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Sonic and the theory of colors


Iko
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I'm not refering to Sonic Colors the game, I'm talking about the theory behind chosing colors for the characters.

This is something I've been observing for a while, I think there are some (probably intentional) color harmonies between the dominant colors of some characters.

Let's start with Sonic Heroes and its teams.

  • Team Sonic has each member to represent a primary color, blue, red and yellow. (to be more precise, they are not exactly the primary colors, they share the same distance between each other on the color wheel, but the distance between orange and blue is bigger, because Tails is light orange, not yellow).

Sonic.thumb.png.2f32a010057e9553a2866c40d83ae2d2.png

 

  • The chaotix are just like Team Sonic, but instead of the primary colors, they use the secondary colors, orange, purple and green (again, according to the color wheel, it's not a perfect triad but they are at the same distance each other). It's a bit difficult to notice that Charmy is intended to be the orange one, since according to his modern design, the dominant color is confused, though the developers probably added orange details to his classic design (where they were missing) for this reason.

 

Chaotix.thumb.png.37845663fe6901effa47eb0d8a00721f.png

 

  • Team Rose is a bit more complex, but it fits this scheme as well; we don't have a triad of primary or secondary colors anymore, they are closer to being analogous colors, and Cream & Cheese have their color placed on the respective opposite side of the wheel (complementary colors); add to this that the brightness is kinda similar for every character as well, excluding Big that's a bit darker... though, if you put Blaze instead of Big, the harmony works even better, not only because they're all girl characters, but also because Blaze's shade of purple just fits better (intentional?), and froggy (unfitting green) is not around.

Rose.thumb.png.bb1a2f3377522cc76382d5487a43e970.png

 

  • Team Dark seems to not follow this scheme, but if we jump back in time and look at Team Hooligan (Fang, Bean and Bark from Sonic the Fighters), it looks like the thing works again, the color scheme is very similar to the one of the Chaotix, but this time the yellow and green shades are closer each other, being a split complementary more than a triad. This time, the 3 characters have different brightness values.

Hooligan.thumb.png.2e486b39cb1c28489b119d4257959fef.png

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I'm being little nitpicky about terminology here (and I apologize if I'm coming across as rude about it, I just got the urge to dig up my old notes from color theory class because of this so thanks!), but I don't think it's quite correct to say, for example, Team Sonic is made up of "analogous" colors, and it's a use I find a little confusing going by your charts. Analogous colors refer more to colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, and share a common color, like red, orange, and yellow. Team Rose, as per your charts, would probably be the closest in that regard.

I think for all intents and purposes, Team Sonic are the closest thing to a perfect triad, though Tails's coloring betrays this a bit as you point out--he's more of a yellow-orange than a proper yellow, and before that was changed his coloring complemented Sonic's by being orange. And sometimes when I see Knuckles's red coloring, it can sometimes have the slightest hint of orange to it, so perhaps Team Sonic isn't so much a triad, which are more equally spaced on a color wheel, but closer to a split-complementary scheme? This is made up of a color and two hues on either side of its complement. Orange is the complement of blue, and next to orange on either side are yellow and red and the tertiary colors in-between are yellow-orange on one side, red-orange on the other. Then again, that sort of scheme would probably go better with how you described the Hooligans?

Of course, this isn't perfect still, and I admit color isn't much of a forte of mine, but this did get me interested in looking at this sort of thing again.

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37 minutes ago, Zaysho said:

I'm being little nitpicky about terminology here (and I apologize if I'm coming across as rude about it, I just got the urge to dig up my old notes from color theory class because of this so thanks!), but I don't think it's quite correct to say, for example, Team Sonic is made up of "analogous" colors, and it's a use I find a little confusing going by your charts. Analogous colors refer more to colors that are next to each other on the color wheel, and share a common color, like red, orange, and yellow. Team Rose, as per your charts, would probably be the closest in that regard.

It's not rude at all, you are right, I was confused! I thought analogous were colors with the same space between them, but I was wrong. Thank you for correcting me (I'll fix the first post as soon as possible).

I got a color theory class too, but it was many years ago and I can't remember some stuff, so it's easy to get confused; though I like color theory, I find it very interesting and while it may look like a tivial detail for some people, applying it to graphics can actually make stuff more enjoyable and appealing, or help to communicate something (a sensation, a message, an implicit reference).

The thing that interested me the most about this applied to Sonic, is how Charmy added orange elements in the transition from classic to modern: if you see it from this prespective, it makes sense! Maybe it's a coincidence, but it's very likely to be not.

Anyway, It's nice that I got you interested on this subject again!

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