Fun with Complementary Colors

green and white leafed plantsAugust 8th, 2011

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.

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.

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