- Level: Advanced
- Subject: Color theory for depth
Depicting depth using color – or affect on color of objects on the farther side of field of view, is something I started exploring in detail as I had been doing some of the painting and illustration projects.
It is pretty evident that we need to illustrate things at a smaller scale (size) when they are placed farther away than the nearer objects. But how does this effect the colors?
As can be seen above in a theoretical case, mere size does not seem to give enough sense of depth. We need to nudge the color of the farther objects a bit to make the effect of depth more convincing.
To understand how the color would be effected, observe the side view of the layout of objects of the above illustration.
As the object goes farther away from the observer, there is more volume of atmosphere or the medium in between them. That means, the farther objects would seem to absorb more of the ambient light, its color would be more different than it true color.
Taking a theoretical example of having a white background, the color application on objects as seen above in the flats would need to be tweaked to be more white as it is farther away.
Observe how the color of the farthest sphere is more white than the middle. The one closest (and thereby the largest), has a more saturated color.
Taking another example, assume these spheres are floating in empty space which is pitch black.
Here the black is absorbed more by the farther spheres and hence, the color has shifted to be duller than the pastel approach in the white background example.
Consider a little more practical or real example of having a blue sky as background.
Observe that in this example, the green (true) color of the sphere is shifted towards the blue (ambient) color of the sky.
Taking theoretical examples may turn out to be a bit boring, but it helps us understand how depth of the object effects the color.
For more practical application of this theory, stay tuned using KalaaLog.com feeds (or email subscription form above). I will be posting two separate articles, one for vector illustration and another for digital painting, where we can examine how to use this theory in those mediums.