Research #2 – Use of Colour



Smashing Magazine (.com) has a very comprehensive three part series on the use of colour and colour theory within visual design. It covers similar material from the lecture, and also provides examples to support the discussion on colour theory. The articles explain that colour is something which is very subjective in nature – what you may interpret colour as being, may be completely different from another individuals perception of colour. What may be considered as a ‘happy’ colour to you, may be a very ‘sad’ colour to someone else. This may be a result of our own personal or cultural experiences, however, there also exists a science around colour to explain certain interpretations.

Part 1 – The Meaning of Colour. | Part 2 – Understanding Concepts & Terminology. | Part 3 – Creating Your Own Colour Palettes.

Some of the points from part 1 that I have found interesting:

  • Red and yellow are both primary colors, with orange falling in the middle, which means warm colors are all truly warm and aren’t created by combining a warm color with a cool color. Use warm colors in your designs to reflect passion, happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.
  • Orange is a very vibrant and energetic color. In its muted forms, it can be associated with the earth and with autumn. Because of its association with the changing seasons, orange can represent change and movement in general. In designs, orange commands attention without being as overpowering as red. It’s often considered more friendly and inviting, and less in-your-face.
  • Cool colors include green, blue, and purple, are often more subdued than warm colors. They are the colors of night, of water, of nature, and are usually calming, relaxing, and somewhat reserved.
  • Use cool colors in your designs to give a sense of calm or professionalism.
  • Blue is also used extensively to represent calmness and responsibility. Light blues can be refreshing and friendly. Dark blues are more strong and reliable. Blue is also associated with peace, and has spiritual and religious connotations in many cultures and traditions (for example, the Virgin Mary is generally depicted wearing blue robes).
  • The meaning of blue is widely affected depending on the exact shade and hue. In design, the exact shade of blue you select will have a huge impact on how your designs are perceived. Light blues are often relaxed and calming. Bright blues can be energizing and refreshing. Dark blues are excellent for corporate sites or designs where strength and reliability are important.
  • White is at the opposite end of the spectrum from black, but like black, it can work well with just about any other color. White is often associated with purity, cleanliness, and virtue.
  • In design, white is generally considered a neutral backdrop that lets other colors in a design have a larger voice. It can help to convey cleanliness and simplicity, though, and is popular in minimalist designs.

Some of the points from part 2 that I have found interesting:

  • Chroma refers to the purity of a color. A hue with high chroma has no black, white or gray in it. Adding white, black or gray reduces its chroma. It’s similar to saturation but not quite the same. Chroma can be thought of as the brightness of a color in comparison to white. In design, avoid using hues that have a very similar chroma. Opt instead for hues with chromas that are the same or a few steps away from each other.
  • In design, colors with similar saturation levels make for more cohesive-looking designs.
  • When applying color values to your designs, favor colors with different values, especially ones with high chroma. High contrast values generally result in more aesthetically pleasing designs.

Some of the points from part 3 that I have found interesting:

  • Monochromatic color schemes are made up of different tones, shades and tints within a specific hue. These are the simplest color schemes to create, as they’re all taken from the same hue, making it harder to create a jarring or ugly scheme (though both are still possible).
  • Analogous color schemes are the next easiest to create. Analogous schemes are created by using three colors that are next to each other on the 12-spoke color wheel.
  • Complementary schemes are created by combining colors from opposite sides of the color wheel. In their most basic form, these schemes consist of only two colors, but can easily be expanded using tones, tints, and shades.
  • Triadic schemes are made up of hues equally spaced around the 12-spoke color wheel. This is one of the more diverse color schemes.
  • When you mix in tones, shades, and tints, you expand the basic 12-spoke color wheel into an infinite number of colors for use in your designs.
  • Neutrals are another important part of creating a color scheme.

*Emphasis mine.

From this research into colour, I have concluded that a blue hue is appropriate for my design, as it represents responsibility, and responsibility is a concept that I would like to communicate within my image in regards to getting vaccinated. And to make my complementary colour palette more creative, I will opt to experiment with adding tones, tints and shades to bring out the right ‘feel’ for my image.


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