How exactly does the color inversion work

When light and dark get out of balance

As quickly as almost every observer realizes that "something is wrong" when he encounters a color inversion, it is difficult to describe the effect in words. The starting point is the idea that every color has its specific brightness. The color yellow is the lightest, red and green are in the middle, and blue is the darkest of all pure, saturated colors. The different brightness values ​​of the color are particularly clear if you look at a black and white image, for example that of the color wheel. Then the brightnesses are reflected in the form of different shades of gray.

The brightness on which each color tone is based is one of the factors that determine whether it harmonizes with another color tone. If this ratio of brightness is disturbed, the color combination is perceived as inharmonious. For example, if a yellow is veiled or darkened until a clay ocher is formed, and a blue is lightened at the same time until it appears lighter than the neighboring yellow, this creates disharmony. The usual feeling that yellow is lighter than blue is disturbed - the two colors do not match. This is exactly when color designers speak of color inversion. Aemilius Müller (1909 to 1989) was the first color researcher to put this effect into words in his work "Modern Color Harmony Theory" in 1948.

The attentive observer encounters such color inversions almost everywhere. As a rule, they seem strange, but that in no way means that they are not sometimes justified. Fashion designers, interior designers and also artists work time and again with color inversions to create certain moods. (ud)