Design 101: Color Theory
February 25, 2016
February 25, 2016
It should come as no surprise that humans respond strongly to images and color. From an evolutionary standpoint, we needed to see and respond to our surroundings long before we developed the written word. Visual content elicits a reaction. While this is not to say that text content is not crucial in conveying information, visual content should not be ignored.
Just because you may not consider yourself an artist, designer, or creative does not mean that you should ignore your visuals. Even if you do consider yourself any of these things, awesome visuals can help you create meaningful, shareable, and innovative content that drives traffic and keeps your customers coming back for more.
Ready? Let Design 101 begin.
Colors can be understood due to their relationships to three groupings of color, referred to as primary, secondary, and tertiary colors.
Primary: Red, Yellow, Blue
These cannot be created by combining any other colors
Secondary: Orange, Green, Purple
Can be created by combining two primary colors
Remember that color is way more complex than breaking it down to simply the color names and some variants. Colors are rich and deep, and can vary drastically depending on the core colors that make it up and the amount of black, white, or gray that is also found in its makeup. From here, describing color becomes more complex.
Hue: The color that you perceive when you look at the object.
Shade: The hue with black added.
Tint: The hue with white added.
Saturation: The hue with both black and white added.
So, primary colors stand alone and cannot be developed using any other color. Secondary and tertiary colors are created using some combination of primary and secondary colors. From here, the shade, tint, and saturation of a color (or hue) differs based on the amount of black or white that has been added.
If you imagine a color wheel, complementary colors are those that sit directly across from one another and can be used to create nuanced contrast aimed at bringing out the best in both colors. For example, red and green, blue and orange, and purple and yellow are considered complementary of one another. This is not the only way that colors may look good together. Color combinations may also be:
Analogous: Colors next to one another on the color wheel
Triadic: Three different colors that are evenly spaced from one another on the color wheel
Split-Complement: One base color and the two colors that are adjacent to that base color’s complement
Monochromatic: Colors based on the same shades and tints of one hue
While colors and the amount of black and white that are present can change the color’s appearance, additional colors that interplay also have an impact on design. Consider your branding- what colors are you using? Do they fall within basic color theory?
The colors you choose to represent your brand has an impact on the way that it is perceived in the public arena because each color has a certain mood and feel to it. For more information on this, check out our interview with Leslie Harrington!
Even different tints and shades can challenge the traditional color meanings that have come to be associated with specific hues. Complementary colors play a role in the overall impact that your colors have. Known as color context, the way that colors relate to one another depends on their contrast. For example, the same shade of green may appear darker next to a lighter color, and lighter next to a darker color.
When you are branding your business, your color plays a significant role in how your design will make your customers feel. Understanding how colors interplay with one another can allow you to build a strategy for external products, social media, and any place that you are seeking to make a visual impact!