Color Theory - The Basics - University of Fashion

Color Theory – The Basics

Color Theory – The Basics

This lesson is your introduction to Color Theory: The Basics. Lots of people think color is a mysterious intuitive force that they can never understand. They think that only some people can be “good” at using it, and others can only guess.  Marcie Cooperman, author of Color: How To Use It, will teach you that there are actually color rules and color relationships – and these are tools that you can use are tools that help you make color decisions.  When you learn them, you can feel confident about using color in your fashion designs.

The lesson begins with a brief history of color theory, so that you have a context for what will be discussed.  You will learn about Sir Isaac Newton and his major contribution to the study of color and light and about Michel Chevreul, the father of color theory, who gave us the Laws of Simultaneous Contrast.  Then you will learn the two systems of color – the subtractive system, which involves using pigments… and the additive system, which is color produced by sunlight. Moving on to the human component of seeing color, you will learn the three factors that allow us to see:  Rods and cones in our eyes; our psychological ability to perceive and comprehend color; and lighting. And finally, you will learn about the three elements of color – Hue, Value and Intensity.

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Isaac Newton

Although he didn’t know it at the time, Isaac Newton was the first man to pave the way to the study of color. How do you do this? You all know the story of how he caught the light of the sun in a prism, which refracted it into seven different hues, and then he used another prism to catch that beam of light and turn it back into the white light of the sun. With the prism, Newton proved that color came from sunlight and not from the mixture of darkness with light, as people had thought before.

The seven hues of the famous ROY-G-BIV, Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, and Violet. Newton twisted them into a circle because he felt that the first hue, Red, was related to the last hue, Violet. Because of the circular form, we can see the relationships that colors have with each other like complementaries and triads. We’ll discuss those relationships in video number two.