Color and light

How Light Affects Colour?


How Light Affects Colour?

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Light plays an important role in how we perceive colour in the world around us. Colour is a phenomenon of light waves, and different types of light can have varying effects on what hues and shades appear. In this article, we’ll discuss how light affects colour and how different kinds of lighting can dramatically change the way colours look.


Colour is an essential aspect of our lives, and we often base our decisions on the colours of objects around us. However, what we see as colour is a result of how light interacts with an object. Without light, there would be no colour, and the world would appear completely different. In this article, we will explore how light affects colour and factors that affect the perception of colour.

The Physics of Light and Colour

Understanding how light affects colour requires an understanding of the physics of light. Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that travels in waves. The different wavelengths determine the type of light that we see as visible light.

The visible spectrum spans from violet to red with each colour having a distinct wavelength. When white light strikes an object, some wavelengths are absorbed while others are reflected back to our eyes. It’s this reflected colour that determines what we see as colour.

The perceived hue or saturation of a particular color can change depending on its surroundings – for example, red appears brighter next to blue but might seem duller next to orange.

Illumination Changes

The amount and directionality of illumination can significantly impact how colours appear to us. For instance, when objects are viewed under direct sunlight or bright artificial lights they seem brighter and more saturated than they would when viewed under dimmer lighting conditions.

The type or temperature of lighting also plays a crucial role in how colours appear to us. White-light sources can have varying color temperatures that span from warm (yellow/orange) to cool (blue/white). For instance, yellowish indoor lighting tends to make walls look brownish-yellow while direct sunlight makes them look much whiter. Therefore it’s essential always to observe what natural lighting is available before painting or choosing other colors for your home or workspace.

Colour Combinations

The way colours interact with each other can change the perception of hue, allowing certain colours to appear brighter or more saturated than others. Color combinations and patterns can create optical illusions that make one element appear as if it has a different color than it actually does.

An example of this is the complementary colors in the color wheel. The opposite hues on the color wheel are called complementary colors, and they’re used to create vibrant contrasts. For instance, red is opposite green in the color wheel – so when a red object is viewed next to a green object, both colors will appear more vivid than they would on their own.


Understanding how light affects colour is crucial for anyone who works with colour regularly; having an understanding of how different types and qualities of light affect our perception of hue saturation and brightness allows for better decision making. Factors such as direct or indirect lighting, illumination sources and colors in combination all impact perception. With this knowledge, you can create better designs and choose colors that will be most effective no matter where they’re displayed.

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