Color and light in interior design and archviz

colour light interior design


It is impossible if you are an interior designer or 3D artist and you don’t talk, think, or search about lights and color every month. These are two vital matters that can bring our work quality from low to high, if you can understand them in the right way and use them in the right place. Today I want to talk about some topics to cover light and color in design and render.

colour wheel diagram


Color is one of the most important factors in interior design. Using color in interior space is a way to show the abstraction of color outline, and the process of the choosing colors against real materials or on surfaces requires experience and also creativity. There are some rules about these factors but, the question is, how does a designer or 3D artist use these rules in a very creative way.

Understanding color psychology also plays an important role against different spaces, with different settings, and also different functions which can affect the customer’s emotive response. Colors can change the feeling or mood of a piece, and can also have a role in our physical or psychological responses, as using light color can make a space look bigger.

Based on the color theories there are many color categories, but we are going to talk about a few of them. Before that let’s take a look at the color wheel and see how it works.

Based on the Wikipedia information Isaac Newton was the first man who used it, providing a rule for illustration based on the mixtures of colors. Today, we have a more complete version of the color wheel and a more fundamental use in many aspects.

red blue yellow green colour wheel

In RGB mode, red, green, and blue are the main colors and in HSB mode the colors change based on Hue and Saturation values, and same specific rules exist for CMYK and Lab colors. Now we want to talk about a very important rule of color and design which can effect our way of using color in our designs.

Rule 60-30-10:

This rules asserts that the color palette and the color proportion we are using for our space should be divided as 60% of the dominant color, 30% of the secondary color and 10% of the accent color.

For example, in the image below the dominant color is the blue turquoise, the secondary image is the neutral white, and the orange used as the accent color.

rgb main colour composition

Complementary colors in design

Complementary colors are two hues across from one another on the color wheel, like red and green, blue and orange, or purple and yellow. When mixed together they will effectively cancel one another out, and create a muddy brown or black hue. These colors are used to the catch the attention of an observer. And you can see the examples in the image below:

Analogous colors in design

It’s not so hard to understand, analogous colors are the colors in each other’s neighborhood. It doesn’t matter which color you use, so long as they are neighbors its fine. For example, if you choose red, red-orange, and orange it’s okay. You can see the examples below. You could choose Mother colors like Green-Blue, then you will have blue and green.

Triad colors in design

It is also easy, in a simple word you should just make sure the colors you are going to use have equal distance from each other on the color wheel. You are free to use different amounts of saturation for each color but you have to be careful not to lose harmony.

Neutral colors in design

As a big fan of the artistic approach, sometimes I use different tones of neutral color as mother colors, secondary, and accent colors. Here is the space I really feel an environment is warm and cozy, these days there are many artists and designers who are big fans of this color tone.

neutral colour lighting

Color characteristics

Choosing colors is not always about following the rules, sometimes we choose the colors based on the colors characteristic to bring an identity to the environment, and show some part of the client’s personality in the design. Black, for example, can be used as a color to show power, glory, and grandeur, or gold which is a symbol of royalty and wealth.

environmental colour characteristics

And finally, after all the artistic and designer effort, there are clients that want to include their opinions into the design without knowing anything about the rules and policies. Here is our biggest mission; to help them compromise and find a way to reach the best composition.

artistic colour scheme

Lighting in design

One of the vital aspects of interior design is lighting. Lighting is a factor which can help the designer to illuminate the space, with emphasize on the style, and also to create different moods. Good lighting can create a safe and comfortable environment, and add style to interior decoration, or give the room a very special look. Correct spatial lighting can affect the mood and feeling in an environment, it all depends on how you are going to use the light such as, warm lights, cold lights, or variations of color and light.

lighting in design

Natural lighting

The first thing that a designer will look at is the location in terms of light direction and receiving the skylight. Usually architects try to make the best possible places for the windows to achieve the highest amount of light in the environment, and then designers will choose the best color for the walls and floors to illuminate the environment with the light bounce principle. Usually it’s the same approach between our commercial and personal renders.

Using natural light will give us a very uniform light all around the environment, and all the products would be visible around the scene for the viewer to get a very fast connection with the environment, to understand everything clearly – and this could be a successful image.

natural lighting environment

On the other hand, natural lighting is an opportunity to make a very special mood of lighting in a scene. The power of lighting can change the approach to an image with our characteristic approaches.

Task lighting

This is very common lighting which everyone uses in their daily routine, such as, studying, cooking, and soon. Task lighting should enhance visual clarity, so it keeps your eyes from getting tired. The point you need to be careful about, since you are making a 3D image, is that light should play the spotlight task. So not too much light, and also the transition of light should be considered. This is how the viewer will understand the story so much better.

shading and lighting effects

Aesthetic lighting

This is an approach used to show very specific art, symbol, or sculpture. This is what we usually see so much in parks and famous squares, but here I used our beautiful lady to show how this approach can work.

aesthetic lighting

Last but not least, lighting can also emphasize a very specific mood, if you choose the correct composition, you can make a very orphic story. And this is something we will elaborate in the cinematic lighting article coming soon.

shadow aesthetic lighting

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