Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Deceptive Colors - Importance of Value and How to Reveal it.

I have been working on the final version of the striped shawl I posted a few weeks back. I have done some adjusting of the design, but mostly I have been focused on choosing what colors I want to use.
Back when I was quilting I learned about a tool called a 'ruby beholder' that is basically a transparent piece of red plastic you can look through. The idea is to gather the fabrics you wish to use in your quilt and examine them through the red viewer. The red cancels out the differences in hue allowing you to see the different fabrics in terms of contrasting intensity, or value.
I have a selection of skeins of the planned yarn (Wool of the Andes Tweed) and yesterday I spent time grouping them in sets of 4 to 6 skeins, taking photos then saving another copy of the photo in gray scale. The gray scale photo makes clear whether or not the contrast of value between the colors is enough to be effective. It is remarkably difficult to tell the true contrast in value between yarns from a colored photo.
For example:

appeared to be a grouping of blues and greens with fairly good contrast and I quite liked it as a possibility until I took a good look at the gray scale version:
As you can see, the first and third skeins (from the left) in the center row have almost identical intensities, as do the top and bottom skeins, and the second and fourth skeins. It looks more like a collection of three colors of two skeins each than my planned six-skein grouping. This might very well still work as long as I am careful to not place the colors of same intensity next to each other in the final pattern. For that the gray scale photo will be invaluable. Huh, it seems by chance I separated the similarly-valued yarns from each other without realizing it. Perhaps I have an internal 'ruby beholder' after working with quilts for so many years?

You might ask what is the importance of contrast, if your eye can perceive the colors as different, won't it be contrast enough, regardless of what the gray scale tells us? That might be fine if you enjoy looking at the colors set out on a display tray in your home, where you can enjoy them from close up, but for garments (and quilts) the visual impact is most often seen from a bit of a distance and if you use colors similar in intensity next to each other it will not have nearly the same impact as using colors that have a distinct and differing value from each other.

Out of the eight color sets, I think I have found two or possibly three that will work. Next step, determining the rate and placement of increases to create the shape that will match my sketch of what I want the shawl to be. 


Don Meyer said...

Wow! That was quite a lesson in color and intensity. I think I learned something, including the bit about the gray scale photos!

'Zann said...

I love the notion of your having an internal 'ruby beholder' - it sounds like a magickal tool of some kind in a role-playing game!

Kym said...

I have learned that lesson the hard way. . . oh, probably three or four times now! Maybe this time, it will stick! :-)

Ria said...

I like the B&W copy idea - I will be using it.

And happy Cake Day!!

AlisonH said...

Happy Birthday-plus Day!

One of the other things that happens when you do that with the colors is that you are better able to see how a colorblind person would perceive it. I have a friend who can point out differences others miss, because the things he doesn't see give him clarity on what he does.

Just like I with my high-frequency loss can notice things in sounds that others totally don't notice.