Understanding the Use of Color in Design

by . May 27th, 2013

When you are branding your product, looking at the color used in the design is key. Different colors symbolize something different in every country, and entice different emotions. Before you get started, understand you target audience, whether they are young, old, male or female, and then look at your product and realize the feeling you want to bestow on others. Figuring out which colors work well together isn’t just a matter of chance, there is actually a science behind it.

There have been proven studies on how colors effect emotions, for example, blue has been proven to bring down blood pressure and slow your heart rate. Yellow is a color that often makes people feel happier, so if you combine blue and yellow you get green, which is a very pleasing color to most.



Pastel tones are often used in mental health units as they are known help patients feel calm, happy, and relaxed. If we look at the other end of the spectrum, schools tend to user bright colors that appeal to children, such as bright red, yellow and green.



A color circle, based on the primary colors red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. It was Sir Isaac Newton, who developed the first circular diagram of colors in 1666. Since this time, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. Lets break it down:

1. Primary Colors: Red, yellow and blue
In traditional color theory, primary colors are the three pigment colors that cannot be formed by any combination of other colors, and all other colors are derived from these primary colors.

2. Secondary Colors: Green, orange and purple
These are the colors created by mixing the primary colors.

3. Tertiary Colors: Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These are the colors we create when we mix a primary and a secondary color. That is why the hue is a two-word name, such as blue-green or red-violet.
When deciding on colors, you must make sure they are harmonious, in other words, that they are pleasing to the eye. You don’t want to choose a color combination which is too chaotic or that is boring, where the brain will just dismiss it.



When choosing the colors you want to play with look at analogous colors or complementary colors. Analogous colors are any three colors, which sit side by side on a 12-part color wheel, such as yellow-green, yellow, and yellow-orange. Complementary colors are any two colors, which are opposite each other, such as red and green and red-purple and yellow-green. Still not sure? Visit who specialize in this, or get out in the garden and take some ideas from nature.


SEE ALSO: How Designers Use Color to Influence Consumers

About the Author

Amanda Walters is a journalist, blogger, poet and an artist. She have written for various websites including Huffington Post, Ihrim, and had concrete poetry work exhibited at university events in the UK. She loves to network, attending events across the UK, and loves to learn in order to expand her horizons and gain inspiration from those around her.