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Color Vocabulary








126. In music, a tone which is formed by a certain number of vibrations per second is the same the world over, and each and every tone has a name; but in color no such standards exist. People have attempted to formulate a system by denominating the primary colors, red, yellow and blue, respectively as R, Y and B, and the combinations of these colors as combinations of letters. For example, red, with varying degrees of yellow added, is denominated by the letters R R O, or R O R, or O O R. This system tends to confusion, and is inadequate to express tints and shades. Various other systems have been devised. Color charts have been made, and in each system arbitrary names have been assigned, so that each color may be known by one of several names. The difficulty of insuring accuracy under these circumstances becomes very evident.



127. In discussing color combinations, one is usually confused because the subject is not a tangible expression that can be grasped like the sound of a note in music. With color charts, every maker has a standard of his own and the term “red” may mean anything within a wide range; a yellow-red or a blue-red, the yellow-red perhaps being cherry, the blue-red perhaps being carmine. An appreciation of the Harmonies of Contrast or Harmonies of Analogy or Relationship is accompanied by great confusion because of this lack of standardization.


128. There is only one true standard of color, and that is the standard as shown in the prism, and expressed by the spectrum. It is within the province of any man to determine the proper relationship of color if he starts with the chart we here present. We fix definitely the three primary and the three secondary colors, the primaries, red, yellow and blue, being those indicated by the heavy black lines; the secondaries, orange, green and violet, being indicated by the broad stipple lines.


All other lines are the tertiary or quaternary colors.


If we have clearly in our minds the appearance of the normal red and yellow, and clearly in our minds the orange that is made up by combining the two, we ought to be able to fix in our imagination the colors that come midway between the red and the orange, or the colors that come nearer the red or nearer the orange. Let us assume we are to select colors in the harmony of contrast. Take a ruler and lay across the chart and the contrasting colors are always opposite; the direct contrast of red is green because green is composed of the other two primary colors, yellow and blue; the contrast of blue is orange because orange is a combination of the other two primaries, yellow and red; the contrast of yellow is violet, a combination of blue and red.


Now, to determine the niceties of distinction, let us take a red that is a little off shade, a little yellowish; one must determine in the mind’s eye about how much yellow there is in it and, to determine the true contrast, carry your line across from the point which you think is represented by the yellowish and you find that it is green with a little blue added, or bluish-green.


129. One must also determine the scale of color. The parallel circular lines on the chart designate four scales, or four grades, of each color, growing lighter by adding white, to the center; as you add more and more white the tint becomes more and more light. In determining contrast, be careful to stick to your scale. Contrasts, to be in harmony, must be colors of the same scale.


130. Harmony of analogy or relationship is clearly expressed in the chart. The family relations of red are the things which go with red. We may have a harmony of analogy in violet which includes the relations of red and blue. We must not attempt to carry the family relationship too far. There is a wide range of variety in these combinations of analogy because they may include not only all scales of each color from the darkest tones to the lightest tints but they include tertiaries and quaternaries.


Each man must establish his own standard, and by establishing it he forms unconsciously a very comprehensive understanding of color. It has never been possible to print a true colored chart because no two copies of the sheet off the press would be alike. A little more ink or a little less ink, or a little lighter or a little heavier impression, changes the values.


The chart illustrates contrasts of all of the primaries and secondary colors and the broken colors or hues. In the same way the tertiary or quaternary colors may be arranged, but for convenience we show the contrasts as follows:


Russet:

Tertiary,

32 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

31 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 17 parts Blue

30 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 18 parts Blue

29 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 19 parts Blue

28 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 20 parts Blue

27 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 21 parts Blue

26 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 22 parts Blue

25 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 23 parts Blue


Slate:

Tertiary,

32 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

31 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 17 parts Yellow

30 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 18 parts Yellow

29 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 19 parts Yellow

28 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 20 parts Yellow

27 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 21 parts Yellow

26 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 22 parts Yellow

25 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 23 parts Yellow


Citrine:

Tertiary,

32 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

31 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 17 parts Red

30 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 18 parts Red

29 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 19 parts Red

28 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 20 parts Red

27 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 21 parts Red

26 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 22 parts Red

25 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 23 parts Red


Sage:

Quaternary,

24 parts Blue, 16 parts Red, 24 parts Yellow

25 parts Yellow, 23 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

26 parts Yellow, 22 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

27 parts Yellow, 21 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

28 parts Yellow, 20 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

29 parts Yellow, 19 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

30 parts Yellow, 18 parts Blue, 16 parts Red

31 parts Yellow, 17 parts Blue, 16 parts Red


Buff:

Quaternary,

24 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue, 24 parts Red

25 parts Red, 23 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

26 parts Red, 22 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

27 parts Red, 21 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

28 parts Red, 20 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

29 parts Red, 19 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

30 parts Red, 18 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue

31 parts Red, 17 parts Yellow, 16 parts Blue


Plum:

Quaternary,

24 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow, 24 parts Blue

25 parts Blue, 23 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

26 parts Blue, 22 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

27 parts Blue, 21 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

28 parts Blue, 20 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

29 parts Blue, 19 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

30 parts Blue, 18 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow

31 parts Blue, 17 parts Red, 16 parts Yellow


 



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131. One who attempts to make color compositions with no more reliable guide than taste can expect to accomplish no more than he who in music possesses a good ear but no musical training.



132. The note of discord in color is best avoided by an infallible guide, as the discord in music is best avoided by thorough training in the law of harmony. The color chart has been so arranged that each of the shades is in exact harmony with the shade directly opposite.


133. For example, to ascertain the color that is in harmony with the shade denominated Red-Orange, it is necessary simply to lay a ruler across the diagram to find the corresponding harmony, which is Blue-Green.


134. We know that the primary colors are red, yellow and blue, and that the combination of any two of these gives a secondary color. The secondary color is the complement of the remaining third color; thus yellow and blue form green, and green is the complement or contrasting harmony of red. Red and yellow form orange, and orange is the complement of blue. Blue and red form violet, and violet is the complement of yellow. These are facts we all know. Now, if red is the complement or contrasting harmony of green, and yellow contrasts with violet, then red with one, two or three degrees of yellow added will contrast with green with one, two or three degrees of blue added.


Assume, for example, that a decorator dealing with a red side-wall wishes upholsterings in the correct shade of green. He knows he has a red wall, he knows also that he wishes to use some shade of green, but without some fixed standard it is impossible for him to do more than approximate the correct shade of green to use. If, however, he could compare the red of his wall with his color chart and determine exactly which of the many shades of red, or which of the many yellow reds, or blue reds, the wall is toned in, it is a simple process to ascertain the exact green harmonizing with this red.


The second great use of the color chart is then an infallible guide to color harmony, whether analagous or contrasting.


 



image (TN: Click on image for large scale version.)

 







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