A Perceptual Study on the Ratios of Areas of Two Adjacent Colors for the Optimal Congruency

Open Access
Conference Proceedings
Authors: Masato ChibaMasashi Yamada

Abstract: Cute female characters frequently appear in Cool Japan content, such as anime, video games and manga. When designing a character, color is one of the most important factors. Previous studies showed that yellow characters tended to have a cute connotation like Pokémon. A character with yellow hair also had a cute impression. Particularly, a character with yellow hair and blue irises was perceived as one of the cutest types of character. A pair of yellow and blue consists of complementary colors and generally it is said that a pair of complementary colors gives an uncomfortable impression. It could be hypothesized that the small area of the pair of blue irises functioned as the effect color when combined with the wide area of yellow hair, and these colors were perceived as congruent. A Swiss artist, theorist and educator, Johannes Itten (1888-1967) calculated the ratios of areas of different colors based on a German poet, playwright, novelist and critic, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832). Goethe insisted the ratios of brightness of different colors are “yellow: orange: red: violet: blue: green = 9:8:6:3:4:6”. Then, the ratios of area of different colors for congruency were “yellow: orange: red: violet: blue: green = 3:4:6:9:8:6”, in Itten’s theory. Itten’s theory shows an inverse tendency from the phenomenon of a cute character. According to Itten’s theory, the area of blue must be wider than yellow. However, the theories of Itten and Goethe were based on their intuition. In the present study, a perceptual experiment was conducted to directly measure the ratios of areas of different colors for congruency, to test Itten’s theory. Twelve colors were selected from Itten’s color wheel; yellow, orange, red, violet, blue and green, and 132 pairs of two different colors were prepared. Two adjacent squares were painted in two different colors and 20 participants from the Kanazawa Institute of Technology were requested to adjust the boundary of the two areas to make them most congruent, using the software Illustrator. The results of the experiment showed that the ratios were “yellow: orange: red: violet: blue: green = 5:6:5:6:7:6”. The ratio of 5:7 for yellow and blue colors were smaller than Itten’s theory, but the tendency was consistent with Itten’s theory. To conclude, the phenomenon observed in cute characters in Japanese content could not be illustrated by the ratio of areas of the complementary colors of yellow and blue. The phenomenon may be explained rather by the cultural effects where Japanese people admired Western people with blond hair and blue eyes.

Keywords: Area ratio, Color, Congruency, Adjustment method, Itten’s color wheel

DOI: 10.54941/ahfe1002995

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