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The Fundamentals of Colour Theory Part 2 – Diving Deeper into Colour



The ability to understand and communicate the terms and processes associated with colour theory go a long way in helping you to communicate your grand vision to your design team, and in ensuring you get the exact brand colours you are looking for. Fortunately, Sir Isaac Newton designed the first colour wheel back in 1666 to help you in developing colour harmonies, mixing and palettes.

The Basics of the Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is based upon three primary colours (red, blue and yellow), the three secondary colours that are created when the primary colours are mixed (orange, green and purple) and the six tertiary colours that can be created by mixing both the primary and secondary colours. The left side of the colour wheel contains warm colours, whilst the right side contains cool colours. Once you understand the temperature of colours you gain a better understanding of how the colours of a brand can affect the overall message of the brand and its designs. For instance, cool colours often promote calm, tranquillity and a corporate sense, where warm colours convey comfort and energy.

Understanding Hue, Shade, Tint & Tone

Whilst all these terms can be overwhelming at first, their concepts are actually quite easy to grasp. Shades, tints and tones are the variations of hues that are created when you add black, white or grey to a hue. Adding a tone to a hue darkens the original colour and can make it appear less intense.

There are many shades of colour and tones and selecting the right one for your brand and logo is important to efficiently get your messages across and convey the subconscious response you seek. Muted tones may help carry a nuanced, sophisticated look, while bright, cheerful tones will stand out, giving the brand a bouncy, energetic feel.

Common Colour Schemes

This is where the colour wheel comes into play. By using the colour wheel, we can create the three most common forms of colour schemes – Complimentary, Analogous and Triadic.

· Complimentary colour schemes, which often promote a strong contrast, are created by taking colours from the directly opposite sides of the colour wheel.

· Analogous colour schemes, which support the most dominant of the three colours, are created by taking three colours that are directly beside each other.

· Triadic colour schemes, which are usually quite vibrant and dynamic, are created by taking three colours that are evenly spaced around the colour wheel.


By understanding these colour schemes, you are more likely to get the results that you are looking for, and be able to make better informed decisions in regards to your branding and marketing materials. In our next article we will combine all of your newfound expertise on colour theory to explain how colour theory impacts consumer behaviour.

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