Sunday, 15 November 2009

Visual Language - Colour 2 (OUGD104)

In this session which took place on Tuesday the 10th of November, we progressed in learning about colour theory developing on what we were lectured in the last session. We were particularly focussing on the optical effects that certain colours have when placed together.

Task 1

To begin with we were asked to get out our coloured objects from the previous session and then asked to work as a group to produce a large colour wheel over a square table layout which gradated from one colour to the next in terms of the colour wheel. The exercise was good in terms of determining what hues of what colour went where. Just like the previous weeks exercise, it was difficult due to the varying saturation of colours as certain objects had very different chromatic values which made them difficult to place in the colour wheel. Nevertheless, the result was more or less successful in my opinion.

Unfortunately my camera had - unknowingly to me - ran out of battery and I have so far been unable to get hold of an image of this.

The purpose of this was to help us with the next task which we were instructed to do after a lecture on how colours work with each other when placed together which too was relevant to the next task.

Task 2

The second task involved pairing up or getting into threes with people who had to bring in the same coloured objects as you. I paired up with Brian who also had to bring in orange objects.

The task was to choose five objects between us (orange ones in our case) and then attempt to choose the best complementary coloured objects for them from the colour wheel of objects we made earlier as a group. Theoretically, the correct complementary should have been directly opposite the objects we were choosing but due to the margin of error created by the various chromatic values of the objects, this wasn't necessarily the case. We still managed to pick out five complementary objects (blue ones in our case).

We were simply presented with different coloured bits of A4 paper and we were instructed to experiment with how the different colours work with each other on different backgrounds. Brian and I tried out and photographed several compositions on his camera and these were the ones we thought met the intentions the most effectively:

Composition 1

These four photos were amongst the first few Brian and I took. It is the same object in each one over a different coloured background. It is a shame the light is different in each one which affects how they can be compared. However, it is easy to see that the soap containers orange colour comes across a lot more prominently when the colours contrast with the backgrounds colour is greater. For example in the bottom right photo, the contrast difference is very low between object and background. The object come across as having a slightly darker tone than the background. Although when we put the same object on a yellow background (top left), it comes across as a having much more of a reddish hue. This is because the yellow is optically pushing more red out of the orange object as it is closer to its complementary colour of violet.

Composition 2

Using the same object, Brian and I placed it half on black and half on orange. Again the orange on orange is of a low contrast and the colours have little effect on each other. The colour can only been seen as 'orange' as there is nothing contrasting with it. However, over the black it's a different story. The black contrasts highly with the orange. It tries to push the orange over to white which is the maximum contrast of black and as a result the orange is seen as rather a light tinted orange.

So as opposed to the top left photo in 'Composition 1', the orange is seen as a lighter tinted orange whereas the top left photo in in 'Composition 1', pushes the orange to a darker hue and tone yet the object is still the same.

Composition 3

The same idea as the last composition yet with - in comparison the the soap box - an orange with more of a reddish hue and red card instead of orange. The same thing happens. The colour of the screwdriver and the card are pushed towards white and interestingly, what is supposed to be 'red' card appears to have more of an orangey hue and lighter tint. The orangey hue comes from the orange screwdriver and the lighter tint is pushed out optically from the large degree of contrast with the black.

Composition 4

The handle of this razor can be interpreted so differently with all of these colours. With the blue and red card it seems very orange and the blue pushes it towards its complementary orange and it warms in with the red as the contrast is a lot less than with the blue. Whereas with just the razor and the red card the razor seems more yellow as the contrast appears greater. There are a whole host of comparisons to be made here. It just goes to show the subjective nature of colour. Here are some more:

Composition 5

One of my favourite ones Brian and I produced. Over the green card, the dog toy is pushed towards a reddish hue due to green wanting to be united with its complementary red. However, the green card also comes across as more blue as the orange wants to be united with its complementary blue! The colours are conflicting with each other.

Over the blue, the dog toy appears to be a clear orange as the contrast is greater than over green. Does the toy have a high chroma of orange or does it have more of a reddish hue?

Composition 6

Just like the last composition, the orange shifts to a reddish hue over the green with a hard look. However, the highly chromatic blue dustpan brush sucks the green towards blue and the orange orange juice carton conflicts with the green to push it to more of a blue hue.

Composition 7

There is too much going on to write about here so I think it's best to conclude with the underlying point. When two colours are put together, they conflict with each other. They each try to force the opposing colour towards their complementary colour and the greater the contrast between the two colours, the more effective this is.

Colour is a tricky business as I have discovered over the past two weeks. Although - for me - colour theory is not the most interesting of topics, I have become very aware of how necessary it is to know about it in Graphic Design. If we are not careful with how we control our use of colour, it ends up controlling us by forcing us to see colours that might not have been intended to be seen.


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