CHAPTER 9							 




Of all the visual elements, color touches the deepest areas of the soul.  It gently whispers, gracefully informs and boldly defines the breadth and depth of our human experiences.  Color can sing a dirge in deep tones and dance a jig in exuberant hues.  Color is to graphics what breath is to life.  It celebrates life and empowers its creative expressions of life.  We feel color, taste color and inhale its fragrance.  Color lifts the human heart to envision the expanse of God’s promises.  Praise to the Creator of color!


The perception of color results from light reflecting off of objects, like the moon reflects the light of the sun, and our eyes read these reflected light rays.  Sunlight is composed of the seven colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.  When these colors are seen together they are white light.  Every color of reflected light radiates at a unique frequency (wavelength).  Our eyeballs, optic nerves and other ocular mechanisms transmit this data to our brains, which translate the data into color. 

God has wonderfully engineered our eyes to discern these various wavelengths as colors.  Can you imagine living in a black and white world? 

When light passes through rain droplets, the wavelengths are refracted, or bent, and thereby divided into the colors of the rainbow.  A prism demonstrates this same phenomenon. These beams of light fall on everything surrounding us.

The barn in this picture is red and the grass is green.  The barn and the grass have pigmentations, which reflect certain wavelengths of light and absorb others.  

The barn reflects the red rays and the lawn the green rays.  The red pigment of the barn absorbs every wavelength of the spectrum except for red, which it reflects.  The green pigmentation of the grass absorbs every wavelength of the spectrum except green.  This results in seeing green because the only reflected rays are green.  A pure white object reflects the entire spectrum, and a black object reflects none.  

Although the science of color may be of little interest to some people, most of us want our color choices in clothing to work well together.  Nobody wants to be a fashion enigma!


Hue is another word for color.  There are only three primary hues: red, yellow and blue.  All other colors are combinations of these three.  We find infinite variations of colors in nature and art - endless combinations and degrees of hue, value and saturation.  

When two primary colors are mixed together they form a secondary color.  The three secondary colors are purple, orange and green.  Equal amounts of blue and red produce purple, red and yellow make orange, and  blue and yellow produce green.  

Tertiary colors are the result of mixing a primary color with a related secondary color.  When yellow is added to green, the result is a yellow-green.  Tertiary colors fall between the primary and secondary colors on a color wheel.  

The three primary colors (red, yellow, blue) form the triangle at the center of this color wheel.  Moving outward from these primary colors we see the secondary colors: purple, orange and green.  Moving yet further from the center are the tertiary colors, which are combinations of secondary colors.  Color variations are as limitless as the wisdom of our Loving Creator.


Hues next to each other on the color wheel have a common hue in their composition.  These are called analogous colors.  All hues possessing amounts of yellow are analogous.  They’re related to each other, and naturally look good together.  Analogous colors appear everywhere in creation.  

The sky continually possesses gradient blends of analogous colors.  While sky colors can be analogous they are also gradient.  During daylight hours, the sky directly overhead is far more saturated (intense and pure) than the sky nearer the horizon.  Check it out.  

Again, the perceived color (hue, saturation and brightness) of the wall nearest you at this very moment is not consistently even, although the paint came from one paint bucket.  Check it out.  Do you see the subtle gradient from floor to ceiling and from corner to corner?  The best graphic artist develops a visual sensitivity to the nuances of subtle color transitions.  He sees what others unknowingly pass by.  His eyes engage his mind.  He processes and mentally records color imagery for future use.  

Purposely ingest the subtle color variations of these Cotswold  landscapes.  Do you see the delicate variations of hue and see how such minuscule subtleties hype the impact?  See it here and see it in your real world!  By exercising your perceptivity, you’ll greatly enhance your technical abilities to create as God creates.  He boldly shouts a color at one moment and quietly sings a lullaby at other times to articulate the most amiable wisdom in creation and  everyday life.

Jesus directed our eyes toward little lilies - so small they could easily be crushed under foot.  Yet their subtle beauty and gradient hues embody glorious truth:  flowers don’t worry about provision, because God cares for His creation.  Surely He cares for His people.     

The lily image is permeated with analogous hues, which produce a visual harmony by virtue of their common hue-green.  The  soft blend of tints and tones color the visual and biblical drama.


Complementary colors live on opposite ends of the color wheel.  Yellow and purple, red and green, and blue and orange have no common color in their recipes.  When complementary colors live together in art and nature they bedazzle the eyes.  Consider God’s use of purple and yellow in His iris design.  It’s stunning.  The very fact that these two colors have no one color in common causes them to pop.  If these colors had vocal cords, the unlikely harmony would be heard in stereo.   

