Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Over the past few days, I've managed to get into more than a couple of conversations about color and color combinations. This article is to touch on the basics of color, while understanding that color combinations are infinite and complicated.
In cake world, brides and clients have many color requests to match the theme, the dresses, the cardboard cake plates. These are usually not a problem and the cake designer can blend colors to create the masterpiece for the client.
However, I've come across some questions that hinge on "the basics" and so I thought I'd offer this primer in color combination.
One person asked, "How do I create blue?" Blue cannot be created. There are three primary colors from which all colors are derived. The three primaries are red, yellow and blue. These colors cannot be created. They just "are".
Another situation that comes up is "My black (or grey) looks green (or sometimes purple)?" Theoretically, when the three pure primary colors are mixed, we get black. I say "pure" because there are different grades of color and pure colors are usually only found in laboratory settings. When you and I mix the three primaries, we get something close to black.
But why does it look green? Here's a list of the color combos:
Yellow + Blue = Green
Yellow + Red = Orange
Blue + Red = Purple
Yellow + Blue + Red = Black
So if your black icing looks green, that means you have a lot of yellow and blue and you are short on red. The ratio of color is out of balance. Add a tiny touch of red to balance the colors.
If your black icing looks purple, that means you have a lot of red and blue and you are short on yellow. Add a tiny touch of yellow to balance the colors.
The base color used can also impact the color. If someone wants to tint some chocolate to a red color, remember that since red is a primary color, it cannot be created. Adding red to a brown chocolate makes a brown-red color ... not a pure red.
I make a cookie that has a butter-powdered sugar filling. Making a blue or a red filling is difficult because of the yellow color in the butter. Adding red coloring to yellow butter will give me orange, so I have add a LOT of red to the butter (and usually the best I can get is pink!) Adding blue coloring to yellow butter will give me green, so I have to add a LOT of blue coloring to the butter. Keep the base color in mind when mxing colors.
Color can be complicated but if the baker keeps in mind that all colors come from red, yellow and blue, it can be less stressful.
Knowing what you have (in the color mixture) can let you know what you need (to get the color desired).