The bold and bright truth about color theory (2023)

Color theory is both a science and an art of applying color. Explains how people perceive color and the visual effects of how colors mix, match or contrast with each other. Color theory also deals with the information that color conveys and the methods used to reproduce color.

In color theory, colors are arranged on a color wheel and divided into 3 categories: primary, secondary and tertiary. More on that later.

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So as an entrepreneur, why should you care about color theory? Why can't you just throw something red on your packaging? It works for Coca-Cola, right?

Color theory will help you build your brand. This will help you get more sales.

Let's see how it works:

  1. RGB: additive color mixing model
  2. CMYK: Subtractive color model for color mixing
  3. Color Wheel Basics
  4. Matiz, Matiz, Matiz, Tono
  5. complementary color
  6. similar color
  7. Triadic color
  8. Why is color theory important?

recognize colors

People decide if they like a product in 90 seconds or less. 90% of decisions are based solely on color.

Color is perception. Our eyes see something (eg the sky) and the data sent from our eyes to the brain tells us that it is a certain color (blue). Objects reflect light in different combinations of wavelengths. Our brains receive these combinations of wavelengths and convert them into the phenomenon we call colors.

What are you looking for as you wander the soda aisle, scanning the shelves filled with 82 million cans and bottles, trying to find your six-pack of Coke? scriptlogoOr the well-known red can?

People decide if they like a product in 90 seconds or less. 90% of decisions are based solely on color. Therefore, a very important part of your branding should focus on color.

RGB: additive color mixing model

The bold and bright truth about color theory (2)

Humans see color in light waves. mixed light, eladditive color mixing model— Allows you to create colors by mixing different intensities of red, green and blue light sources. The more light you add, the brighter the color combination. If you mix the three colors of light, you get pure white light.

Televisions, monitors, and projectors use red, green, and blue (RGB) as their primary colors and then mix them to create other colors.

why should you worry

Let's say you have a very distinctive brand with a bright yellow logo. If you post your logo on Facebook, Twitter or your website and don't use the correct coloring process, your logo will appear blurry instead of bright yellow. Therefore, use RGB, not CMYK, when working with files for any screen.

(Video) Color Theory: Do You Have Soft or Bright Coloring?

CMYK: Subtractive color mixing model

Any color you see on a physical surface (paper, signage, packaging, etc.) usessubtractive color mixing model.Most of us are more familiar with this color model because it is what we learned in kindergarten by mixing finger paints. "Color subtraction" in this context simply refers to subtracting light from the paper by adding more color.

The bold and bright truth about color theory (3)

Traditionally, the primary colors used in the subtractive color process are red, yellow and blue, as these are the colors that painters mix to achieve all other hues. With the advent of color printing, it was later replaced by cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK), as this color combination allowed printers to print a greater variety of colors on paper.

why should you worry

You have decided to print a brochure in full color. If you're spending all your money on marketing (printing isn't cheap!), you want your printer to get the right colors.

Since printing uses subtractive color mixing methods, only CMYK can be used for accurate color reproduction. Using RGB will not only result in inaccurate colors, but will also cost your printer a fortune when you're forced to ask them to reprint the entire run.

color wheel

I don't know about you, but as a kid, the best thing about going back to school in the fall was buying the brand new box of 64 Crayola crayons. The possibilities seem endless. Until he inevitably loses his black crayon.

Learning about the color wheel and color harmony—what works, what doesn't, and how colors communicate—is as exciting as that new box of crayons. Not really.

Being able to understand color-related terminology and processes will help you communicate your vision to your designers, printers, and (possibly) an Apple Store Genius in a knowledgeable manner.

The bold and bright truth about color theory (4)

Color Wheel Basics

The first color wheel was invented by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666, so it certainly predates its introduction into kindergarten. Artists and designers still use it to develop color harmonies, blends and palettes.

The color wheel consists of three partsprimary color(red, yellow, blue), threesecondary color(Colors produced when primary colors are mixed: green, orange, purple) and sixTertiary color(a color consisting of a primary and a secondary color, such as blue-green or magenta).

Draw a line through the center of the wheel and you will sharewarm colors(red, orange, yellow)Cool colors(blue, green, purple).

