Friday, September 7, 2012

Understanding Color and Achieving Desired Results

I have added this post on the color page, as I don't know how to get this to show up both places, repeating it here.  But I couldn't get back to sleep this morning as I am reviewing my color presentation skills. I realize I cannot compromise how I present for the sake of speed, it results in double work, overthinking a rationale, only to realize the first choice was the best choice anyway.  Sometimes the visual speaks more clearly than words. That being written, there are no photos at this time to illustrate what I am writing about this morning. The visual support will come later.

Color has many facets. It is perceived differently under MANY conditions.
When specifying a palette for a room, I prefer to have large samples for my clients to review. I have with long time clients begun to share preliminary ideas on color selection directly from the fan deck, in the name of efficiency. However, I find this is not conducive to their understanding of color. Many people see the gradation of a paint deck and it influences them as to what that particular hue is. A particular brown, may turn gray, or mauve, or green as it becomes lighter on the fan deck. This is NOT how the color will read on the walls.

The color is influenced by its neighboring colors. Therefore, a color viewed with its gradient components and a color viewed with its partners in a palette will occur differently. Natural and artificial lighting will also impact the perception of the color. For this reason it is important to view the entire palette together.

A color professional understands how these variables work together and with experience, know how to achieve the finished results that are desired. It is much like a painter. A painter knows what color to highlight and what color to create shadows. It is rarely black and white. It may be a green or a pink or a cream or a red brown, a green brown, a black brown or even a blue brown.

There are so many colors available to us. To the untrained eye, the distinction is difficult to perceive. Some of us distinguish greens and the subtle difference, however, given the same range in blues, may not be able to distinguish the same number of different hues.

The reason this happens is due to the value (light to darkness scale) and saturation (the purity of a hue) of a particular color and how the color next to it is perceived differently.

We can achieve vibrating boundaries,  where the line between the colors appears to move or flash. The other phenomenon is sometimes called fluting. this is where the hue appears lighter on one side than the other. This is due to the colors adjacent being lighter or darker than the central color. This is one of the best ways to see how neighboring colors affect the focus color.

Saturation, which is the purity of the color, also impacts how color is detected as well. If there is a room and the four walls are painted deep rich tones of one to three colors, a white ceiling is out of the question. The ceiling will appear gray and depending on the size of the room, change the proportion of the color, throwing the balance.

The ceiling color may be a lighter color, however the intensity of that color must be adjusted to the depth of the wall color. The wall color is reflecting in the corners and will give the visual cue that the ceiling is indeed part of the roomscape. That doesn't mean the ceiling color is as dark or as deep as the wall color, it just needs to be deeper than you want it to be perceived. Often times, a novice will be looking at the individual color and think "oh, that is too dark, or too deep, etc." and they will select the color that they want to 'see' on the ceiling. They understand what they want, but without the experience and technical knowledge of color, the ceiling will be too light. (this doesn't only apply to ceilings, it is when pairing any colors together)

An experienced color professional will be able to determine how to compensate for the value, saturation and hue to achieve the desired perception.

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