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Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog


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COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS
IN THE VIKING AGE
 JULY 11, 2012 JUSTIN  10 COMMENTS

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In my last post, I wrote abit about the range of
colours available from natural dyes in Anglo-Saxon England. 
Whilst this gives wargamers a pallete from which to work, I’ve
noticed that the best painters skillfully combine these colours to
produce outstanding results.  Whilst I can’t match this standard of
painting, I think I understand some of the basic principles that
make such colour schemes work.

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

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Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

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The colour wheel or colour circle is the basic tool for combining
colours and was first designed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. The
colour wheel is made up of primary, secondary and tertiary
colours.  Figures painted with the primary colours of red, yellow
and blue can be pretty intense:

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Fortunately, primary colours can be combined to make the
secondary colours green, orange and purple.    Tertiary colours
are formed by mixing primary colors with secondary colours
and commonly include amber (yellow–orange), vermilion (red–
orange), magenta (red–purple), violet (blue–purple), viridian (blue–
green), and chartreuse (yellow–green).
Why am I boring for with all this?  Well, by following some basic
rules you can produce some pleasing results.
It comes as no surprise that colours on opposite sides of each
other on the colour wheel are considered to be complementary
colours:

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

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As the Viking bondi above show, the high contrast of
complementary colours creates a vibrant look.  Complementary
colour schemes can be tricky to use in large doses, but work
well when you want something – or someone – to stand out. 
Copying one of the paint-jobs on the Gripping Beast website (itself
a derivative of the Angus McBride’s painting of a 12th Century
Siculo-Norman knight, c. 1130), I used this principle in the base
colours of my Warlord’s conical helmet:

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

Analogous colour schemes use colours that are next to each other
on the colour wheel.

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

Analogous colour schemes are generally quite harmonious and
can include two or more adjacent colours.  Choose one colour to
dominate with a second to support.  Make sure you have enough
contrast.  I’ve applied this principle to one of my Comitatus’
leggings and shield rim:

Triadic colour schemes use colours evenly spaced around the
colour wheel:

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

Triadic colour schemes tend to be quite vibrant, even if you use
pale or unsaturated     colours as I’ve tried to do here in the base
colours for the helmet, cloak and tunic:

To use a triadic harmony successfully, the colours should be
carefully balanced to let one colour dominate and the other two
accentuate.
Things start to get clever with split complimentary colour schemes
where the base colour is used alongside two colours adjacent to
its complement:

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

This color scheme has the same strong visual contrast as the
complementary                 colour scheme, but with less tension. 
The nearest I’ve come to applying this principle in practice is on
the shield of another of my Hearthguard: 

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

Shields can be important part of a figure and you can see here that
I’ve opted for muted analogous colours for the leggings in
deference to the red-blue-yellow busyness of the shield.
Your options don’t stop there.  You can opt for rectangle (tetradic)
or square colour schemes, but I’ve yet to apply these to my
figures:
 
 
 
 

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

 
This rich colour scheme offers plenty of possibilities for variation
but works best if, like the examples above, you let one colour be
dominant.
Whilst following these schemes will give you complementary
colour schemes, it doesn’t guarantee an historical outcome.  The
range of dyes available in the Viking Age rarely produced colours
as vibrant as those illustrated in the wheels above.  By means of a
summary, I’ve found the following colour wheel useful to work
from as it includes a range of less saturated tints, shades, and
tones more appropriate to the naturally derived colour pallete
of Anglo-Saxon England:

In the third and final piece in what now appears to have
become a mini-series after a relative drought (doh!), I’ll explore
how I’m thinking of combining the natural colours of Anglo-Saxon
England with the priniciples of colour combination and what we
know from the archaeological and historical records to produce
what I hope will be a relatively convincing warband, or two.

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A Viking Age palette

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Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

NEXT POST

3 cheers for the chaps at Gripping Beast!

10 THOUGHTS ON “COMPLEMENTARY COLOURS IN THE
VIKING AGE”

Scott Dallimore
JULY 11, 2012 AT 10:17 AM

Outstanding! Thanks for sharing.

 REPLY

Justin
JULY 11, 2012 AT 10:32 AM

Glad you liked it Scott, send us some photos of your
figures!

 REPLY

Dux Homunculorum
JULY 11, 2012 AT 11:43 AM

Thanks so much for a very useful couple of articles.

 REPLY

Justin
JULY 11, 2012 AT 1:18 PM

No problem, glad it was useful. Good to see some chaps
from the Saga forum over here

 REPLY

Chase
JULY 11, 2012 AT 2:50 PM

Great article, bookmared it for future reference

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

 REPLY

Justin
JULY 11, 2012 AT 2:58 PM

Nice one Chase, welcome to the blog.

 REPLY

Chris
JULY 11, 2012 AT 4:24 PM

A fantastic article, relevant across a wide field of interest. I
work as a designer and even I had not heard of one of
these examples, namely the split complimentary colour
scheme.
Outstanding job Dr. J

 REPLY

Anonymous
JULY 11, 2012 AT 5:13 PM

Heh….thanks.

 REPLY

Kalf
NOVEMBER 6, 2012 AT 7:58 AM

Very informative article. Thank you very much.
Kalf

 REPLY

Justin
NOVEMBER 6, 2012 AT 9:10 AM

http://www.modeldads.co.uk/Life-at-the-Front/wordpress/complementary-colours-in-the-viking-age/[8/24/2015 10:00:03 AM]

Complementary colours in the Viking Age - Model Dads blog

No problem, welcome to the site and thanks for the
feedback.

 REPLY

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