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Color Symbolism
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Graphic of 12 point color wheel

 

Color is more than a combination of red and blue or yellow and black…

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is non-verbal communication. Colors have symbolism and meanings that go beyond ink.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have many customers who are curious as to how we have chosen the colors for their logos and other business collateral and web site color schemes etc. It is a long process of learning every aspect of art and understanding that color is not only something visual but also emotional. So for your reference and if you so wish further reading, we have found an excellent resource for this type of information. Within the following article are links to additional information about each individual color. So enjoy and we hope you realize there is more to seeing color than you would ever dream!

 

Here are some general meanings associated with color

Blue

Red

Green

Yellow

Orange

Purple

Brown

 

Sky

 

Fire

 

Money

 

Energy

 

Joy

 

Royalty

 

Conservative

 

Sea

 

Love

 

Growth

 

Sun

 

Sunshine

 

Power

 

Stable

 

Water

 

Passion

 

Environmental

 

Happiness

 

Creativity

 

Nobility

 

Outdoors

 

Religious Feeling

 

Energy

 

Fertility

 

Cheery

 

Determination

 

Luxury

 

Fall

 

Peace

 

Revolution

 

Envy

 

Creativity

 

Success

 

Spirituality

 

Earth

 

Faith

 

Anger

 

Spring

 

 

 

Encouragement

 

 

 

Organic

 

Stability

 

Power

 

Freshness

 

 

 

Autumn

 

 

 

 

 

Melancoly

 

Debt

 

Stability

 

 

 

Construction

 

 

 

 

 

Trust

 

Danger

 

Loyal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Loyalty

 

Heat

 

Healing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wisdom

 

Warning

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tranquility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Integrity

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Jacci Howard Bear,
Your Guide to Desktop Publishing at About.com
www.desktoppub.about.com/

What colors mean
Color is more than a combination of red and blue or yellow and black. It is non-verbal communication. Colors have symbolism and meanings that go beyond ink. As you design brochures, logos, and Web sites, it is helpful to keep in mind how the eye and the mind perceive certain colors.

Sometimes colors create a physical reaction (red has been shown to raise blood pressure) and at other times it is a cultural reaction (in the U.S. white is for weddings, in some Eastern cultures, white is the color for mourning and funerals). Colors follow trends as well. Avocado, a shade of green, is synomous with the 60s and 70s in the minds of some consumers.

In addition to understanding color symbolism, it helps with mixing and matching colors to know the relationship of adjacent, complementary, and clashing colors.

The subject is more fully explained in this Color Basics article Desktop Publishing on the About.com website). But below is a brief synopsis:

Graphic of 6 point color wheel
Graphic of 12 point color wheel
  • Adjacent or harmonizing colors appear next to each other on the color wheel. Harmonizing colors often work well together but if too close in value they can appear washed out or not have enough contrast.
  • Complementary colors are separated by another color on the color wheel. Complementary colors printed side by side can cause visual vibration making them a less than desirable combination. However, separate them on the page with other colors and they can work together.
  • Clashing or contrasting colors are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. Despite the name, colors that clash are not always a bad combination if used carefully. They provide great contrast and high visibility.

On each of the cool, warm, mixed, and neutral pages are links to profiles of specific groups of colors with descriptions of their nature, cultural meanings, how to use each color in design work, and which colors work best together.

Now we'll explore the meaning and symbolism of four different groups of colors.

Continue to read descriptions of each color to explore their nature, culture, language, and which colors work well together.

Cool Colors
The color of calm

Cool colors tend to have a calming effect. At one end of the spectrum they are cold, impersonal, antispectic colors. At the other end the cool colors are comforting and nurturing. Blue, green, and the neutrals white, gray, and silver are examples of cool colors.

In nature blue is water and green is plant life - a natural, life-sustaining duo. Combine blues and greens for natural, watery color palettes. Heat up a too cool color palette with a dash of warm colors such as red or orange. If you want warmth with just a blue palette, choose deeper blues with a touch of red but not quite purple or almost black deep navy blues.

Cool colors appear smaller than warm colors and they visually recede on the page so red can visually overpower and stand out over blue even if used in equal amounts.

For further information you can review the profiles (at Desktop Publishing on the About.com website) for each of these cool colors which include descriptions of their nature, cultural meanings, how to use each color in design work, and which colors work best together.

Warm Colors
The colors of excitement

Warm colors rev us up and get us going. The warmth of red, yellow, or orange can create excitement or even anger. Warm colors convey emotions from simple optimism to strong violence. The neutrals of black and brown also carry warm attributes.

In nature, warm colors represent change as in the changing of the seasons or the eruption of a volcano. Tone down the strong emotions of a warm palette with some soothing cool or neutral colors or by using the lighter side of the warm palette such as pinks, pale yellows, and peach.

Warm colors appear larger than cool colors so red can visually overpower blue even if used in equal amounts. Warm colors appear closer while their cool counterparts visually recede on the page.

For further information you can review the profiles (at Desktop Publishing on the About.com website) for each of these warm colors which include descriptions of their nature, cultural meanings, how to use each color in design work, and which colors work best together.

Mixed Warm & Cool Colors
The colors of intrigue

Colors with attributes from both the warm and cool colors can calm and excite. These are colors derived from a mix of a cool and warm color such as blue and red or blue and yellow.

A cool blue and a warm red combine to create deep purples and pale lavendars. To a lesser extent, shades of green, especially turquoise and teal, also have both the warming and cooling effects born of warm yellow and cool blue. Some light neutrals such as cream, pale beige, and taupe evoke some of the same warm and cool feelings of purples and greens. The opposite or clashing color for purple is green and for green, purple.

For further information reading you can review the profiles (at Desktop Publishing on the About.com website) for each of these mixed colors which include descriptions of their nature, cultural meanings, how to use each color in design work, and which colors work best together.

Neutral Colors
The colors unity

The neutral colors of black, white, silver, gray, and brown make good backgrounds, serve to unify diverse color palettes, and also often stand alone as the only or primary focus of a design.

Neutral colors help to put the focus on other colors or serve to tone down colors that might otherwise be overpowering on their own. To some extent blacks, browns, tans, golds, and beige colors are considered warm. While white, ivory, silver, and gray are somewhat cooler colors. Yet these warm and cool attributes are flexible and more subtle than that of reds or blues.

For further information you can review the profiles (at Desktop Publishing on the About.com website) for each of these neutral colors which include descriptions of their nature, cultural meanings, and how to use each color in design work.

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