Hey folks, I’m back!

Let’s pick up from where we left off.

In the previous post we established that Colour Psychology is how colour affects emotions and behaviours. (Estrad 2018).

Now let us look at Colour Theory.

Color theory is a set of principles used to create harmonious color combinations pleasing to the eye and senses. It provides us with a common ground for understanding how colours can be used, arranged, coordinated, blended, and related to one another. Color theory is about why some colors work together aesthetically, while others do not. Thus, it’s about color mixing and the visual effects of color. (Ela Poursani nd)

When thinking about a design, the colours must complement each other so the best effect on the consumer can be reached. In colour psychology, we talk about what one colour does to your emotions but with colour theory, it’s all about a combination of colours to get the best result.

For example, the colour orange may evoke a happy emotion (colour psychology) but when combined with red and pink it doesn’t appeal to the consumer.

Thus Colour Theory helps you to decide what combination of colours will appeal best to your audience.

The idea of colour theory existed for a long time but it was through the work if Issac Newton in 1666, that revolutionized and made it more popular.

According to Interaction Design Foundation (nd), there are three categories of colours.

These are: 

  1. primarycolors (red, blue, yellow)
  2. secondarycolors (created by mixing two primary colors),
  3. intermediateor tertiary ones (created by mixing primary and secondary colors).

It further states that designers can achieve colour harmony in their designs through five main colour schemes which are

  1. Analogous: based on three colors located next to each other on the wheel
  2. Complementary: one or more pairs of colors that, when combined, cancel each other out (i.e., they produce high contrast)
  3. Split-complementary: a combination of the analogous and complementary schemes
  4. Triadic: using three colors at equal distances from each other on the wheel
  5. Tetradic: using two sets of complementary pairs


Below is an indication of what the wheels look like. Stay tuned for more reading.


Poursani E (nd) What is Color Theory? – Definition, Basics & Examples

Retrieved from: https://study.com/academy/lesson/what-is-color-theory-definition-basics-examples.html

Interaction Foundation Design (nd) Colour Theory

Retrieved from: https://www.interaction-design.org/literature/topics/color-theory

Cousins C (2012, 02,28) Principles of Colour Theory and the Colour Wheel

Retrieved from: https://tympanus.net/codrops/2012/02/28/principles-of-color-and-the-color-wheel/

 Cameron C (2010, 01,28) Colour Theory for Designers, Part 1: The Meaning of Colou

Retrieved from: https://www.smashingmagazine.com/2010/01/color-theory-for-designers-part-1-the-meaning-of-color/

Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enJM819JM819&biw=1366&bih=608&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=Qfk7XKSACMKZ_QbokqvYAQ&q=analogous+colors+in+design&oq=analogous+colors+in+design&gs_l=img.3..0i8i30.6791.8778..10601…0.0..0.689.3138.0j4j2j0j2j2……1….1..gws-wiz-img…….0j0i67j0i24.PDrvOBYG21A#imgrc=sCNgH99w90L5DM:

Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enJM819JM819&biw=1366&bih=608&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=Qfk7XKSACMKZ_QbokqvYAQ&q=Complementarycolors&oq=Complementarycolors&gs_l=img.3..0i7i30l10.4122.6230..7204…0.0..0.595.2373.0j1j0j1j3j1……1….1j2..gws-wiz-img…….0._fhz-x2l-mY#imgrc=VqA65ml5MRE1LM:

Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enJM819JM819&biw=1366&bih=608&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=Qfk7XKSACMKZ_QbokqvYAQ&q=Split-complementary+colors&oq=Split-complementary+colors&gs_l=img.3..0j0i7i30j0i30l7j0i10i30.4495.4495..5225…0.0..0.545.545.5-1……1….2j1..gws-wiz-img.-tzMGe0XSh8#imgrc=WCyjfjmt53okhM:

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Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1CHBF_enJM819JM819&biw=1366&bih=608&tbm=isch&sa=1&ei=tfo7XO7yM4-5ggfdo4f4Bg&q=Tetradic+colors&oq=Tetradic+colors&gs_l=img.3..0l3j0i24l3.122824.122824..123747…0.0..……1….2j1..gws-wiz-img.-7MRoYI58p4














Primary, secondary and tertiary colour wheel.



Image of colour star.


Example of Analogous Colours


Example of Complementary Colours


Example of Split-complementary Colours


Example of Triadic Colours


Example of Tetradic Colours