forget weare looking at a flat screen. So aside from perspective and tone motion over time is anotheruseful method of representing dimension.Chance MeetingDuane Michals., 1969.Though dimension is an integral part of our world and something we can both feel in the spacearound us in two-dimensional formats such as painting and photography it can only berepresented by such illusion. In fact, when more visually striking representations of three-dimensionality have been attempted in film, it hasn‟t caught on. Films in 3-D have never beenmore than an oddity. It‟s as if people are so accustomed to inferring dimension on a flat surface
  • 12. through more conventional means that the 3-D image becomes too hot, bombarding the viewerwith more information than they care to deal with.Another reason that might explain the unpopularity of the 3-D medium is that viewers want tosee a realistic image, to be a voyeur in someone else‟s life, but they do not want to actuallybecome part of what‟s happening. Three-dimensional format brings the image to close to real lifeand involves the viewer too much, almost in an accusing way. The safer, more removed aspect ofstandard film, in which dimension is implied, is more pleasant for the viewer because it removesthem from what is going on while at the same point showing them everything. We can makejudgments and give opinions without suffering the consequences.Linear PerspectiveReproduced from Sensation and Perception1993. Walter Ioos Jr., 1994.The technical convention of linear perspective is a Renaissance invention. It is a systematic,formalized method of representation that allows the artist or designer to simulate depth with afew scant lines. It operates on the premise that objects appear progressively smaller the fartheraway they are. Lines that extend out into space converge at one or more vanishing points on thehorizon line, which coincides with eye level.Light and ShadowBesides the tool of linear perspective, artists and designers also have a broad range of values attheir disposal which can be used to imply dimension by means of chiaroscuro lights and darks.Since light travels in straight lines it cannot curve around an object and equally illuminate all itscontours. This means that some surfaces of the object will receive more light than others. Thesevariations in the amount of light being reflected from the object‟s surfaces are observed asdifferent values.
  • 13. Value enables the artist or designer to fill in the gaps left by linear perspective. For instance, thebasic linear information is insufficient in conveying the dimensionality of a sphere. Withouttonal information it is merely a flat circle. The fact that light travels in straight lines also resultsin the phenomenon of the cast shadow. It is through the dramatic emphasis of highlights,reflected light, and cast shadows that chiaroscuro achieves its revelatory function. Since lightingis so instrumental in this technique, changing the placement of the light sources or the number ofthese light sources can have drastic effects on the representation, as evidenced in the center andrightmost frames of the above triptych. The leftmost frame is the same scene rendered as asimple wireframe with no tonal information.Eye levelWalter Ioos, Jr. 1994. Poster from Film und Foto International Exhibition, Stuttgart, Germany,1929.Objects located dramatically above eye level are said to be seen from worm‟s eye view, whilethose positioned extremely below eye level are seen from bird‟s eye view. The decision of whichpoint of view to take within the frame involves more than just aesthetic considerations; it haspsychological implications as well. A slender upright object seen from worm‟s eye view tends tolook more massive and stable because it is appears wider at the base and grows narrower fromthe bottom like a mountain. The same object seen from bird‟s eye view often looks moreminuscule and unstable because it appears narrower at the base and grows wider from the bottomlike a top.
  • 14. MotionIn Donis A. Dondis‟ view, motion, the final visual element, is perhaps “one of the most dominantvisual forces in human experience.” As she explains in A Primer of Visual Literacy, true motionexists only in the physical world. Motion in visual images is always an illusion. It can either beimplied or suggested, as in still pictures, or overtly simulated, as in motion pictures. Bycombining time and space, the use of motion helps ground visual images in our experience of thereal world.Suggestion of motion in static images often appears somewhat “unrealistic” or unnatural. Byblurring a subject (as in the icon above), using sfumato or contrapposto, selectively using hue,texture, line, shape, direction, scale, or dimension, a still image can be infused with impliedmovement. Because these techniques require the viewer to invoke his or her experience ofmotion in real life, suggested motion is involving and compelling. Unlike in motion pictures,recognizing motion in still images is a more conscious, interpretive process. Detail from Mona Lisa, Da Vinci, 1503-06.The Mona Lisa‟s smile serves as a useful example of “sfumato,” Italian for “smoke.” Sfumato isa shading technique painters can use to suggest motion. By blurring the corners of her mouth, DaVinci creates the illusion that the Mona Lisa is in the act of smiling or frowning. The ambiguityof her expression forces the viewer to interpret it as he or she chooses.Dancers, Sarah Nathanson, 1994.“Contrapposto” refers to the technique of twisting or shifting the weight of a figure to implymotion. The contorted bodies of the dancers in this still picture are off balance, thereby givingthe impression that the figures are in the process of moving.
  • 15. Motion, Sarah Nathanson, 1994.A line can also imply movement. In this image, the line gives the viewer the feeling that it ismoving. It does so by leading the viewer‟s eyes along its path.Porsche advertisment, Car and Driver, Jan.1994.Blur, direction, and dimension are all represented in this still image. Even though its subject, thecar, is in focus, the blurred background tells the viewer it is in motion by giving the impressionthat he or she is moving along with the car. The lines of the picture cut across the frame from theupper right corner to the lower left corner, giving it direction. These diagonal lines upset thebalance of the image and instill a feeling of motion in its composition. The lines of the roadconverge at a focal point on the horizon, giving the image a three-dimensional quality, orperspective. Dimension incorporates perspective, and is demonstrated by positioning the car onthe Z-axis.