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Why do we respond to warm tones and sunlight more positively than cool tones and darkness? Warm sun connotes positivity and upbeat sensibilities. Neutral tones, something inbetween. And cool tones evoke emotional coolness or even sadness. As emtional beings, content or meaning of an image is directly linked to the temperature of the overall color or light used in a piece. This is essential to remember when considering a pallet and a light source.
To demonstrate, let's look at some images that have a warm color range cast from a light source. If we compare two very different types, the cover of treasure island, and my own cover image from the children's book, a mouse told his mother. We see that both pallets have an element of heat in them. The palette shows the warm temperature of the light, and the warmth is reflected throughout the images consistently. The shadows are not especially cool. They're by relative terms cooler than the lit areas, but still reflect the heat of the light source.
The wife illustration with the dramatic lighting situation and high contrast value structure Depicts the pirates bathed in warm light. Not menacing really, but more accurately appealing, heroic even. My image from a mouse told his mother has a consistently warm light, but additionally plays with a secondary light source on the mouse. To make him pop in the scene and feel more dimensional. Overall, feeling was meant to capture the warmth under the blanket. The scene takes place under a mouse child's bed cover.
But the mouse is the most important element and with the blue green secondary light source to call attention to him, even though he is a small element, he's hard to miss. The temperature of the light can be pushed to suggest completely cool range of colors as well. Here are some examples from Salem State College that also pushed the range of color for a purpose. To explore the snow queen on stage. The light is literally cool in this stage production to capture the feel of cool ice and a frightening, dangerous, although magical place.
Warmth is still used in less vibrant form to focus our attention on the main character and to show hope, as in this final scene. The contrast of temperature not only helps define the mood and temperature of the pieces, but helps to delineate the dimensionality of the form with clarity. Contrast is once again useful for defining an edge between opposites. There are plenty of practical reasons why we might be wired to react emotionally to color. But the important thing to remember is that you send the message with a temperature of light and of peace.
Be it overall lighting, the temperature of a specific light on a scene Or the contrast of hot to cool. If you ignore the basic human wiring when establishing the relative heat in a piece you're liable to miss the mark with color and that wouldn't be cool.
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