5 Essential Things Designers Should Know About Colors

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 I gave you a brief insight into the world of colors in a previous post, starting from color history to color psychology. Now, I want to educate you regarding the technical side of colors that needs to be offered to be a successful graphic designer. Remember that this field requires extra research, experimentation and practice.

1. The Color Wheel

There are three sectors of the wheel. They are called the primary, secondary and tertiary colors.

Primary includes: Red, Yellow & Blue

These are the three central colors from which other hues are derived. These three colors are unique and cannot be created through a combination any colors.

Secondary includes: Green, Orange & Purple

Secondary colorsImage Source: IrinaTrumpe/iStock.com

These colors are formed through the combination of the three primary colors. Green is created by combining blue and yellow. Orange is created by combining red and yellow and purple is created by combining red and blue.
Tertiary includes: Yellow – Orange, Red – Orange, Red – Purple, Blue – Purple, Blue – Green & Yellow – Green

Image Source: IrinaTrumpe/iStock.com
These are hues are created by combining primary and secondary colors. Hues are also added during the combination.2. Cool vs. Warm Colors

Colors are divided into two categories: cool and warm.

  • Cool colors are shades of blue, green, pink, purple, violent and indigo.

Cool color

Image Source: color-hex.com

  • Warm colors are shades of yellow, orange, brown, red and shocking pink.

Warm color

Image Source: color-hex.com

Cool colors induce relaxation and a soothing effect, whereas warm colors excite and attract attention. Corporations and professional business industries typically prefer cool colors to reflect professionalism. Commercial businesses such as food, beauty and the entertainment sector tend to prefer warm colors to garner attention. When you create a logo design, make sure the colors clearly reflect the correct industry.

3. Color Harmony

Color Harmony

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Color harmony is the art of creating various visually appealing color combinations. As a designer, you must know the art of combining colors in a way that they attract the viewer. For example the pairing of blue with yellow, red with green or yellow with green in various shades are pleasant combinations. The observer should not be repelled by overdone color combinations or color clashes. An example of this is yellow and orange, which are two bright colors that can be visually overpowering when used together.

4. Color Context

Red against black background

Image Source: skodonnell/iStock.com
Graphic designers should also understand how one color affects the presence of another. In technical terms this is also known as color context. Understanding this will help you create backdrops, foreground and background images more efficiently. For instance, red color is best visible against a black or white background but against a pink or brown background, the red would seem dull.

5. Color Schemes

Image Source: freepik.com

There are various color schemes used by artists. The most common are:

Monochromatic: This effect can be used when you want one single color to stand out in an artistic design. For example, you can create an underwater portrait using all the shades of blue with tints of white (which is also known as absence of color) to highlight various features.

Image Source: freepik.com

Analogous: The colors in this scheme are typically three colors that are next to each other on the color wheel. This is one of the best ways to create a harmonic design.

Image Source: freepik.com

Complementary: The colors in this scheme are typically opposite of each other on the color wheel.For red, yellow and blue, there is green, purple and orange respectively.

Image Source: freepik.com

Good knowledge of colors can help a graphic designer go a long way. It is important to know about colors to understanding color psychology, their uses and meaning will allow you to manipulate colors in design. Once you have a grip on color, this will enhance your skills. Always research and experiment to improve your knowledge.

Mehreen is a social media buff and design blogger, who keeps a keen eye on graphic design trends. She has a passion for experimenting with design ideas, and wouldn’t mind if it means going out of her way to find them in Timbuktu. Follow her on twitter for daily inspirations and findings.

13 thoughts on “5 Essential Things Designers Should Know About Colors

  1. Absolutely the designer should be well known about the color theory.. A design will look more tempting when it would be designed with the perfect color combination.

  2. Very nice article. Colors are the basic of designing. Designers should keep these basic fundamentals in mind while designing.

  3. Colors are no doubt the heart of designing, Without colors no designer can even imagine of designing a single object. That’s a really good post to share with all the new designers to make them aware of different concepts.

  4. Colors are very important part of web design. It’s necessary to select a color which is attractive and not giving a messy look to your design. Web designers should keep in mind these basic fundamentals while designing.

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