Color Theory and Design
When creating visual designs, an understanding of color theory is always useful. Color theory is the study of color and how colors relate to one another and create visual impact. Much of color theory is instinctual. When people match two colors together because they "look right," they are intuitively using color theory. Color theory turns those instinctual reactions into guiding principles everyone can use in design.
The 12-color color wheel illustrates the basic concepts of color theory. This color wheel includes the primary colors, secondary colors and tertiary colors. The primary colors are red, yellow and blue. These are the sources of all other colors and cannot be create from combining other colors. The secondary colors are derived from combining two primary colors. These are orange, green and purple. The tertiary colors are created by mixing one primary and one secondary color. These are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green and yellow-green.
Color harmony is an essential component of color theory. To achieve color harmony, a combination of colors must not be too boring or too chaotic. Color schemes that use analogous colors (those next to each other on the color wheel) and complementary colors (those opposite each other on the color wheel) are often referred to as harmonious. There are many other aspects of color theory, however, that affect harmony including color saturation, context, quantity of each color and contrast between warm and cool colors. Being mindful of how colors relate to one another within a design can make the difference between a visually appealing design and one that is not.