Contrast Colors: Definition, Types, Levels and Examples
Contrast Colors: Definition, Types, Levels and Examples

Contrast Colors: Definition, Types, Levels and Examples

Technically, color contrast is the relation of luminance between two colors that seem to be opposite to each other.

The term luminance refers to the darkness or lightness of a color. For example, pure white with high luminance and pure black with low luminance.

In physics, luminance is defined as a measure of the intensity of bright light coming from a source in a direction, or it can also be referred to as brightness of light.

On the other hand, when this term is used in design, color contrast is the difference between the ratio of color values, where a higher number refers to a higher degree of contrast between two colors.

For example, black and white with a contrast ratio of 21:1. While white and yellow have a ratio of 1.07:1 which tends to be low.

Finally, when used in a variety of designs, posters for example, contrasting colors can promote better readability and visibility of content.

Examples of the most common use of this color concept can be seen from a notebook or perhaps from this blog post where there is black text on a white background.

But what is the meaning of contrasting colors or contrasting colors? What are the types of contrasting colors? Are there examples of contrasting colors?

If you are curious about the answers to the various basic questions above, see the article below till the end.

Understanding Contrast Colors

Contrast color is a color scheme that directly shows the difference in value and level between two colors.

In theory, color contrast refers to the use of foreground and background colors with different brightness levels.

A simple example is this link, which deals with the notion of color, with blue text color and white background.

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This is a simple example of such a contrasting color. So what is the use of this contrasting color? What function?

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There are many uses contrasting colors one of them to show the most dominant or main element in the design.

For example, if you’re building a website, a contrasting color design allows people to focus on what’s up front and not what’s in the background.

This is why many sites use a white background because it can be combined with other colors, blue and yellow for example.

The use of these contrasting colors will indirectly affect the readability of the content or text on the human side and not on the machine side.

And this is also very helpful for users who have eye problems or color blind users.

The level of contrast of one color is quite varied with another, either in color shades or in the intensity of the displayed color.

There are some simple examples of these contrasting colors, for example red and green which are considered high contrast colors or red-orange which is a low contrast color.

Contrasting colors

Contrast Color
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In the book Color elements written by Johannes Itten in 1961, divides contrasting colors into several types, including:

1. Contrasting color shade

Hue contrast color refers to the pure contrast color with the highest level of luminance or brightness.

Examples of these contrasting colors are yellow red and blue, red blue and green, blue yellow and purple, yellow green and purple, and red including purple, green, blue, orange and black.

It’s just that to form a shade contrast, three different colors are needed. That is, the contrast shade will only appear when three colors are used.

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2. Light-dark contrast

Light and dark contrast refers to the chromatic properties of colors that create or form opposite effects to each other.

A simple example of light-dark contrast is when you place black and white side by side.

3. Warm cold contrast

Warm and cool contrast refers to the properties of a color that visualize or indicate a warm or cool atmosphere.

For example, combining red which is a warm color or warm colors with blue which is a cool color or cool color.

In addition to the two colors above, there are many examples of warm and cool colors such as yellow and orange, as well as green, neutral white, gray and silver.

4. Complementary contrast

Complementary contrast occurs only when two colors are said to be complementary, provided the pigments are mixed together in equal amounts.

Finally, the two colors will produce a new neutral color, in this case gray or black.

For example, yellow and purple, blue and orange, red and green all produce different contrasts.

5. Simultaneous contrast

Simultaneous contrast occurs when each particular color visualizes a complementary color, which spontaneously produces a color that did not exist before.

6. Contrast saturation

Saturation contrast refers to saturation or quality, which refers to the degree of purity of the color itself.

In practice, this saturation contrast produces several parts, namely pure color contrast, intense contrast, diluted contrast and dull contrast.

7. Contrast extension

Extension contrast refers to the involvement of the relative color areas of two or more colors with different intensities, be they small or large.

Color contrast level

Contrast Color
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When we talk about contrast, we are not talking about the level that can refer to chroma, hue and value.

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But in general, the levels are divided into only two categories, even if you use one of the several types of contrasting colors above, including:

1. High contrast

High contrast or high contrast is the use of colors that are opposite to each other in the interior color palette or the color wheel.

An example of high contrast is when you use two primary colors namely red and green or maybe green and yellow.

So does high contrast apply to primary and secondary colors as well? Generally yes, but the luminance level is different.

How about combining primary and secondary colors? Does it include high contrast?

In theory no. Because the resulting level is already different. And, secondary colors are basically copies of the primary colors themselves.

2. Low contrast

Low contrast or low contrast is the use of two colors that are close to each other on the color wheel.

Thus, the contrast level of the color itself will be low as when using red and orange.

Thus, in the context of low contrast it can refer to the use of a primary color and a secondary color.

So does using a secondary color and a tertiary color also produce low contrast? In general yes.


Contrasting colors are one of the solutions that can be used when choosing the right color for a design or branding.

Because basically this color will create and shape a certain emotional response if it is chosen correctly.

This is an article about the meaning of contrasting colors, including their types and levels. We hope this article can be useful to you. ***