Who is your favourite cartoon character? Going by web trends, it must be Pikachu, SpoogeBob or The Simpsons. But, for a moment, if you have to pick something from the past, who would it be? May be Tweety, or Winnie the Pooh, with whom most of us have a lot of memories. Times have changed, more characters have come to life, but one thing that has remained important in the world of cartoons is the colour yellow.
Did you notice that whether you are watching The Simpsons, Pokemon, or Adventure Time, yellow is always present? Did you ponder over why that might be so? It is not a coincidence or something that just randomly happens. A lot of thought has gone into it. This World Cartoonist Day, we are more than happy to decode it for you. Ever since the animators first colourised the cartoons, Yellow has been their favourite choice. And the reason they choose it is not because the shade looks pretty, but because it has something to do with the art theory and the colour psychology.
“When you are swiping through channels with your TV remote the general tendency is that you stop when something bright catches your eye. Usually the colour yellow is extremely bright and it catches the attention of a viewer instantly. It is fresh and happy and keeps the viewer hooked on. Against any backdrop, be it brown, green or blue, it stands out and ensures that the character is not missed out. On a more technical front, amidst all the colours yellow is the first colour that the human eye registers due to its lowest refractive index”, said Rajiv Chilaka, Founder, Green Gold Animation & Creator of Chhota Bheem.
According to colour psychology, Atkinson notes that cultural background will determine what colours do to your brain, but yellow usually expresses energy, activity, and joy – think Despicable Me‘s Minions, or Inside Out‘s Joy.
Kundan Toleti, a concept artist and graphic designer, says that cartoon characters usually have a very simple color palette and the colour scheme is chosen to complement their background. He shares that RGB colors play a lot with light, colour and contrast, like cool to warm colours and vice versa. For example, In SpongeBob SquarePants, the backdrop is usually a blue ocean, and blue is one colour that is in direct contrast with yellow, making it the most appropriate choice. “And yellow is also a colour blind proof, so it will always stand out,” he shares.