The bold and bright truth about color theory (5)
The bold and bright truth about color theory (6)
(Video) Colour Theory Basics - Part 2

Warm colors are often associated with energy, brightness and action, while cool colors are usually associated with calm, peace and serenity.

When you realize that colors have temperature, you understand how choosing all warm or cool colors on your logo or website can affect your message.

hue, hue, hue and hue

Let's go back to our first day of school pack of 64 crayons. (Remember "raw amber"? What the hell is amber, and is raw really better than cooked?) Anyway, you might be wondering how we got from the original twelve colors on the color wheel to all those crayons? This is where tones, shades and nuances come in.

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The bold and bright truth about color theory (10)

In short, tone, nuance and nuance aretone, or color, on the color wheel. arrivetoneThis is a shade added to white. For example red + white = pink. arriveblack shadowThis is the black shade added. For example, red + black = burgundy. the lastApplicationis a color with added black and white (or gray). This darkens the original shade and makes the color appear subtle and less intense.

color scheme

Let's talk about schemes... (not the kind cartoon villains come up with. Wahaha!) We're talking about color schemes. Using a color wheel, designers develop color schemes for marketing materials.

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The bold and bright truth about color theory (12)
(Video) Colour theory terminology - Inspirational tips from Victoria Plum
The bold and bright truth about color theory (13)

complementary color

Complementary colors are opposites on the color wheel, such as red and green.

The bold and bright truth about color theory (14)

Because these two colors contrast so well, they can really make an image pop, but overusing them can become boring. Think of any mall in December. That said, using a complementary color scheme in your company's marketing can provide sharp contrast and clear distinction between images.

similar color

Similar colors are next to each other on the color wheel: red, orange and yellow, for example. When creating similar color schemes, one color will dominate, one will support, and one will emphasize. In business, a similar color scheme is not only pleasing to the eye, but also effective in guiding consumers where and how to shop.

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Tostito's website uses a similar color scheme. Notice how the bright orange navigation bar draws attention to the Explore site, and the accent link at the bottom directs hungry shoppers to the "Shop Online" snack bar.

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Triadic color

Triads are evenly spaced around the color wheel and tend to be very bright and vibrant.

Use triadic color schemes in your marketing to simultaneously create visual contrast and harmony so that each element stands out and makes the overall image pop.

Burger King uses this color scheme with great success. Hi, is it time for dinner?

But seriously, why should you care about color theory?

Two words: branding and marketing.

No, wait, three words: branding, marketing and sales.

Armed with a basic understanding of color and color combinations, you can make effective branding decisions. asWhat color should your logo be?.oremotions the color evokesin consumers andThe psychology behind color choiceon your website.

Do you think it's okay? read this article aboutcolor combinations from hell.It just hurts.

Knowledge of color theory can not only guide you in your own marketing, but it can also help you better understand what your competitors are doing.

(Video) COLOR THEORY BASICS: Use the Color Wheel & Color Harmonies to Choose Colors that Work Well Together

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The bold and bright truth about color theory (19)

When you do a side-by-side comparison of the three law firms' web pages, you'll notice a number of similar color schemes. Blue is often associated with reliability, brown with masculinity and yellow with competence and happiness. These are all positive associations in areas where stereotypes have negative connotations, such as dishonesty or aggression.

Make your brand stand out and appeal to your target audience, and understand that bad color can mean bad sales:It isWhy you should care about color theory.

Want to learn more about the emotions color evokes and how color psychology can help you choose the best color for your logo?

Get expert help to build your business brand
Our designers can create the perfect look for your branding.

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This article was originally sponsored byPedrovukovicand published in 2012. The current edition has been updated with new information and examples.



The bold and bright truth about color theory? ›

Bright colors are bold and intense in nature, and typically visually striking and noticeable due to their hue and saturation. Warmer colors like red, orange and yellow are considered brighter than cooler colors like blue and green, but any color can be bright and bold when used in the right way.

What is bold and bright colors? ›

Bright colors are bold and intense in nature, and typically visually striking and noticeable due to their hue and saturation. Warmer colors like red, orange and yellow are considered brighter than cooler colors like blue and green, but any color can be bright and bold when used in the right way.

