Colour Theory

Arunav Dwivedi • April 2, 2022 6 mins read

It's hard to imagine a life without colours! Colours play a vital role in the design and everyday life. It has the power to convey moods and feelings. Colours can even communicate without using words. So how do we know, which colour looks good and which doesn't?

The answer is simple- it's the colour theory!

Image alt

Image credits: blog

A very important but easy topic from a design perspective. So, let's get started! 

Let's understand first what's colour theory.

If we go by the standard definition,

"Colour theory is a term used to describe the collection of rules and guidelines regarding the use of colours in art and design."

Simple language mein bole toh, tried and tested method to use colours. 

Based on "Colour harmony", these likes and dislikes are being categorised. And based on it, some schemes have been developed. To understand it better, let's start from the beginning!

First, we'll have to understand what are "Primary colours"

Image alt

1. Light colour Primaries (RGB)

  • They use the light source to generate colours.
  • For eg. computers
  • When these colours are added, they make white light, which’s called Additive colours

2. Pigment colour Primaries (RYB, aka CMYK)

  • They use the reflection of light to generate colours.
  • For eg. Screens, phones.
  • When these colours are added, they make black colour, which is called Subtractive colours

Now, when different proportions of these colours whether RGB or RYB enters your eyes, your brain can interpret the different combination as a different colour. In addition, these colour combinations can be represented by a colour wheel

"Colour wheel is nothing but a representation of colours and resultant colours when we intermix these colours!"

For example,

Blue + Yellow = green

Blue + Red = Purple

Red + Yellow = Orange

Now; let's move further and try to understand what's hue, saturation and value mean.

  1. Hue is nothing but another name for colours.
  2. Saturation is defined as the intensity of a colour. (By adding grey to a colour)
  3. The value represents how dark or white a colour is. 

Now, the question is how do we put all these together to generate an appealing colour combination?

Well, there's a tried and tested formula which we have talked about earlier, that's called "colour scheme". They can be divided into the following categories:

Image alt

Image credits: Facebook

  1. Monochromatic
  2. Complementary
  3. Split Complementary
  4. Analogous 
  5. Triadic

So, that's it! There are many more colour schemes but here I've tried to discuss a few to give you an insight on how to deal with these topics. The goal here is to read every colour scheme with examples and try to explore as much as possible. This is not only important for PART-B but also PART-A in the exams. 

Here's video which might help in understanding colour theory better!

About Kaphal Studio

Kaphal Studio is a modern, internet university for creators that brings community and learning together. We aim to prepare designers for the startup economy. We offer a new approach to online education through synchronous cohorts with an emphasis on peer-to-peer learning.