What is color theory? (2023)

Choosing the best color combination for aInteractive designLayout isn't what it seems like a guessing game. Knowing which ones to use will save you time (and headaches). If you do it right, your users will stay logged in too.

Since the dawn of art and design, the use ofKorfollowed many rules and guidelines collectively known ascolor theory.

A color scheme is one of the first elements to communicate the message behind the design both visually and psychologically. In fact, the color scheme is one of the most important elements; That's because colors, when used correctly, can reflect the niche and even the company as a whole.MarketingStrategy.

In this article, we'll briefly go over the different color classifications to refresh your memoryGraphical designCourses you have taken at university. We are sure that the content will resonate with you and inspire youcreativity.

the color wheel

The relationship between colors can be represented with the color wheel.

The color wheel shows connections between different colors based on the amount of red, yellow, and blue in each color. It was first developed by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666.

What is color theory? (1)
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The most useful and commonly used variant of the color wheel is shown in the image above, which includes red, red-orange, orange, orange-yellow, yellow, yellow-green, green, green-blue, blue, blue-purple, lilac, and lilac -red combinations. (Stone, 2008).

Bleicher (2011) explained that the color wheel can be divided into three main types of colors based on the combination of the base colors used to create the final color, as follows:

  • primary colors- yellow, red and blue. These are primary colors that cannot be broken down into simpler colors.

  • secondary colors -these are created by mixing two primary colors. Secondary colors are orange, green and purple. Mixing yellow and red creates orange; Mixing blue and yellow makes green, and mixing blue and red makes purple.

    (Video) Color Theory for Noobs | Beginner Guide

  • Intermediate or tertiary colorsare created by mixing primary and secondary colors into a hybrid, e.g. B. Yellow-Orange, Red-Orange, Red-Purple, Blue-Purple, Blue-Green and Yellow-Green. On a larger color wheel than the one shown above, a mixture of intermediate, secondary, and primary colors would create quaternary colors.

A thorough understanding of the color wheel and the relationship between colors allows designers to better understand colors and how to choose colors for their projects. We'll get to that shortly.

achieve color harmony

Colors should be chosen to: aaestheticsresource and bestuser experience. That means it's a good idea to think about what color scheme you're going to use at the outsetdesign process. The way colors are combined can complement or detract from the look.

What is color theory? (2)
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According to Bleicher (2011), there are five main color schemes (and some combinations and variants of these schemes) that allow designers to achieve harmony in their projects:

Monochrome Schema

The monochrome scheme is based on colors created from different shades (created by adding black or white to the original color), tones and nuances of one hue. In theory, it is the simplest of all schemes. A monochromatic scheme is often used in minimalist designs as one hue should result in a less distracting layout.

On the other hand, this scheme means that you cannot use multiple colors to visualize information in theuser interface(UI). That's the only pricesimplicity.

Analog color scheme

The analogous scheme is based on three colors arranged side by side on the color wheel (e.g. red, red-orange and red-violet). This pattern is easy to find in nature - just think of trees in autumn when the leaves change color.

There is a variant of this scheme, the analog "high-key" color scheme. It is achieved by mixing its analogue shades with white. This version is commonly found in Impressionist art - particularly early Impressionist art. The effect achieved is one where the colors appear to 'shimmer' and 'blur' into each other - when viewed from a distance they can create the illusion that only a single color is being used.

Complementary Regimes

Complementary color schemes use one (or more) pairs of colors that "cancel" when combined. For example, when you combine the two colors, they produce either white or black (or something very similar in grayscale). For this reason, this scheme is also known as the "opposite color scheme".

When you place two complementary colors next to each other, they show the greatest contrast. In modern color theory, the pairs are red/cyan, green/magenta, and blue/yellow.

(Video) Color Theory Basics

Esquema Split-Complementary (occasionally "Compound Harmony")

This is a combination of using the complementary color scheme and the analogous color scheme. Essentially, complementary colors are chosen and then the colors on either side of the color wheel are also used in the design. It is believed to soften the impact of a complementary color scheme that in some situations may be too bold or aggressive in the eyes of the viewer.


