Last week I shared a couple of ways to get dynamic contrast with ink on white paper, so this week I will cover how to get contrast with color. Now the obvious thought would be to just put dark colors next to light colors. While this will certainly work, there is a way to achieve a more impacting an aesthetically pleasing finished work. This is where the color wheel comes in to play. In the image above I wanted to show a stark contrast between the side of the painting with the monsters and the side with the boy. Since purple and yellow are opposite each other on the color wheel, putting dark purple sky next to light yellow clouds creates a maximum contrast with color.
The same color contrast theory was used in this Punisher colored pencil drawing. Since I used a lot of blue in Frank's suit, I used various tones of orange in the background since orange and blue are opposites on the wheel. The highlights of magenta, yellow, and green in the guns and his hair round out the wheel and provide visual balance. Since I like to use an array of colors in most of my work, color wheel theory helps to avoid a busy mess of randomly placed pigments.
The next time you are stuck for ideas or struggling to find a balance in your art when you view it from a distance, take a look at the wheel above and see which colors your piece may be missing, or what tones and shades of a color could help add dynamic contrast to your work. Most of all, have fun with it!
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