Brightness - Quantity contrast, darker and lighter colours

By building the colour-wheel in the previous section, you've taken an important step toward using more of your Lego collection, like greyscales however, colours are not equally bright, and you need to take this into account when creating colourschemes:

On one hand you wish to know whether the colours are sufficiently distinguished or fade too much into each other, making it hard to photograph and appreciate the MOC.
On the other hand you will be able to use brightness and colour quantity to throw off the neatness and actively use the contrast to create visual interest.

Brightness values and quantity contrast

This is made obvious when you turn your images into black and white.

Goethe gave the following brightness values to the primary and secondary colours:

Yellow 9
Orange 8
Red 6
Purple 3
Blue 4
Green 6

These brightness values can be used to calculate how much you need of two contrasting colours if you wish that they appear en "equal" quantity:

This means that in a dual contrasting colourscheme you’ll have to use

Note that Goethe published these figures in 1810, well before the invention of the camera, Lego palette, and photo editing software, so they should only be considered as rough guidelines.

Quantity Contrast Colour-wheel

These proportion can be illustrated with the special quantity-contrast wheel to the right.

The basic principle is that you

  1. Leave out all tertiary colours
  2. Arrange all six pairs of contrasting primary and secondary colours (roughly) opposite each other
  3. In the relative proportions mentioned above.

You probably won't need the quantity-wheel as much as the regular colour-wheel, but it's a good thing to have standing around, as a reminder.

Testing your WIP with photoshop

You can use photoshop and WIP-shots to test your colour-combinations during the building process. However, don't just use desaturate because it'll just flatten the colours (like in the image on the right), which gives you no information at all.

Instead you should adjust via image > adjustment > channel mixer. You can see why and how in this CS4 tutorial.
Adjusting the settings by RGB 50,80,0% seem to create a pretty decent result, but you may want to use the colour-wheel image to experiment with the settings yourself.


In the last section of the colour theory, we'll take a look at colour positioning and simultaneous contrast.

[return to colour tutorial index]

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