Maximising colour through contrast

Maximising colour through contrast

The human brain rejects visual information that is overly bland or extremely chaotic. The colour wheel organises shades in a way that makes it clear which colour combinations will form a brain-pleasing contrast and which will turn the viewers off by clashing or blurring.



  • The colour wheel is the most important tool for understanding colour contrast. The tradition of modeling colours like this goes all the way back to Isaac Newton, and most of us were first introduced to it in primary school.

    Contrasting colours are those that lie directly opposite each other on the wheel—like red and green, orange and blue, or yellow and purple. When contrasting colours are placed next to one another, each appears brighter and more intense. When they are blended, they neutralise each other.

    To create colour contrast, choose one from the “dark” half of the wheel—the home of reds, blues, and purples. The other colour will be from the “light” half, where the yellows, oranges, and greens live.

    Now lighten the light colour, and make the dark colour darker, and you’ve created maximum contrast! The colours play off each other in a way that seems natural—but it’s just the laws of colour contrast at work.


Activity

  • Take a spin around the colour wheel

    Put your skills to the test by identifying the highest contrasting colour to the shade in the center


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