How a tessellation is colored greatly affects how we see and interpret
it. Color can enhance the visual appeal of a tessellation and
can also help the viewer better understand the tessellation and
how it was made. Before we discuss techniques of coloring tessellations,
a brief discussion of strategies for selecting colors is necessary.
Care must be taken when choosing colors; the wrong choice of colors
will result in an unattractive tessellation. The color wheel provides
a systematic way to select colors. Consider the following color
This is a color wheel displaying the various hues available to us. ("Hues" refers to difference in the wavelength
of light reflected by the colors.) The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. The secondary colors which are obtained by mixing two primary colors are orange, green,
If two colors from opposite sides of the color wheel are used
in a tessellation, the result is a strong contrast. However, if
two colors very close to each other on the color wheel are used,
the result is a low contrast. Controlling the contrast level will
allow you to control the effect produced by the color combination.
Consider the following examples:
What determines which colors pop out and which ones stay close
to the page? To the human eye, warm colors seem to pop out, while cool colors seem to recede back into the page.
The warm colors lie in the range from purple to red to orange
and to yellow, while the cool colors lie in the range from yellow
to green to blue and to purple. (See the diagram to the right.)
The following image demonstrates the differing effects of warm
and cool colors:
On the left are warm-colored dots against a cool-colored background.
The dots seem to jump out. On the right are cool-colored dots
against a warm-colored background. The dots seem to recede as
"holes" in the background. This illustrates how warm colors seem
to be closer to the eyes than cool colors.
The value, or brightness, of a color also affects whether it pops up or
recedes back. The brighter a color, to closer it seems to the
eye. Similarly, the darker a color, the closer it seems to the
page. Thus, it is possible that a dark shade of red (a warm color)
may seem further from the eye compared to a bright shade of blue
(a cool color).
The same color of blue is used on the left and right sides. However,
a pure red is used on the left while a dark red is used on the
right. Since value affects how close a color seems to our eyes,
the blue squares seem to be further from the eyes on the left
side but seem to be closer to our eyes on the right side.
Visit the templates page for templates of tessellations that you
can print out and color.
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