Relationship Between Color and Light

Color is one of the principal elements of design and also one of the easiest way to transform a space. The appearance of paint colors continuously changes according to daylight during the day and artificial light characteristics in the evening. As users, we experience the effects of light in our environments and are affected emotionally and physically.

Friday, August 21, 2020 - 07:13

Color is one of the principal elements of design and also one of the easiest way to transform a space. The appearance of paint colors continuously changes according to daylight during the day and artificial light characteristics in the evening.

As users, we experience the effects of light in our environments and are affected emotionally and physically.

Light and colors always create a complex combination. Colors respond to light variables with their various appearances.

What are the variables that affect the appearance of colors?

  • Building/room direction
  • Time periods of the day
  • Features of the artificial light source
  • Characteristics of the color paintings

When it comes to natural light, the most important factor to consider is the location of the room and whether it is exposed to sunlight from the north, south, east and west.

North: Light from the north is cool and makes the colors look duller. Dark colors will be perfect for the decoration.

South: Southern facing places are full of light for most of the day, and colors will look great. Light brings out the best in cool and warm colors. Dark colors will look brighter; lighter colors will glow.

East: East-facing places have morning light and get darker and more gray progressively during the day. East light is warm and yellowy before noon, then turns bluer later in the day. Reds, oranges, and yellows will look very good under the east light.

West: Evening light in these rooms is beautiful and warm, insufficient morning light can create shadows and make colors look dull.

During the day, as sunlight changes in density and direction, colors will show different results.

Morning: light is a mixture of warm colors, colors will have a luminous glow

Afternoon: light is bluer, color may fade.

Evening: since the sun goes again to the horizon, the light becomes warmer.

In residential, social, and commercial areas, artificial lighting is used to supplement or replace daylight. The features of artificial lighting have a crucial role in how the color looks. CCT and CRI, color temperature, and color rendering index are two significant characteristics of the artificial light. Color temperature is a scale from cool(bluish) colors to warm(yellowish) colors and describes light appearance provided by a light source. Each paint color will respond differently under various color temperatures. As a sample, warm light will make red, orange, and yellows more vivid, but muting blue and green.

The color rendering index is a measure of a light source’s ability to show colors. The highest CRI is 100, lower values indicate that colors may appear unnatural when illuminated by the light source. Low CRI is the reason why we couldn’t  sometimes realize whether the color is dark blue or black.

Colors have a light reflectance value (LRV). LRV is the measure of reflected light from an illuminated surface. It is a scale that identifies how light or dark a color is. Pure white is 100, and 0 no light reflected is black.

  • 0-35 Dark colors/medium dark
  • 35-55 Medium
  • 60+ Light colors

Colors with low LRV absorb light, and on the other hand, colors with high LRV reflects light. LRV grade will affect the light source needed in a room, choosing a color with high reflectance won’t require as much lighting as a color soaks up light.

The general perception of a space depends on the lighting design. Color selection is very crucial to achieve successful illumination. For this reason, it would be appropriate to try the colors that will be used in the space, especially those used on large surfaces, with different light color temperatures and to observe at different times of the day before applying.

Sources:

http://www.hearthandhedgerow.com/blog/understanding-color-temperature-for-interior-design/
https://thelandofcolor.com/
https://www.paint.org/coatingstech-magazine/articles/effect-of-wall-brightness
https://www.wallauer.com/the-effect-of-light-on-color/
https://www.ecmag.com/section/green-building/lighting-design-101-light-and-color

Ayşe Özkiper
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After Notre Dame de Sion French High School, Ayşe Dilay Özkiper continued her education at the Istanbul Technical University and has been graduated as an Architect. She also graduated from her MBA at the Istanbul University Institute of Business Economics. She attended various workshops, formations, and schoolings on lighting design and technique. Özkiper spent the last 20 years of her 29-year professional career in the lighting sector with the expertise of architectural lighting and still continues as a lighting designer and consultant.

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