THIS should be studied regularly, not only by all engaged in practical design work, but by all who have to adapt, or to vary, the colour schemes of given designs, or who have to determine the causes of failure in producing desired effects.
It is evident that where a variety of tints is required in one pattern there will be greater outlay in production than where but a few tints are used; therefore if by using three colours in varying proportions we can produce seven tints, there will be some saving in the cost. This is, of course, perfectly well known in certain industries, notably the textile and colour printing trades, but it is not yet studied as fully or as systematically as it should be.
By way of experiment blue and yellow may be used. If three squares be filled with narrow lines of alternate blue and yellow in the proportion of
(a) two blue to one yellow, (b) two blue to two yellow, and (c) one blue to two yellow, the results will be (a) a broken blue inclining to green, (b] green, and (c) a broken greenish yellow.
This, with the two original colours, gives five separate tints instead of two, not to mention the variations of texture due to the size of the figures and the modes of grouping them. The addition of another colour to this experiment means an addition of six more tints due to intermingling, so that the total of tints at our disposal becomes three original and nine additional, or twelve in all.
Experiment in this direction is evidently worth while.
In practice the results of this intermingling can be very beautiful. They allow gradations and subtle variations of colour, so that with comparatively unpromising materials and limited resources quite charming effects can be obtained. Discords can be employed in this way to produce luminous colour.
REACTIONS are responsible for the failure of many colour-schemes because of the extraordinary changes which colours appear to undergo under the influence of their surroundings.
After looking for a time at any strong colour the eye tends to see the opposite of that colouk If after looking at a strong red one looks at a fresh green, the green will appear bluer than it would if the red were not seen first. The direct opposite of red being green-blue, the eye is inclined to see that colour after looking for a time at the red, and so the neighbouring green will appear bluer than it really is.
In the same way a mass of strong green-blue tends to make its surroundings redder. Rose against orange-red will appear more purple than when seen alone. Blue against strong, bright green tends to look more violet.
The remedy for this trouble is perfectly simple?merely add to the injured colour a sufficient portion of the colour which is causing the injury. Thus, a rose-tint which has been turned purple by the violence of a neighbouring orange may be restored by adding to it a sufficiency of orange. As the rose is warmed and reddened the purple effect will disappear. In practice this may be done either by actual mixture of colour or by intermingling by means of spots or fine stripes. Of course, if one were actually dealing with a delicate rose colour, it would be a matter for one's own judgment to decide whether to mix orange with it or to substitute a redder tint for the rose, relying upon the force of the orange in making the red appear rosy.
Colourless spaces can be made to appear as though they were coloured by means of reaction from their surroundings. A space of neutral grey has, when surrounded by a bright and very greenish blue, apparently turned a reddish pink. A complete cure was effected by adding some of the same greenish blue to the neutral grey.
Similarly black, used side by side with greenish blue, has appeared quite rusty. This is a matter of very great importance to all who have to use colour in decoration, and particularly in printed or woven fabrics, for a good working knowledge of the reactions of colour will save much valuable time in seeking for the cause of a defect, and it may even prevent the spoiling of a quantity of valuable material.
It is hardly necessary to supply a table of reactions, as a thorough study of the table of contrasts, with a thoughtful application of its principles, will enable any student to determine the cause of a reaction and to find a remedy.
Ground tints are peculiarly liable to change when patterns are worked over them, and so utterly unrecognisable do colours become under such conditions that even the most experienced eye may be deceived. For a good example take an orange ground, cut it in two, and work a pattern over one half in strong yellow-green, but over the other half in strong reddish purple. If this is done fairly, the experimenter will find it hard to believe that he really used but one colour for the two grounds.
VERY few people, except: those who are called upon to face the actual facts, ever realize the extent to which colour-schemes are affected by the conditions of lighting.
Dazzling sunshine, pale sunlight, cold, clear greyness, heavy murkiness, reflections from blue sky, reflections from sunlit cloud?all affect colour differently.
The intensity of sunshine at its brightest is so tremendous that it seems to take the heart out of all colour which has no depth. For example, half-strengths of red under a blazing sun look utterly washed out, while a red of the fullest possible hue appears no more than reasonable. Similarly, full greens and blues will become quite quiet and satisfactory.
Of course, direct, strong sunlight adds a certain amount: of yellow to all colours upon which it falls, and this helps to bring together tints which would otherwise appear to be too far apart. Strong orange and purple, brilliant rose and yellow-green are all made more manageable under the influence of the yellow light.
The intensity of certain colours which occur side by side on some of the parrot tribe is easily understood if one thinks of them under the influence of brilliant, warm light.
Under the same conditions black loses its sombre character and seems to glow.
The choice of colours for dress is no doubt partly influenced by the conditions of light under which they are to be seen. Deep colours, as well as brilliant, are popular in Central Africa. Tints like those in a border of summer flowers are common enough in the hotter parts of India; but however strange some of the mixtures may appear to us when seen under English skies, there can be no doubt that they look perfectly right and quite beautiful when harmonized by the sun.
Those engaged in the preparation of coloured fabrics for export to tropical countries should give this matter their closest attention, for colour is certainly the attractive force, and unless the reasons for the choice be understood, it will always be difficult and risky work to arrange patterns, especially new ones, for these markets. As an instance, it has been found that although certain African tribes will buy some types of English prints, they will not use them until they have treated them with a deep blue dye of their own. Again, English firms are constantly called upon to supply, for India, patterns in which a particularly gaudy red and green predominate. Seen in a warehouse, laid out flat amid dingy surroundings, these cottons often look atrocious, but thrown into folds, and seen under strong sunlight, they are entirely transformed and become quite beautiful.
To test colour effects of such a vivid type the student should obtain pieces of dyed material and put them together in the strongest possible sunshine and in the open air. He will be surprised to find how crude greens, reds, and violets will blend, provided that the colour patches are not too large.
The grey light of this country is more: favourable to medium strength of colour and broken tints, and this is true in other countries under similar climatic conditions.
The most beautiful Japanese colour-schemes are remarkable for their restraint, and thougL some of the Chinese schemes are very clear anc brilliant they do not exhibit the tremendou force of those used under a fiercer sun.
A remarkable example of variation in the strength of colour, as used under different climatic conditions, may be seen in the North of Italy. In the high country around the lake broken colours and half-tints are most in. evidence. The natural surroundings are mountains and hills full of lovely greys and soft blues, which form a perfect setting for woods and gardens. Everything suggests beautiful but comparatively quiet, colour.
An hour or two by rail and one passes into a land of make fields, open and flat, under a blazing sun. With the changed conditions the dress of the country folk changes colour, and one sees vivid crimson and green, violet, orange and purple; but the eye does not shrink from them?the sun brings them together and harmonizes all.
Under northern skies strong colours appear again, not because of the sun, but for want of it. Darkness and cold and snow call for something to give brightness and warmth to the eyes, and the peasant dress of Scandinavia and Northern Russia shows a great partiality for bright colour.