Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Lil' Color Theory...

Very little, because it's a subject of which I know next to nothing.  But I think I can recognize tasteful use of color versus garish use of color.

I've never taken an art lesson but in Junior High School I did take an art appreciation class.  I slept through most of it but I remember the instructor telling us, "You can remember every color in the rainbow.  In order, no less!  And it's easy: Roy G. Biv!"

Roy G. Biv of course is an acronym for the colors of the rainbow: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo (?), violet.  I think the indigo is there just to give the last name a vowel.

Anyway it would look like this:
The nice thing is that the primaries, red yellow and blue, nicely sandwich the secondaries, orange green and violet (again, I'm not sure what indigo is doing in there).

Okay, so what.  Well, I know nothing about color design but I do know this: when folks make a cartoon there has to be an effective "read" of the animated cell paintings against the background painting.  That is, the characters or the focus of your action should be relatively easy to see.  And probably the best way to insure that is use opposing colors.

That brings us to this scene from The Man Called Flintstone:
What do you suppose prompted the animators to make the desk blue?  How many blue desks have you ever seen?

Well, my guess is that the blue is the best read again the predominantly orange background.  Consider, a brown desk runs the risk of "blending into" the background:
I used Photoshop to "re-color" the desk.  But notice the brown desk, although IMHO very tasteful, isn't as obvious as the blue.  That is: in theory it doesn't "read" as well as the blue desk (I actually like the desk being brown).

Also consider our color wheel, good ol' Roy.  It might be a little hard to see but blue pretty much is the opposite of the main background color (which I feel is orange).  From a color theory standpoint, I suppose, blue is the color most opposite to orange.

There are other choices, to be sure, but see if you think they work as effectively as blue.
Green works but... ugh!  Garish.
Interesting.  A little busy, maybe.
Red is a little too close to orange, I think.  Not terribly effective.

I'll be honest with you, I'm perfectly fine with the brown desk.  I think it works and I think it contrasts enough to be effective.  But that's just me.

The pros decided a blue desk worked best and who am I to argue?  The lesson is obvious enough: use opposing colors to emphasize "read."

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