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Color Theory


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an overview for all elementary students, adapted from an excellent presentation by by Jennifer Janviere.

Published in: Education
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Color Theory

  1. 1. HueHue: Any single color in the spectrum (red, yellow, blue, etc).
  2. 2. Value
  3. 3. Tints & Shades
  4. 4. SaturationSaturation: The relative intensity or brightness of a colorBright, vibrant colors (reds or oranges) have a saturationdull or muted colors (browns) have a low degree of saturation
  5. 5. Saturation & HueColors can be of the same hue and still have varying degrees of saturation
  6. 6. Color Schemes
  7. 7. MonochromaticMonochromatic: Composition using tints and shades of only one hue.Easiest scheme to balance visually, but lacks high impact of other morecontrasting and complicated schemes.
  8. 8. Complementary
  9. 9. Analogous
  10. 10. Split ComplementarySplit Complementary: Color scheme using a hue and the two colors that lay oneither side of its compliment on the color wheelProvides more visual variety than complementary scheme; strong contrastHarder to balance than monochromatic, analogous color schemesFor best results, use one warm color with a range of cool colors or vice versaand avoid de-saturated warm colors
  11. 11. TriadicTriadic: Color scheme uses three colors equally spaced around the color wheel.Provides strong visual contrast while adding balance and richness.For best use, choose one color to be used in larger amounts than others;experiment with color saturation and value
  12. 12. Tetradic
  13. 13. Simultaneous ContrastSimultaneous Contrast: The concept of color perception based onthe other colors surrounding it.Color can look completely different when set against different hues,and is perceived in relation to its surroundings.
  14. 14. Advancing & Receding Colors Advancing/ Receding Color: Warm and bright colors give the illusion of being closer to a viewer within a composition, while cool and dull colors appear to be further away.
  15. 15. Advancing & Receding Colors Advancing/ Receding Color: Warm and bright colors give the illusion of being closer to a viewer within a composition, while cool and dull colors appear to be further away.
  16. 16. VibrationVibration: Complementary colors of equal saturation and brightnesscompete with our eye for attention when seen in close proximity toone another.
  17. 17. Color WeightWeight: Colors differ in visual weight based on their hue and intensity.For example, red is considered a “heavy”color, and would demanda viewer’s attention, even if shown in only a small amount within acomposition.
  18. 18. Warm & Cool ShadingHighlights: Shade using warm tones like yellow, orange, and peach, if you are looking at areflective object, or the highlight is very bright, you can leave some areas white!Shadows: Shade using cool colors like blue, purple, and green. Shadows, just likehighlights, can vary in intensity. Check to see how many different values of shadow you canachieve just by layering color!
  19. 19. Warm & Cool Shading
  20. 20. Warm & Cool Shading
  21. 21. Color in CompositionLook for implied triangles in the composition!
  22. 22. Color in CompositionFollow the forms of bright, contrasting shapes, or warm tones. If there are people in the image, follow their line of sight.
  23. 23. Color in Composition The center of interest—the woman holding the girl—is placed in the middle of the painting. The horizontal lines on the boat are balanced by the oar and the diagonal lines of the sail. The outer edge of the boat, the mass of the sail, and even the mans posture point toward the center of interest. Notice how his outstretched left arm points toward the girl? The unequal distribution of light and dark masses draws the eyes to the brighter areas occupied by the woman, the girl and the boat. If you painted the man in similarly light tones, it would deemphasize the woman and the girl.
  24. 24. Color in CompositionIf an artist has placedRED, YELLOW, orORANGE in apainting, they’resaying “LOOKHERE!” Henri Matisse. Madame Matisse, "The Green Line" ( La Raie Verte). 1905
  25. 25. Color in Composition Left: Pablo Picasso, Vase, Bowl and Lemon, 1907,Right: Henri Matisse, Still Life with Blue Tablecloth (detail), 1909,
  26. 26. Color in Composition Left: Hans Hofmann, The Gate, 1959-1960 Right: "The Key" [1946] by Jackson Pollock.
  27. 27. Rule of ThirdsThe rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and theirintersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linearfeatures in the image to flow from section to section.
  28. 28. Rule of Thirds
  29. 29. Rule of Thirds‘Cornelia, mother of the Gracchi’ by Joseph-Benoît Suvée 1795.
  30. 30. Rule of ThirdsThe line going down from the top of the pillars intersects the woman’s chin, the tips of the fingers and toes and the knee of the women in the background:
  31. 31. Rule of ThirdsThe line going up from the bottom left corner intersects the top of the heads of three people. It also cutsthrough the lad’s neck, his head is completely above the line. The left hand of the central figure is parallel to it.The same line intersects her right knee and right elbow. Also, notice the placement of the right leg, right footand the fingers of the right hand of the leftmost woman in the foreground. Her right leg is parallel to the sameline running up from the bottom left hand corner. It also intersects the tips of the little girl’s fingers.
  32. 32. Rule of Thirds
  33. 33. Wayne Thiebaud Wayne Thiebaud is a master of using color to create dynamic compositions! Can you find the implied focal point of each painting? * Hint: First imagine a rule of thirds grid, then look for Thiebaud’s use of red, orange, or yellow!
  34. 34. Wayne Thiebaud
  35. 35. Wayne Thiebaud