The power of colour in design is undisputed. Colour is eye-catching, grabs attention, it creates visual impact, organizes and group things, but most importantly evoke emotions. In this article I would like to suggest some tips and also things to consider when choosing colour.
Before choosing a specific colour, always take into account the cultural factor and who your intended audience is. For example if you belong to the western world you might white associated with purity, such as the white wedding dress.
But in China in brides more often wear red, a colour that symbolizes good fortune. Also in a number of Pacific Rim cultures white is considered the colour of mourning, while in America and Europe, we have black connected with mourning and death.
Even among the same culture, sometimes a colour can convey a different message, depending the context and the hue. Green is often associated with fresh, cool, healthy, environmental friendly. In the 15th century “Saint Wolfgang and the Devil” by Michael Pacher, the Devil is green. Poets such as Chaucer also drew connections between the colour green and the devil. Green has also been associated with jealousy, envy and sickness.
Knowing history of colour trends can also help you choose and avoid specific colour combinations that are strongly associated with that era. For example pink, black and turquoise was running amok at 1950s and today the combination Is usually used to evoke a retro feeling.
Colours that appear naturally together always make pleasing palletes, after all nature pre-dates our colour theories. And in most cases has better taste than us!!
Knowing the mechanics of the colour wheel takes a lot of guess work out, and helps you choose effective colour combinations. Usually the colour wheel is represented by 12 colours, positioned in it like the hours in an analog clock.
The primary colours yellow, blue and red, are separated by three colours, so starting with yellow at 12 o’clock, red would be at 4, and blue at 8 o’clock.
Secondary colours are produced by mixing two primary colours. The secondary colours are placed in between the two primary colours that created them.
For example between yellow and red are orange hues, between red and blue are the purple hues, and between blue and yellow are green hues.
Colours opposite the wheel are called complementary and have the highest possible contrast.
Side by side colours on the wheel are related and are called analogous, Pairing analogous colours create unity.
You can check out Adobe Kuler (http://kuler.adobe.com/#create/fromacolor),a free online application that can help you experiment with the colour wheel and various combinations.
Warm and Cool Colours
Warm colours are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included; cool colors are often said to be the hues from blue green through blue violet, most greys included. Colour theory has ascribed perceptual and psychological effects to this contrast. Warm colours are said to advance or appear more active in a painting, while cool colors tend to recede; used in interior design or fashion, warm colours are said to arouse or stimulate the viewer, while cool colours calm and relax. Most of these effects, to the extent they are real, can be attributed to the higher saturation and lighter value of warm pigments in contrast to cool pigments. Thus, brown is a dark, unsaturated warm colour that few people think of as visually active or psychologically arousing.
There are various colour books (or indexes) aiming specifically to help designers and artists pick harmonious and dynamic colour palettes. They can be used as inspiration or as a guide to build your own colour palettes. You can find a selection of colour books and indexes analyzing popular colours at our store section.
I hope you find this article useful, feel free to add any tips you have on how we can choose colours! See you next time!