But Seriously Dude… Where’s my Bike? (Some basics on color usage)

March 7, 2007 at 11:51 pm Leave a comment

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I took this shot of a bike in the snow the other day. Following my earlier post (Dude where’s my bike – a lesson in 3D font usage) I thought I would bring this sequel.

Just like the bikes can’t be found in the snow, so will your message if you don’t use your color harmony well. I found the following would be a good basic to start from.

What is color?

Technically we could explain color like some do in encyclopedias. Something like “physical phenomenon of light or vision associated with the various wavelengths in the visible portion of the electromagneticspectrum. As a sensation experienced by human beings and some animals, perception of colour is a complex neurophysiological process.” Per the Encarta Encyclopedia.

While this may serve a technical defition it doesn’t give us a better understanding of what color is and how to use it.

Color could be simply said to be a visible characteristic used to distinguish similarities and differences in an object, painting, picture etc.

Arguably more than half of the beauty in an object, painting, picture comes from the color. Think about a bouquet in black and white. It would be nice but it would just not quite be as nice as it could be.

But color can also turn a nice painting or object into something so repellent you just want to get rid of it fast. Imagine a room with beige walls with fine gold ornaments and a Bordeaux carpet and in the middle of that place the most expensive renaissance chair, a true piece of art, painted in bright green. Had your vision been in black and white you would still consider that a gorgeous room.

Almost everyone can somewhat figure out what fits and what doesn’t. But how can you be sure. And what do you do when you are told your Powerpoint presentation needs to feature the company logo which is bright green and simply doesn’t fit with any of the charts you made. Or after you found out at a recent seminar that the color that would best represent your company is red yet all your point of sale materials you have are green.

How can you know what other colors you can use or rather you must use to make the presentation attractive (and thus sell)?

Here is where the laws of color harmony come in. To understand color harmony you first need to understand the word harmony. Harmony is defined as a pleasing effect produced by an arrangement of things. It comes from the Greek word harmonia ‘agreement, concord’ which came from the word harmozein ‘to fit together’.

This is the secret of color using color; harmony. There are laws to color harmony, there are limits and boundaries and exceptions to these which are explained with the color wheel.

Let your bosses have at you, tell you that your presentation needs contain their favorite colors, let the marketing analysts present you their color surveys, no matter what color you are asked to include. With the color wheel you are never lost.

Just like any other field, there are laws to this game and knowing them and having the tools to use them replaces your rickety string ladder with granite steps of certainty.

There is no way around it. The color wheel is a basic to creation like a paint brush is to a painter. You can paint with your fingers but you won’t get a Monalisa.

The color wheel existed long before computers, but recently a company did a pretty neat little software called color-wheel-pro. You’ll find a link to it in my tools section on the right. Try it out – it works well the new version (2.0) fixed some points missng in prior edition. It’s soon perfect.

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Entry filed under: 3d effect, aesthetic, art, artistic photography, color usage, font usage, graffiti, graffitti, lettering usage, photo, photoshop, typeface, typeface usage, Uncategorized, webdesign.

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