For some artists, the use of complimentary colors may seem like the basic of the basics. Without much thought they may discount their effect and use them as if they are second nature. But let’s not forget, sometimes simplicity can be the most elegant and (ironically) sophisticated approach to an artists color scheme. Using complimentary colors is an easy and certain approach to deliver works of art.
Reference the Color Wheel for Complimentary Colors
Lets address the color wheel. A lot has changed here. For centuries artists were limited in terms of what specific shades of color they had access to. Because of this, much of history’s most famous artists were compelled to use the simple pairings of complimentary colors, found on the basic color wheel. These pairings are…
- Red and Green
- Blue and Orange
- Yellow and Violet
You’ll notice that the complimentary colors are simply opposites on the color wheel. With the ever- expanding body of knowledge we’ve dubbed “Color Theory”, the color wheel itself has changed immensely.
The HSV Color Wheel
What you are more likely to see as a representation of your color choices today – looks something like the HSV color wheel to the left. The same principles apply, that opposites are complimentary, but as you can see it offers a vast multitude of shades not found on the standard color wheel. Now instead of trying to achieve the feel of a romantic Italian town with solid reds and greens, an artist can take inspiration from the HSV wheel and instantly hand pick shades of Sage green and Venetian red. This work previously (depending on your skills and way of expression) could take hours of mixing to define the desired colors intent. Now with the digital age, we can find a representation of the colors in our minds before we start to mix and blend. This is a huge advantage of artists today that is largely overlooked.
Finding new color schemes and developing more complex characteristics for a piece is still interesting. However, if you find yourself stuck, or not conveying the images and thoughts you would like, then take a look at the HSV color wheel and find your complexity in all of the wheels simplicity.
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