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The power of color in design is undisputed. Color is eye-catching, grabs attention, it creates visual impact, organizes and group things, but most importantly evokes emotions. In this article I am discussing some tips and considerations when choosing color.

Culture

Before choosing a specific color, always take into account the cultural factor and who your intended audience is. For example if you belong to the western world you might white associated with purity, such as the white wedding dress.

But in China in brides more often wear red, a color that symbolizes good fortune. Also in a number of Pacific Rim cultures white is considered the color of mourning, while in America and Europe, we have black connected with mourning and death.

Even among the same culture, sometimes a color can convey a different message, depending the context and the hue. Green is often associated with fresh, cool, healthy, environmental friendly. In the 15th century “Saint Wolfgang and the Devil” by Michael Pacher, the Devil is green. Poets such as Chaucer also drew connections between the color green and the devil. Green has also been associated with jealousy, envy and sickness.

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History

Knowing history of color trends can also help you choose and avoid specific color combinations that are strongly associated with that era. For example pink, black and turquoise was running amok at 1950s and today the combination Is usually used to evoke a retro feeling. History of art is also a great resource to learn how color have been used throughout the centuries and what palettes classic painters used.

Nature

Colors that appear naturally together always make pleasing palettes, after all nature pre-dates our color theory. And in most cases has better taste than us!!

Color Harmonies

Knowing the mechanics of the color wheel takes a lot of guess work out, and helps you choose effective color combinations. Usually the color wheel is represented by 12 colors, positioned in it like the hours in an analog clock.

The primary colors yellow, blue and red, are separated by three colors, so starting with yellow at 12 o’clock, red would be at 4, and blue at 8 o’clock.

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Secondary colors are produced by mixing two primary colors. The secondary colors are placed in between the two primary colors that created them.

For example between yellow and red are orange hues, between red and blue are the purple hues, and between blue and yellow are green hues.

Colors opposite the wheel are called complementary and have the highest possible contrast.

Side by side colors on the wheel are related and are called analogous, Pairing analogous colors create unity.

You can check out Adobe Kuler (http://kuler.adobe.com/#create/fromacolor),a free online application that can help you experiment with the color wheel and various combinations.

Warm and Cool Colors

Warm colors are often said to be hues from red through yellow, browns and tans included; cool colors are often said to be the hues from blue green through blue violet, most greys included. Color theory has ascribed perceptual and psychological effects to this contrast. Warm colors are said to advance or appear more active in a painting, while cool colors tend to recede; used in interior design or fashion, warm colors are said to arouse or stimulate the viewer, while cool colors calm and relax. Most of these effects, to the extent they are real, can be attributed to the higher saturation and lighter value of warm pigments in contrast to cool pigments. Thus, brown is a dark, unsaturated warm color that few people think of as visually active or psychologically arousing.

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Color Indices

There are various color indices aiming specifically to help designers and artists pick harmonious and dynamic color palettes.  They can be used as inspiration or as a guide to build your own color palettes. Or you can just copy paste the values and start working with the palette you found appropriate for your project.

Color Psychology

Psychology of Color
Psychology of Color – Infographic was created by FirstSiteGuide Team.

I hope you find this article useful, feel free to add any tips you have on how we can choose colors! See you next time!

Featured Image: CC by gabrielfam (Pixabay)

 

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