Fun with Complementary Colors

Fun with complementary colors
Complementary colors are colors that are located directly across from each other on the color wheel.  An example of this would be the color relationship of orange and blue or red and green.  Complementary color relationships tend to be my favorite type of color scheme.   They provide the highest level of contrast among colors.

Learning about the effects of complementary colors on a viewer’s experience in a drawing  or painting is one thing.  But to actually have proof that these relationships exist and witness “the power” inherent in them is quite another thing.

Take a look at the animation below.  Stare at the black “+” in the middle.  After a few seconds, a yellow-green circle will appear to be moving around the center.  After a few more second, the red-purple circles will disappear completely leaving only a yellow-green circle moving around the center.

fun-with-complementary-colors

Now what makes this really cool is the fact that there is no yellow-green circle at all.  The red-purple circles are just disappearing in a sequence.  Your mind creates the yellow-green circle. 

Why yellow-green? 

Well, yellow-green is the complement of red-purple.  If you take a look at a color wheel chart, you will see that yellow-green and red-purple are directly across from each other on the color wheel. 

What’s even more interesting is that this works for any complementary color scheme.  For example, if you changed the red-purple circles to blue, an orange circle would appear.  If you changed the red-purple circles to yellow, a purple circle would appear.

More Fun…

I came across another example of how complementary colors can create a cool effect and thought I’d share it with you below.

Take a look at the circles.  If you move your eye from one set of circles to another, you might notice that the circles look like they are moving.  The circles, of course, are not moving.  Instead, they appear to be moving because the colors are of a high level of contrast.  Yellow and purple are complements and this effect is achieved because of this.

Fun with complementary colors 2

Color is such a strong tool.  Use it wisely!
Like This Lesson?
If so, join over 36,000 others that receive our newsletter with new drawing and painting lessons. Plus, check out three of our course videos and ebooks for free.
More Lessons You’ll Love…

Matt is an artist and teacher. He loves sharing his passion for art with others and teaching students from all over the globe. He has been featured in various publications and has produced commissioned art for clients both regionally and internationally. He is the owner of the TheVirtualInstructor.com.

Comments are closed.