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Explanation of Color Theory in Design

September 24th, 2015 | admin | Tags:

Color in design is very subjective. What evokes one reaction in one person may evoke a very different reaction in someone else. Sometimes this is due to personal preference, and other times due to cultural background. Color theory is a science in itself.

Warm Colors

Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow, and variations of those three colors. These are the colors of fire, of fall leaves, and of sunsets and sunrises, and are generally energizing, passionate, and positive. Red and yellow are both primary colors, with orange falling in the middle, which means warm colors are all truly warm and are not created by combining a warm color with a cool color. Use warm colors in your designs to reflect passion, happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.

Cool Colors

Blue, green, and violet are considered cool colors. When you think of a cool lake or ice covered pond, you see cool colors. Because these colors have a tendency to feel like they are receding, cool tones are often used to paint the walls.


Complementation refers to the way we see colors in terms of their relationships with other colors. When colors occupy opposite ends of the color spectrum, they lead people to consider a design visually appealing by establishing a happy medium the eye can reside in. Rather than straining to accommodate for a particular area of the color spectrum, the eye is provided a balance. There are two common uses of complementation: the Triadic and Compound color scheme that we will be discussing later. Complementation can take you to new heights of design sophistication when you can begin to master the intricacies of color combinations.


Contrast reduces eyestrain and focuses user attention by clearly dividing elements on a page.


Not to sound silly, but vibrancy dictates the emotion of your design. Brighter colors lead the user to feel more energetic as a result of your design, which is particularly effective when you are trying to advertise a product or invoke an emotional response. Darker shades relax the user, allowing their mind to focus on other things.

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