What is the theory of color theory? ›

Color theory is the collection of rules and guidelines which designers use to communicate with users through appealing color schemes in visual interfaces. To pick the best colors every time, designers use a color wheel and refer to extensive collected knowledge about human optical ability, psychology, culture and more.

Why is the color theory important? ›

Colours can allow anyone to create different types of feelings depending on the particular colours they utilise. Colour theory allows us to understand how to make use of these colours in order to create different effects and create the desired emotions.

Is color theory true? ›

Explaining color is a theory not a fact and there are debates within the artistic community about primary colors, encourages students to make their own analysis and form their own opinions. It is also a way to invite students to challenge other forms of established “truth” humans believe but have yet to prove.

What colors symbolize bold? ›

Learn the symbolism and color meaning behind Red

It is a bold, energetic, and lively color that can symbolize strength, confidence, and power.

What is the meaning of bold color? ›

A bold color is heavily saturated and bright, making it more striking in appearance.

What are the 3 basic color theories? ›

However, there are three basic categories of color theory that are logical and useful : The color wheel, color harmony, and the context of how colors are used. Color theories create a logical structure for color.

What are the two main theories of color? ›

The trichromatic theory helps to explain how each type of cone receptor detects different wavelengths in light. On the other hand, the opponent process theory helps explain how these cones connect to the nerve cells that determine how we actually perceive a color in our brain.

What are the key terms of color theory? ›

Conclusion #
  • Hue is color (blue, green, red, etc.).
  • Chroma is the purity of a color (a high chroma has no added black, white or gray).
  • Saturation refers to how strong or weak a color is (high saturation being strong).
  • Value refers to how light or dark a color is (light having a high value).
May 20, 2021

How is color theory used in everyday life? ›

We are constantly surrounded by colors in our everyday lives. These colors can affect our feelings, including how we feel about people and things, as well as how we think about brands. Color psychology has been used by marketers for decades, and they often use it to elicit an emotional reaction from customers.

Why is color important in life? ›

Color can make us feel a certain way when we see it depending on whether we like that particular color or not. We can also associate memories and thoughts with certain colors. It is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions.

How can I understand color theory better? ›

The best way to learn color theory is to purchase a color wheel or better yet, make your own using your own paints. Another technique for learning color theory is to mix your own value charts of the twelve colors on the wheel (three primaries, three secondary and six tertiary).

What color theory is danger? ›

The Color Red Conveys Danger and Warning

Thanks to its long wavelength, red is one of the most visible colors in the color spectrum (second only to yellow). Its ability to instantly grab people's attention is the reason why it's often used to warn people of impending danger.

What are the forbidden colors theory? ›

Researchers have long regarded color opponency to be hardwired in the brain, completely forbidding perception of reddish green or yellowish blue. Under special circumstances, though, people can see the “forbidden” colors, suggesting that color opponency in the brain has a softwired stage that can be disabled.

What is a fact about color theory? ›

Primary colors are the most basic colors.

Primary colors are known as basic colors because they cannot be created by mixing other hues. Since humans are trichromatic, the primary colors yellow, red, and blue are fundamental to human vision. Primary colors are the building blocks of all other colors.

What's the strongest color? ›

Red is the most powerful color amongst all. It has a tendency to stimulate mind and attract attention.

What is the most bold colour? ›

Make A Strong First Impression With Bold Colours
  • Red. Red is the most energising colour on the spectrum and can lend a space a warm and welcoming feel. ...
  • Orange. Orange fizzes with vitality. ...
  • Gold. ...
  • Purple. ...
  • Teal Colour.

What color represents strong minded? ›

Red symbolism

Red is the color of action, strength, energy, and passion.

Which color makes us feel bold and daring? ›

RED. Red symbolizes life. It asserts itself with boldness and daring and expresses itself with pioneering spirit.

Does bold have a positive or negative connotation? ›

Bold – if you proclaim that someone is bold, it would show them in a positive light and that they are not afraid to go to great lengths to see things through. Although it is also possible others could interpret this in a negative manner like seeing them as brash.

