Learn about the harmonic rules of color to inform choices in design projects.
- [Instructor] As a designer you're going to need to get to grips with how colors work together and fortunately there's an awful lot of groundwork have been done for you over the centuries. When I was student, it was all about Johannes Itten whose work continues to influence design and of all things, in the cosmetics industry, strange enough to this very day. He's attributed with creating the seasonal color analysis and his work on the interaction of colors was actually a direct influence on the Op Art Movement of the '60s, or it started in the '60s at any rate.
A while before, well about 150 years if I recall correctly, although to be honest I wasn't there, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe's Theory of Colors discussed the nature of colors and our perception of them, rather than the science of wavelength theory, which had been established well before that. It just goes to show what you can do actually without the distractions of Facebook and Twitter, although I bet if Instagram had been around, he'd a been all over that. Anyway, joking aside there are several ways you can create harmonious color combinations and just before we get there, let's refresh our knowledge on color mixing and for that we're going to use the pigment wheel here.
So you probably know that the pure colors cannot be created by mixing any other colors and they are in pigment world, red, yellow, and blue. Then we have our secondary colors, which on the wheel are actually 60 degrees from those and that's where we mix red and yellow, and yellow and blue, and blue and red together to get our oranges, our purples, and our greens and so on. Separated by 30 degrees in both directions from those are our tertiary colors and those are created by mixing a secondary with another primary.
So for example your orange could become more red and your purple more violet and so on. And there you go, all exciting stuff and thanks for bearing with that. So every harmonic rule starts with a base color and in every instance here we're going to be using red as the base color, and the swatches underneath the wheel are going to show you what the rule would reproduce, although there are tunnel and temperature variations available too, which usually are expressed towards the center of the wheel and sometimes in another direction also.
But just to keep it simple, we'll assume that we're okay with knowing that. So the first harmony we're looking at here is monochromatic and we looked at monochrome images in the previous movie, so you'll know there all based on a single hue, with variations in value. Now I'm using the example here from Illustrator and what this does is, is it uses tint value to create that rule. It has another one called shades which uses shade values as you can see just there, so the addition of black to those colors.
Complementary rules, which are one of the fundamental rules and used heavily in design actually, are opposites on the color wheel. You will find some variations, but only the side of the 180 degrees that a complement gives you. You'll find things split complements and left complements and so on, but those are the things you can investigate later. Analogous rules, use hues from a roundabout 30 degrees either side of the base color. So they're picking things that are similar in hue, spread out around that cental color.
And there are variants on those two, as there are with many of the rules that you're seeing here. A triad harmony has hues separated by 120 degrees and a tetrad has them separated by 90 degrees. A pentagram uses five increasing distance around the wheel to generate it's harmony. They're not all equal as you'd expect around there. Now those things are all of course, very, very useful and they will help you with choosing colors for your projects that work together really well, but there are two color models that you absolutely must understand and that's where we're going in the next movie.
- The creative process
- Layout and composition
- Transforming images and assets in Photoshop
- Drawing logos in Illustrator
- Designing graphics and documents in InDesign