The vibrancy and strength of complementary colors diminish when they’re mixed together in pigment form.  They become muddy.  Their intensity plummets.  While we have to admit that such mixtures  are not pretty, they are essential in creation and the creative process.  Without the muted tones of blended complimentary colors, our eyes would be continually bombarded and our minds overloaded. 


Monochromatic compositions employ one hue with degrees of black and white.  Monochromatic scenes are usually more singular in their mood and message, whereas full-color images offer diverse interpretations. 


Monochromatic scenes are usually more singular in their mood and message, whereas full-color images offer diverse interpretations.        

The colors in this painting are basically greens and purples.  A limited color palette fosters a cohesive family of hues that get along well on the canvas.


The value of a color refers to its brightness or darkness.  Tone, tint, and shade are terms that define the value of a color.  Value is easily understood when studied in an achromatic (black to white gradations) work.  


All true-to-life colors are reduced to value tones of sepia in the above left portrait.  Black and white photography mechanically translates every color into a matching gray value.  Before the invention of color television, it was well known that Lucille Ball had red hair.  You could squint all day at the black and white television without seeing her red hair.  

Every hue has its matching conversion into a colorless value - a tone of gray. 

Every pure hue of the color wheel has its natural value level.  Yellow inherently reflects more light than blue or purple.  

The tonal value of a hue can be increased or decreased by the addition of black or white.  When a color is darkened it becomes a tone, and when lightened it becomes a tint.  Pastels are tints and reflect more light than deeper jewel tones. 

All works of art possess a value range.  A darker graphic may evoke feelings of mystery, evil or depression.  Conversely, these same deep tones often speak of wealth, plush comfort and opulence.  Lighter hues communicate  thoughts of freedom, celebration and lightheartedness.  These same colors can imply  faded glory, vanity, frailty and the lack of worth.  A skillful graphic artist manipulates value to best communicate his message.


In the three-dimensional arts, such as sculpture and architecture, the artist is dependent upon light gracing his creations to reveal form and surface details.  Deep undercuts in a form evade the light and produce darker tones.  Protrusions catch available light and cast shadows that drape the contour of these architectural forms. 



Color saturation or intensity depends on the amount of light reflecting from a colored surface.  When a subject is over-lit it becomes washed out.  Its saturation diminishes.  

Have you ever reclined under a tree and looked up at the bright sun?  The leaves in your path of vision are wrapped in light.  Their perceived color is lightened and their edges blurred with a beams of light. 

The opposite is true of under-lit or shaded areas of landscapes.  They become dull and obscure.  

Examine this painting.  See how the artist used color saturation to visually articulate and enhance reality.  Notice the sunlit leaves in the upper middle portion of the picture.  How has light affected their definition?  The shadowy lawn is depicted with deeper, less intense tones.  These colors are regressive; they don’t jump at the viewer’s eyes like the more saturated yellow-green lawn. 

Every blade of grass may actually be the same green.  However, the saturation of the shadowed green is far less intense than the fully lit blades.    

There is tremendous visual power in the hands of a graphic artist when he skillfully uses color to talk to his audience.  He actually manipulates the viewer’s thoughts with his color choices, due to the  psychological power of color.  

The hyped saturation of these photos transform tranquil landscapes into exciting visual playgrounds.


Our personal experiences tell us that red, orange and yellow imply warmth, happiness, and activity.  They say, “Something is happening.”  Warm colors evoke mental images of fire, sun-rays, and candlelight, while cool colors trigger memories of chilling ice, vast oceans and immense skies.  It’s also commonly known that colors that have blue in their makeup are associated with solitude, peace and tranquility.  Blue can suggest melancholic moods as well.

Altering the color palette of the Lancer logo dramatically alters its visual impact, its mood and its message.  Does the meaning of the Logo change with its color?  Should a boys’ athletic team have a hot pink logo?   

Color communicates emphatically through symbolism.  A red octagon atop a pole, at any crossroads, anywhere on the planet means STOP.  What if the octagon was coral or lavender with white letters?  

Understanding symbolic color helps us to understand visual messages.  This skill is honed as we become more in-tune with our environment.  Learning to manipulate color empowers us to tweak our graphic creations.   Skillful use of color can scream, declare, whisper or quietly suggest powerful truth.  

