Graphic Design Using Color
Color is everywhere and conveys a message even if we don't
realize it. While this message can vary by culture it pays to know what
colours "say" in your own corner of the universe, and even what colour means
to your target market.
If you don't think that colour speaks just complete this
sentence, "red means ---- and green means ?" even a child will know what
red means stop and green means go. If such simple ideas work for all of a
given culture or market what could it mean to the graphic design of your
website, brochure, or product if you know some of this information.
First let's start with the basics. The colour wheel. We've
all seen it. The colour wheel shows the basic colours, each wheel is
different in how many shades of each colour is shown, but they are
essentially the same.
Color harmony, colours that go together well. These will be
colours that are next door to each other on the colour wheel. Such as blue
and green. In reference to clothes these colours match each other.
Instinctively most of us know which colours go together when we dress
ourselves every morning.
Color complements, colours that set each other off, they
complement each other. These are colours that are opposite on the colour
wheel. Such as blue and orange.
Color depth, colours can recede or jump forward. Remember
that some colours seem to fall back such as blue, black, dark green, and
brown. Other colours will seem to step forward such as white, yellow, red,
and orange. This is why if you have a bright orange background it may seem
to fight with any text or images that you place on it. The orange will
always seem to move forward.
Now you have the basics so let's go further. Just because
to colours go together or complement each other doesn't mean that yo
necessarily want to use them on your project. I opened this article with
the meaning of colours now here is an example, keep in mind this is one
example from western culture.
Color Survey: what respondents said colours mean to them.
Happy = Yellow Inexpensive = Brown
Pure = White Powerful = Red (tomato)
Good Luck = green Dependable = Blue
Good tasting = Red (tomato) High Quality = Black
Dignity = Purple Nausea = Green
Technology = Silver Deity = White
Sexiness = Red (tomato) Bad Luck = Black
Mourning = Black Favorite colour = Blue
Expensive = Gold Least favorite colour = Orange
So in designing your project it's important to know what
colours mean. You can now see why a black back ground with green type would
be bad, beyond being nearly impossible to read, if your target market
thinks that black represents mourning and green makes them sick. There are
exceptions to every rule of course.
So you may want to include some research in what colours
mean to your target market. Colors that would get the attention of a teen
would probably annoy an older person and the colours that appeal to the
older person wouldn't get a second look from a young person.
Color may be one of the most overlooked aspects of design.
Copyright 2004 Kelly Paal Kelly Paal is a Freelance Nature
and Landscape Photographer, exhibiting nationally and internationally.
Recently she started her own business Kelly Paal Photography (www.kellypaalphotography.com).
She has an educational background in photography, business, and commercial
art. She enjoys applying graphic design and photography principles to her