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Playing with complementary colors

From: Foundations of Color

Video: Playing with complementary colors

The word play is the best word that I can think of for describing what complementary colors can do with one another, but fight is another word that comes to mind. Complements, like people who have more differences than things in common, can create a dynamic energy between each other. Ever heard the phrase, opposites attract? That's a complementary relationship. In an image if you can control how complements are used, you can play with the energy the colors fighting. Or playing to attract attention and move the eye around the image.

Playing with complementary colors

The word play is the best word that I can think of for describing what complementary colors can do with one another, but fight is another word that comes to mind. Complements, like people who have more differences than things in common, can create a dynamic energy between each other. Ever heard the phrase, opposites attract? That's a complementary relationship. In an image if you can control how complements are used, you can play with the energy the colors fighting. Or playing to attract attention and move the eye around the image.

To demonstrate, the kind of playful energy that can be harnessed with complements. I'll start with a book that I wrote and illustrated. My Little Pony Under The Sparkling Sea. I used iridescent colors to represent the magic of the place with the idea of being in an underwater world. So by studying the iridescence, of shells and bubbles and jellyfish, I was able to discover complementary colors in action. That provided the palate that just fit the essence in atmosphere I was going for. When I begin a new piece, I choose a base color to build upon.

This colored base is called a ground. Throughout the creation of the book, I choose grounds that will react as a compliment to the most important elements with the greatest vibrancy. On the cover, the ground color, in this case the pastel paper, is a vibrant fuchsia. Is causing the opposite color, the blue green of the water, and two main characters, the mermare Electra and the pony Rainbow Dash to vibrate and react with the greatest intensity.

Because some important characters, are pink and purple, not very different from the ground color, I made sure to paint those things that are next to the characters. In complementary colors so that they would still pop, but not quite as much as the main focus. Here the green reacts with the pink of Pinkie Pie/g. And here the dark green of the grass and lime color of the shell walk react to the purple of Twilight Sparkle. I also used an orange brown value for the shells to react, as a compliment to the ground, but again with less intensity than the two main characters.

Notice that the shadows meant to turn around form, or be less visible, are closer to the ground color. This is known as color hierarchy. Color hierarchy is establishing, the order of importance in the elements in a piece through the use of color. The things that are most vibrant create the most contrast and become your focal points. As contrast, and vibrancy descend, so does our attention to those elements. In this painting, the ponies needed to be in focus, so I could choose a ground that would allow the vibrant pink, purple, orange and red of the ponies to really stand out.

All the other elements recede, in importance as they are not complimentary to the color scheme of the environment. To keep focus, on all the pony's I use the light and the complimentary pink and purple to direct the viewers eye to the main characters here, and along here, like a visual net. Complimentary colors are ripe with possibilities because their energy when they play next to or on top of each other is explosive, and hard to ignore. Don't let the vibrancy in vibrations scare you.

Because when you embrace the complements, and all they can do for you, it's bound to be an amazing relationship.

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This video is part of

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Foundations of Color

42 video lessons · 14923 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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