Red is a color of rage, violence, love, danger and romance.  It symbolizes the precious blood of Jesus.   Yellow can be associated with sunlight, gold and divinity.  On the other hand, cowards have been called “yellow.”  Purple conveys royalty, kingship and majesty.  Blue suggests heaven, peace, and tranquility.  It also implies depression and emptiness.  Green indicates life and growth.  However, if you’re the inexperienced cowhand on a Texan ranch, chances are you’ll be called green.  While black symbolizes death and evil, it’s also considered the fashionable color and high style for formal events.  Some people hope that black clothing has the power make them appear slimmer than the scale declares.  White traditionally stirs thoughts of purity, holiness and spotless character, unless you find yourself stranded in an Arctic blizzard, where white means desolation.  Equip yourself with these meanings to graphically deliver your message.  


It is interesting to note that people of third-world countries tend to favor brighter, child-like colors, whereas more sophisticated cultures gravitate to subdued, muted, reserved hues.   When speculating as to the reasons for such color preferences, consider the daily routine, social complexity, and aspirations of the people.  This is open to interpretation. 

Within our global community, color trends traverse borders like the wind.  The colorful days of the Hippies, the snooty hues of the 1920’s and the current retro color and design fads litter the marketplace.  Social color trends invade fashion design, auto design, architectural design and even toothbrush design.  When a graphic artist makes use of popular motifs of design and color, he speaks the visual language his audience understands.  

God uses color to talk to His people.  He gave Noah the rainbow and Joseph a coat of many colors as symbols of His promises. 

God created light and color; therefore, let’s look to His Word.  “This then is the message which we have heard of Him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all” (Jn. 1:5).  This simple yet profound truth is powerful in the hands of Christian graphic artists: Light invades and obliterates darkness.  Praise God!

Naturally and spiritually speaking, no matter how dense darkness may be, it is effortlessly obliterated by a little light.  One candle in a pitch-dark room vanquishes the darkness.  Darkness is defenseless!

In the beginning, God made Adam upright, according to Ecclesiastes 7:29.  He was innocent, unblemished by darkness, and thus capable of absorbing and reflecting all of God’s light.  This simply means that Adam and Eve’s senses were fully operative to see the Light, hear God’s word, smell His fragrance and touch Him in creation.  What a life!  Perhaps they were even clothed in light.  Remember they didn’t know they were naked until after Adam sinned.  Because of Adam’s willful disobedience, darkness entered the world and our hearts.  We are all included in the Fall because we are the offspring of Adam.  We’ve inherited the iniquity of darkness.  This darkness tries to obscure God’s original design.  Therefore, we’re at war with darkness. 

Look at these great spiritual realities!

 Sunlight fades manmade materials.  Anything left in sunlight long enough gradually fades.  It morphs toward white.  Likewise, where darkness occupies a chamber of our hearts, God’s light is working to fade the proverbial darkness.  “Yet I am writing you a new command; its truth is seen in him and you, because the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining” (NIV 1Jn. 2:8).  “…Darkness is passing….”   Amen!  God continues His creative work in us. 

Sunlight fuels life at every level of creation.  Plants and animals alike thrive in light.  That which God has begun from the day He uttered, “Let there be light,” continues to procreate and mature in His light.  

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2Cor. 5:17).  The original Greek word for “become” carries the concept of becoming;  it’s a process.  Sure, we are complete by faith, yet true faith aims toward maturity.  Faith is proactive; it’s forward thinking.  Being filled with God’s faith is a catalyst to His creative work of transforming us into what He declares we are-righteous by His blood.  He is the Light in us Who dispels the residual darkness. 

Light destroys evil while it proliferates life.  We are children of the Light, His workmanship who He continually enlightens.  Let’s live in this light, get His light, become His light and spread His light.  There is no greater approach to life. 


The red geranium is the work of God, and the red window frame is the work of man.  The sunlight fades the window frame, but the same light nurtures and heightens the redness of the geranium.  Praise God!  He diminishes our darkness and grows His gift within us.  

“But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and through us spreads everywhere the fragrance of the knowledge of him” (2Cor. 2:14).


Read these three verses.  Notice the word “manifold.”

“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations” (1Pet. 1:6).

“To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God” (Eph. 3:10).

“As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1Pet. 4:10).

The Greek translation of “manifold” (KJV) means multi-colored, motley, diverse, variegated colors.  We see manifold or multi-colored wisdom, temptations, and grace (which is my favorite) in these verses.  

Joseph’s coat of many colors represented the promise of position and leadership.  However, “Until the time that his word came: the word of the Lord tried him” (Ps. 105:19).  “Tried” carries the idea of being melted by fire as when gold is purified.  Peter tells us, “…if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptation.”  Joseph walked through many dark-colored trials before entering into the happier colors of God’s promises.  

