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I've identified that we need contrast to see an image, but what draws us in to create a reaction and how does color affect this reaction? Let's start with shape and edge. When we're infants, we prefer to look at high-contrast edges and patterns. As time passes, we're able to understand information from shape by what is implied. Probably an important skill for our ancestors. Who needed to discern between friend and foe, creatures that are harmless, and ones that might enjoy you for dinner, and where solid ground begins and ends.
As human beings we also pay close attention to hard and soft shapes. Sharp pointed things remind us of what could cause harm, and soft edges remind us of human and organic forms, things that could sustain us in body and spirit. It is no surprise that as a viewer we look at highest level of contrast first. Notice that we pay close attention to the bold words. Knowing this is essential to directing the viewer's attention through an image from highest level of contrast to lowest.
What draws our attention first needs to be what's most important for the viewer to pay attention to. It's a visual clue, and we need to plant it wisely.
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