This page has been updated, click here for the definitive Halation page!

Meet two colors, we’ll call them the parents.
On the left, Purple, on the right, Blue.

By mixing each color equally, we achieve the middle child.

By adding the middle child and creating an array you will see halation.

The middle color seems to vibrate a little. If you look longer, you will note that the middle swatch of color has a little of the purple on the right and a little blue on the left.

Here’s a full array of different colors with equal steps of 5 children.

How do solid colors start to look a little 3 dimensional?
Where does this gradient come from?

The effect is counterintuitive. Each of the seven rectangles above contains a unique and solid block of color. Each square is a single color and yet each appears not to be.

It’s beautiful.

The colors begin to vibrate beyond their individual recognition. They suddenly know about eachother and they become luminous.

This is called halation.

Halation, as an artistic term, is the spontaneous effect of the eyes spreading color beyond it’s actual realm.

When you start to see the individual color swatches as gradients, you are seeing halation. It’s a phenomenon of our eyes to find a vibrancy in specific placements of colors. In the examples above, the placement of each swatch was based on equal steps to parents. Halation also occurs between equal steps between hues of equal value.

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4 Responses to Halation

  1. Monster says:


    It’s not an illusion : your images DO have these color stripes. Use a lossless image format instead of smeary JPEG.

  2. gabemott says:

    @Monster, we did take your GREAT comments into consideration and used GIFs and PNGs in everything we could. Check out samesameordifferent.com…

  3. gabemott says:

    this page has moved and @Monster we did use better images to illustrate the point here http://colorisrelative.com/color/halation/

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