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

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

Clashing Colors: when they don’t work

Clashing colors: when they don't work

The background colors in this portrait shot clash horribly. The pink and mauve are too far apart to harmonise with each other, yet not far enough apart to contrast properly. They clash because they’re neither similar nor different enough.

Here’s an example of colors that definitely don’t work. The pinks and purples that make up the bulk of this image aren’t adjacent on the color wheel, and they aren’t opposites either. They have similar brightness and they take up a similar proportion of the frame.

You’ve got two colors of similar prominence and strength both fighting for attention and not working at all well together.

It’s often only when you see photographs on-screen or in a print that you realise that the colors don’t work – when it’s too late to go back and do anything about it.

One solution is to ‘cheat’ in your image-editor by subtly adjusting one of the colors so that it harmonises with the other or provides a direct contrast.

You can do this in Photoshop or Elements by tweaking colors selectively in the Hue/Saturation dialog, or you could try the Replace color dialog in Photoshop.

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

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