What is Colour Theory?

Colour plays a crucial role in design and life. It can draw attention to an image, evoke a certain feeling or emotion, even communicate something important without using words at all. So how do we know which colours look good together and which ones don’t??. The answer is simple Colour Theory.

Artist, painters and designers have followed colour theory for centuries. The colour theory can help you feel confident in many different situations whether its choosing colour for a design or putting together the perfect outfit!

Let us understand what colour theory is…

Remember learning about primary and secondary colours in school?? If yes, then you already have some knowledge of colours. Let us revise:

Red + Yellow = Orange

Yellow+ Blue = Green

Blue + Red = Purple

If we mix these colours, we get even more in-between shades.

All together they form a colour wheel. See below


Now let’s take one step further with Hue, Saturation and Value. These are the terms you never see in daily life but they are the key to understanding different colours.

Hue is the easiest one. It’s just another word for colour.

Saturation refers to intensity. In other words, whether the colour appears more subtle or more vibrant.

Value intensifies on how light or dark the colour is ranging from black to white.

Every colour sends a message. It’s important to consider the theme of your project and choose a colour palette that fits. For example,

Bright colours tend to have a fun or modern vibe whereas desaturated colours often appear more business-like. Sometimes it just depends on the context. You’d be surprised how flexible colours can be.

You can find ideas for colour schemes in all kinds of interesting places like advertising and branding to famous works of art. You can even use a web resource to browse colour palettes and generate your own. Even experienced designers take inspiration from the world around them. There is nothing wrong finding something you like and making it your own.

Everywhere you look there is colour, colour and more colour!!!

I hope this post was informative for you. I know it can be intimidating to use it in work but it doesn’t have to be. Just keep experimenting and remember what you learned from here. Soon choosing great looking colours will look like second nature. 


This blog is part of the NMIT Blog Network. The articles and comments in this blog are the opinion of the authors and not necessarily those of NMIT.