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Element of Design: Color

Of all the Elements of Design, color is probably the most challenging to understand. We have to learn a little science to fully understand the nature of color. Color has three main properites: hue, value and intensity.

What is color?

Color originates from a light source, that is either view directly or as reflected light. Daylight or white light contains light waves for all colors. There is no color with out light! The absence of light is complete darkness or black. The mixture of all visible light is white light. White light is made up of all the colors in the rainbow. Water droplets in the air act like a prism does when light passes through. It organizes random color light waves into the order of their wave length. We see that organized pattern as a rainbow. These colors are always in the same order and are called the Color Spectrum. When organized in order around a circle; the colorspectrum is called a Color Wheel.

Color Wheel

How do we see color?

in order to see color there must be light and there must also be color receptors, such as eyes. We see colored light or light reflected off objects. So why do we see some things as red and other things as blue. The answer is that when light waves strile an object they are either absorbed or reflected by the object. The reflected light waves mixed in varying proportions are what we see as differents colors.

Primary Colors

The three primary colors are Red, Yellow, and Blue

The primary colors are Red, Yellow and Blue in the art world. They are considered primary colors because they cannot be made from mixing other colors but they may be mixed to make most other colors. Black and white can also be added to create additional colors.

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Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are; Green, Orange and Violet (or Purple). they are the colors that result in mixing two of the Primary colors together in equal amounts

Secondary colors are made by mixing two primary colors together


Intermediate Colors

Intermediate colors are made by miixing a primary color with one of its two adjacent secondary colors. An adjacent color is one the is next to a color in the color spectrum. Another way to remember this is to mix a primary with only one of the secondary colors that it has in it. For example yellow is used to make secondary colors green and orange, so only green and orange can be mixed with yellow to get an intermediate color. Each primary color had two secondary colors choices that may mixed to produce an intermediate color.


Properties of Color

1. Hue: Hue is the name of a pure color, such as red, blue, or yellow.
2. Value: Value is the lightness or darkness of a hue (color). The value of a hue can be changed by adding black or white. Light values of colors are called tints. Darker values of colors are called shades.
3. Intensity: Intensity is the brightness or dullness of a hue (color). Pure hues are high-intensity colors. Dull hues are low-intensity colors. Intensity of color is changed by adding varying amounts of its complimentary color. For example, to make a bright green duller a little bit of red could be added to it.

Warm colors: Warm colors are colors that reming us of things that are warm:they are red, yellow and orange.

Cool colors: Cool colors remind us of things we associate with cold or coolness. they are blue, violet and green.


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