OUR BRAIN CONTINUOUSLY COMPARES THINGS WE SEE INCLUDING THE COLOURS.  DIFFERENT COLOURS WILL LOOK DIFFERENT WITH DIFFERENT SURROUNDINGS

SEE THE EMOTIONAL REACTIONS TO GREY FOR FURTHER INFORMATION.

The surrounding colours can make a colour look totally different as seen in the examples below.

When an apricot colour has orange around it it looks bluer than when you see it with green. The eye is looking at the 3 colours and comparing them. This concept should be considered in all aspects of design - from a graphic in an add to matching a top with pants.


If you choose a colour with elements of each of the surrounding colours you will see the central colour taking on the properties of the other colour visually.

That is the warmer, redder mauve makes the little square look colder and bluer, and the colder, bluer purple makes the little square look pinker and warmer.

A similar thing happens when you use 2 primary colours and the secondary colour in the centre. The green becomes bluer visually when surrounded by yellow, and yellower when surrounded by blue. It should also be noted that a lighter surrounding(yellow) will make the small square look darker, and the darker surrounding (dark blue) will make the green little square look lighter. These should be considered when painting a wall. Your furniture could look different colour afterwards!


Another example is when there is a tan centre. When it is lighter pink the tan appears darker than if surrounded by a dark green. The tan also looks a different colour - it looks greener on the pink, and pinker on the green. The eye is comparing the 4 squares and 'balancing' in the brain.

In these office concepts, using Jeanene Hyles "Radiate" hand painted panels, the brown timber, and the art work seem darker with pale beige walls. When the walls become dark blue they are lighter.

When you paint the wall in one of the colours of an art work the art looks so different!

The pink stands out on the blue, while the blue contrasts against the pink wall.

Using these ideas in practice allows you to change the wall colour to create a very different emotional response!

Different light colours will make an object look different. Our brain will look at different parts of the image, compare them and determine what the colour would be if it were illuminated with white light. Below are images of copper nails with different colours. We know they are copper coloured because we compare different parts of the image. If it were cropped so that you only see the coloured part, then you may think that they are coloured nails!

This throw  T1307 has pale beiges and apricots. When it is on a red background compared to a tan background the value changes. It seems lighter on the red, as there is more contrast


When there is a blue background compared to the pale background the throw seems lighter.

An environment, such as a wall or floor colourwill make the throw seem different when you compare the two colours.


This scarf S1615 is predominately pale sage.

When it is on a red background compared to a tan background the value changes.

It seems lighter on the red, as there is more contrast.

When there is a blue background compared to the pale background the scarf seems lighter.

When you compare the red and blue backgrounds, the scarf seems bluer on the red

An environment, such as a jacket or skirt or pant will make the scarf seem different when you compare the two colours.

This scarf S0903 is made with blues.

When it is on an red/orange background compared to a tan background the value changes.

It seems lighter on the red, as there is more contrast.

When there is a blue background compared to the pale background the throw seems lighter.

When you compare the red/orange and blue backgrounds, the one on the red/orange seems to be brighter.

An environment, such as a jacket or skirt or pant will make the scarf seem different when you compare the two colours.