You might have noticed one of Louis Vuitton’s favoured colour palettes, the cool blue/cyans contrasting with warm orange tones in many of their ads.
If we take a close look at the palette from the Sean Connery ad we get the swatch below;
It’s always worth understanding why a colour palette works so we’ll delve into a little art history. Below is Claude Boutet’s colour wheel illustration from Traité de la Peinture en Mignature, the 1708 edition.
Take a look at the semicircle highlighted on the right side and you’ll note that good old Claude pretty accurately predicted a Sean Connery man-bag ad from 300 years in the future. Well played Sir.
Pleasing colour aesthetics and complimentary colours were intensely researched centuries ago by painters, so we have an astonishing store of that knowledge as 21st century photo retouchers to draw upon. The palette here is a broad analogous range, where the colours are harmonious because they sit adjacent on the colour wheel.
Note from the Uma Thurman shot above how the eye is drawn to the product. The blue/cyans even push into the shadows of the clothing, contrasting the swathe of orange tones starting near the belt, through the (sharper) face, through to the (even sharper) bag. The blue shadows aren’t present in the product, the redder tones quite purposefully contrast (with the help of added sharpening) to draw the eye.
This is more of a complimentary colour scheme, using opposites on the colour wheel and bypassing much of the analogous range present in the sand and greenery of the Connery shot, but in using similar cyan/orange basepoint opposites retains a similar feel.
The Louis Vuitton ads are a great example of tying a campaign together using colour theory, a sound knowledge of which can be invaluable to any photographer or retoucher looking to draw on hundreds of years of research into the psychology and effect of colour harmonics. Note below that the colour of the car has been selected to fall within the same, on-brand analogous range and used to contrast against the warmer tones of both its immediate surroundings, the model, and the product itself.
We’ll look at some other popular styles used in advertising in future articles, please use the share links below!