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Studio Tips - Colour


Those of you who are visual artists may have an on going, difficult relationship with colour mixing. There are so many things to know and so many of the colour mixing books around make it far more complicated than it should be. I would like to share some facts with you that may be affecting your results, which you might have no idea about. Some of the following facts are also about line and shape.

  • Contrasts intensify each other.

  • Hues next to each other will make the complement of the other colour appear to a certain extent e.g. if red and yellow are next to other the yellow will appear slightly greener (green being the compliment of the red) and the red will appear slightly more violet or purple (purple being the compliment of yellow).

  • When you have a spot of grey on a red background, the opposite or complimentary of the colour will be induced, thus making the the grey appear greenish.


There are as many opinions about black as there are artists in the world I suspect. To forget about black altogether is like leaving an important ingredient out of a recipe simply because you don’t like it. Like all the other colours, black too has its place.

  • Black makes colours placed next to it appear brighter and if it totally surrounds the colour the colour will also appear bigger than it is. We can often see this effect in stained glass windows.

In the picture above, both red squares are the same size, however, the one surrounded by black looks bigger and the one surrounded by white seems to shrink and the colour looks less vibrant.

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