Does color theory apply to shadow color?

When it comes to outdoor shadows I know that they ‘may’ have a bluish tint because of the fact that the sun creates the shadow so no light from the sun can get into the shadow. However, the indirect lighting from the blue sky would be able to color the shadow, which would give it a blue tint. Now this makes sense to me, because at least their some kind of logic to it.

However, I remember someone said that the reason shadows have a blue tint outside is because the sun’s light is yellowish orange and that it’s complimentary color is blue hence why shadows outside are blue tinted. Basically he was saying that whatever color the light is, the shadow would be tinted that light’s complementary color. The only reason I’m wondering about it is because he said he took a color theory class and that’s what he was taught. To me though, this sounds like nonsense because the color for the shadows needs to come from somewhere. Does anyone know if there’s any truth at all to what that guy was talking about, or were they just misinformed?

The shadows have a blue cast because they are receiving indirect light from the sky. You are asking if there’s any relationship between the colour of the sky and the colour of direct sunlight. Yes, but not really in the same sense that people apply principles like complimentary colours in colour theory. Would the shadows on a world lit by a red giant be green?

The shadows are blueish because of the sky. The sky is blue because blue has shorter wavelength and is scattered more than other colours.

If you are interested in colour theory in art, then I recommend James Gurney’s Color and Light. He has a fascinating blog too:

1 Like

He has some good examples like this where all 4 swatches at the top are from the shadow side of a white building.