Today’s marketplace is bombarded with products that are trying to get our attention at every turn, making it challenging for yours to stand out immediately from the crowd. Based on the way our natural senses function, colour is the best attention-getter, followed by shapes, symbols and, finally, words.
The study of colour and how it is used revolves around the simple concept of colour wheels, which help to explain visually how colour is created - either from light (RGB) or pigment (CMYK) - and how the relationship between different colours comes about.
We normally represent a colour wheel as having distinct segments progressing through 360 degrees. It is sometimes also shown as a strip, as with the colour picker in Photoshop. The most important thing to note is how a colour wheel is structure. If you think back to primary/elementary school, you will recall being told that there are three ‘primary’ colours: Red, Yellow and Blue.
These colours are blended to form secondary colours: Orange, green, and violet. Blending primary and secondary colours produces tertiary colours, and so on. Complementary colours are those that sit directly opposite one another on a colour wheel, such as primary blue and secondary orange.
Added to the subjective nature of colour is the way we see them. We all experience colour in our own way. Warm red will appear different to every person viewing it. To one person it looks orange, and to another, red.
Telling someone they are wrong about a colour choice is to tell them they are a bad person. Colour changes according to its environment, so what seems to be a soft yellow in the designer’s office can be an awful yellow-green under the client’s fluorescent light.
The primary colours of red, blue and yellow are most consistent in different surroundings. Complex colours, such as violet, are more volatile and easily shift from blue to purple.
The simple bold may be your reactive selection when trying to highlight a word or section, but take time to consider colour as well. Using a colour to bring out a repeated phrase or word can be hypnotic, while using a slash of red to create terror over a phrase can add tension.
Colour meanings vary from culture to culture, so here are what they mean on a basic level, as well as their recognition by colour combination practices.
- Hue is the primary value of a colour, and how the colour red, green, blue, purple, etc is perceived through the eye.
- The saturation of a colour is the overall intensity or brightness of the colour. Any colour that appears dull is referred to as desaturation.
- Value is the lightness or darkness of overall colour schemes.
- Blue: Security, trust, stability, wisdom, confidence and courage.
- Green: Wealth, endurance, healing, calm and natural
- Red: Energy, leadership, courage and Joy.
- Yellow: Optimism, childish and freshness.
- Pink: Romantic, feminine and Llove.
- Orange: Cheerful, passion and creativity.
- Black: Powerful, elegance and sophistication
Colour is both subjective and emotional. And it may be challenging to convince someone to like pink if they were repeatedly locked in a pink closet as a child. Colour is such a pervasive part of everything we visually encounter in the world, and for many designers it has become an intuitive choice.
It is vital to be accommodating when dealing with colour. There are so many powerful tools at your disposal. With just the tiny click of adding a wash of colour, you can forever change a viewer’s perception. Until we meet again, fill your life with memories as opposed to regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game.
• NB: The columnist welcomes feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE COLUMNIST: Deidre Marie Bastian is a professionally trained graphic designer/marketing co-ordinator with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova South Eastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.