Color Usage (2/2)

 1. Introduction 2. Color Selection 3. Coloring Techniques

Coloring Techniques
Color can both increase the beauty of a tessellation as well as contribute to its understanding. Consider the following example:

 These two images are of the same tessellation. However, the one of the left is not as visually appealing as the one on the right. Additionally, the color in the one on the right tells us important information: we can see clearly that the tessellation is made up of three types of shapes: hexagons (purple), equilateral triangles (blue), and squares (white). We can easily isolate in our minds each of the different types of shapes. For example, the equilateral triangles are arranged either in side-by-side pairs or alone.

The colored tessellation above illustrates the most straight-forward common coloring technique: color all the shapes of a particular type the same color. For example, all hexagons in the tessellation above are colored purple, all squares are colored white, and all equilateral triangles are colored yellow.

Another coloring technique is to use the same color to fill entire regions that you wish to emphasize. In this technique, you pay less attention to the kind of shapes you are coloring but more attention to the overall shape that you create with color. Consider the following examples:

 Notice that some equilateral triangles are blue while others are pink. This type of coloring focuses more on the overall shapes formed by colors. In this tessellation, the "rings" of shapes around the hexagons are colored pink while the spaces between these "rings" are colored blue and the hexagons themselves are colored yellow.

 This type of coloring focuses more on the overall shapes formed by colors. In particular, a light yellow color is used in this tessellation to form continuous vertical strips of polygons.

Yet another technique is to cycle colors in a predictable manner. This technique is similar to the last one described in that little attention is given to the coloring of types of shapes. Instead, opportunities to use cycles of colors are sought. Consider the following example:

 The colors red, blue, and white are cycled around each "ring" of shapes surrounding each hexagon. All "rings" are colored in this way, and the spaces between "rings" are colored black. Furthermore, the hexagons themselves are given a light gray shade. Altogether, the resulting tessellation is very interesting.

A last technique that will be mentioned is to remove the outline of the shapes. Throughout this site, the black outline remains in the tessellations, but this is done only for instructional purposes. When the outlines are removed, the resulting tessellations can be very striking. (Note, however, that adjacent shapes of the same color may merge into a single shape after removing the outline.) Consider the following example:

 A version of the previous tessellation without outlines. Does this tessellation seem to pop out in three dimensions to you? It should. Read on to find out why.

The examples on this page should give you some insight into the many ways tessellations can be colored. It should also raise your curiosity. In fact, if you review the images on this page, you will notice that each is a different coloring of the same tessellation! So, in addition to the infinite number of ways you can create and modify tessellations, you also have an infinite number ways to color them!

This section was not meant to be a comprehensive introduction to colors (see the web links below for more information). Enough background information has been provided in order for you to make new discoveries in coloring tessellations. Of course, the most important thing to do is to experiment yourself!

 Real examples of coloring techniques:

 Visit the templates page for templates of tessellations that you can print out and color.

 Web Links Color Wheels: The Artist's Most Useful Reference Tools Color Perception Basic Color Theory Color Theory