Color Theory

Color theory encompasses a multitude of definitions, concepts and design applications - enough to fill several encyclopedias. However, there are three basic categories of color theory that are logical and useful : The color wheel, color harmony, and the context of how colors are used.

The Color Wheel

A color circle, based on red, yellow and blue, is traditional in the field of art. Sir Isaac Newton developed the first circular diagram of colors in 1666. Since then, scientists and artists have studied and designed numerous variations of this concept. Differences of opinion about the validity of one format over another continue to provoke debate. In reality, any color circle or color wheel which presents a logically arranged sequence of pure hues has merit.








Primary Colors - Red, Yellow, Blue
In traditional color theory (used in paint and pigments), primary colors are the 3 pigment colors that cannot be mixed or formed by any combination of other colors. All other colors are derived from these 3 hues. 

Secondary Colors - Green, Orange, Purple

These are the colors formed by mixing the primary colors.

Tertiary Colors

Yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green
These are the colors formed by mixing a primary and a secondary color. That's why the hue is a two word name, such as blue-green, red-violet, and yellow-orange.

Color Psychology

Color plays an important role in how your brand is perceived. Whether trying to connect to a youthful audience or trying to strengthen customer trust, you can study color meanings to help you better attract and connect to your ideal customer.


  • Attracts attention and provokes intense emotions

  • Associated with excitement, passion, danger, energy, and action

  • Stimulates appetite, respiration rate, blood pressure and metabolism

  • Negative significance of danger, anger and rage


  • Combines the energy and warmth of red and the happiness of yellow

  • Associated with joy, adventure and the tropics.

  • Represents creativity, enthusiasm, determination, attraction, encouragement

  • Appetite stimulant



  • Associated with feelings of happiness, sunshine and summer

  • Stimulates mental activity, optimism and positivity

  • Generates muscle energy and increases appetite

  • Negative associations of warnings, deceit and cowardice; causes babies to cry



  • Color of nature symbolizing growth, harmony, freshness, health and fertility

  • Strong emotional correspondence with safety, stability and endurance

  • Dark green is also commonly associated with money and generosity

  • Considered beneficial to the mind and body



  • Idealistic, spiritual, heavenly, sincere, unity and integrity 

  • Associated with feelings of harmony, loyalty, peace, calmness, strength and trust

  • Peaceful, flexible and imaginative; they are natural romantics and nurturers

  • Negative meanings such as depression and a sense of coldness



  • Combines the stability of blue and the energy of red

  • Represents royalty, nobility, dignity, independence and wisdom 

  • Conveys wealth, luxury and extravagance

  • Associated with spirituality, creativity, mystery and magic



  • Represents unconditional love, tenderness, kindness and vulnerability

  • It is a calming, non-threatening color

  • Associated with positive aspects of traditional femininity 

  • Linked to youthful sweetness, hope, innocence, optimism and playfulness



  • Earth tone conveys traits of comfort, dependability, reliability and resilience

  • Brown-lovers are often reserved and not looking to attract attention to oneself

  • Light brown represents honesty and stability

  • Dark brown is considered mature, predictable and dull


  • Associated with power, prestige, elegance, formality, strength and authority

  • A mysterious color associated with fear and the unknown (black holes).

  • Usually has a negative connotation of death, evil and mystery

  • The symbol of grief



  • Considered to be the color of perfection.

  • Can represent safety and a successful beginning

  • Depicts faith, purity, goodness, innocence, cleanliness and virginity

  • Usually associated with positivity