Complementary Colors

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complementary colors

[‚käm·plə′men·trē ′kəl·ərz]
Two colors which lie on opposite sides of the white point in the chromaticity diagram so that an additive mixture of the two, in appropriate proportions, can be made to yield an achromatic mixture.

Complementary colors

Those pairs of colors, such as red and green, that together embrace the entire spectrum. The complement of one of the three primary colors is a mixture of the other two.

Complementary Colors


two colors that form a color that is seen by the eye as white when the radiations of which they are composed are mixed (combined). The radiations composing the complementary colors may have components that are very different, ranging from the monochromatic to radiations with a continuous spectrum.

To obtain two beams of light with a continuous spectrum that meet the requirements of complementary colors, it is sufficient to pass a beam of white light (for instance, sunlight) through a nonabsorbent, color-selective mirror that strongly reflects one part of the spectrum (for example, the blue) and transmits the other part of the spectrum which will have a color complementary to the first color. (For example, blue will be complemented by yellow.)


Gurevich, M. M. Tsvet i ego izmerenie. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
References in periodicals archive ?
Once the image is drawn, students choose one set of complementary colors with which to finish their project.
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Split complementary colors create pleasing combinations with interesting contrast-for example, a color plus the two colors on either side of its direct complement, such as violet with yellow orange and yellow green.
By cleverly combining complementary colors, those that are opposites on the color wheel, they have created a striking intensity in the palette.
Two of the former tasks that might prove most useful are: using complementary colors in shading, and painting reflected light on water.
Bypassing the subjectivity of human perception, he then turned to the Albert Munsell color system--a scale of hue, lightness, and chroma, officially used by the USDA to categorize soil samples (from the literal "ground"), among other scientific applications--to select pairs of complementary colors.
Covered in a mosaic of pebbles, marbles, and broken tiles in complementary colors, the pots in Cynthia Bolin's San Diego garden are as interesting as the plants they contain.
All paintings are limited to the use of complementary colors.

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