The importance of color in clothing and house fur-nishing is even greater than that of design. The effect of a good design may be ruined by poor color combination, and an excellent color scheme will do much to redeem a poor design. Color is ever present and deter.
Colors in their greatest intensities correspond in value to spots opposite mines the atmosphere of a room or costume. Color has a decided effect upon the nerves, although one is not always conscious of its influence.
As in design there are principles which aid in producing and judging good results, so in color there are theories which aid in the development of a good color sense. The science of color has been slow to develop, but of recent years definite scales have been formulated, which correspond to scales in music, and rules for color harmonies determined. The use of these scales is not very general yet. Only a few principles for producing color harmonies will be given here. If a beam of light is divided by means of a triangular glass prism, the constituent parts when impinged on a white screen will show a band of colors. Beginning at one end with a deep crimson, this gradually shades into a brilliant red, which develops into orange, then into yellow, green, blue, and finally into violet. This band of color is known as the solar spectrum and contains all color. The hundreds of variations of color found in nature and used by man are produced by combinations of these colors with each other or with black or white.
The effect of light produced by any pigment material or mixture of pigments is known as a tone. As has been stated above, each tone has two elements, the element of light or shade, which may be known as value, and the element of color or hue.
When we speak of value, we mean the amount of light present, or the absence of light. If we were to make a scale of spots, white at one end, and gradually becoming darker until we had black at the other end, we should have a scale of values. We should have absence of color, but a variety of light and shade.
The colors of the spectrum are as pure as it is possible to obtain color, and are therefore said to be in their greatest intensity; that is, the red is as red as is possible, the blue as blue, and so on. Opposed to this intensity is neutrality, in which we have no color. The scale of values between black and white is a neutral scale.
If now we should compare the colors of the spectrum with the scale of values, we should find that each color in its greatest intensity would correspond in value with one of the neutral spots in that scale. In those colors we should have great difference in value, from very light yellow to dark violet.
By adding black or white to any color, it is possible to lessen its intensity and change its value, so that we may produce any one color in all the different values of the scale. These variations of the color are known as tints and shades. Again, between the color in its greatest intensity and the neutral spot of the same value there are a great many variations. As we neutralize the intense color, we have a series of tones, often known as broken tones. These broken tones differ from tints and shades of the original color, in that they may either be of the same value as the intense color, or they may be of different values; but if this is the case they are not as intense as the tint or shade of the original color in that value would be.
Fig. 41. Scale of Values from White to Black.
If the six colors of the spectrum, together with the colors formed by the combination of any two adjacent colors, be put in a sequence, as in the figure, we should have a circle, in which each color is related to the one next it. This may be called the color wheel, and serves as a basis for study of color relations.
In examining this wheel it is readily seen that the colors near one another are closely related, while those farther apart have little in common. The colors directly opposite in the wheel have least in common, and therefore make the greatest contrast. These strongly contrasting colors are known as complementary colors. Combined in pure form, as found in the spectrum, they produce white light; in pigments they produce a neutral gray. Red and green, blue and orange, violet and yellow, are examples of complementary colors. Contrasting colors when placed in juxtaposition produce the effect of a greater difference than really exists. When properly used the contrast given by complementary colors is pleasing, though exciting, and must be used with care. Ordinarily one color is used in greater quantity than its complementary: thus there is not a struggle for predominance.
The combination of colors just next to the complementary is less contrasting than the complementary combination. The colors more nearly adjacent on the wheel have even more in common. As the interval between the colors becomes smaller, the contrast becomes less and less.
Very pleasing combinations of colors in this small interval may be produced: for example, greens and blues, or orange yellows and yellows, or greens and yellows. On the red side of the circle the combinations are more difficult. The colors are very warm, and there is a greater difference between the reds and violets than between the oranges and yellows.
Used in their full intensities most combinations of colors on the wheel are harsh and unpleasant. There must be modification of the colors. Tints and shades and broken tones are most used in producing harmonies. This is especially true in clothing and house furnishing.