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Seeing The Color Of Shadows

April 27, 2018

 

 

 

 

Trust what you see, not what you know.

 

Our brain takes mental shortcuts. I don't think it is possible to look and judge everything every single second of our life. When you are looking at an object, take a minute to look at the shadow. This is especially important for artists.

 

Color is affected by many things - not limited to atmosphere, light and environment. As someone that paint outside when Chicago's weather lets me- I need to be careful of color. One important to pay attention to is the color of shadows.

 

Did you know that the color of shadows is the complement of the color of light? If you have a red light, the shadow of the object will be cyan, not green. Make sure you are looking at the light color wheel versus the pigment color wheel.  The color wheels are above for your reference. Complementary colors are defined as the color across from the color wheel.

 

The human retina has rods and cones to see light. Cones are responsible for color vision. There are three types of colors humans see. They are red, green and blue lights. With the mix of these three colors, we are able to see a range of colors. Remember, this is light. Unlike mixing paint, the addition of these three colored lights we get white light. In paint, the addition of red, green and blue paints we get black paint. 

 

Mixing paint is subtraction of colors. Adding more colors in pigment will give you black.

 

Light is addition of colors. Adding more colors in light will give you white.

 

Let's say you have an object with a lamp. You put a red light.   Add another light source. Casting that light source will cause a cyan color in the shadow.

 

What is going on? 

 

With only the red light, the object will cast a black shadow. When you add another light source, you have red green and blue. Red is blocked. So you only have green and blue left. Green and blue lights combined gives you cyan according to the light color wheel. 

 

When you look at something, believe your eyes not just what your brain is telling you. Your brain may only know certain information so far. 

 

You may download your own copy of the color wheel here and here.

 

Watch the video.

 

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