Color theory is a set of rules that combines creativity and science. Color theory sets the fundamental guidelines around color combinations and harmony. Designers and artists rely on color theory to make the correct choices for their projects but they are not the only ones who use it. Most people unknowingly make everyday decisions based on color theory and color harmony. Understanding the guidelines of color theory can help you in so many areas of life, from your business to your clothes.

We live in a highly visual world and it is impossible to master the art of visual communication without a good grasp of color theory. If you are a brand that wants to connect with your audience and followers then getting confident with the color spectrum is advisable. From understanding color colours all the way through to a deep understanding of colour wheel definitions is advisable.

Color Theory Definition

Colors are everywhere. In our daily lives, we are constantly surrounded by colors. These colors can influence our emotions – how we feel about someone or something – even how we think about brands. Marketers have been using the psychology of colors for decades and are often draw on them to gain an emotional response from the customer.

In this post we will examine the different rules of color theory and break down some different color combinations and definitions. There is also a section on specific color meaning and the power that color has on branding.

What is a color wheel?

Step one to understanding color theory starts with the color wheel. In 1866, Isaac Newton used physics to develop a color disc based on how light reflected off prisms. His discoveries have laid the foundation for the color wheel as we know it today.

There are two models of colour wheel and the first is blue, red and yellow (RYB) which are universally known as the primary colors. Their corresponding secondary colors are then green, orange and purple. Tertiary colors are green-yellow, yellow-orange, orange-red, red-purple, purple/violet-blue and blue-green.

The second is RGB or red, green blue which is digital color. You could say there are two types of colour, subtractive and additive. Subtractive is physical colour, the most common type would be paint. Subtractive colour works by removing light, so if you kept adding purple paint to a canvas, it would eventually build to black.

Additive color is digital and adds light as you add more colour. Kee adding and it will eventually end up white.  

Color harmony

Think of color harmony as the visual results from the rules of the color wheel. In order to understand the color theory definitions you need to know the importance of color placement on the color wheel.

These guidelines can be explained through 9 main color wheel rules: primary colors, secondary colors, tertiary colors, intermediate colors, complementary colors, monochromatic colors, analogous colors, triadic colors and tetradic colors.  

In order to create true color harmony in your marketing collateral, your wardrobe and your interior design, it’s important to understand what colors work well together and why.   

Next Post

The Ultimate Guide to Understanding Editorial Design

Wed Apr 15 , 2015
If you’re looking to learn more about editorial design, you’ve come to the right place. This guide is designed for aspiring editorial design professionals, including […]