Camels and contrast

I don’t feel like I have a good understanding about “contrast.” Like when do you use it? Why is the grass contrasted but not the sky in this video? Is there any reasoning behind how you place the contrast? What types of things can you contrast and not? Does it represent something about the “real world” being represented or does it purely make it look better for some other reason? Unrelated, how’s my shadow here? Does that make sense? I don’t have a good eye for it.


Hi there,
First of all, nice camel!
Second of all, a good trick is to zoom out and if your brain thinks it’s the thing you want it to look like, you are on the right path. When I zoom out your camel, I still see a camel, huzzah!

Contrast is two visually different elements next each other, which combined intensify the intended effect. At a most basic level you can think of it as using black and white together. A black pixel next to a white pixel is a very high level of contrast and your brain interprets that separation as two different objects, a border, or a detail in the image.

Some examples from your camels:

  • By using a black pixel for the eye of the camel, you create contrast between the eye and the camel indicating it is clearly an eye.
  • Your top image has higher contrast between the sand and the shadow than the bottom image as you used a more distinct color.
  • The shadows in the top image are a similar color to the camel, so there is little contrast between the camel’s legs and the shadows. (They kind of blend together).
  • The sky is a completely different color from the rest of the image, this creates contrast to separate the sky from the ground in image. (Your brain immediately says “oh the sky!”).

So you have a trade off here. Your top image shadow provides more contrast, which might be easier to see. Your bottom image shadow is a more realistic shadow color, which might make more sense. The artistic part comes in deciding what your priority is here. You need to find a balance between using “realistic” colors higher contrast colors that conveys the intended message to the person looking at the image.

Hope this helps!

To build on this a bit, it’s ties a lot into what is called color theory.

If you want to see what colors contrast well with each other, it really helps to visualize with a color wheel. If two colors are opposite each other, then contrast is good!

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