This may seem like an obvious question. In fact, it is the least obvious of them all, and very worth thinking about as the foundation for so many decisions in personal design.
The one and only correct answer when presented with a colour, or a face, and asked whether it’s warm, cool, or neutral, is: Compared to what?
Any colour can be made cooler (by adding blue) or warmer (by adding yellow). Even shades that are inherently cool, like blue, can be made warmer.
The primary colours behave a little oddly.
Red is easy. Add yellow or blue, and predictable things happen. You get an orange-red or a purple-red, respectively.
Yellow be made cooler by adding blue, and it turns greenish. A warm yellow is orangey.
Blue…. If you warm it as you would another colour, by adding yellow, it turns blue-green. Green is on the cool half of the colour wheel, isn’t it? And yet, blue-green, or teal, often appear among the Warm Season palettes.
If you add red to blue, you get purple-blue. But red is warm, so why don’t we use this to warm up blue instead of yellow? And yet, we usually think of purple as a cooler colour.
It all seems contradictory. The answer is that among a group of otherwise warm colours, the green-blue feels like it belongs better.
And remember, to further confuse things, you can have warm and cool teals and purples.
Here’s a question : Can you make a cool colour cooler? You can only add so much blue to an already blue-based colour. The more blue you add, the darker the color gets. So the answer is yes, to a point, and depending on the darkness of the colour you begin with.
In the 4 Season Colour Analysis system, the warm colours belong to Autumn and Spring. The Cool colours belong to Winter and Summer.
The Spring blue is clear, not dusty. It’s pretty light too, like all Spring’s colours.
Summer’s blue is dustier, but still light. I could have made that blue dustier – meaning grayer. So are all Summer’s colours light and grayed a little. They tend to be cool too.
Autumn’s blue got warm. And it got dark. And more soft than pure (we’ll talk about Soft and Clear in an upcoming post).
Winter’s blue is dark and cold and intense.