Technology and filmmaking are intrinsically tied together, but enough is enough. Let’s talk about the aesthetics of color. No understanding of color in film can be complete without a real solid grounding in the basic tenets of color theory.


We’ll start with the RGB Additive color wheel - this color wheel is a little different from the color wheels you can find in art stores (many are based on older models and a subtractive color wheel) but this is the one used in color suites. Our three primary colors are Red Green and Blue - arranged in an equilateral triangle along the edge of the circle. The colors that bridge the arc between the primary colors are made combining the two primary colors together. The area inside the color wheel is made of colors that are created when adding the third primary color into the mix. When all three primary colors are combined equally and fully they create white - this is an additive system.


Right away we can see the most important color relationship - opposite colors called complementary colors. Drawing a line from a primary color through the middle of the circle we find that the opposite of Red is Cyan. The opposite of Green is Magenta and the opposite of Blue is Yellow.

Complementary colors when placed next to each other create strongest of color contrasts. But that’s not the only common color relationship scheme. Triadic colors are three colors that are equally spaced on the color wheel. Triadic color creates the widest sense of color variation. Tetradic uses 4 colors evenly spaced around the color wheel. Similar to Triadic is the split complementary which pulls colors from each side of complementary color but doesn’t give us as wide a sense as Triadic. And the least color contrast most harmonious color combinations are called analogous colors which are colors that lie next to each other along the color wheel.

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