Colour Theory and Colour Psychology

Color theory states that using colour is both a science and an art. It clarifies how colour is perceived by people as well as the visual consequences of how colours blend, complement, or contrast one another. Along with the signals that colours convey, colour theory also examines how colours are reproduced. A colour wheel is used in colour theory to arrange colours into three categories: primary colours, secondary colours, and tertiary colours. Contrarily, colour psychology is the study of how colours influence how people behave. Color affects impressions that are not immediately apparent, such as how food tastes. People’s emotions can be influenced by the properties of colours. Depending on one’s age, gender, and culture, colour may have different effects on different people.

What is Colour Theory?

A system of rules known as colour theory is used to combine colours in ways that are harmonious and appealing to the senses. It gives us a shared framework for comprehending the different ways that colours can be employed, ordered, coordinated, merged, and related to one another. Why some colours go together aesthetically while others do not is the subject of colour theory. Thus, it concerns colour mixing and the impact of colour on the eye. Beyond just assuming something is right because it seems right, knowledge of colour theory is helpful.

What is Colour Psychology?

Color psychology is the study of how various hues impact emotions and behaviour in people. It looks at how colour can affect how we feel and how our reactions to colour are influenced by things like age and culture. Color psychology has gained popularity in a variety of fields, including marketing, art, design, and others, despite the general paucity of research in this area.

Basic structure of Colour Theory

The Color Wheel

In the world of art, a circle made of the colours red, yellow, and blue is customary. In 1666, Sir Isaac Newton created the first circular colour chart. Since then, this idea has been researched and developed in many different ways by scientists and artists. The validity of one format versus another continues to be a topic of contention. In actuality, any colour wheel or circle that offers a logically ordered series of pure hues is worthwhile. Additionally, there are categorizations (or meanings) of colours based on the colour wheel.

  • Red, yellow, and blue are the primary colors. Primary colours are the three pigment colours that, according to conventional colour theory (used in paint and pigments), cannot be combined or created by any other colors. These three colours are the source of all other colours.

  • Secondary hues include purple, orange, and green. These are the hues that result from combining the main hues.

  • Yellow-orange, red-orange, purple, blue, green, and yellow-green are tertiary colors. These hues result from the blending of a primary and a secondary hue. Because of this, the colour is named using two words; examples include blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Color Context

A challenging part of colour theory is how colours interact with other colours and shapes. Compare how the same red square stands up against various coloured backgrounds. Red seems more dazzling against a black background and a little bit duller on a white one. The red contrasts with the orange by appearing lifeless, while the blue-green displays brilliance. On a black background, the red square stands out more than it does on other background colours. Understanding the relativity of colour begins with seeing the interactions between different hues. Our perception of colour can vary noticeably depending on the relationship between values, saturations, and the warmth or coolness of the corresponding colours.

Color Harmony

A nice arrangement of pieces can be characterised as harmony, and examples include music, poetry, colour, and even an ice cream sundae. Harmony is a visual aesthetic that is appealing to the eye. It draws the spectator in and engenders a sense of balance and inner order in the visual experience. Something is uninteresting or chaotic when it is not synchronised. The other end of the spectrum is a visually uninteresting encounter. Understimulating information will be rejected by the human brain. The other extreme is a visually overloaded, chaotic encounter that the spectator can’t bear to look at. What the human brain cannot organise or comprehend is rejected. In order to complete the visual task, we Must exhibit a logical framework. A sense of order and visual interest are provided by colour harmony. To summarize, while extreme unification results in under- and overstimulation, extreme complexity results in the opposite.A dynamic equilibrium is harmony.

The Function of Color Psychology

Why does colour have such a strong influence on our lives? How might it impact our bodies and minds? Though colour perceptions can be somewhat personal, some colour effects have universal significance. Warm colours include red, orange, and yellow, which are in the red region of the colour spectrum. These warm hues arouse a range of feelings, from warmth and comfort to rage and hostility. Cool hues include blue, purple, and green, which are on the blue end of the colour wheel. Although they are frequently thought of as being calming, these hues can also evoke melancholy or indifference.

Colours with Symbolic Meaning

People frequently link particular colours with particular emotions, according to a 2020 study that examined the emotional associations of 4,598 participants from 30 different countries. Such findings, according to the study’s authors, suggest that associations between colour and emotion may be universal in nature. These common understandings might be crucial for improving communication. Symbolic connotations that are frequently connected to certain colours include

Color Symbolic Meaning
Red zeal, excitement, and love
Pink smooth, secure, earthy
Purple enigmatic, noble, and glamorous
Blue clarity, optimism, logic, and serenity
Green freshness, nature, and growth
Yellow danger, excitement, and hope
Orange cosiness, goodness, and joy
White sincerity and disregard
Black noble, enigmatic, and chilly


Depending on each person’s upbringing, colour perceptions can be contradictory. There have been substantial studies on how colour may influence and convince in many ways, even though colour interpretation is wholly based on personal experiences. A collection of definitions, ideas, and design applications are included in colour theories, which give colour a logical structure. On the other hand, keep in mind that any hue can be interpreted in a variety of ways depending on personal perceptions and experiences and that there are many typical ways that people interpret colours, which is a topic of colour psychology. As a result, we can assert that psychology and colour theory are both crucial. They play a key role in choosing the colour palette.

Updated on: 02-Feb-2023


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