Designing with Color
There is no way to set out the ABCs of color use in your design. The
goal of this chapter has been to give you a theoretical background, a
basic understanding so that you can use whatever colors you wish to
achieve your desired effect.
You do not need a tutorial to explain where to place a light, what
color to make it, and what intensity to set. You need to equip yourself
with a basic understanding of color and the effects it has on your scene.
You need to understand how the light plays in your scene and what a col
ored light does to a colored texture. You should have an understanding of
what different colors and intensities do to your scene to bring about a
desired psychological or emotional response from your viewers.
There is only one way to achieve this knowledge and understanding,
and that is by practice. Practice your lighting and trust your eye. When
you choose a color, look at how it plays on the scene and ask yourself
how it makes you feel, what, if any, emotional response you have to it,
and what sort of mood you think the light brings to your scene.
If I were an audience member and was shown a scene brightly lit
with warm hues of pink and orange, I might expect that the scene will be
happy, invigorating, joyful, or even comedic. If the scene were lit dimly,
on the other hand, using the cool hues of blue and green, I might be
expecting a darker tone to the scene, a morose theme, or perhaps black
This is not to say that you might not light a death scene very
brightly with highly saturated colors and multiple highlights. Such a con
trary set of color choices may serve not to dilute the emotions of loss
and grief but to enhance and complement them, perhaps even to punctu
ate them by virtue of their complementary and contrasting nature.
You are the designer. The choices are yours.
Now that you have come to the end of this chapter, you should have at
least a basic understanding of color primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries
as well as how light and pigment interact and relate to each other. As an
exercise, you might try imagining what color will result if you shine a
spotlight of color “A” on a surface with color “B.” Fill in the A and B with
whatever color you like. Once you get every answer right, you’ve pretty
much got color mixing down.
Part III: Creating Lighting ··································