Color Worqx

Contrast & Dominance

When creating a composition—either something freeform, or a more text based layout, a determination for the final impact of the whole presentation needs to be identified. Is your intent to craft a vibrant, attention grabbing ad, or a presentation with a low, or more moderate level of contrast? These decisions concern what is known as the dominant elements of the design.

The dominant element may be classified as either "contrast dominant" or "value dominant." Designs that evidence contrast dominance or value dominance are then sub-divided into low, moderate, and high contrast, or light, medium, and dark value categories. The choice of colors will enhance or minimize the overall impact.

It is easiest to understand the difference between dominant elements in the following compositions from a distance, or by squinting your eyes a bit. If the proximity between the neighboring hues is less apparent when you squint, the overall composition a displays lower contrast level; if the overall composition appears light, it has a light value. Conversely, if distinctions between hues are very apparent, the contrast is high, and if the overall composition appears dark, the value level is dark. Understanding how the relationships between the colors of a chosen palette will affect the final outcome of an overall composition is integral to mastering the use of color.

Examples of Contrast Dominance

In the examples below, the overall contrast level of a composition changes with the range of luminosity between chosen hues.

low contrastLow contrast
Low contrast compositions use colors within a narrow range of luminosity or brightness levels.

moderate contrastModerate contrast
moderate contrast compositions use colors within a moderate range of luminosity or brightness levels.

high contrastHigh contrast
High contrast compositions colors range from very light (high-luminosity) to very dark (low luminosity).

Examples of Value Dominance

In the examples below, the overall value of each composition changes with the incorporated hues' relative saturation.

light valueLight value
A composition made up of tints, displays an overall light value.

mediume valueMedium value
A medium value composition is made up of a balance between tints, saturated hues, and shades.

dark valueDark value
A dark value composition displays mostly shades.

Continue tutorial, view: Shades & Tints