Color can give vibrancy and life to your design—but did you know that it can also bring a lot of extra meaning to it?
Color can be a really powerful tool when used properly—so let’s take a look at how best to do that.
Basic Color Theory
You can probably remember most color theory from Art class in school—but here’s the basic idea. All colors fit into a basic color wheel – which has the different hues blending into one another. These colors can be classified as Primary, Secondary or Tertiary.
Primary Colors are colors that cannot be made by simply mixing others together (Red, Yellow & Blue).
Secondary Colors (Green, Purple & Orange) can be made by mixing combinations of the Primary Colors.
Tertiary Colors (Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green) are formed by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.
Colors can also be considered to be cold or warm colors.
Warm colors are traditionally vivid and energetic, and come forward visually – really standing out in the design.
Cool colors are usually give an impression of calmness, and create a soothing feel. They can sometimes fade into the background a little.
Things start to get interesting when you start to combine colors together in a design. Colors that are too similar can result in a lack of contrast, and possibly appear boring – while using colors that are polar opposites on the color wheel can be so vibrant that they almost seem to vibrate on the screen.
There are a couple of interesting ways to think about combining colors together. One is to use colors that are next to each other on the colour wheel (analogous) which can result in a nice combination. Another is to form a triad of colors in different thirds of the color wheel (Triadic) for some more variety.
Colors can also convey a lot meaning – just by their presence. This can be a little tricky – as often the meaning of a certain color can change, depending on the culture in which the design is being viewed in.
For example – Red is a color often associated with extreme emotions like anger or passion. It can convey speed, but also signify someone should ‘stop’. Green is a color heavily associated with harmony, nature & the environment. It is also a color that speaks of safety, and a prompt to go ahead.
All colors are filled with many associations and meanings like this – check out this great article for more color meanings.
Using Color Wisely
As you can see – color comes down to a lot more that just ‘what you like’. Each color can convey meaning/feeling and the combinations of colors you use can give your design a vastly different feel.
It pays to consider your use of color in design – and use it to help convey your message. Think about colors that match the emotions you want the viewer to feel. Use combinations that set the right mood.
And play around with colors – always thinking about how they make you feel as much as how they look.
Some Useful Resources
Now go and get creative…