Color Tutorial: A Quick View of Complemntary Colors

Two pairs of complementary colors against a single background of hot pink.

Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel. In this case, red and green are one complementary pair. The other is orange and blue.

Also at play here are differences in intensity. The orange and blue have high intensity values: they are "pop" colors which have a brightness, almost a neon, quality to their coloration. The red and green are low intensity colors: dull, matte, very steady in feeling.

One other way to look at this square is through the lens of tint, tone, and shade. Going from lightest to darkest in a single color: 1) a tint is the color + white 2) a tone is the color + grey and 3) a shade is the color + black. In addition, there is the pure color: that is the color, without any other color added to it.

Here, the beet red and the forest green are shades. The dark red is the result of adding black to pure red. The forest green results from a mixture of pure green and black. In contrast, the orange and blue are pure colors: the clearest version of what orange and blue are, without anything added.

We'll see how it works when I finish the last square, which is the pink - a very intense tint - and the pure blue.