Your Guide to Color Theory for Design [Infographic]

The theory of color is quite a fascinating phenomenon. While it has been researched and studied for centuries, by professionals in a multitude of fields, color theory still has no ubiquitous rule. Nevertheless, one person has the ability to distinguish thousands of different colors based on their individual preferences, physical reactions, and unique experiences. It’s amazing that the 10,000+ colors we can recognize, all originate from 12 basic colors.

In advertising, there is a science behind the colors you see in signs and large ads. Due to color psychology (the study of hues as a determinant of human behavior), it has been determined that black, green, red, blue, and yellow are the most visible colors. They maintain that visibility even from a distance, which is why they are the go-to marketing pick.

Color combinations must be considered as well. Two easy-to-see colors don’t guarantee harmony. When considering background and text, it’s all about relative character – the colors’ ability to be analyzed outside of their environment. Backgrounds are capable of making various colored texts look the same, or making the same text look different when placed in front of different backgrounds. Understanding this will help you differentiate between a harmonious or a contrasting compositional form.

A harmonious compositional form occurs when all of the colors share a commonality. This is what we aim for, whether we are working on an ad, a logo, painting, or even a tattoo. We do not want our colors to contrast because that means we have a bad combination. A contrasting compositional form occurs when the colors we incorporate have nothing in common. As we achieve the ideal compositional form, our graphics will achieve clarity and readability.