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Art Theory 101 - Color

Jun 18, 2008
Color is one of the most powerful of elements. It has remarkable expressive qualities. Understanding the uses of color is vital to effective composition in design and the fine arts. The word color is the general term which applies to the whole subject - red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, black and white and all likely combinations thereof.

Hue is the perfect word that can suit to refer to the pure colors of the spectrum. Every known color can be described in terms of value and hue. Moreover, several physical phenomena as well as psychological effects collectively affect the way we perceive the color.

Value can be defined as lightness or darkness relative of a color. Value is an important tool to the hands of a designer or an artist because of its ability to define a form and to create a spatial illusion. A value contrast leaves the objects in space. Gradation of value supports the contour and mass of a surface.

Hue is a relative word used for the pure colors of a spectrum that are usually referred as red, yellow, orange, blue, violet, green that do appear in the rainbow or a hue. In fact, all the existing hues can be mixed and combined from the three fundamental hues called as the primaries. The speculative resultant will be black when all the primary pigments are mixed with each other. Therefore the pigment mixture often is called as subtractive mixture.

The primaries comprises of three hues from which all the other hues can be created. Primary colors have 2 commonly used definitions: Painters primaries consisting of red, yellow and blue, Printer primaries consisting of magenta, yellow and cyan and Light Primaries consisting of red, green and blue.

Complements are the color variants that contradict one another in the circle of hues. When the complements happen to mix with another in the paint, the resultant mixture dulls or de-saturates the hues. Opposite pairs, as such, can also be found based on the relative coolness and warmth. The contrast of the hue's warmth and coolness can make the image to advance or even recede in appearance. For instance, take the example of a painting belonging to the 15th century. The reds of the son's cap and that of the man's the placement of the hues so as to make the things match very close.

Few color effects happen only in the eye as well as on the brain of a percipient and not by the properties of the light waves and pigments. However, these illusions appear dominant and show a big impact on our responses to a color.

Optical mixture occurs when small particles of different colors are mixed in the eye; this type of mixture differs from pigment mixture in that it is based on light primaries. However, optical mixture varies from light mixture in which the primaries will mix to white, and from pigment mixture, in which the primaries mix to black. There is an averaging of hue and value in optical mixture which results in grey.

Optical mixture is experienced when examining many textiles. It can also be perceived in natural objects, color television, and printed color pictures.
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