Stencil Harmony | Contrasting Hues

Making a Statement

When choosing the colors for stenciling consider the degree of contrast, i.e., light/dark (value), tonal/multi-hue, bright/dull (intensity).

High contrast will make a bold statement.  Low contrast will produce subtle results.

Hue, Value & Intensity

Our first example illustrates the differences in hue (color) and value.  The Woodland Breeze stencil image, below, is eye-catching due to the divergence of these two properties.  The leaf motifs are a medium-light value ranging from yellow green to blue green over a deep red violet background.  These contrasts cause the leaves to be impactful.  Use this approach when you want patterning to be a focal point.

Woodland Breeze Fern Stencil |

The Woodland Breeze example, below, uses closely related hues and values, resulting in a restful pattern than would work well in a supportive role.  It may come as a surprise to know that, in both renditions, the leaves are identical.  The variance is solely a result of the background over which the leaf motifs rest.

The leaves on both are multi-hue, which allows for movement within each example.  Depending on which segment of the layout is viewed, the leaves present a more pronounced or subtle presence.

Woodland Breeze Fern Stencil |

The same variation in impact can be achieved through tonal applications.  A highly contrasted value of the same hue will present a bolder image than those similar in value.  For example, pastel pink and deep burgundy vs. closely related pinks.  One clamors for attention while the other is serene.  Intensity also plays a roll.  Bright hues speak louder than dull hues.

In the image below, the Paisley Tango motif is closely related to the background, producing a restful result.  The more closely related the pattern and background are, the quieter the outcome will be.

Paisley Tango Stencil |

When you want to incorporate multiple stenciled motifs on a singular surface, varying the level of contrast among the patterns is an effective way to prevent the designs from competing.  This is particularly important when motifs are adjacent to one another.  Determine which will be the focus and use the adjoining patterns as a place for the eye to rest.  All of the featured stencils are found in the collage style stencil category of