Clashing colors: when they work… and when they don’t

Clashing colors: when they work… and when they don't

Clashing Colors: when they work

Clashing Colors: when they work

Strongly contrasting colors can cause problems. In nature, green and red can work harmoniously, as here, but see how the red text clashes against the green background – and it’s the same combination the image has.

Strongly-contrasting colors can cause problems. In nature, green and red can work harmoniously, as here, but see how the red text clashes against the green background – and it’s the same combination the image has.

There is a bit of a paradox here. Quite often you’ll find that colors that don’t combine too well on a printed page can work very well in nature.

Take our example of a bright red/orange nasturtium bloom against a dark green background. It works very nicely, producing a strong color contrast and a vibrant image. Below that is a title bar in green with red lettering. Ouch! That doesn’t work at all.

As mentioned before, red letters seem to ‘jiggle’ against this kind of background, and despite the color contrast, they’re still not that easy to pick out.

Hence the need, sometimes, to look for other ways to emphasise color contrasts to make them work – and not to treat color theory as a set of rules you have to follow slavishly, but simply as an aid to understanding why some images work and others don’t.

PAGE 1: What are clashing colors?
PAGE 2: When clashing colors work
PAGE 3: When clashing colors don’t work

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