Primary colors (RED, YELLOW, BLUE) cannot be mixed in paint, but together when mixed you create many other colors. In photography, knowing which colors enhance the others, will help you make choices that will excite your viewers!
The pictures below are from a new book I am working on, “Photography by Design.”
COMPLEMENTARY COLORS TO REMEMBER:
Red and Green,
Blue and Orange
Yellow and Purple (Violet)
The above photos demonstrate how these “magical combos” will make you want to include them into your future artwork. Whenever you have a dominance of one of these colors, try to introduce the opposite color on the color wheel. These “dynamic duos” in various shades and values make the difference in the pizazz of your image.
TIPS: 1. These same rules apply when painting, add red into green trees as shadows. Then add green into the shadows of the barn and see how cohesive your painting becomes. It is emotionally hard to do this at first because it makes no sense, but do it plus try it within other paintings like people or buildings. Ever see someone put a wash of green on a face? (It makes the pinks and reds come out.) Yellows seem to come forward but dulled with a wash of purple, they will receed a bit. And even in decorating, we use “pops” of complementary colors as accents, check out some magazines and see how this works. Try it yourself next time you are looking for a lift in your decor.
2. If using colors like a dull maroony red, try a dull bluish green to offset the color. Same goes with really vibrant colors, use the oppositie range of hues in the same intensity. Look below and see how to incorporate other ways to use color.
Analogous color is using one side of the color wheel. Here are examples of using the different sides to create wonderful pictures, note the warmer tones vs. the cooler ones.
WARM colors (yellows – red violet) and COOL colors (Green – blue violet)
Look how the objects seem to change color due to the actual background color each is set upon. (FYI: Green makes red, redder. Orange makes blue, bluer, etc.). Look how the tomatoes look darker on the cool color pallete. The green grapes practically disappear on the cool color spread and the orange cumquats look brighter on some colors. Click on this “poster” to view it larger and block out little sections with your fingers. When you look at an individual item on 1 color, you can see how it is affected by the color change in the background. And YES, I had way too much time on my hands today when I came up with my “fruit” color chart! Couldn’t help myself once I started doing this. Nice touch, eh?
TIP FOR PAINTERS: Try adding warm color washes on one side of people or objects where the light is coming from, and a cool color wash on the shadow side. And — dah-da, as my art buddies can attest to, my belief is that no painting is complete until the purple (violet) grounds a landscape creating the shadows. I just learned putting a touch of colbolt blue in these adds a special glow. See what happens when you try these out.
Have a COLORFUL day!