Color Theory

Following our discussion in class tonight, I found a great post on Smashing Magazine addressing color theory. It examines the significance of various color families and provides examples of uses for each.

The key takeaway is that color in design is highly subjective. Cultural differences, in particular, must be taken into account.

For example, in China, red is the color of prosperity and happiness. It can also be used to attract good luck. In other eastern cultures, red is worn by brides on their wedding days. In South Africa, however, red is the color of mourning. Red is also associated with communism. Red has become the color associated with AIDS awareness in Africa due to the popularity of the [RED] campaign.

Below is a summary of recommendations and color associations outlined in the post.

Warm colors: Use warm colors in your designs to reflect passion, happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.

  • Red: Passion, Love, Anger
  • Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality
  • Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit

Cool colors: Use cool colors in your designs to provide a sense of calm or professionalism.

  • Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
  • Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth

Neutrals: The meanings and impressions of neutral colors are much more affected by the colors that surround them than are warm and cool colors.

  • Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
  • Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue
  • Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability
  • Tan or Beige: Conservative, Piety, Dull
  • Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity

Credits: flag image uploaded to Flickr on May 3, 2010 by jononon; dress image uploaded to Flickr on November 25, 2009 by Melinda_trustedeal

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