"We need the ability to unlearn what we know." Roger von Oech

How Studio Light Affects Colors
© 2000 Nita Leland

Color bias in light creates unexpected changes in the appearance of colors. It's almost shocking to see the differences in the appearance of a painting that has been produced in cool fluorescent light when it is viewed in daylight or incandescent light. This is why it is advantageous to install balanced full-spectrum lighting in your studio if at all possible. However, not everyone can afford to make major changes in studio lighting, so here are a few tips to help you adjust for lighting conditions in your art work.

The color bias of incandescent light, such as a normal light bulb produces, is toward yellow. So reds will tend to have an orange bias, while blues will lean toward green. Blue and white won't appear to change that much. Fluorescent light, on the other hand, is generally biased toward blue/green, so reds will seem duller and other colors will have a greenish cast. The overall effect is warmer with incandescents and cooler with fluorescents, even when using the so-called "warm white" tubes. Halogen lights have slightly less color bias, intensifying colors while adding only a slight yellow bias to greens and blues. However, halogen lamps tend to get a little too hot to suit me.

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