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A complete study guide for Sullivan College of Technology and Design's graphic design department color theory class covering chapters 3 and 4 of Linda Holtzschue's Understanding Color, fourth edition.


when two color intervals are too close to distinguish.


a gradual shift in color or value intervals too subtle to detect individual steps.


low light vision, little or no color detection, low detail.


color vision and details, only function in light.

Memory Color

the color we associate an object/material with from memory NOT direct observation.

Color Constancy

the tendency to assume color is a permanent feature regardless of lighting conditions.

white=purity or black=mouning

cultural influence of color symbolism

biliruben lights clean impurities out of the bloodstream

biological response to color/light

OSHA yellow

symbolizes caution

OSHA violet

symbolizes radiation


having color


no discernable color


having only one color/ink

cool colors

contain blue or green

warm colors

contain red or yellow

Analogous colors

next to each other on the color wheel, contain only two primary colors.

Complementary colors

opposite each other on the color wheel

Tertiary colors

chromatic neutrals like greys and browns mixed from complementary colors.


colors with white added


colors with black added

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