Is black a bold colors? ›

Black may be a neutral, but its use on walls is a bold choice, and is often the opposite of what most first reach for—a clean, crisp white. Because black absorbs light instead of reflecting it like lighter colors, it creates a sense of subtle drama that goes with everything.

What color was invented first? ›

First employed in prehistoric cave paintings, red ochre is one of the oldest pigments still in use. Found in iron-rich soil and first employed as an artistic material (as far as we know) in prehistoric cave paintings, red ochre is one of the oldest pigments still in use.

How do colors represent emotions? ›

Warm colors – such as red, yellow and orange – can spark a variety of emotions ranging from comfort and warmth to hostility and anger. Cool colors – such as green, blue and purple – often spark feelings of calmness as well as sadness.

What is the modern color theory? ›

Modern color theory is based on three primary colors, projected colors red green and blue, or its printed complements, cyan, magenta, and yellow (that's yellow, hard to read on a white background, no?). A fourth "primary," black, is used for printed color.

What is the most accepted theory of color vision? ›

The trichromatic theory of color vision is a theory that states there are three different color receptors in the retina. The cones in the retina are what give color vision. This theory says the cones are sensitive to three different colors: green, blue, and red.

Who is the father of color theory? ›

It was Isaac Newton who first fully developed a theory of color based on a color wheel. Newton had split white light into a spectrum by means of a prism and then wrapped the resulting spectrum around on itself to create the color wheel.

What was the first color theory? ›

In the 1660s, English physicist and mathematician Isaac Newton began a series of experiments with sunlight and prisms. He demonstrated that clear white light was composed of seven visible colors.

What are color theory values? ›

The Value' (also called lightness or luminosity) of a color is a measure of how light or dark a color is while its hue is held constant. The lightness of an object depends on the reflectance of that object.

What are the universal color terms? ›

English has 11 basic color terms: 'black', 'white', 'red', 'green', 'yellow', 'blue', 'brown', 'orange', 'pink', 'purple', and 'grey'; other languages have between 2 and 12. All other colors are considered by most speakers of that language to be variants of these basic color terms.

What color means forever? ›

The color amaranth represents immortality in Western civilization because the name is derived from the name in Greek mythology of a flower that was believed to never die that grew in the abode of the Greek gods on Mount Olympus. Something that is perceived as everlasting may be described by the adjective amaranthine.

How do colors affect human behavior? ›

Warm colors like red, yellow and orange evoke higher arousal emotions, such as love, passion, happiness, and anger. Cool colors, like blue, green and purple are linked to calmness, sadness and indifference. Colors can trigger these arousal states and emotions.

How does color affect your brain? ›

There are three main colors that affect you, those colors being red, blue, and yellow. Red makes you feel strong emotions, blue makes you feel calmer emotions, and yellow brings feelings of happiness because it's often compared in people's minds to the sun.

What are 3 ways color can affect our everyday life? ›

Color can play an important role in conveying information, creating certain moods, and even influencing the decisions people make. Color preferences also exert an influence on the objects people choose to purchase, the clothes they wear, and the way they adorn their environments.

How does color affect us emotionally and why? ›

The human brain associates warm colors—such as red, orange, and yellow—with a range of feelings, including passion, comfort, anger, and power. Cool colors—such as blue, green, and purple—have the opposite effect, creating a calming atmosphere that counteracts feelings of anxiety.

How does color impact your life? ›

Color plays a tremendous role in how we react and respond to things around us. It can affect the way we feel, how we think, how we interact with one another, and whether or not we buy a specific item. Color is a subtle yet powerful communication tool, and it informs the way we see and how we feel about the world.

Is color theory a skill? ›

The most common hard skill for a color expert is color theory. 30.9% color experts have this skill on their resume. The second most common hard skill for a color expert is skin care appearing on 21.6% of resumes.

Is Colour theory a skill? ›

Using color well is a difficult skill to master. Creating harmonious color schemes and successfully implementing them in design work can be quite a challenge.

What color kills blue? ›

Compensating: If color is: Too Blue: Add small amount of Black or Brown. Add small amount of White to compensate darkening effect. Orange may also be added to neutralize Blue.

