Friday, June 7, 2013

Let's talk about color theory. Part 2: Color wheel.

Color wheel.

All colors are divided into two groups: colored and not colored. It's right to say - chromatic and achromatic.
   chromatic - it's red, blue, yellow, pink, green, turquoise, etc.
  achromatic - this group includes white, black and shades of gray (gradual movement from white to black - light gray, gray, dark gray)
Now we'll leave aside achromatic group, and will back to it later.
All chromatic colors are represented  in the color wheel.(Russian)

In the 17th century (1665)
Isaac Newton laid a white sunlight into a continuous spectrum using a glass prism and received so-called "spectral color".  Then he made ​​a circle from these colors associating mystical "7 colors" and "7 planets." 

Newton's color wheel
Additionally, there are variations in the color wheel by Goethe, Ostwald, Itten.

The most popular element in the color design is a 12-color wheel by Johannes Itten.

It consists of: 
- three primary colors: red, blue, yellow
 - three secondary colors violet, green, orange, obtained by mixing the primary colors
 - six tertiary colors obtained by mixing the adjacent secondary colors. 

There is a very important concept - complementary colors - the colors located opposite each other on the color wheel. Complementary colors neutralize each other when mixing and give a neutral gray.In accordance with the Itten's wheel there are complementary pairs:
red - green
purple - yellow
blue - orange

It's all clear with the Itten's color wheel, but there is a very interesting nuance. If we look at the color spectrum, we can see that the color space from red to yellow less than from green to purple:

So we can conclude that the Itten's color wheel is not accurate. Let's see a three dimensional Munsell's color system.

Munsell's color wheel is built on five primary colors (blue, green, yellow, red, purple) and five intermediate. And the orange color is not independent but intermediate between the yellow and red.So we have a few other complementary pairs, except the one: blue - orange, it is the same everywhere. And now we see:
red - cyan (blue-green)
green - magenta (red-purple)
purple - yellow-green
yellow - blue-violet

In the article "Complementary colors - that you did not know about it" (Russian) you can see the images with these pairs that look simply amazing!

Nadezhda Azarova gives a little lesson on the practical construction of the
Itten's color wheel (Russian).

There is a very interesting
article A Little Color Theory - Part I by SandWyrm (English) based on the Munsell color system. I really like some practical application about the using colors, here are some of them:
  - Don't Cheap Out And Only Buy Just The "Primary Colors". You can't mix every color you need.
  - When Buying Your Paint, Explore Other Options. Citadel makes a good range of hues, but largely ignore Cyan and Magenta.
The neutral tones can all be mixed using the pure hues, plus black and white.     

  - Make Sure Your Painting Table Is Neutrally Lit
Also the author write about a good minimum citadel paint set so mixing colors you can have almost any color. So read and enjoy!

So, we looked at the color wheel. Basically I'll rely on the Itten's color wheel because all the terminology and quite interesting and harmonious geometric combinations are built on it.

Previous:  Let's talk about color theory. Part 1: Goal setting. 

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