Friday, December 7, 2012

Color Balance

Have you ever designed a piece of jewelry that just didn't look right?  You know something is off-kilter, but you may not be sure what's wrong.  Over the years, I've developed the habit of not adding the clasp right away.  I design the necklace and just place bead stoppers on the ends. Then I put the necklace in a high visibility spot, like on the kitchen counter, so I see it often for a day.  I usually design at night, so I'm viewing the necklace the next day.  Viewing it fresh the next day often leads to new insights. 

I created this necklace recently.  It features a delightful ceramic snowflake pendant by Bo Hulley Beads.

I liked it the evening I made it.   But with  fresh eyes, the next day, it just didn't seem right.  Without scrolling down, can you figure out what was bugging me about it?

Red and white are high contrast colors and in this necklace they are both fighting for your attention.  Your eyes have no place to rest or focus.  The starkly contrasting colors pull your eyes away from Bo's pendant, toward the beads.  The effect of the pendant is almost totally lost.

If you look at the pendant, you'll see that red is the dominant color. It takes up more real estate and it forms a consistent background.  Color dominance helps to unify a composition.  It knits all the diverse components into a unified whole.  In my initial design the white and red compete for attention.  No one color has dominance.

Dominance is an important factor in all art.  It can be color dominance, as in this piece, or dominance of textures, shape, or movement.

The next picture shows my second design in contrast to the first one.  Here, the dominance of the red creates a unifying effect.  Your eyes can focus on the pendant and comfortably follow the path of the beads.  It is less visually tiring and much more pleasant.

What do you think?

The next time something just feels "off" in one of your designs, check to see how your colors are balanced.  Is there a dominant color or color family?

Have a delightful weekend.  I look forward to reading your comments.



  1. In your second design, I'm drawn to that fantastic red in the snowflake pendant, and the white in the pendant and accent beads entices me to investigate the rest of the piece. Thanks for a great visual lesson!

  2. Thanks for the art lesson. I agree with you.

  3. Interesting post. Something I hadn't thought of. Thanx

  4. I agree. My eyes flinched at first from the intense contrast, so dialed up. My eyes said "ah" the second time around... I would wear #2. Not #1.

  5. Totally awesome tips!!! Thank you so much!

  6. Such great tips for all of us. And I absolutely get those 'off kilter' feelings and your post helps me understand possible reasons and solutions to designing dilemmas. Thanks!

  7. I like the second one bestter as well. Yes, thank you for the art lesson and drsign insights. I really like the idea of not putting the clasp on right away, too. Great tip!

  8. Gosh, that's really interesting..and so true. Thanks for that.

  9. Great post, Linda - color theory is one of those things that confounds me sometimes. Thanks for a clear explanation of this particular concept!


We would love to hear what you have to say, please leave a comment.