Oct 10, 2010

Color: Analogous Split Complementary Color Composition

Split Complementary Color
There are plenty of ways to organize color in you drawings and paintings. One such way is to use the color complements as a way to create harmony, balance, tension, and contrast when and where you want such elements in your composition. Today, I will introduce one method of using the color complements called analogous split complementary color and I will give an example of how it can be applied. 

Artists devised a way to combine the use of color complements and and the analogous colors to design their compositions. This method is known as analogous split color complements or analogous split complementary color.

Let's look at how to apply this to painting or drawing.

Some Terms

As mentioned in an earlier post, complementary colors are the colors directly across from each other on the color wheel. The each of the two colors are basically the negative aspect or the opposite of each other. This means that if you mix the two colors together and you end up with a neutral gray.  In the example to the right, I am using blue and orange.

Analogous colors are the colors next to each other on the color wheel and these colors share traits that make them similar to the colors closest to them on the color wheel. The example to the right show the analogous colors between found red and yellow.

Finding the Analogous Split Complements

To create an analogous split complementary color composition, start by taking the two colors next to one of your chosen color complements. In this example, I am using orange and blue as my color complements. 

For my example, I plan to use the orange as the less dominant color and blue and the colors analogous to blue will be the dominant colors in the composition. I started by picking the colors next to orange on the color wheel for the colors I plan to use. As you can see, one is a little redder than orange and the other is a little more yellow.

Next, I select blue and the analogous colors for my composition. Here you have the opportunity to make some choices, you can select just a few analogous colors or a wide range of colors, depending on what you want to accomplish. In my example, I have decided to use the colors up to but not including yellow and red. Again you can select a smaller range of color next to blue to narrow your color palette.

I now have all the colors I need for an analogous split complementary color composition.

One Way to Use Analogous Split Complements 

Here is an example of a figure study painting using blue analogous split color complements. 

Look at the basic breakdown of the of the complements. 

As you can see, I used the oranges for the lightest area of the skin of the figure and the blues for the rest of the composition. This will create a color contrast helping make certain areas of the figure the focus and warm up the skin color.

To the right, you can see the painting divided into just the complements. This, along with other techniques, helps set up the focal points at the area where the most light is hitting the figure.

The painting uses more than just the two colors. Not only did I use blue, I also used the colors analogous to blue for the setting and atmosphere around the figure. This includes the shadows on the figure as well.

The example to the right is showing only the colors analogous to blue. I have removed the oranges to demonstrate that blue and its analogous colors dominate the composition. These colors share similarities to each other and create a sense of balance and harmony in the areas they reside.

This next example shows only the colors near orange.  You can see how little orange is in the composition. This creates color contrast and draws the eye to the areas of colors that clash with the analogous colors.

Examples of Analogous Split Color Complements

Below are three examples of analogous split complementary color palettes.  These three are based on the primary colors, red, yellow, and blue.  Using this method is easy to do, give it a try and create a composition based on one of the color complements.

Blue analogous split complementary color

Yellow analogous split complementary colors 

Red analogous split complementary colors