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Harmony and discord

From: Foundations of Color

Video: Harmony and discord

How can we know what harmony is unless we see what isn't harmonious? Contrast helps to define one thing that's separate from another. Here's an image that shows a palate that's not harmonious, the reason, each color is a hue not related to any of the others. The effect is a jumble of colors here, and people there. All calling for our attention. What if we apply a layer of color to the photo? Suddenly, it feels more harmonious as the elements are connected by a single color.

Harmony and discord

How can we know what harmony is unless we see what isn't harmonious? Contrast helps to define one thing that's separate from another. Here's an image that shows a palate that's not harmonious, the reason, each color is a hue not related to any of the others. The effect is a jumble of colors here, and people there. All calling for our attention. What if we apply a layer of color to the photo? Suddenly, it feels more harmonious as the elements are connected by a single color.

But we still can't distinguish one thing from another with any real clarity. All the colors and elements seem related, but still equal. If you decide that the woman in the front should be more important in the image, we could make her shirt darker or more vibrant than the rest, or cooler, or warmer. All of these things make her stand out. But what if we bring in a color that is not in any way related to the photoshop layer as a way to make the woman stand out? It should be a color that is outside the tribe, like a compliment, not related in any way to the layer color.

Notice that it creates tension in the harmonious image. Using a color outside of a family of related harmonious colors in small quantities and with careful consideration can create vitality and focus in an image. Let's try the same thing with a different person. Now he is the element that pops and cries for our attention. In each case, it's the opposite color, a complement, sitting in an otherwise harmonious world.

If you want to downplay the color's otherness just a bit, we can layer a small amount of the color into shadows, or other areas of the piece. Sometimes it helps to anchor the outside color to something, without going so far as to cover everything with the interloper color. Creating balance, harmony, and connection is a way to make all the parts in a piece come together as a whole, but if there is no distinguishing other who does not belong, Too much harmony can equal visual boredom.

Think of a party where everyone is very similar. What makes it more fun? An infusion of people who are not a part of the tribe and have distinct differences. These differences add contrast to create dynamic energy.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Color

42 video lessons · 15054 viewers

Mary Jane Begin
Author

 
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  1. 5m 20s
    1. Welcome
      1m 10s
    2. Traditional media to digital: The long and winding road of color
      3m 48s
    3. Exercise files
      22s
  2. 14m 40s
    1. Introduction: How color shapes meaning
      2m 23s
    2. Universal, cultural, and personal symbols of color
      2m 52s
    3. Concepts made clear
      4m 1s
    4. Brand identity and language
      2m 53s
    5. Sequence and pattern
      2m 31s
  3. 14m 18s
    1. What is the color wheel?
      2m 20s
    2. Primary colors, primary concerns
      3m 59s
    3. Playing with complementary colors
      3m 40s
    4. Tertiary colors: The basics of brown and gray
      4m 19s
  4. 17m 20s
    1. An overview of elements
      2m 48s
    2. Value is not a moral judgment
      2m 26s
    3. Saturation to neutralization
      3m 22s
    4. Temperature: How hot is hot?
      3m 12s
    5. Textures, marks, dashes, and dots
      2m 59s
    6. Seeing through color: Opaque, translucent, and transparent
      2m 33s
  5. 12m 25s
    1. What is contrast?
      3m 10s
    2. Creating focus: Living on the edge
      1m 15s
    3. Creating the readable image
      4m 6s
    4. Connecting contrast with content
      3m 54s
  6. 17m 29s
    1. Illuminating light
      1m 54s
    2. The effect of contrast in light
      1m 53s
    3. Value and saturation
      2m 27s
    4. On temperature
      2m 58s
    5. On complements
      2m 10s
    6. Secondary and reflected light
      3m 5s
    7. RGB vs. CMYK
      3m 2s
  7. 14m 24s
    1. An introduction to palettes
      2m 15s
    2. Limited palettes: A harmonious color palette
      2m 35s
    3. Harmony and discord
      2m 33s
    4. Unifying color grounds
      2m 40s
    5. Unifying glazes and layers
      2m 13s
    6. Charting a color family
      2m 8s
  8. 20m 25s
    1. Balance of shapes: How much is too much?
      3m 36s
    2. Weaving textural color
      2m 50s
    3. Color in context
      2m 31s
    4. Color blindness
      3m 15s
    5. Challenge: Deconstructing color
      1m 28s
    6. Solution: Demo of deconstructing color
      6m 45s
  9. 1m 3s
    1. Conclusion
      1m 3s

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