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An Introduction to Color and Gobos in Stage Lighting

Great Lighting Designers carefully choose the right color and texture to enhance their designs for the most engaging stage productions. Color and texture are important facets of lighting design. They help designers create an immersive world where audiences are engaged in the production.Courtesy of Rosco/Ben Green

Methods of Adding Color and Texture

Adding color to your light can be achieved with two different methods: additive or subtractive. In subtractive color filtering, the gel absorbs unwanted colors, filtering the light and allowing only the desired colors to pass. Additive color mixing has become more common given the popularity of color-mixing LED fixtures. These lighting instruments use narrow band light emitting diodes that produce specific shades of red, green, blue, even amber and white. Color changing is achieved by adjusting the proportional intensity of individual LED colors.

Texture is created by using metal or glass patterns, also known as gobos. In its simplest form, a metal gobo works much like a stencil. A gobo inserted into a profile fixture, ellipsoidal reflector spotlight, or automated luminaire disrupts the focused beam and casts shadows according to the gobo design. Colored light is sometimes created using a glass gobo. While all gobos permit designers to project images and patterns, glass gobos provide the finest projection detail and can include color elements created from dichroic coated glass. Lighting Designers enhance each scene with appropriate colors and patterns to establish space, time, and setting. We’re happy to discuss your application and can point you to useful catalogs, indexes, and apps that make it easy and convenient to choose patterns and gels. Please call us or use the Request a Quote form, for more information on choosing color filters and gobos.