The triadic scheme is based on the use of three colors equidistant from each other on the color wheel. The easiest way to find a triadic scheme is to place an equilateral triangle on the wheel so that each corner touches a color. The three colors will be exactly 120° apart.

These schemes are considered vibrant (even if the hues themselves are not)—they maintain harmony but provide a high level of visual contrast. Triadic schemes can be found in many artworks because it is easier to achieve a pleasing visual result with a triadic scheme than with a complementary scheme.


Tetradic schemes use two sets of complementary pairs: four colors. These can create very interesting visual experiences, but are difficult to balance. Why? This is because one color in a tetradic scheme must dominate the other colors without completely overwhelming them. An equal amount of each color often results in a very odd look, the last thing you want your users to see.

square (a variant of tetradic)

The quadratic scheme is a variant of the tetradic scheme. Instead of choosing two complementary pairs, place a square on the color wheel and pick the colors that fall on its corners. So you find four colors that are evenly spaced 90° apart. Unlike the tetradic color scheme, this approach generally works best when all colors are used consistently throughout the design.

color temperature

Colors can be used to convey emotional content and enhance the look and feel of your website. We are now talking about moving people, evoking passions and feelings in our users. It's worth noting here that people's culture, gender, experiences, etc. will also affect how colors come across to them and whatuser searchis a better indicator of thisemotional reactionfor coloring than the following guidelines based on the color wheel. For example, did you know that in China, red is common because it represents luck and prosperity, but white is considered funeral or represents misfortune? Also, Chinese culture has a unique color –Qing– this is a kind of blue-green gray or “grey”. In Greece, yellow conveys images of sadness, while red conveys these images in South Africa. Color is a big issue when it comes to how people from different parts of the world interpret your design. A little research goes a long way.

However, if you want to go with the color wheel approach, there are three color temperature indicators: "warm" and "cool" and "neutral":

  • hot colorsThey are colors that are in the half of the color wheel that contains yellow, orange, and red. These colors are said to reflect feelings such as passion, power, happiness and energy.

  • cold colorsThese are colors that are on the other side of the color wheel, including green, blue, and purple. Cool colors should reflect calm, meditation and calming impressions.

  • neutral colors– They are said to reflect no particular emotion. These colors include grey, brown, white and black.

Your choice of color categories depends on what you want to achieve with your website. You should whenever possibletestYour color palettes with your users to ensure the choices you make reflect their reality. It's almost always easier to define and test a color palette early in the development process than at the end. Besides everything else, it can save you valuable time.

(Video) The Color Mixing Masterclass

Oh take away

Color is clearly an important part of a design's aesthetic. If you base your color palette on one of the existing color schemes, this can be easier from the start.

ÖFarbkreisis a basic tool created by Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. It contains:

  • primary colors

  • secondary colors

  • mediatorortertiary colors

We must try to optimize our choice of colors to create maximum harmony, keeping in mind the following to choose the most appropriate scheme:

  • Schematic monochrome

  • Analog color scheme

  • Complementary Regimes

  • Split Complementary Scheme (Compound Harmony)

  • triadisch

    (Video) COLOR THEORY BASICS: Use the Color Wheel & Color Harmonies to Choose Colors that Work Well Together

  • tetradisch

  • square

color temperatureis another important consideration; It's the part that can touch people and get them excited about our work. you always have to do ituser testof color schemes when possible and ideally early in the design process. Also, always remember that colors have many cultural connotations, so make sure you know them!

On the other hand, remember that you must do thisNOconvey meaningOnlywith color. About 8% of people - mostly men - are color blind, and color is not always the same.accessible. Still, color is a tool that can enhance the other elements of your design. Think of it as a great ingredient that can bring your work to life and engage your users, making them more interested in your product, service, or message.

where you can learn more


Hero Image: Author/Copyright Holder: George Field. Copyright Terms and License: Public Domain.


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