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The Meaning of Colours

The colour wheel
The Colour Wheel

The Colour Wheel

Designers have a large range of colours at their disposal and most are well aware that certain colours are associated with feelings and emotions. Designers, companies and manufacturers use colours cleverly to promote a certain feeling about their products.
The interpretation of a colour depends on culture, profession, and personal preference. In general, the colours red, orange, and yellow are "exciting" colours and the colours purple, blue, and green are "calming" colours. It is very important to consider your target audience, the psychology of colour, and the image you wish to project before you construct your web-site, printed materials, and logo.

Primary Colours: 

These are colours that cannot be created through the mixing of other colours. They are colours in their own right.

The three primary colours are RED - YELLOW - BLUE.

Primary colours can be mixed together to produce SECONDARY COLOURS. 

Secondary Colours:

Secondary colours are made by combining two primary colours as shown below.

YELLOW + BLUE = GREEN
BLUE + RED = PURPLE
RED + YELLOW = ORANGE

The colour wheel can be seen above and this can be used to help remember primary and secondary colours. The secondary colours are in between the primary colours - for example - between red and blue is purple. Quite simply, mixing the primary colours of red and blue paint together will produce the secondary colour purple.


Complimentary Colours:

An important rule of the colour wheel is that colours opposite to each other on the colour wheel usually work well together as a colour scheme. These are known as complimentary colours. Complimentary colours are often used together in graphic design as they tend to give the image/graphic a sense of balance and are visually more aesthetic.

The Meaning Of Colours

Meaning of colours
The meaning of colours
The interpretation of a colour depends on culture, profession, and personal preference. In general, the colours red, orange, and yellow are "exciting" colours and the colours purple, blue, and green are "calming" colours. Interpretation of colour is not always a matter of personal preference. For example, in Western cultures the colour white symbolizes purity; however, in China the colour white symbolizes death.
  • Colour emphasizes, highlights, and leads the eye to important points or links.
  • Colour identifies recurring themes (i.e. titles and subtitles are usually the same colors).
  • Conversely, colour can differentiate, such as different colors in pie charts and bar graphs.
  • Colour symbolizes and triggers emotions and associations.

Colour Meaning Can Change With Context...

Colour can also work for your web site and printed materials in various other ways:
Colour meanings in context
The context can also effect the meaning and effect of a colour

Colours also have an effect on your visitors before they begin to read the content of your web site or printed design. Thus, it is very important for you to consider your target audience, the psychology of colour, and the corporate image you wish to project before you complete your design.

When colour is used correctly, it can add impact and clarity to your message and highlight important points. Alternatively When colour is used incorrectly, it can compromise your message and confuse your target audience. The diagram below outlines the main emotions associated with each of the main colours.

Conclusion

To summarise, it is very important to consider your target audience, the psychology of colour, and the image you wish to project before you construct your web-site, graphic design, printed materials or logo.