Color A Powerful Way to Communicate
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Did you know that colors act as a very strong communication medium to our subconscious mind? As a graphic designing professional, playing with colors has become a part of my life. Today, I am going to share few things with you about color which is very interesting and essential to know for every designer. Let us first paly some color games first with our subconscious mind. This will give you a fair idea how colors silently communicate with our mind.

Watch the image below and read the words as fast as you can:

colors act
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Well done!!! Now look at the two images below and do the same thing again:

Color games
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Color games
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Good job!!! Now, have you noticed one thing that you have got a little slower in reading the words this time?

This is because, our subconscious mind tries to read the color while our active brain focuses on reading the text. In the first image, while you were reading the text,the color name matched; so both your active brain and the subconscious mind were working on the same thing. That is the reason you could read it faster. On the other hand, in the second and third images there is a mismatch between the text and the colors. So, our active brain was trying to read the words while our subconscious mind was busy in recognizing the colors and this was the reason you got a little slower in reading the words in the second and third images.

This gives us a fair idea of how colors may play a vital role in our designs to engage more viewers. To know about the proper use of colors in our designs; we must know about the color wheel, the different color schemes, and the human feelings associated with some of the mostly seen colors in our daily life. In this article we’ll discuss all these things and try to be little more familiar with colors and its use.

Color Wheel and its History

Color wheel
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So, let’s start with the color wheel first. Now we will dig into the history and see from where the color wheel came. It was Sir Isaac Newton who was experimenting with his prism on light. Then he found that light is composed of colored particle, which combine to appear white. Then he introduced the term “Color Spectrum” and divided that spectrum into seven parts: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet (you m

may recall the colors of the rainbow). Newton joined the two ends of the color spectrum together to see the natural progression of color. Thus the color wheel was invented. 

After 100 years of Newton’s invention, Goethe, a germen writer divided the color wheel into two groups based on the psychological effect of color on human mind. One of these groups is Plus side which indicates those colors that produces excitement and cheerfulness on our subconscious mind whereas the other group is Minus side with those colors that unknowingly passes the feeling of weakness and unsettlement to our sub conscious mind. Based on Goethe’s psychological presentation of color wheel, the Plus Side of the color wheel consists of red through orange to yellow and the Minus side consists of Green through violet to blue. Thus Goethe opened the way for us to study the how colors can act on our feelings. We shall discuss about different human feelings associated with some of the colors in the later part of this article.

Color Schemes

The color wheel used in present days was developed by Johannes Itten, an artist from Switzerland. It is based on the color theory that uses six different principles called color schemes to choose different harmonious or matching color combinations.The color theory is based on these following six different color schemes:

  1. Monochromatic Color Scheme
  2. Analogous Color Scheme
  3. Complementary Color Scheme
  4. Split Complementary Color Scheme
  5. Triadic Color Scheme
  6. Tetradic or Double Complementary Color Scheme
Color schemes
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Before discussing all these color schemes I would like to show you how to access the different color schemes in adobe Illustrator. Bellow I have given the screenshot for the same –

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Monochromatic Color Scheme
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Monochromatic Color Scheme

This color scheme uses a single color and the variations obtained from that single color by changing the lightness and saturation of that color. We can obtain various smooth and elegant colors from this color scheme. It is one of those color schemes widely used by many leading organizations for their brand awareness. Monochromatic scheme is used by many 

highly professional and experienced graphic designers to create master pieces and beautiful web templates. As an example we can see the use of this color scheme on world’s most popular social networking website Facebook.

Analogous Color Scheme
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Analogous Color Scheme

The analogous color scheme uses two adjacent colors on the color wheel. In this scheme one color is used as the dominant color while the others are used to enrich the look and feel of the design. It is that color scheme which is used by more than 90% of today’s top hundred organizations around the globe for their brand awareness. Although, it is similar to monochromatic, it 

offers the designers the freedom to move on a few steps ahead with their creativity to yield more elegant, beautiful and professional designs. That’s why, analogous scheme is the most popular color scheme among all the graphic designers.

Complementary Color Scheme
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Complementary Color Scheme

The complementary color scheme uses two colors on the color wheel that are opposite to each other. This scheme is useful when we need to design something with the combination of cool and warm colors. Complementary scheme is a high contrast color scheme and therefore it should be carefully implemented only after the details study of message or the motto behind the designs.

Split Complementary Color
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Split Complementary Color Scheme

The split complementary scheme uses three colors on the color wheel. A single color and two different colors adjacent to the complimentary of that single color. This color scheme is normally used in the designs related to creative work, art work etc. as it provides wide range of scopes to the designers to use colors with high contrast.

Triadic Color Scheme
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Triadic Color Schem

The triadic color scheme uses three colors on the color wheel that are equally spaced at angle of 1200. This color scheme is mostly preferred by the artists as it provides very high visual contrast while maintain the harmony, balance and color richness.

Tetradic Double Complementary
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Tetradic or Double Complementary Color Scheme

The tetradic color scheme uses four colors on the color wheel where two pairs of complementary colors are used with both the pair spaced at angle of 900. As two complementary color pairs are used in this scheme, so it is also known as double complementary color scheme. This color scheme is very rarely 

used by the designers as it is very difficult to maintain the balance as well as de-harmonize the design. 

Color Meanings

Now, it is the right time to know that how colors speak. In this last part of the article, we will observe the following table that will increase our sense of using colors in the designs. As Colors act unknowingly on our subconscious mind to help us choose the good or bad, so it is very important to choose the right color to convey the right message to the viewers through our designs. The following table will give us a fair idea about the hidden feeling or message that a color passes to our subconscious mind and thereby we shall be able to choose the right color in our all future designs.

ColorNameHex-CodeSense of Feeling
 RED#FF0000Energy, War, Danger, Strength, Power, Determination, Passion, Desire and Love.
 ORANGE#FFA500Enthusiasm, Fascination, Happiness, Creativity, Determination, Attraction, Success, Encouragement and Stimulation.  
 YELLOW#FFFF00Joy, Happiness, Intellect and Energy.
 GREEN#00800Growth, Harmony, Freshness and Fertility. 
 BLUE#0000FFDepth, Stability, Trust, Loyalty, Wisdom, Confidence, Intelligence, Faith, Truth and Heaven.
 PURPLE#800080Royalty, Power, Nobility, Luxury and Ambition.
 WHITE#FFFFFFLight, Goodness, Innocence, Purity and Virginity. 
 BLACK#000000Power, Elegance, Formality, Death, Evil and Mystery. 

Did you know?

Although human eyes can see only a few colors but our eyes are capable of distinguishing between 10 million colors approximately. It means we can see only the primary colors and the secondary colors and distinguish between them. There are three important colors – RED, YELLOW and BLUE; these colors are called primary colors because no other colors can be combined to obtain these three colors. Apart from these three colors, all the other colors that human eyes can see are called Secondary colors, because all the other colors can be obtained by the combination of the primary colors. For example, Red can’t be obtained by mixing any combination of color, but when we mix Red with Yellow it yields orange.

About Author

Hi I am Bappi Das a student of one year course in web designing and development i.e. Web Master. I like the way how this institute teaches us and really I am grateful to the institute and its staff. I was given this topic to explain my views and I tried. Hope you will like it.

View Full Presentation on slideshare: Color Modes Meanings and Schemes

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