What is color theory?
Color is a perception, a familiarity, and the way people receive information from color is actually simpler than we thought. Our eyes and brains mostly scan for the familiar color and decide it’s a certain one that we’ve known. That explains why you look for a red and yellow sign when driving to get McDonald’s, not the letters.
But that is just one side of what we’re talking about today. Color theory is, in fact, our main reason. As you might haven’t known, color theory is a set of principles to create a color combination. It contains both science and art to develop such sophisticated, which sometimes seems randomly, colors into a color scheme for your brand. Once you fully understand it, you can create the best combination for your web design and future graphic projects.
Now let’s get really deep into the philosophy of color.
The color wheel
The first thing to understand about color theory is definitely the color wheel. Don’t worry, it’s not that of a stranger to you. At some point in life, probably an art class in school, you’ve met the color wheel. Yet none have shown you the basics of the color wheel, how to use and mix them up.
There are many variations of the color wheel, but we’ll do it all basic first. A common color wheel is divided into 3 main categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary color.
The primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Then you have a secondary color, which is created when you mix primary colors, including green, orange, and purple.
Last but not least, you’ll have six tertiary colors, which consists of ones that are primary and secondary color mixed.
Then when you draw a straight line through the center of the wheel, you now can separate the warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) from cool colors (blues, greens, and purples).
Next, we’ll have hue, shade, tint, and tone. Before you find yourself lost in a bunch of words, let us clear it out for you. Tints, tones, and shades are variations of hues (true colors) on the color wheel. A tint is when you add white to the hue. In contrast with that, shade is the hue added black. Finally, the tone is when you add both black & white to a hue. So whenever you darken or lighten up a color (or hue), you will make it more intense or more subtle.
Color scheme & usage
If you haven’t known, a color scheme is the combination of colors that are well put together, and create a match that suits the goal of each project. A color scheme consists of:
Those are opposite hues on the color wheel. For example, red and green. Those colors have a sharp contrast when put together, therefore images will definitely pop. However, overusing sharp contrast will make people’s eyes tired, and ruin the effect of concentration.
Unlike the previous one, analogous colors sit next together on the color wheel to form a trio, like red, orange, and yellow. In these 3, there will be a dominant one, support, and the last one accent. All of it will create an eye-pleasing scheme while guiding customers to the desired journey.
You might have guessed this one right, 3 colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel would form a triangle. These tend to be both dynamic and harmonious, thus helping each other stand out. Most brands use this color scheme regularly and successfully, how about yours?
Why should you worry about color theory in web design?
We’ll be really straightforward at this point. In the end, it’s all about branding and marking, and of course, sales.
By knowing the core knowledge of color theory, you’ll know what to do when it comes to branding decisions. For instant, your logo colors, your brand key colors, and what each evokes any emotions in customers. It’ll guide you and your team in business usage, and triggers customers to finish the journey, and buy the product. And more importantly, these colors will make them remember you.
So if the website, social images, and packagings are all the gates to open the wallets of your customers, then it should be catching & pleasing. Don’t forget to stand out from the ground as much as you could if you want to steal the market from your competitors while sticking to your core values & ideas.
Tips for choosing color scheme using color theory
Besides all the fundamental principles, we also have some tricks up our sleeve to help you ease out when applying all those information to your real-life design.
First, avoid vibrating colors. Although our goal is to create contrast, there is some combination that just seems way too harsh for our eyes. You can take a great sample of blue and pink, orange and green, and so on. So to maximize customer experience, avoid these or if you really want to use them, consider softening them up a bit to make sure they’re not too harsh and extremely high in contrast.
Next is to consider color psychology. You’ve known that colors can control our mood. So with your design, especially website design, you should have a general idea of psychological effects when determining brand color scheme.
For instant, red will evoke a sense of importance, danger, and urgency. Meanwhile, blue shows a calm and peaceful feeling. With orange, it’d seem dynamic and full of energy. The list could go on, so make sure you learn about that as well.
And last but not least, creating a mood board. Sometimes it’ll be difficult to choose which color combination to go all in. So our tip is to be inspired. Gather photos, designs, and illustrations that you think will suit the mood you’re looking for, then use this collection as inspiration for your whole project.
Color theory will be your foundation for creating most communication materials. And by using colors you can give your brand a lively feeling, with more characteristics. Thus, colors are a very effective tool and do not worry if you’re having difficulties with it at first.