Requiring the Nothingness of White

Having spent the summer pouring over my Pantone  Plus Series fan deck, I have reached a point of complete colour saturation. I feel totally unable to work with colour today which is deeply frustrating as I have some important colour work to finalise. However, it’s not an unusual situation for people working with colour and thankfully there are two routes to “recovery”.

Often a walk amongst green foliage can rebalance ones ability to look at colour with “fresh” eyes and is a technique I often use. Today though, I can’t even take green so I have opted for my second route to recovery – strip everything back to black and white.

Although black is fully saturated i.e it absorbs the whole spectrum and bounces nothing back, it forbids any of its captured colours to dominate. White on the other hand absorbs nothing and is therefore the cleanest and most pure backdrop on which to start. This tells us that black  has a very low  reflective”value” and white a high light reflective value (LRV) allowing high visual contrast when looking at black and white together.

High visual contrast allows the shape or form of the image to be more dominant and that is exactly what I am looking for in order to make good colour choices.

So I am stripping off colour and slowly adding it back in, a process that is making me fine tune every element in a measured and considered way. A spontaneous process no it’s not, but this is just the fine tuning at the end of a long process and it’s definitely working.

One word of warning though, you cant just convert a coloured image into black and white and gain a high visual contrast. If the original image is say, red and green, even though they are “contrasting” colours, convert it to black and white you will discover red and green have a similar LRV and therefore will give you very little contrast indeed – more about this in my previous  post.

So befuddled with colour don’t panic, enjoy the nothingness of white with the contrast of black and you will find yourself back on the colour trail shortly.

2 thoughts on “Requiring the Nothingness of White

  1. whoa, this was incredibly fascinating. i’m more into form and shape (say, typography) but it’s really interesting to hear about colour at it’s bare minimum. i didn’t know you could get over saturated!


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