Design Principles: Colour Theory

How many times have you been asked: “what is your favourite colour?”

How often are you avoiding a purchase because of its colour? After all, it’s a hue you hate! Yes, it’s a strong word, but colours can provide a strong emotional charge.

When designing, colour is important.

How you use them may work to your advantage (or just the opposite). So, how do we choose? Should we follow our taste?

Ha! Let us introduce to you a principle aptly called: colour theory.


Colour theory is a science and art unto itself, which some build entire careers on, as colour consultants or sometimes brand consultants. Knowing the effects colour has on a majority of people is an incredibly valuable expertise that designers can master and offer to their clients.
— Smashing Magazine

The colour theory is based on the colour wheel.

The left-side presents cold colours and the right-side presents warm colours. You can achieve the strongest contrast pairing the colours from the opposite part of the wheel.

Embrace the Colour Wheel  Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Embrace the Colour Wheel

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Let’s talk about colours!

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Red

It’s a warm and strong colour that enhances human metabolism, increases respiration rate and raises blood pressure. It’s associated with love and passion, but also with fire and anger. Red in design can be very versatile depending on its saturation. Be warned: when used too much it can be overwhelming.

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Yellow

It’s a happy, cheerful colour associated with joy. It generates positive energy, muscle activity and catches the attention (that’s why taxis are yellow). It often correlates with food. Historically yellow was the colour of loyalty. However, be careful with the shades of yellow — it can becomes dingy and unappealing. Light yellow brings freshness and it’s associated with intelligence. Finally: yellow + black = warning.

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Green

This is a colour of nature, freshness, harmony. Green has a calming effect and correspondences with safety. Dark green is associated with money (I need a dollar, dollar)! Additionally, it’s often used opposed to red, for example in road traffic signs (red = no, green = yes).

You may also be green with jealously (but you better not be, it’s not healthy).

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Blue

It’s believed to be good for the mind and body. It’s the colour of water and sky. Moreover, it’s associated with cleanliness, calm, softness and health. Commonly, it’s seen as a masculine colour (but we believe in gender neutralness of colours anyway)! Do avoid using blue with food-related products, as it blocks appetite (that said, Oreos are blue. Hm).

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Purple

This special colour is associated with royalty, luxury and ambition. It’s the colour of extravagance. Dark purple can cause frustration — we agree, signed — purple cynics! At the Buttercrumble HQ, we love our brand colours: red, white and pink.

Bonus!

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Image by: Kasia of Buttercrumble

Black and White

What would you say about these? Let us know in the comments below!


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