7.4. Complementary colors contrast

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We call two additional colors if their pigments, when mixed, provide a neutral gray-black color. In physics two chromatic light which when mixed produce white light, are also considered optional. Two additional colors form a strange pair. They are opposed to each other, but they need one another. Adjacent, they excite each other to the maximum brightness and vzaimounichtozhayutsya when mixed, form a blue-black tone, like fire and water. Each color has a single color, which is in relation to it optional. The color wheel in Figure 3 extra colors are diametrically to one another. They form the following pairs of complementary colors:

Yellow – Purple

yellow-orange – blue-violet

orange – blue

red and orange – blue-green

Red Green

red and purple – yellow-green.

If we analyze these pairs of complementary colors, you will find that they are always present all the three primary colors: yellow, red and blue:

yellow – purple = yellow, red + blue;

blue – orange – blue, yellow + Red;

Red – Green = Red, Yellow + Blue.

Just as a mixture of yellow, red and blue give gray, and a mixture of the two complementary colors in the embodiment also turns gray. We can recall the experience of the section “The physics of color” when the exclusion of one of the colors of the spectrum all the other colors, when mixed, give it additional color. For each of the colors of the spectrum the sum of all other forms of its complementary color. Physiologically, it is proved that as well as the phenomenon of image retention and simultaneous contrast illustrate the surprising and hitherto unexplained fact of appearing in front of our eyes in the perception of a particular color at a time and the other, balancing its complementary color, which in the event of a real lack of spontaneously generated in our consciousness. This phenomenon is very important for almost all working with color. In the “color harmony” it has been established that the law of complementary colors is the basis for the harmony of the composition, because in the eyes of his subject in a feeling of complete equilibrium.

Complementary colors in proportion to their right proportion, give the product a solid foundation static exposure. In addition, each color remains unchanged in its intensity. Impressions produced complementary colors are identical to the actual nature of the color. This statistical power of the impact of additional colors is particularly important for the wall painting. However, in addition, each pair has a complementary color and other features. For example, a pair of yellow-purple is not only a contrast of complementary colors and strong contrast of light and dark. Red and orange – blue-green is not just a pair of complementary colors, but at the same time extremely strong contrast of cold and warm.

Red and green in addition to, the same bright color and have the same brightness. To clearly grasp the elemental essence of the contrast of complementary colors, give some of the following exercises.


Figures 23 … 28, there are three pairs of complementary colors, and mixtures thereof, allow to obtain a gray tone. Color grading bands formed by mixing the complementary colors of each pair is determined by a gradual increase in the amount of color added to the core. In the center of each of these series there is the neutral gray, which indicates that this pair of colors is optional. If this gray does not work, the selected color is not optional. Figure 29 shows the composition of red and green and different modulations occurring when mixed. Figure 30 is made up of squares formed by mixing two pairs of complementary colors: orange and blue, and red-orange and blue-green.

29 30

In many paintings, built on contrasts of complementary colors, those colors are used not only in their own contrasting qualities, but also form the basis of mixtures that, on the contrary, serve as a means of tonal alignment works. Nature often shows us a very similar color mixing. It can be seen on the stems and leaves of the bushes of red roses not yet blossomed buds. Red roses future mixed here with green stems and leaves, causing the beautiful red-gray and green-gray shades.

With the help of two additional colors can be a particularly beautiful gray tones. Old Masters achieved so colored gray tones, for example, because the primary color stripes imposed an opposite or same color coated with a first layer of a thin layer of extra color to it.

Pointillist gray color tone sought in another way. They applied to solid colors with tiny dots next to each other, and the appearance of gray tones actually happened in the eye of the beholder.

Examples of the use of the contrast of complementary colors include the following picture: “Madonna of Chancellor Rolin” Jan van Eyck (1390-1441), Paris, Louvre; “King Solomon, the Queen of Sheba meeting” in Arezzo and the work of Paul Cezanne “Mount St. Victor”, Philadelphia Museum of Art.