Art: Example of color that 'glows'. How/why does this work?
 
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  1. #1
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    Example of color that 'glows'. How/why does this work?

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    "Glowing Colors" by Tom Brown


    I want to understand how and why the values and colors seem so intense and glowing here.

    I thought maybe the 'overspray' effect was the key, but I took it into photoshop and erased that and it barely diminished the effect.

    Then I switched it to greyscale to see if it had anything to do with the semi-complementary colors offsetting but that didn't change it much either.

    The only other things I can think of are the value scale, contrast, and those firm edge value transitions.

    The difference between the darkest shadow and brightest highlight isn't all that severe.

    The contrast is strong in places, especially above and below the blue ring of the cup that does glow very strong.

    I wonder if the effect would be so strong if the value shifts were smooth and natural instead of the firm transitions, especially on the orange. That contrast may be key.


    I just know somebody is going to tell me it's all of the above. Still, any insight would be cherished.

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    Somebody who really knows this stuff may well pop in and tell me I'm full of it, but here's my take on it..

    First it's essentially an orange and blue composition with a little green thrown in, and there's more orange at high saturation than there is blue. But there's more going on than that to aid that glowing effect. Look at all that orange/yellow light reflecting onto the side of the teacup for one thing. And down on the tabletop. The colors of that peach (or whatever it is) are worked in all over really, as are the blues of the teacup. And even when you turn the saturation down to look at it in black and white, there's still reflected light bleeding into every shadow. That gives a strong impression of bright light bouncing around between all the visible surfaces in a room where the background is dark.

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    It is a clever use of hue, complementary, cool/warm, value, saturation, simultaneous and extension contrast. So, yes, it is all of the above. I suggest you read up on Johannes Itten's colour contrasts...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Darkstrider View Post
    And even when you turn the saturation down to look at it in black and white, there's still reflected light bleeding into every shadow. That gives a strong impression of bright light bouncing around between all the visible surfaces in a room where the background is dark.
    Yiiis. Mostly reflected light, I'd say. This version doesn't look as "glowy", right?

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    Another question might be whether the technique actually creates an interesting painting. This kind of loose brush work certainly has bravado to it, but the colors here are, in my opinion, too formulaic to sustain interest.

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    It's more having the pure unadulterated colour next to greyed down ones that give that glow.

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    Black spot is right. Bright color near grayed down ones boost contrast. And look at every object: are highlighted, with a darker grayish but still colored core in it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Priestley View Post
    Yiiis. Mostly reflected light, I'd say. This version doesn't look as "glowy", right?

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    Another question might be whether the technique actually creates an interesting painting. This kind of loose brush work certainly has bravado to it, but the colors here are, in my opinion, too formulaic to sustain interest.
    I don't know, that still feels pretty glowy to me. Certainly I get a sense of strong brilliant sunlight on the scene. I would say it's the strong value contrast between the lights and shadows.

    Last edited by krysjez; April 19th, 2014 at 09:15 PM.
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    It still works because of the gray shadow on the cup. Try to make it all white (as one could just trying for pump up lights). The magic will disappear =)

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    any light value will glow when surrounded by darker values....
    It's all a game of contrast.....
    And also the high saturation plays a big role in making that orange really shine...
    And also the orange is surrounded by it's complement.....

    It's the ultimate contrast!!!

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    These diagrams should help anyone who thinks the glow can be explained purely in terms of contrast. (Sorry, I can't at the moment remember their original source!). The two diagrams are made of identical pieces differently arranged. The diamond shape on the left has more contrast at its edges, and this can make it look whiter (particularly when printed out), but it's the diamond shape on the right that seems to glow. I believe this glow results from the value gradients radiating from the shape, which give the impression of the halation of light that occurs when we look at bright lights surrounded by darkness. (Of course, the value of the diamond shape necessarily has to be higher than the surround, so contrast is involved in that sense).

