Complementary Colors - Red and Green: A Photo Gallery

complementary colors - red-green
complementary colors - red-green

Complementary colors are always so striking and appealing to the eyes. This is true both in nature and in man-made things. The explanation for this involves some complex physics formulae as well as color models and theories.

In this hub, I will not go into those formulae and theories but will try to make my explanation as simple and as intuitive as possible.

Complementary Color Basics

When we were in grade school, our teachers showed us a color wheel and told us that complementary colors are those that are opposite each other in the color wheel. As shown in the photo below.

Color wheel. Source:http://blog.printrunner.com/2011/04/understanding-color/
Color wheel. Source:http://blog.printrunner.com/2011/04/understanding-color/

This is the traditional color wheel opposites and we will use it here for the purpose of this hub.

I just wish to mention very briefly that in the RGB (red-green-blue) color model, the true opposites are actually red - cyan; green - magenta; and blue - yellow.

For the purposes of this hub however, we will stick to the red-green, yellow-violet and blue- orange color opposites.

Primary and Secondary Colors

In the traditional color scheme, red, yellow and blue (RYB) are the primary colors. The secondary color meanwhile is formed when two primary colors are mixed with each other. This resulting secondary color is the opposite or the complementary color of the remaining primary color.

For example: Red as the primary color is complementary to green which is a secondary color and is the result of combining the primary colors blue + yellow. Following the same formula, blue as the primary color, is complementary to orange which is the result of combining red + yellow. Finally, yellow is complementary to violet which is the result of combining red and blue. To summarize that:

Primary Color
Complementary Color (Secondary Color)
Combination of Primary Colors
Red
Green
Blue + Yellow
Blue
Orange
Red + Yellow
Yellow
Violet
Red + Blue

Color Mixing

If you mix an opaque paint of two complementary colors, then you get black. However, if you mix light of two complementary colors, then you get white. Either way, paint or light, you will get a neutral color (black, white or gray) when you mix two complementary colors together.

These combinations are the basis for combining light in stage or movie productions as well as in printing. In print however, the main colors used are CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, black).

Complementary Colors Red - Green

In nature, one of the dominant complementary colors is red-green. This color combination abounds everywhere we look. Leaves are primarily green while flowers are predominantly red and its various shades like pink and magenta.

In design, it's usually best to present complementary colors not in a 50-50 combination so as not to overwhelm the senses. In nature's design, green is generally the major color while red is an accent.

We observe this combination in the following flowers. Most of the wild varieties of these flowers are red. However, with the development of horticulture and the demands of florists, you can now get all kinds of colors of these flowers.

a red rose
a red rose

Roses for example always come to mind when you are asked about red flowers. That's why there is the poem that goes this way:

"Roses are red,

Violets are blue

Sugar is sweet

And so are you".

At present however, you can even have a green rose or a black rose.


Poinsettia is also another popular red flower. This is commonly known as the "Christmas flower" because it usually flowers around the Christmas season. The lowering of the temperature triggers the start of its flowering.

Actually, the red part of the Poinsettia is just a bract, a brightly colored leaf. The real flowers are the small yellow ones in the center.

Poinsettia or Christmas flower
Poinsettia or Christmas flower

Hibiscus is also another originally red flower in the wild. That is why its scientific name is Hibiscus rosa sinensis. There are however so many varieties of Hibiscus at present because Hibiscus growers are one of the most active in the world. They are constantly producing new varieties and combinations such that there are even brown-black colored varieties now.

Hibiscus rosa sinensis
Hibiscus rosa sinensis

Euphorbia milii or "Crown of thorns" or "Christ plant" is another originally red flower that has undergone so many variations. Now there are even variegated ones.

Just like the Poinsettia, the brightly colored part is a bract and the real flower are the small ones in the middle. The name by the way is associated with the crown of thorns worn by Jesus Christ.

Euphorbia milii or Crown of Thorns
Euphorbia milii or Crown of Thorns

Other Red flowers

Below are other red flowers that combine beautifully with their green leaves.

Powder puff or Calliandra tergemina
Powder puff or Calliandra tergemina
Santan or Ixora
Santan or Ixora

Except for the "Flaming Katy", the red part of next two flowers are once again bracts rather than the true flowers.


