Autumn is all about colour; gold beech leaves, purple maple leaves, pink berries, chestnut brown conkers, red and white toadstools (if you’re lucky enough to find them) and vibrant green grass. So, what better time than autumn to write about the science of colours in design!
Colour has cultural significance, it can evoke powerful emotions, effect mood, and signify an entire brand in hue alone. It’s a wise designer that takes their time getting to grips with the colour wheel, and everything it brings, before putting pen to paper or fingers to screen.
So, let’s look at some established keywords associated with different colours:
Red – passion, love, aggression, hate, attraction
Yellow – energy, happiness, friendliness, stimulating, revitalising, and conversely warning
Blue – calm, tranquillity, strength, reliability, trustworthy, security
Orange – energy, warmth, vitality, commonly used in food labelling due to its association with hunger
Green – nature, renewal, abundance, calm, stability, jealousy, money
Purple – wealth, royalty, wisdom, luxury, romance
Brown – rustic, sturdy, earthy, antiquated
Black – power, luxury, strength
Grey – calm, reliable, timeless, balance
White – innocence, cleanliness, health
Once you’ve worked out your palette it’s worth following these three design rules about how to use it:
1. Don’t use all your colours in equal measures, choose one as your main colour and then use the rest of your palette to add interest
2. It’s not just about your choice of colour, but how vibrant you choose to make it. Brighter and more saturated colours evoke feelings of productivity whilst less vibrant colours promote focus and relaxation.
3. Contrast is everything. As well as making your design more accessible, the way two colours work together can completely change the way we see an image. The eye reacts to an image as a whole, so if a background colour isn’t sympathetic to the colour in the foreground the whole design blurs and jars becoming harder for your audience to absorb and focus on.
If you’re still in need of inspiration you can’t do better than getting out and about and taking some tips from the colour guru that is Mother Nature herself. Living proof that there really is no need to reinvent the colour wheel!