Encyclopedia of Color Science and Technology

Living Edition
| Editors: Ronnier Luo

Color Contrast

  • Lois Swirnoff
  • Nilgun Olgunturk
  • Gertrud Olsson
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27851-8_227-6



Color contrast describes the perceptual effects of colors’ adjacency in contexts, whether they occur and are observed in two- or three-dimensional space. It is the relationship between the color of a stimulus and that of its immediate surround.


The concept of color contrast is concerned with the perception of color itself and is based upon the idea that the eye – the visual system – evaluates, a function of thinking. Light and color are therefore not merely surface phenomena but are intrinsic to human vision, to sight and insight. Light and color contrasts are primary attributes of vision. They signal the reactive eye to initiate and activate the complex visual system to respond to the visual world.

Fundamentally, the perceptions of the visual world, in its enormous diversity – the environment, man made or natural; people; places; animals; and vegetal life-space itself – are distinguished and contextualized by the glorious capacity to see...


Color Contrast Color Patch Reversed Contrast Simultaneous Contrast Edge Contrast 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. 1.
    Gibson, J.J.: The Senses Considered as Perceptual Systems. Houghton Mifflin, Boston (1966)Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Chevreul, M.-E.: The Principles of Harmony and Contrast of Colors (English translation by Faber Birren). Reinhold, New York (1967)Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Albers, J.: The Interaction of Color. Yale University Press, New Haven (1963)Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Hurvich, L.M., Jameson, D.: From contrast to assimilation; in art and in the eye. Leonardo 8, 125–131 (1975)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Hering, E.: Outlines of a Theory of the Light Sense (Translated by Leo M. Hurvich and Dorothea Jameson). Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA (1964)Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Swirnoff, L.: Dimensional Color. Birkhauser, Boston (1989). Second revised edition: W. W. Norton, New York (2003)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Camgöz, N.: Effects of Hue, Saturation, and Brightness on Attention and Preference. Dissertation. Bilkent University, Ankara (2000). Also available by UMI, Bell & Howell Co., Ann Arbor (2001)Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Agoston, G.A.: Color Theory and Its Application in Art and Design. Springer, Berlin (1987)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Damase, J.: Sonia Delaunay. Fashion and Fabrics. Thames and Hudson, London (1991)Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Delaunay, R., Delaunay, S.: The New Art of Color. The Writings of Robert and Sonia Delaunay. The Viking Press, New York (1978)Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Olsson, G.: The Visible and the Invisible: Color Contrast Phenomena in Space. Axl Books, Stockholm (2009)Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Delaunay, S.: A Retrospective. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, New York (1980)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lois Swirnoff
    • 1
  • Nilgun Olgunturk
    • 2
  • Gertrud Olsson
    • 3
  1. 1.The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art Cooper SquareNew YorkUSA
  2. 2.Department of Interior Architecture and Environmental Design, Faculty of Art, Design and ArchitectureBilkent UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  3. 3.School of ArchitectureKTH, Royal Institute of TechnologyStockholmSweden