Color Meaning–Unlock the Symbolism and Color Psychology of Common Colors
Color is a magical element that gives feeling and emotion to art, design, and advertising. By understanding color meaning, (or the psychology of color) you can choose the right color to support and emphasize your design.
A dominant color or overall color scheme can determine the tone of your document. Certain colors will help your product, corporate document, or advertisement attract specific target audiences and evoke desired responses.
The information below provides generally accepted guidelines on the symbolic meanings of color and how you can use color more effectively in your marketing pieces.
The meaning of the color yellow (including coral, orange, amber, gold)What it Symbolizes: Energy, caution, warmth, cheer, joyYellows are often associated with the following characteristics: homey, friendly, soft, welcoming, moving, excitement, or adventure. Good for press kits, stationery, and shopping bags.
Use yellow for signage in work situations warning of danger. Yellow is also good for any project that needs to evoke feelings of lightheartedness, humor, or friendliness.
The meaning of the color red (including mauve, magenta, crimson, scarlet, poster red)What it Symbolizes: Power, romance, vitality, earthly, energyReds evoke highly charged emotions such as aggression, danger, or love. Red makes us pay attention and catches our eye immediately so use reds on items that need to grab attention.
In the financial arena, red symbolizes a negative direction.
The meaning of the color green (including lime, leaf green, sea green, emerald, teal, sage)What it Symbolizes: life, foliage, grass, trees, waterGreens are sensuous and alive. Green is associated with the following characteristics: friendliness, dependability, freshness, non-threatening, safe, secure, healthy, strong, expensive, and primitive.
In the business world, green symbolizes growth and prosperity.
The meaning of the color blue and purple (including sky blue, ultramarine, violet, purple, azure)What it Symbolizes: Peace, law and order, logic, analytical, intelligent, honest, calm, clean, good will, tranquility, compassionate, serious, thoughtful, quiet, reflective, regal, classic, dependable, trustworthiness, tradition, magical.
Blues are often used for older, more mature audiences and situations. Blue is common in financial institutions, hospitals, and legal and medical professions. Purples have long been associated with royalty, magic and power. Purples are often used with feminine, rather than masculine designs.
Make sure the colors you use in your marketing materials attract the attention of your target market. Check color resource design guides or swatch books to discover what color combinations work best to make your designs pop.
Color Combinations in Designs
Color is considered as the most powerful design tool of all times because it communicates so effectively. Therefore, it’s really necessary that you choose the perfect color combinations in your designs to relay the right message. If you’ve selected the right colors, you can expect for a strong emotional response from your audience. If you’ve chosen clashing and distracting colors, on the other hand, your design might end up as a long-lasting mistake that can spoil the marketing strategy of your business.
Generally speaking, we view colors in different perspectives. And sometimes, designers neglect the value of choosing the right color combinations. Consequently, they don’t acquire what they really want to have in their masterpieces. This gives them frustration and dissatisfaction that cause viewers to suffer, too. Remember that their major task is to design not just a good design but a design with the right color scheme to make it impressive. Some instances when designers overlook the importance of perfect color blend include the combination of odd colors that needs to be always done in the right touch. If you combine safe colors only in your design, it may end up appearing ordinary too fast.
In addition, combining bright colors must not look like they’re competing with each other because it’ll just appear to be too busy and very disturbing. When you think of utilizing bright colors in your designs, limit it to only one dominating bright color. Then, maintain the rest of your color scheme in a more neutral one. If you have a bright layout design, you must pick a more conservative shade for your text so that the text will not compete with the design. With this, the text will surely appear very nice. In times when you might want to inspire “shock and awe” in your audience, try to experiment because colors that never look good together and seem uncomfortable with each other can be the perfect bet for your designs.
To sum up, it is always important to ensure that the color combinations you’ve chosen for your designs best suit the intended content and the expectations of the viewers. Always remember that how you combine colors has a great impact on how it will be received by your audiences. Try to be consistent throughout the design with your color combination choices. Indeed, when it comes to unique ideas and complex interactions, the right color combinations are truly valuable weapons to be used in your designs. After all, it’s actually all about finding the right color combinations!
Color Theory Lessons For Beginner Painters
by Ralph Serpe
Color is a very broad topic. Entire books have been written on color and it would be quite difficult to cover every aspect of it within the confines of this article. My hopes with this introduction to color theory is to peek your interest and hopefully cause you to study this topic further on your own. Understanding color theory is perhaps one of the most important aspects of becoming a good painter. When you understand the elements of color and how colors interact with one another, you have unlocked one of the biggest puzzles of painting.
WHERE DOES COLOR COME FROM?
Our beautiful world of color is only possible because of the solar spectrum. You can certainly do your best to mimic natural sunlight with today’s technology and they have done a pretty fine job of that with full spectrum lighting. But even full spectrum lighting is not as true as sunlight. One only needs to spend a day painting outdoors to see how your color pops out at you under natural sunlight when compared to indoor lighting.
So what exactly makes a rose appear “red” or grass appear “green”. In the green grass, you are only seeing green because the grass has pigments in it that absorb all colors of the solar spectrum except green. So green is the color that is reflected back to your eyes. The same holds true for the red rose, only the rose absorbs all colors of the spectrum besides red.
THE COLOR WHEEL
Sir Issac Newton laid the foundation for today’s color wheel with his experiments that began in 1666. Since then, many variations have been developed. A color wheel is essentially a diagram that represents the colors of the visible solar spectrum. Your basic color wheel consists of six colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue and violet.
Another popular color wheel called the Munsell color wheel is slightly more involved. Instead of 6 basic colors, the Munsell wheel consists of ten colors: red, yellow-red, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, red-violet and violet.
The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. These colors are your base colors from which all other colors come from.
When you mix two primary colors together, you get a secondary color. The secondary colors are orange, green and violet. Orange is made by mixing red with yellow. Green is made by mixing blue and yellow. Violet is made my mixing blue with red.
Tertiary colors are made by mixing one primary color with one secondary color. For instance, mixing the primary color blue with the secondary color green will give you a tertiary color called blue-green.
These are colors that are opposite from one another on the color wheel. Red and green, blue and orange, yellow and violet, are examples of complementary colors. Complimentary colors are colors of extreme contrast. When used together in a painting, they can produce brilliant vibrant images.
Analogous colors are colors that are close to one another on the color wheel. They more or less will produce harmonious effects with very little contrast. For instance, a violet, red-violet, and blue-violet are examples of analogous colors.
Hue: Without getting too technical, and to put things into laymen’s terms, hue is just another word for color. For instance, grass and leaves are two variations of a green hue.
Value: Value refers to how light or dark a color is. Colors like pink or aqua are identified as colors of high value. Colors like maroon and navy are identified as colors of low value. If you produce a painting with predominately higher values, the painting is referred to as a “high key” painting. On the contrary, paintings produced with predominately lower values, are referred to as “low key”.
Intensity: Intensity refers to a colors brightness or saturation. Intensity refers to how pure a color is. For instance, if you were to use cadmium red straight from the tube, it would have a high intensity. If you were to mix it with another color, however, its intensity would be diminished.
TEMPERATURE OF COLOR
Colors have temperature, referred to as warm or cool. In painting, reds, yellows, and oranges are referred to as warm colors and blues, violets and greens are referred to as cool colors. One of the biggest lessons you will ever learn about color temperature, though, is that the appearance of color can change drastically depending on its surroundings. For instance, a certain yellow would appear much hotter if it were surrounded by a violet then say an orange. Another important lesson in color temperature: Warm colors will advance in a painting and cool colors recede.