There are so many different colors in the vast world; such as various shades of colors found in nature, or brighter hues and tones of paint on a canvas. But, how do we get all of these colors? Well it might surprise you to know that we actually get all colors from the way our eye perceives light and the way materials either absorb or reflect this light.

How could this be? Well it’s simple – you just combine the lights in different ratios. By changing the brightness in certain different colors you can get every color you could ever imagine. Millions.

In the world of painting, we use additive coloring to get lighter tints (basically, we mix white with the color to get a tint), and to get a shade, we would add black, or mix darker hues to produce shaded versions of the same color.

But in other industries, and in color theory itself – additive coloring is a bit different, where for example, combining all three additive primary colors in equal amounts will produce the color white itself. Good examples of this include televisions and computers.

What happens, though, when the source of your color is notlight, but instead is something like a book or photograph? Well it’s easy – we just use Subtractive Coloring instead. Subtractive Coloring’s colors are Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow. What makes Subtractive Coloring different from Additive is that in Subtractive the three colors are used to make darker colors, and when all three are mixed together they create the color black. For all you Photoshop experts out there – this is what happens when you ‘invert’ an image.

In essence, all colors are made up by how we, as individuals, see them. So, in theory, colors do not exist in nature, but instead are something that we perceive as color given three different situations: white light, the way materials absorb or reflect light, and by the sensibility of the human eye. This would also mean that colors do not exist in powders and paints or fabrics.

So, what does it all mean when we’re discussing interior design? It means that your architecture’s natural light, additive lamps and lighting and compliment palette selections could potentially shift the entire look of the space. And, some eyes will perceive colors differently, and can be more sensitive than others.

At J. Douglas Design, our artists and designers have the right eye to help you find the hues and tones to achieve your decorative design vision.