Mini Art Class II: Color Theories


Working with color can be overwhelming. We have tons of color, yet we only have one brain to think. However, getting to know the basics of color theory could help you a lot when it comes to design.

Color Hue: Same as Color

In general, hue holds the same definition as color. But to be professional, Hue refers to the dominant color family. Hue refers to the origin of the colors we can see.

Color Saturation: Intensity of the Color

Original Color vs. Watered Down Color

Imagine you are in a watercolor class. You squeeze the red color out of the color tube to put on your pallet. You add water to it, then you find that the color becomes lighter. This is called reduced saturation

On the other hand, if you wait 2 minutes, then the water evaporates. The color becomes intense again, which is considered increased saturation.

Color Luminance: Brightness of the Color

See how the luminance of the color gets lower?

Color luminance refers to the brightness of the color. Imagine you are in a watercolor class again.

You have different colors in your pallet. Now, if you simply add white or black, you would see the changes in the color. This is the luminance level.

By adding white, the color appears to be of higher luminance. While by adding black to the color, the color appears to be of lower luminance.

Color Wheel

As you might have learned in school, we mix primary colors to get secondary colors. Moreover, if we arrange each color that is similar to one another, the result is a color wheel.

Color Theory: Analogous

When it comes to color matching, an Analogous color scheme is when we choose colors that are close to each other. For example, red, red-orange, and orange or blue, aqua, and aqua-green.

An analogous color scheme creates a rich, pronounced look.

Left: Cool Analogous Color Scheme Right: Warm Analogous Color Scheme

Color Theory: Complementary

Complementary color refers to two colors that are on the opposite side of the color wheel, such as red and green, or blue and orange.

The complementary color scheme provides high contrast and impact. You can use it when you want something to stand out.

Red vs. Green, Blue vs. Orange, Violet vs Yellow

Color Theory: Split Complementary

Split Complementary

Split complementary refers to the primary color with the two analogous colors to its complement. For example, blue with orange-red and yellow.

Color Theory: Triadic Colors

Triadic Colors refer to colors evenly spread on the color wheel such as red, blue, and green.

Such combination provides high contrast which makes artwork bold and vibrant.

Color Theory: Tetradic Colors

Tetradic Colors refer to colors that are evenly spread on the color wheel. However, it is difficult to balance multiple colors. Therefore, we suggest using one color as a dominant and the others as an accent.

Such combination provides high contrast which makes artwork bold and vibrant

UX Designer Currently Study at Arizona State University

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