Have you ever stopped to consider how colours work together? Perhaps you’ve never considered why a business has chosen the range of colours in their logo, or across their branding? It all boils down to colour design (theory). The theory behind colours explore how they work together in art and design (colour harmony), using the colour wheel and colour psychology.

Colour Psychology

Have you ever noticed how a particular colour might make you feel? Colours around us have an impact on our emotions, but also on our perception – that might be the perception of a company or a product. Without realising it, we allow colours to affect our judgement. Ever wondered why medicine is pink? If we look back through history, colours have often been attributed to mood.

Red represented physical emotions, excitement and warmth, but also aggresive feelings. While blue might signify intellect and calmness (there are a lot of brands out there using blue…). A different tone of blue might appear cold or unfriendly, so toning is super important too. Take a look at the image below to see what emotions the colours below make you feel, and the brands associated. What do you think?

Credit to Oberlo: How Color Meanings Affect Your Brand

Colour Harmony & The Colour Wheel

The colour wheel is created by using the primary colours (red, blue, yellow), the secondary colours (adding in green, purple and orange) and then tertiary colours (yellow-orange for example).

Colours are not so “simple” – so what makes a colour? A red isn’t just red all of the time, it depends also on hue, saturation and brightness. The hue defines the position on the colour wheel (so for example, yellow colours occupy 50 to 60 degrees on the wheel, with perfect yellow being 56). The saturation is how rich the colour is (the higher the saturation, the richer the colour) and the brightness is how bright the colour appears, from 0% to 100%.

Colour harmony explores how well colours work together. For example, did you know that each colour has a complementary opposite colour? I remember going to a talk about 7 years ago, discussing branding. I was told that green and pink should never go together, however, they are actually complementary colours! There are a range of colour combinations out there, complementary being perhaps the most popular. But you also have monochromatic, analogour, triadic and tetradic.

We were recently contacted by Canva who have a new colour wheel on their website (and boy is it swish). Take a look at the colour combination mentioned above, see how well it works here? The lime green is the primary colour, and pink the complementary. Using colour wheels and the theory of colours is especially important if you are in the design or art field, and also when working with new content for clients. Aside from that, it’s something we’re quite geeky about!

A Review on Canva

Let’s be honest, we wrote this blog specifically because Canva got in touch. So we’ve spent some time exploring their new resource, designed to make colour combinations easier for businesses.

We’ve previously used colour design tools like Paletton and also many of the tools mentioned on Creative Bloq, however Canva have taken this a step further with business in mind, and we really think it’s fab.

The resource does explain in a lot more detail about colour theory, so you can really get to grips with tones, shades, tints, hue, saturation etc. Explore the colour wheel and select the different colour options from complementary to tertiary. What’s great with this resource is that you can then link in your new colours on the wheel to Canva templates (we’re already Canva pro converts so this is great for us), as well as exporting your new palette as a PDF. This will give you a super simply but highly important breakdown of your colours.