    A similar effect of halation is a major contributing factor to the glow of the fruit in the painting. Another factor is the presence of colours in the shadows that can be visually interpreted as light reflected from the fruit, as Darkstrider said. Yet another factor is the desaturation of the most brightly lit zone of the fruit, which gives the impression that this area is beyond the level of adaptation of our eyes. (When our eyes are fully adapted, the most brightly lit area is the most strongly coloured). It's this combination of visual cues consistent with the lit area of the fruit radiating large amounts of light that lead us to visually read the image that way.

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    Nice analysis Briggsy,
    well, last week I brought the picture to my pupils. Explain' to them the wise choice the artist did, I find out some intersting relations. The orange and the blu of the cup are complemetary, that's sure. But, look at the deep violet of the cup basament. That's in relation with the yallow top of the orange. This generate a chasm relationship of complemetary, and that's a powerful combo. But still the artist had the last complementary couple, and here comes the green leaves in opposition with the red heart of the orange. That's why this orange is so bright: because is sorrounded by its complementary in different directions. I'm not sure if this artist make all this istinctually or with intellectual process... But sure this is a perfect study on simultaneous complementary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BlindLynx View Post
    Nice analysis Briggsy,
    well, last week I brought the picture to my pupils. Explain' to them the wise choice the artist did, I find out some intersting relations. The orange and the blu of the cup are complemetary, that's sure. But, look at the deep violet of the cup basament. That's in relation with the yallow top of the orange. This generate a chasm relationship of complemetary, and that's a powerful combo. But still the artist had the last complementary couple, and here comes the green leaves in opposition with the red heart of the orange. That's why this orange is so bright: because is sorrounded by its complementary in different directions. I'm not sure if this artist make all this istinctually or with intellectual process... But sure this is a perfect study on simultaneous complementary.
    BlindLynx, those colour pairs - orange/blue, red/green and violet/yellow - are the complementaries of simplistic "traditional" colour theory and can be very misleading, as you will see if you study the afterimage complementaries of the colours in the picture with your own eyes (first attachment: stare at the black dot in a coloured circle for five seconds, and then at the black dot in the grey circle for a few seconds). The afterimage complements of the greens of the leaves are nowhere near the orange-red of the fruit, but are in the range violet to blue-violet. The afterimage complement of the orange-yellow part of the fruit is a deep middle blue, and of the orange-red part is a cyan, again nothing like the yellow-green colour of the leaves.

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    If you look at the RGB colours in the image quantitatively (second attachment), the harmony or gamut essentially involves a broad range of analogous hues centred on orange-yellow (i.e. yellow-green to orange-red), and the middle blue complement of orange-yellow, seen in the stripe on the cup, and also at very low chroma in some of the greys. This complementary gamut certainly gives a liveliness the colours of the picture, though I think it's mainly the subtle blue in the shadows that assists the other factors promoting the actual illusion of luminosity.

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    The orange/blue, red/green and violet/yellow complementaries are part of a very simplistic and antiquated approach to colour theory that was revived in the 1970's when the teaching of the technical elements in art education reached its lowest point. The sooner they are dropped entirely the better!

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    Love the brush strokes.

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    @Briggsy - Oh, the shadow was my first answer upper in the this discussion =) I was charmed by the complementary cross I found out... But it seems to be not a big surprise at all =) I'm charmed by your theory knowledge... I will check the link you suggest, thanx for wisdom!

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    You're very welcome!

    Quote Originally Posted by BlindLynx View Post
    I will check the link you suggest, thanx for wisdom!
    If your're interested, these pages relate to my comments about complementaries:
    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/index.php (introduction)
    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/043.php (on additive complementaries: see attachment)
    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/062.php (history of concepts of primary colours)
    http://www.huevaluechroma.com/072.php#Itten (on one of the main texts of simplistic seventies colour theory)

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  18. #16
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    This page has some additional examples of dramatic "glow" created using specific quantitative colour/value relationships (as opposed to contrast per se):
    http://www.psy.ritsumei.ac.jp/~akita...08mytalke.html

    The apparent brightness of the one below actually causes observers' pupils to contract temporarily, even though the apparently glowing white in the middle is physically identical to the white around the outside.
    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal...l/482008c.html

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  20. #17
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    This is good color contrast!! You can use various oil and water colors which makes much more realistic contrast. Good knowledge about colors helps you to make better color contrast.

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