On Complementary colors

Hello there,

Currently I am learning https://learn.freecodecamp.org/responsive-web-design/applied-visual-design/learn-about-tertiary-colors.

Base color -> orange(#FF7D00)

Complementary colors:

  1. cyan(#00FFFF)
  2. raspberry(#FF007D)

I am curious, if the base color is #FF7D00, that’s mean the complementary colors are:

  1. #00FF7D
  2. #FF007D

But, rather than #00FF7D, it is written as #00FFFF.

Would you please to enlighten me?

I’m no expert here, but I think color is largely a human perception, and that mixed with the abstraction encoding them into a computer language to be rendered on a screen is going to create some imperfections. I wouldn’t worry about it too much. You can always experiment with numbers and see what you like. Personally, I think the idea of “complementary colors” is largely overblown.

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there is a very good course on colors on khanacademy which is offered thru pixar. Lots of interesting info there. (though nothing to do with web dev, just about how color is chosen)

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I’m not quite following what you’re saying, but #00FFFF and #00FF7D are totally different colors, and simply moving a value to a different color channel doesn’t guarantee complementary colors. I might suggest putting up those color values you mentioned in an HTML document to see how they look, that’s probably the best way to learn how the color channels work.

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Hello there. Thank you for your reply.

Yes, I agree with you. I am getting confused precisely because of that.

In the lesson, it states that a base color #FF7D00 has #00FFFF and #FF007D as its complementary colors.

But, I find it quite confusing. Since, I think #FF7D00 and #00FFFF have no any correlation.

Is that possible, by #00FFFF, the lesson meant #00FF7D?

Hello, thank you for your reply.

I am going to search for the lesson. I am really interested on colors right now. Thank you :smiley:

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I think the point of the lesson on FCC is to expose you to the different ways that colors can be combined, and the hex values aren’t supposed to have any correlation. I doubt whoever wrote the lesson made a mistake and meant to write #00FFFF, and not #00FF7D.

I think these two links will probably help you learn a bit more about how the color wheel works:
https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator/ (use Triadic Harmony to come up with the scheme in the FCC lesson)

The color values in the FCC lesson do seem to be a tiny bit off though, if this is accurate: https://www.sessions.edu/color-calculator-results/?colors=00ffff,ffbf00,ff0080

I guess part of the confusion for me is that when I learn these, the “complementary” colors were pairs - it was the color on the exact opposite side of the color wheel. Here there are three., or triadic colors. This site offers different triadic colors.

But again, color is a complicated science wrapped in a great deal of human subjective interpretation. And the idea of what a color wheel is has changed over time - see this page and the two color wheels they show. And all of this depends on whether we are talking about additive or subtractive colors. This is a complex field. And from culture to culture there is a lot of subjectivity - many cultures consider blue and green to be shades of the same color. If you really want your mind blown, some people theorize that humans only developed a color sense recently, and that the ancient Greeks could only see the color red, as discussed here.

Again, don’t put too much stock in this stuff. Color is a science. But the combining of colors in ways that are aesthetically pleasing to humans is an art pretending to be a science. Learn these basic principles but think of them more as suggestions than immutable laws of the universe.


ha @kevinSmith ! I’m pretty sure Egyptians (older than Greek civilization) could see color! Many colors were used all over the inside of the tombs (great pyramids and others). Not to mention other artifacts which were quite colorful. But interesting idea!

Well, using colors and seeing them are two different things. Someone could be completely color blind and see blue as dark gray and use it for that. But it is hotly contested. It is an interesting theory, but I agree that it seems far fetched. But there is a lot of documentary evidence to suggest it. Most scientists think that they could perceive the colors but just didn’t develop terminology for it. But even that is a problematic explanation. It’s a complicated debate.

And the Ancient Egyptians had actual words for colors too… (6 of them) http://ancientegyptonline.co.uk/colour.html
But that’s only what we believe they could articulate, we don’t actually know for sure that they didn’t combine words to name other colors. (eg. I may use the word banana to describe yellow and never give ‘yellow’ a name. “Paint it that banana shade”) Not that I mean to keep the discussion going …

Thank you very much. I am going to put the links you gave me to my reading list. Thank you so much :smiley:

Thank you very much for your explanation. It gives me new perception on how to view colors. Thanks :smiley: