aka: Orange And Blue Contrast
And these are just the posters! note
"All of Castlevania's level palettes incorporated orange in some way. And often incorporated shades of blue, which is orange's complement. A.k.a., it makes orange 'pop out'. It made everything really pop in general, and the game felt alive."
Basic complementary color theory states that when two contrasting colors are put together, they "pop," so the natural technique is to color films to have a strong, contrasting palette.
The one thing you will almost always have in a film is people. Human skin runs from pale pinkish yellow to dark brown, all of which are shades of orange. The color that contrasts best with orange is blue. So you turn up the shadows to the teal end and the highlights to the orange.
Unlike other pairs of complementary colors, fiery orange and cool blue are strongly associated with opposing concepts — fire and ice, land and sea, day and night, invested humanism vs. elegant indifference, good old fashioned explosions vs. futuristic science stuff. It's a trope because it's used on purpose, and it does something.
. Games have also picked up on this trend, and you can find some of the most blatant examples on this Tumblr
. A discussion of the coloring trends - especially in orange as they pertain to comics is here
Subtrope of Mood Lighting
and sister trope to Unnaturally Blue Lighting
, as well a very specific and common form of Color Contrast
and Color Wash
. Not to be confused with Blue and Orange Morality
(even when it overlaps with Good Colors, Evil Colors
, as in TRON: Legacy
). Ties in with Hollywood Darkness
, which is usually blue or teal.
Has a vague resemblance to the Loudness War
; in both cases, something is pushed Up to Eleven
in post-production, removing all subtlety from the sound or picture. Can be a factor in Digital Destruction
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Anime and Manga
Art and Photography
- The Czech photographer and traveller Jiří Kolbaba took an amazing series of photographs in Namibia, some of which illustrate this trope wonderfully. See one of his gorgeous pictures from a part of the Namib desert called Sossusvlei here◊.
Films — Animation
- The Adventures of Tintin has this prominently on the poster.
- The Blu-Ray "restoration" of Fantasia uses this, most prominently in the "Night On Bald Mountain" sequence, where everything that was originally black is now blue.
- This poster◊ for Brave, with the orange being Merida's hair, and the blue being the will-o'-the-wisps and the fog.
- The colorists at DC Comics in the early Eighties seem to have really loved the color orange, especially on the Superman titles.
Films — Live-Action
- The carbon chamber from The Empire Strikes Back is dimly lit with orange lighting and surrounded by blue-tinged darkness, providing an eerie contrast for the first showdown between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader. It also predates the modern "Blue and Orange" phenomenon by about two decades.
- Blade Runner features this in almost every scene. It's part of its distinctive visual style.
- TRON: Legacy: The movie itself consists mostly of this. It could have been grandfathered in as the original TRON was mostly black-and-white with Red and Blue glow-lines. For the sequel they kept the Blue glow intact, but then they went and tweaked the Red to be various, mostly Orange-ish shades.
- Limitless: Limitless is an interesting example because of the way it's used; whenever somebody takes the NZT, the scene will shift from blue highlights to orange highlights, and vice versa when it wears off.
- In Hollow Man, invisibility serum is blue and counterserum is orange. Also, in thermal vision living organisms are mostly orange/red and the environment is mostly blue.
- Drive. In the opening sequence, the only colours (with the exception of the pink title) are the blue and orange coming from the lighting in Los Angeles at night.
- The song and dance number in Om Shanti Om called Dard E Disco has lovely orange blue contrast with gold tones for about 3/4 of the song.
- Scott Pilgrim purposely uses this trope as a parody for Lucas Lee's movies. All of his movie posters are off-the-scale blue/orange contrast.
- Skyfall. In Shanghai, the lighting keeps switching between orange and blue.
- The Hobbit. The scenes in the goblins' caves. The orange of the flames mixes with the blueness of the darkness.
- In Peter Pan, when Peter pauses in the bedroom window, his body is lit in orange from the room with a blue moonlit background.
- Riddick: The first third of the film is made in shades of dark yellow, with occasional splashes of blue. Most of the last third is Hollywood Darkness blue.
- Star Trek: Into Darkness contains many examples, especially in scenes set aboard the Enterprise. We see orangey faces against blue backgrounds, and also sets which are lit (or painted) in patches of blue and patches of orange.
- The book cover website Good Show Sir started using the tag "once you see it" for blue and orange covers in spring 2013. Because once you see it, you see it everywhere.
- The sixth series of the Doctor Who. It's also present in the seventh - "Nightmare in Silver" uses it to show the two sides of the Doctor's mindscape when the Cyber-Planner starts taking over.
- Burn Notice: Watch out for Michael's orange skin, paired with a light blue shirt.
- Instant Star used a blue filter for the school interior sequences, to better match the late 19th/early 20th century stone High School building they used for exteriors and disguise the interior sets built for the midcentury-modern Degrassi school building.
- Awake: the two different universes that the show alternates between each get their own color pallete: Red/orange for the reality where Britten's wife is alive, and green/blue for the one where his son is. It actually serves a purpose in making it obvious to a careful viewer which one the scene is taking place in.
- CSI: Miami had a very saturated color palate while CSI: New York was originally darker and drearier. When the two crossed over guess which characters were bathed in golden light while the other was in dark blue shadows.
- Fringe: The intro sequence started off blue, but would change to red-orange depending on which universe the episode took place in, sometimes switching back and forth to show frequent transitions during the episode. Much more subtle during the fifth season, but nonetheless present; often the now-fugitive Fringe team would have to double back to Walter's old Harvard lab, which is an orange hue due to being ambered, while the scenes that show them evading the Observers have a bluish tint.
- Sugar's landmark album Copper Blue has it both on the cover◊ and in the title: pure metallic copper is a vivid metallic orange, while copper sulfate is an intense blue.
- The music video for "Remember the Name" by Fort Minor is between this and a green wash. While Mike is rapping, it's more this, while Ryu gets the greenest parts.
- The video for Zedd's "Clarity" is based on this concept; popping colors and contrast leads to clarity, get it?
- The music video for Kvelertak's "Evig Vandrar" heavily uses this concept.
- The Amiga originally used black, white, blue, and orange. In its four-color mode — the one used by boot screens and the Workbench UI.
- One of the display palettes for the Apple II, though not as commonly used as black, white, green and purple/magenta.
- The Firefox logo (because of the organge fire) and default color scheme.
- Unlike most wrestlers in WWE, Sin Cara has special lighting during his matches. Said lighting is orange and blue. Sin Cara's ring attire and entrance video are also orange and blue.
- WrestleMania XXVIII utilizes this for their poster.
- In stage lighting, when a 'white' light is desired, it is common practice to use complementing colors from opposing angles, often amber and blue. This approach gives more 'depth' to actors on stage, resulting in cool blue shadows and warm amber highlights.
- Theatre lights are colored by placing filters known as 'gels' in front of the lighting fixtures. The canonical gels for a basic warm/cool wash are R02 "Bastard Amber" and R60 "No Color Blue".
- The poster for the musical of Rebecca is a giant R of bright orange fire on a deep blue background.
- The mainly blue Gahlok, Gahlok Va and Gahlok-Kal have orange eyes, with the regular Gahlok even having orange Krana "brains".
- Nokama in her Toa Metru and Toa Hordika forms also had orange eyes to contrast her blue body.
- The blue Vahki Bordakh had striking orange as its secondary color.
- The 2004 promo material likewise utilized this color-combo by lighting a portion of the background skyline orange to simulate the light and heat emanating from the industrial areas.
- In Star Wars: The Old Republic, the Darkside marker is orange instead of the more obvious red, whch contrasts vividly with the blue Lightside marker (though, given how this contrast is used elsewhere [blue = dark, orange = light], it seems very odd, to say the least).
- Mass Effect. Also on a meta level, the first game used a lot more clean blues and whites in game and the user interface was blue, while the second switched to gritter oranges and browns and the user interface turned orange.
- The Battlefield series started using this trope with the cover art from the second Battlefield: Bad Company game, but Battlefield 3 really started it in earnest by putting it in the game itself:
- Blue icons are used for the friendly team, orange for the opposing.
- The menu interface.
- Game/DLC posters. Orange for gunfire/explosions, blue for cooler atmospheric areas.
- Maps like Operation Metro and Death Valley are washed in blue, while Bandar Desert and Tallah Market is washed in orange.
- Explosions and muzzle flashes, are notably orange in color.
- Brink Orange for Resistance, Blue for Security, all other colors for scenery.
- Crash Bandicoot is a walking orange-blue contrast; a creature with orange fur wearing nothing but blue pants.
- Tomb Raider II - Some of the level with the Maria Doria are strongly orange/teal; surprisingly for a non-realistic PC game from 1997.
- Blinx is orange, and wears a blue jacket.
- Portal: Everything significant to gameplay that comes in two forms, with the exception of the black and white test chamber walls themselves, is blue and orange: the two ends of the portal; the propulsion and repulsion gels; the pushing and pulling states of the excursion funnels; the off and on states of the lights indicating a connection with the Big Red Buttons; the highlights on Atlas and P-Body; even the "eyes" of Wheatley and GLaDOS. The test chambers in Portal were deliberately made mostly cool blues in contrast to the warm oranges of the behind-the scenes-areas.
- The Half-Life series in general is fond of this (orange HEV suit, blue G-Man, orange Resistance, blue Combine, blue Citadel in Half-Life 2 contrasting with the orange destroyed Citadel in Episode 1, etc).
- The video game adaptations of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows use practically only blue and orange shades throughout the game.
- Every boxart for the classic Mega Man series features this in the cover. Once Zero (red) was introduced, he was often used for contrast with Megaman (blue).
- Metroid Prime:
- The original Metroid Prime had two distinct types of Phazon. Guess what colors they were. Sadly, this particular plot point was more potential than kinetic.
- Metroid Prime 3: Corruption used this for box art and other artwork, but not quite as much for the game itself — while blue is prominent because of Phazon becoming more abundant, orange is largely limited to Samus and her gunship.
- The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword exaggerates it for the Silent Realm in order to emphasize how alien the alternate dimension is. Everything turns red whenever Link is spotted.
- Mortal Kombat 9 Mortal Kombat has this on the cover and, to a lesser extent, on the main menu background; both achieve this by putting Scorpion and Sub-Zero opposite each other.
- The title screen◊ of Aleste 2 features redhead Ellinor Waizen and the title in red-orange lettering against a deep-blue background.
- Singularity: only in the time-warped alternate-2011, though. In 1955, another color palette is used. This is to help show off the unnatural state of the world in 2011.
- Sonic and Tails of the Sonic the Hedgehog series, where the titular hedgehog and his fox companion are colored blue and orange respectively.
- The original Castlevania for the NES had most, if not all, of its foreground scenery orange, complete with many blue backdrops throughout the game. Even Simon's sprites were a yellow-orange to help him pop out. Averted in Vampire Killer for the MSX2, which used a color palette of more subdued browns and shades of gray.
- X3: Reunion's boxart◊. Also, many ships are rendered in blue-gray, and many sectors are lit in red.
- Red Faction Guerrilla is set on Mars, a planet coated almost exclusively in red-orange dust. Indeed, most of the games environments are variations on this theme. So rather than have the traditional orangey-yellow explosions and muzzle flares on the guns, the flame effects are distinctively blue. Furthermore, the antagonistic EDF buildings are all a dark blue with bright blue lights on them, making them pop out from the surrounding landscape (unlike their brown uniforms and cars).
- The Color-Coded Multiplayer in Team Fortress 2 may be red vs. blue, but the developers explicitly state that the reason so many of the early maps were set in desert environments was to create a contrast between the warm-colored rocks and dust and the blue sky.
- Monday Night Combat makes its teams orange and blue.
- Counterstrike: Global Offensive uses counterterrorist blue and terrorist orange-yellow as team colors.
- Pokémon Black 2 and White 2, the Black 2 box has blue (to represent electricity) while White 2 has reddish-orange (to represent fire). This also goes with the black and white contrast present in these games and their prequels.
- Asura's Wrath: Asura himself is painted and surrounded in orange flames while many of the enemies are advertised in blue backgrounds. The image on the main article and the box art are prime examples of this among others.
- Enforced in League of Legends: many players with partial red-green color-blindness complained about the default Color-Coded Multiplayer scheme, so an orange-and-blue Color-Blind Mode was added.
- An option exists in Modern Warfare 3. By default, teammates have green names and map dots and enemies red, so the colorblind assist option changes those colors to blue and orange, respectively.
- Legacy of Kain, the two protagonists, Kain and Raziel, are color-coded like this. Kain wears a red sash around his chest while Raziel has blue skin, and their checkpoint emblems in Defiance are red and blue-green. Blue and green are the colors of the Spectral Realm, Raziel's native plane of being, while orange and red are the colors of the hell dimension of the Hylden, which for an unexplained reason is where Kain goes when he dies as opposed to the Spectral Realm. There's also Defiance's "neutral" loading screen◊ — the character specific ones are orange and blue.
- My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic:
- It gives the orange Applejack and the teal Rainbow Dash a friendly rivalry in-series. While it's mostly a bonus for the toy box art, this has rarely been used due to miscommunication between the animation and toy divisions.
- The Wonderbolts, on top of their yellow and blue outfits, also all come in orange and blue.
- Hey Arnold! uses orange and bue contrast in their credits, popping the yellow names of the crew out of the blue backround. And in the Halloween special, it was actually orange.
- In Avatar The Last Airbender, the Grand Finale has two determining fights happening in parallel: Aang/Ozai and Azula/Zuko. Both were red, or a kind of orange, versus blue. In one fight, Blue was good, in the other, blue was evil; in both, the fights were made all the more dramatic for the contrast.
- Transformers Animated: Jetstorm and Jetfire are like-minded twins. The complimentary nature of their respective blue and orange color schemes also reflects the fact that they are Combining Mecha.
- In the original G1 Transformers series, the Autobots' crashed-spaceship-used-as-an-H.Q. is orange, and the Decepticons' crashed-spaceship-used-as-an-H.Q. is blue (well, purple).
- Wander Over Yonder: Wander's body is orange and Sylvia's is blue. They're the two leads and traveling companions.
- Blue and Orange is a popular color set for team colors, from schools through the pros and in almost every sport, including auto racing.
- Following the 2011 Canadian federal election, the government was split with the Conservative Party of Canada (blue) in power and the New Democratic Party (orange) forming the Official Opposition. Interestingly the NDP's policies are also largely agreed to be in sharper contrast with the Conservative Party than the previous opposition: the Liberal Party (red).
- Titan, the largest moon of Saturn, has orange clouds, but a dark blue atmosphere.
- Sunsets on the blue-colored Earth are colored orange, but sunsets on the orangey-red Mars are colored blue.
- The 1970s◊ and 1980s◊ logos for ITV company LWT had blue and orange stripes.
- The NTSC analog television system's YIQ color space has the orange and blue contrast along the in-phase (I) axis and the green and purple contrast along the quadrature (Q) axis. More bandwidth is allocated to I than to Q because the eye is more sensitive to orange and blue contrast.
- Some forms of colorblindness make it difficult to see red or green (or both). As a result, this can force a person to only see yellow/orange and blue.
- The colour of the sand in some areas of Namib Desert is vivid orange, and the contrast with a clear blue sky is simply stunning. Have a look at Google Images search for the words 'orange blue Namib'.
- Technically not allowed in traditional Western European Heraldry, since Orange (called "Tenne") and Blue (called 'Azure') are both classified as 'colors', as opposed to the 'metals' "Or" (gold/yellow) and "Argent" (silver/white), and the rules forbid the use of color on color. Artistic license in the actual colors chosen means that a gold or yellow can be rendered as quite orangey, thereby sneaking past the prohibition.
- The first flag of the Netherlands, the Prinsenvlag, was an orange-white-blue tricolour, as are the flags of New York City and Albany and the former flag of South Africa, all of which were based on the Prinsenvlag due to the important role the Dutch played in those areas.
- Often employed on food packaging to make it stand out, most notably the Scottish drink Irn Bru and the UK snack food Wotsits. To some people in the UK, this colour combination evokes these things regardless of what it's used for.
- Road construction signs, as the bright orange contrasts to the sky.
- The logo of Nickelodeon is frequently orange-colored, while that of its nightime counterpart (Nick at Nite) is blue-colored.