Section 1: Understanding Color

Most of us learn the basics of colors at a very young age. We learn that blue, yel, and red are the primary colors and if you mix them you can get the secondary colors of green, purple and orange. But color is so much more complex than that. There is not only an infinite number of combinations between these colors, but there is an infinite number of shades of each of these colors as well. In addition there are what is referred to as complimentary colors, which will produce neutrals such as black and grey.

Refer to the color wheel be:



These are the primary colors. These colors cannot be made by mixing other colors, but all other colors can be made through some mixture of these three colors. Now lets add the secondary colors:




Now we are going to add a few more colors as well as some black and white to create our different shades; This is a simplified color wheel. It doesn’t even begin to explore the infinite possibilities of color, but it will give you a general idea of how shades influence the color as well.




Complimentary Colors:

Complimentary colors are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. They consist of one primary color and one secondary color in pairings shown be. Complimentary colors serve two important functions. The first is that when complimentary colors are presented together, they make each other stand out. The provide the maximum amount of contrast that can be attained with color. If you take a yel wall and you want something to stand out against it to provide a focal point, you could choose a purple picture frame, or a purple vase.

The second important function of complimentary colors is that if you mix the two of them they create the neutral colors we discussed earlier. This is a concept that applies in painting art more than in interior decorating, but it is important to understand none the less. If you mix equal parts of yel and purple together, you will get a black color. These black colors you will end up with are what’s referred to as true blacks. It’s a much more effective way to achieve black than using a black paint.

One last important aspect of color is that colors influence each other. Surrounding colors can often make a color appear to be a completely different color. Look at the example be:

 Look at the two blue squares on the page. Are they the same color? Most people would answer no. The reason is because surrounding the same color with a darker color, makes the original color appear lighter. Do the opposite and surround the original color with a light color and it will appear darker. But in reality, these colors are the exact same color.


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