Red ginger
Red ginger
Flaming Katy
Flaming Katy
Bromeliad
Bromeliad

Red-Green, Complementary Colors

Red-Green complementary colors together with gold are considered as the colors of Christmas. How this originated is the subject of another hub that you might be interested in checking.

The-Colors-of-Christmas-Red-Green-and-Gold

More by this Author


Comments 46 comments

Claudia Tello profile image

Claudia Tello 5 years ago from Mexico

I love the first photograph "complementary colors red-green", it has an intimate proxemic and it is very attractive to the eye. It was what actually brought me to your hub.


Hillbilly Zen profile image

Hillbilly Zen 5 years ago from Kentucky

Thank you for such a lovely start to a Sunday morning. You're a very talented artist. Voted up and beautiful.


vasantha  T k profile image

vasantha T k 5 years ago from Bangalore

Beautiful shades of red flower pictures. Good luck


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 5 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I liked that Crown of Thorn flower. I don't think I've ever seen one before.


barryrutherford profile image

barryrutherford 5 years ago from Queensland Australia

love this image fantastic shades of red....


Green Lotus profile image

Green Lotus 5 years ago from Atlanta, GA

Gorgeous photos and just in time for the holidays. My favorite is Euphorbia milii. You must live in the most beautiful city in the world. Good luck with the contest. My fingers are crossed


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Claudia,

Thank you very much for your inspiring comment! What a beautiful way to start my day!

Thanks too for being the first to visit and leave a welcome comment!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Hillbilly,

What a beautiful thing to say! Your comment made me smile; a great way to start my day!

Thank you very much for voting up and beautiful. I really appreciate it!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Vasantha,

It's nice to see you again! I'm happy that you enjoyed the photos!

Thanks very much for visiting and wishing me good luck!

God bless!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 5 years ago from Canada

Fantastic hub - an all-round winner in my books! Great photos, too. Absolutely lovely!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi Lela,

Great to see you again!

The "crown of thorns" is also related to the Poinsettia. I've got several varieties in my garden and their flowers (bracts really) range in color from white - pink - red and everything else in between. Really amazing plant!

Thanks for dropping by!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Barry,

Thank you so much for your visit and wonderful comment! I really appreciate it!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Hillary,

It's so good to see you again. Your visit always makes me smile! You always inspire me with your lovely comments, this one included of course!

Euphorbia milii is such a hardy flower. It blooms all year round and the flowers (bracts really) come in various colors. I'm lucky to have so many varieties in my small garden. I just keep them in pots. They are perfect for areas that receive plenty of sunshine.

Thank you so much for your good luck! Good luck to you too!

God bless!


MoiraCrochets profile image

MoiraCrochets 5 years ago from Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines

Your photos are really great! I wish I have a garden too...


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello RedElf,

It's so great to see you!

Thank you very much for your inspiring comment! I really appreciate it!

God bless!


HikeGuy profile image

HikeGuy 5 years ago from Northern California Coast

You take some of the lushest photographs I've ever seen! Wonderful job of presenting the information about color.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Moira,

Nice to see you again!

Thank you very much for your wonderful comment. Oh, my garden is just small but I am able to get interesting photos. I lost most of my Hibiscus and roses to the flood (Ondoy) that hit us a few years back.

Thanks again!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello HikeGuy,

Thank you very much for dropping by and leaving an inspiring comment! I really appreciate it!

God bless!


Johnjfernando profile image

Johnjfernando 5 years ago

I like how the different colours are shown in the images and how it represents in a vivid and flamboyant way at times. Awesome! and Voted Up!


SanneL profile image

SanneL 5 years ago from Sweden

Your wonderful photos are just a sheer delight to my eyes!

Voted up! Thank you for sharing them with us!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Johnjfernando,

I love your positive and colorful comment! Thank you so very much!

Thanks especially for the vote up and awesome!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi SanneL,

Thank you very much for your visit and wonderful comment! I'm happy that you enjoyed the photos here. Thank you very much!

Thanks most especially for the vote up.

God bless!


Jamie Brock profile image

Jamie Brock 5 years ago from Texas

Thanks for sharing this information. You've explained some things I'd always seen in photoshop but never really understood...like RGB and CMYK. Also, it's interesting learning which colors combine to make other colors. The photos are beautiful too! Voted up, useful and awesome!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 5 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Jamie,

You are most welcome! It's really my pleasure to share what I know and enjoy. So I'm thanking you for your very positive feedback and appreciation of my efforts.

