Color Theory for Graphic Designers and Artist | All about Color


In this article of “Color Theory for Graphic Designers and Artist”, you will get to know each and every important aspect of color. Which plays an essential role in an artist life as well it affects all the non-artist. So if you want to start a career in designing this article would add a great value to your knowledge.

An image (combination of colors) can speak louder than words. Therefore we can say that colours consist hundred and thousands of words. 

Imagined if photography (Camera) has not been invented. So how can we capture the beautiful memories of our childhood and the places, where we have visited? And how to get feeling of nostalgia and joy after seeing those photos.

No! We absolutely cannot able to capture that much of happiness using a pen and paper (Except you are a writer). Thank God! We have cameras in our pocket and anytime we can click multiple colourful photos and seize the moments in visual.


What is the exact definition of Colour /Color?

Defining the color is little bit complex task so let’s see first how Wikipedia defines it

“Color is the characteristic of human visual perception described through color categories, with names such as red, orange, yellow, green, blue, or purple”

Ok! So let me try; here’s my go at it:

Color is nothing but a form of light waves. And waves have different frequencies. Depending on the frequencies (frequency could be low, medium, high or in other variable value) different types of color can be produced.

I think I have sound little bit technical. Frequency is the work done in a given specific time. Or like in this paragraph how many words you can read within 10 seconds of time.

So what we see through our eye’s retina is the sensation of light waves which is emitted by the objects.  

A color has properties to affect our mind psychologically


What is the importance of Colors 

Have you ever think that a wrong color project your image in the wrong direction. For example a man with pink pyjamas and t-shirt (No offending I am just using an example).

Therefore using a right and suitable colors make your brand looks good. A set of colors impact your business, either it goes up or perhaps goes down. So colors play an important role in the success of any business.

These are the following key factors why colors have so much importance in our life and why we are using it     

  • Easy to convey messages
  • No need to write thousands of words essay, which is quite boring to read
  • Create a brand value
  • Visibility is more. We can see a traffic light from a far distance. 
  • Easy to remember and not easy to forget
  • A customer can understand your brand within milliseconds just seeing a single sight.
  • Visual always attract humans as compared to text. It makes a design looks attractive.


Color Psychology

Different colors have a different psychology. Therefore our mind feel different things when seeing distinct colors. So every colour has peculiar meaning; For Example..  

  • Blue color shows trust and strength
  • Red is the symbol of love, power, passion, threat and energy
  • Yellow represents cheerfulness, warmth, optimistic and joy
  • Black color reflect power, authority and evil
  • Green color is the symbol of relaxing, growth, calm and health 
  • Orange color shows enthusiasm and friendly
  • Purple represents wealth, elegance, power and authority

Some famous company logos are designed by keeping the meaning of color in mind. Now I hope you can understand these company psychological meaning. color psychology


What is Color Theory? [Types of colors]

Color theory basically gives us a way to understand the different types of color scheme with less trouble. It improves your color sense.

For every designer, artist and painter must have known about the color theory to design a perfect and attractive design. Therefore without knowing about the color theory, you can’t be a good artist.

To get a better insight of colors artists divided colors into different types. Colors can be categorised into three different categories

[1] Primary Color

Primary colors also called as Parent Colors, because using the primary colors we can make multiple colors. The three primary colors are: Red, Blue, and YellowWhat is Color Theory primary colors

[2] Secondary Color

Secondary colors are the mixture of any two primary colors. The examples of secondary colors are:

Red + Blue = Violet

Yellow + Red = Orange

Yellow + Blue = GreenWhat is Color Theory secondary colors

[3] Tertiary Color

Tertiary colors are formed by mixing a primary and secondary color. These are the following colors we can create by mixing primary and secondary colors…

Red + Orange = Red-Orange

Yellow + Orange = Yellow-Orange

Yellow + Green = Yellow-Green

Green + Blue = Green-Blue

Blue + Violet = Blue-Violet

Red + Violet = Red-VioletWhat is Color Theory Tertiary colors


How to make a color wheel?

The circle formed by mixing primary and secondary colors known as Color Wheel.How to make a color wheel


Important Terminology in Color Theory

Hue: Hue is the second name of the color. So you can say hue instead of color.

Saturation: Intensity of Color/HueTerminology in Color Theory saturation

Value: Brightness of Hue (Lightness or Darkness)Terminology in Color Theory Value

Shade: Produce by adding Black hue with other colors [Black + Color]

Tint: Adding white with any other colors [White + Color]

Tone: A Color produce by adding Grey [Grey + Color]


Color System

There are two types of colour systems which is used to produce multiple color variants.

[1] RGB [Red Green Blue]

RGB coloring systems used to project images on digital and electronic devices; such as a computer, laptop, and mobiles. As you are reading this article about “Color Theory for Graphic Designers and Artist” is based on RGB color system.

[2] CMYK [Cyan Magenta Yellow Key (black)]

CMYK coloring system is used to print images in the industry or in a home. Applications of CMYK coloring systems are printer, magazines, newspaper and offset printing presses.


What is Pantone Matching System [PMS]

Pantone is a US based company which deals with colors. It sets some standard codes for the colors used in printing industry.

So what is the relation between PMS colors and a graphic designer? Sometimes graphic designers face the issues of mismatching the colors in the printing.

Let’s understand with an example:  Magazine Cover Design  

As a designer, you selected some set of colors to design the magazine cover. At the time of designing and even after completing the magazine cover design you find out the final design looks good and the colors I have chosen are also looking fine on the cover.

And then you send it to the client or for the print but when you see the magazine cover after the printing you realize the colors are actually different than what I have designed.

So for this problem solution Pantone design a PMS color code system for every individual colors. And now you have to give a Pantone color code to the client and the design they will get exact magazine cover as you design on your computer.    

A designer put the percentage of CMYK color to get the Pantone code.What is pantone matching system [PMS]

I have calculated my PMS code using Ginifab, Click Here to calculate Pantone code

A Picture is worth A Thousand Words

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