What color theory is insecure? ›

According to theory behind color, red is associated with violence and yellow is associated with insecurity.

What is the paradox of colors? ›

The paradox concerns cases of cerebral achromatopsia, a loss of colour consciousness following cortical injury. Complete cerebral achromatopsics lack any awareness of colour, seeing the world in shades of grey. Bizarrely, however, some such patients show signs of possessing colour constancy.

What color means unsafe? ›

Red: Red is reserved for danger signs and labels. This color signifies a hazardous situation, alerts people they need to stop, or mark off restricted areas. OSHA says red will be the basic color for identifying fire protection equipment and apparatus.

What color can humans not see? ›

We see our world in a huge variety of colour. However, there are other “colours” that our eyes can't see, beyond red and violet, they are: infrared and ultraviolet. Comparing these pictures, taken in these three “types of light”, the rainbow appears to extend far beyond the visible light.

What colors don't exist anymore? ›

Magenta doesn't exist because it has no wavelength; there's no place for it on the spectrum. The only reason we see it is because our brain doesn't like having green (magenta's complement) between purple and red, so it substitutes a new thing.

What are the unseeable colors? ›

Red-green and yellow-blue are the so-called "forbidden colors." Composed of pairs of hues whose light frequencies automatically cancel each other out in the human eye, they're supposed to be impossible to see simultaneously. The limitation results from the way we perceive color in the first place.

What color suppresses anger and anxiety? ›

Pink has been known to suppress anger and anxiety and have an overall calming effect. It is often used in mental health care institutions and even prisons to help create a sense of calm.

What does bright color mean? ›

adjective [usually ADJECTIVE noun] A bright colour is strong and noticeable, and not dark.

What is a bright color called? ›

vivid. adjective. a vivid colour is strong and bright.

What is another word for bright colors? ›

On this page you'll find 87 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to colorful, such as: bright, flashy, gaudy, hued, multicolored, and rich.

What style used bold bright colors to express emotion? ›

Fauvism can also be seen as a form of expressionism in its use of brilliant colors and spontaneous brushwork. It has often been compared to German expressionism, which emerged at around the same time and was also inspired by the developments of post-impressionism.

Why do bright colors attract attention? ›

The brighter something is against its environment, the more it will stand out. High contrast items travel to our brain the quickest, winning our attention and retention. Our eyes have the highest sensitivity towards bright yellow on the visible light spectrum making it a highly visible, attention-grabbing color.

What color attracts the human eye most? ›

Red and orange seem to be the clear winner when it comes to eye-catching colors. These colors tend to stand out and are therefore used on many warning signs or safety equipment. Yellow is another color that comes in a close second to red and orange in popularity.

What emotions do bright colors evoke? ›

Symbolic Color Meanings
  • Red: Passion, excitement, love.
  • Pink: Soft, reserved, earthy.
  • Purple: Mysterious, noble, glamorous.
  • Blue: Wisdom, hope, reason, peace.
  • Green: Nature, growth, freshness.
  • Yellow: Hope, joy, danger.
  • Orange: Warmth, kindness, joy.
  • White: Truth, indifference.
Nov 29, 2022

Which color is most bright? ›

Which is the brightest color in the world ? Yellow color is the brightest colour in the world...

What is a powerful word for bright? ›

1 radiant, refulgent, effulgent, lustrous, lucent, beaming, lambent. 4 keen, discerning, sharp, sharp-witted, ingenious, clever. 8 promising, encouraging.

What is the opposite of bright color? ›

Hence, the antonym of 'bright' is 'dull'.

What is a creative word for bright? ›

Synonyms of bright
  • shining.
  • luminous.
  • dazzling.
  • glowing.
  • shiny.
  • radiant.
  • brilliant.
  • gleaming.

What color provokes empathy? ›

Pink: Evokes feelings of hope, romanticism, and empathy.

What color represents anxiety? ›

The colors we use to describe emotions may be more useful than you think, according to new research. The study found that people with or anxiety were more likely to associate their mood with the color gray, while preferred yellow.

What color represents loneliness? ›

In Europe and America, grey is the color most associated with boredom, loneliness and emptiness.


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