Thanks especially for your vote up, useful and awesome!

God bless!


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 4 years ago from Wales

So very interesting and full of brilliant colours.

I loved it and have to vote an up up and away.

Take care,

Eddy.


MM Del Rosario profile image

MM Del Rosario 4 years ago from NSW, Australia

Wow, what an awesome collection....thank you for sharing this wonderful collection of complementaty colors.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Eddy,

It's nice to see you again!

Thanks very much for your wonderful comment and vote up! I really appreciate it!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi MM,

Thank you so much! I'm so happy you decided to drop by! Happy too that you enjoyed this!

God bless!


D.A.L. profile image

D.A.L. 4 years ago from Lancashire north west England

Hi Jill your talent never ceases to amaze and inspire me. Beautiful and rated up.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Oh Dave, thank you very much for always being so supportive and appreciative of my efforts! You are one great ego booster!

God bless you my friend!


skye2day profile image

skye2day 4 years ago from Rocky Mountains

Jill Beautiful and amazing pictures WOW u do good girl. Loved it. Your hubs show off Our Creators vivid, colorful imagination. I am sure He smiles on you favor. Absoluely beautiful work sister You always warm my heart with your stunning hubs of love. You are precious. Thank You. Love n Peace In Christ.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Skye,

Thanks again for your wonderful visit. Your inspiring comment really makes me happy! I haven't even done justice to the beautiful creations of God but I hope I somehow made people aware of the beauty around us.

Thank you very much for always inspiring me with your comments!

God bless!


DeBorrah K. Ogans profile image

DeBorrah K. Ogans 4 years ago

Jill of all trades, This is fabulous! Sharing the benefits of the color wheel was a great idea! The Photos display such brilliant colors! There is just enough light upon them that makes them gleam & glimmer... You have a marvelous gift that comes through in your photography!

Thank you for sharing, In HIS Love, Peace & Blessings!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello DeBorrah,

It's great to see you again!

Thanks very much for your visit and wonderful comment! I am happy that you like this!

You're most welcome. It's really my pleasure to share what I love to do.

God bless!


thumbi7 profile image

thumbi7 4 years ago from India

Wow! Brilliant colours!

You have given a scientific explanation also

Thanks for sharing


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

Such beautiful close ups in red and green! They are delicious! Thanks for this look at these flowers and the lesson on complimentary primary and secondary colors. I narrowed my favorite photo down to 3 but couldn't decide between them!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Thumbi,

Thank you very much for your very positive comment!

God bless!


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello RTalloni,

Great to see you again!

Thank you so much for dropping by and leaving a wonderful comment!

God bless!


DON BALDERAS profile image

DON BALDERAS 4 years ago

I love all of the pictures you posted in this hub. These fascinate me. Thank you for sharing flowers' life in red and green.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hello Don,

I am so happy that you do! Thank you very much! It is really my pleasure to share what I love to do. So I'm the one who should thank you for taking time to visit and leave a comment!

God bless!


frogyfish profile image

frogyfish 4 years ago from Central United States of America

Beautiful photos! Didn't know red and green could be so lovely outside of Christmas decorations.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hiya frogyfish,

Great to see you again!

Thank you so much for visiting and leaving a lovely comment!

God bless!


Becky Puetz profile image

Becky Puetz 4 years ago from Oklahoma

Such gorgeous photography! You are so talented. You always seem to capture the outstanding detail in things that most of us miss. I always enjoy viewing your work. Thanks for sharing it with us.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 4 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi Becky,

Thank you so much for your visit and lovely comment!

The pleasure is all mine! I just love sharing what I know and enjoy doing! That you enjoy them too is a bonus for me! I'm the one who is thanking you! You make me happy with your comment!

God bless!


Duchess OBlunt 3 years ago

I can certainly see why photography is one of your passions! Beautiful flower shots here. And thank you for the reminder of complimentary colours. I wondered why some shots I take just seem better than others. I'll have to review some of them again to see if I have inadvertently incorporated some of these or not and whether that makes the difference.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 3 years ago from Philippines Author

Hi Duchess,

It's great to see you! Thank you very much for your inspiring comment! You take very beautiful photos yourself! Sometimes we just do things instinctively because they somehow feel right or good to us. Then later we discover the reason why they do appear right or good and our own instinct is reaffirmed. This usually happens to me.

Thanks again!

God bless!

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