Psalm 38:15 (NKJV) tells us that God fashions our hearts individually.  For example, the computer tech receives wisdom to understand operating systems and software applications.  Isaiah 28:26 points to the farmer.  God gives him wisdom to plant and harvest various plants according to the unique characteristics of each plant.  We serve a God of many colors of wisdom for us.   

God always provides grace to those who know they need it, to those who want it, and to those who are humble before Him.  I want it!  Let’s be clear on the Greek meaning of grace.  Grace is God’s divine influence upon our hearts that empowers us to do His will with joy and thankfulness.  This definition is based on the original Greek definitions and usage in the first century.  

We are currently God’s workmanship being created day by day.  He’s making us His graphic - His colorful painting.  We are on God’s easel, and each day is potentially filled with His colorful brushstrokes of grace.  The fading image of our old lives receives fresh hues of grace, God’s defining brushstrokes illustrating Christ-likeness.  We are not only covered by Christ’s blood, but by His daily provision of grace.  Our paintings evolve through dark trials, vibrant wisdom and empowering grace.  Life is an adventure of color-opportunities.

We want to be like Jesus, responding like Him in facing temptation, in getting wisdom, and most of all, by living through grace as the Son of Man did.  “Color Me Jesus” is the epicenter of daily life.  It’s an attitude that expresses an ever-present desire for  His life.  “Color me Jesus.” 

Each of us has access to unique colors of grace.  As we live in community we live colorfully, sharing our spectrum of grace with other recipients of manifold grace.  My favorite color is the color of the grace I need moment by moment.  It comes in every possible hue for the monotony and extremes of daily life.  Understand the truth, be the truth, share the truth. 


1.  Color is far too emotionally loaded to approach a design challenge without strong feelings about your subject matter.  Pick one of the following subjects with honest passion: 
Landscape        Cityscape        Seascape
It’s always best to use original photos.

For Photoshop users:

2.  Use the following Photoshop tools as you explore the visual element of color.
3.  Duplicate your background layer about four times so that you can safely experiment with extreme color statements and filters.  

4.  Pull down the Image menu and  click Adjustments. Experiment with every item in this category.

5.  Pull down the Select menu and click Color Range.  After selecting a color range, using any of the selection tools, alter your selection using Color Balance and Hue Saturation Adjustments. 

6.  Pull down the Filters menu and experiment with a variety of filters.  Again, duplicate layers to save and  optimize integrating layers in the next step.

7. Turn on several layers of the same image and alter the Opacity and Fill options for layers.  Seeing through one layer into another provides subtle adjustments.  Be the tweak- meister. This is potentially life changing!

Illustrate the concept embodied in the words “Color Me Jesus.”  Create a poster that is instructive and inspirational. 


-	Color can sing a dirge in deep tones and dance a jig in exuberant hues. In other words, color packs an emotional punch. 
-	 Sunlight is composed of the seven colors of the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet.
-	Hue is another word for color.  
-	The three components of color are hue, value and saturation.
-	The primary colors are red, yellow and blue.
-	The secondary colors are purple, orange and green. 
-	Tertiary colors are the result of mixing a primary color with a related secondary color.
-	All hues possessing amounts of yellow are analogous.
-	Our world is full of gradient color tones.
-	Subtle color variations may be as powerful as bold color statement.
-	Complementary colors live on opposite ends of the color wheel, like purple and yellow. 
-	Monochromatic images are made up of one hue and various degrees of lighter and darker tints and tones of that hue.
-	The value of a color refers to its brightness or darkness.  Tone, tint, and shade are terms that define the value of a color.
-	Color saturation or intensity depends on the amount of light reflecting from a colored surface.  
-	Color is symbolic.  Red means stop, while it also represents passion and violence.
-	Color preferences are culturally defined.  Particular colors become trends in various sectors of a society.  
-	It’s interesting to note that people in underdeveloped countries seem to prefer brilliant colors, whereas the wealthier sectors of a society gravitate to more subdued tones.
-	God’s revealing light, His truth, obliterates the darkness with each of us.
-	God’s light nourishes life and fades that which is not of Him. 
-	The KJV word “manifold” means multi-cored, motley, diverse, variegated colors.  
-	God provides many colors of grace and wisdom whenever we face many colors of trials and temptations (1Pet. 1:6, Eph. 3:10, 1Pet. 4:10).
-	Grace is God’s divine influence upon our hearts that empowers us to do His will with joy and gratitude.  Know this, but above all experience it. 
-	“Color me Jesus” is a way of life to those who want His empowering grace.


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