07 February 2008

Who cares about color theory? Well, me for starters.

In looking back at the color wheel stuff I posted yesterday, I was struck by how impractical the basic, wheel-derived color schemes seem when you look at the colors on a wheel itself. People tend to shy away from simple, fully saturated colors like candy apple red and kelly green. But as I mentioned yesterday, actual practice of this stuff is more nuanced and it depends on more than wall colors to tie it all together.

So I found some real-world applications of the concepts I listed yesterday and here they are:

This is a monochromatic bedroom. The blues are all closely related; and are in fact tones, shades and tints of the same color. If you remember, a tone is a base color with gray added to it. A shade is a base color with black added to it. And a tint is a base color with white added to it.

Most times, when you look at a paint company's fan deck, the individual pages of it are arranged as monochromatic color schemes. In the room pictured, two of the blues come from the wall and trim paint. More blues come into the room through the bedding and even the irises in the vase on the night stand.

The brown wood tones, the white pillows and the steel lamp are all neutrals. Neutrals are a topic for another day, but for now it's safe to say that black and white are true neutrals and browns are near neutrals. Neutrals go with everything, hence the name.

This is an example of a complementary color scheme. As I mentioned originally, there is some nuance to this. The yellow of the wall and the blue of the cabinet are in opposition on the color wheel even though they aren't in direct opposition.

This is an example of a triad. A triad combines three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel. In this case, the walls are yellow, the sofa is red and the chair in the foreground is blue.

This is an example of a split complement. A split complement combines the hues to the left and right of a particular color's position on the color wheel. In the example here, the wall is red-orange and red-violet. The third color, green, is coming from the foliage in the vase.

This photo shows an example of an analogous color scheme. An analogous scheme uses colors in consecutive order from the wheel. In the room pictued, the designer used yellow, yellow-orange and orange together to make up a cohesive and balanced room.

So theory does have some practical applications after all. But man does not live by the color wheel alone, and tomorrow I'll regale you with the wild tales of the neutrals and the near neutrals. I don't think that Banana Republic, the Gap, Calvin Klein or many others would exist were it not for the achromatic world of taupe, white, brown, gray and black. If I'm still feeling expansive, I'll get into what's being called the "new" neutrals. Shhhhh, don't tell anybody, but they're actually tints.

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