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Complementary Colors - Red and Green: A Photo Gallery
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.
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:
Complementary Color (Secondary Color)
Combination of Primary Colors
Blue + Yellow
Red + Yellow
Red + Blue
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.
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.
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.
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.
Other Red flowers
Below are other red flowers that combine beautifully with their green leaves.
Except for the "Flaming Katy", the red part of next two flowers are once again bracts rather than the true flowers.
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.