What is color theory and how it plays an important role in graphic design?

Color is definitely without any doubt is one of the main essential elements in the field of design. It provokes, evokes, and stirs emotions in humans when it comes to its implementation in design, painting, coloring and so much more in the field of ART. But the catch is to apply them cautiously, mindfully and the interface must be in visual harmony with all other elements.

Color theory is both the science and art of using a color which also shows the visual effects of how colors are mixed, matched, or contrast with each other It is essential to understand the role or importance of color theory in all fields of design. Thus, Let’s just start with graphic design.

In color theory, colors are beautifully organized on a color wheel and are grouped into 3 categories: primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. We shall talk more about this later.

What is graphic design?

Graphic design is the art of creating visual content both online and offline, to meet users’ needs, communicate specific messages, or solve a problem statement for their company’s marketing and advertising purposes. Graphic designers make use of elements like colors, typography, images to convey the necessary and particular information, that design indicates and make it a cherishable experience for the user.

Understanding color theory…

Color is just a perception that our eyes see something, maybe an object, and the data sent from our eyes to our brains tells us that it’s a certain color. For example, if we look towards the sky, our eyes catch and tell that it is blue in color. Likewise, Objects reflect light in different combinations of wavelengths. Thus, our brains pick up on those wavelength combinations and translate them into the phenomenon, called a color.

And practically what happens is, many people make their decision whether or not they like that particular product or not, in 90 seconds or less, just by looking at the color. 90% of their decision is based solely on color. Thus, our most important part of branding must focus on colors.

Furthermore, color literally projects our personality in our daily life, not just in the case of the business and branding world. Humans naturally observe to know which color suits their persona. But sometimes, there are many who struggle with understanding their own personality from within, which can help them see their strengths and weaknesses as well. Therefore, people need to know that color helps to find their personality and can get help from a career counselor, so to find out how a career counselor helps in finding your personality type click here.

Apart from this, when it comes to design, color theory comprises segments like- Color Wheel, color schemes, and color harmony. Let’s look at those mentioned various color schemes available.



COLOR WHEEL; represents or displays relation between various colors and color schemes that show different colors, i.e; Primary Colors(Red, Yellow, Blue), Secondary Colors (Mixing the three primary colors- Orange, Green, Purple), Tertiary Colors (Combining primary and secondary- Yellow+Orange, Red+Orange, Red+Purple, Blue+Purple, Blue+Green, Yellow+Green).

In addition to this, you can draw a line through the center of the wheel to separate the warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) from cool colors (blues, greens, purples).


Next is about;

Color schemes

Various color schemes can be formed based upon how you would want to combine those colors. Let’s understand some of the basics.


This complimentary color scheme that is shown in the above picture formed by combining opposite colors on the color wheel., e.g., red and green. They create a high contrast color scheme, and this is how other colors in this scheme works.

Furthermore it brings attention to your marketing and advertising, because using a complementary color scheme in your business marketing offers sharp, contrast and distinctive between the images you represent.


The above analogous color scheme is formed by using colors that are placed adjacent to each other. So, here one of the color is used as dominant and second one as a supporting color, and the third color acts as an accent to the entire given scheme., for e.g; blue-green, green.


Triadic color scheme, represents certain colors that are placed equidistantly on the wheel. Designers prefer this color scheme the most, as it gives a presentable contrast in designs. It generates a vibrant color scheme that ensures to maintain a balance, for eg; purple, green and orange.

And the other forms of color involves, HUE, SHADE, TINT AND TONE.

So, now altogether when you try to understand the proper usage of color theory in graphic design, you will definitely get to know that it is the most important part that can influence the purchase of the buyer. Therefore, companies are highly conscious when it comes to creating logos as it helps them build their brand identity as each color has an emotional impact on the marketplace.

But here comes one more thing that you need to care about, i.e;


RGB color mixing model

We, humans, observe colors in light waves. Combining light—or the additive color mixing model—allows you to create colors by mixing red, green, and blue light sources of various intensities. The more light you add, the brighter the color mix becomes. If you mix all those three colors of light, you will get pure, white light.

TVs, screens, and projectors use red, green, and blue (RGB) as their primary colors, and then they are mixed together to create other colors. And another one is:

CMYK: the subtractive color mixing model: This model represents the primary colors that are used in the subtractive process which includes red, yellow, and blue because these were the colors painters that are mixed to get all other hues. As color printing emerged, they were subsequently replaced with cyan, magenta, yellow, and key/black (CMYK), as this color combination enables printers to generate a wide variety of colors on paper.

CMYK the subtractive color mixing model

And NOW, why you should really care about the color theory?

Just three words: Branding, Marketing and Sales.

With this basic knowledge about colors and color schemes, I am sure you are feeling prepared to make effective branding decisions, aren’t you? Or emotions that color evokes in a consumer and the psychology behind the color theory on your website.

Not only can a proper knowledge of color theory guide you in your own marketing and branding, but it can also help you much better to understand what your competition is doing, which will lead to the use of more of your creativity in choosing charismatic contrast that will help you grow your brand.

In many law firm webpages, you will notice a side-by-side comparison about which color represents what, you’ll notice a variety of analogous color schemes. Blue is generally associated with dependency, brown with masculinity, and yellow correlates with competence and happiness. All of these are positive associations in a field that stereotypically has negative connotations, such as dishonesty or aggression. Likewise, if you want to know the meaning behind different colors then check out this link here

Making your brand stand out in the marketplace and appeal to your target audience, plus gaining clarity that poor colors can mean poor sales—that’s why you should actually care about color theory.

The last important thing to know is; one can be highly benefited from learning graphic design is by building your own portfolio and showcasing to companies to work as a graphic designer as well as also can work as a freelancer. For future prospects, you need to make sure you take enough designing projects for free as well as paid, and along with that, you have a choice to make more cash by affiliate marketing as a side hustle. To begin with affiliate marketing, you can start by promoting tools, software, that are actually used for graphic design, which will also help you to get to know more about the latest trending software used in graphic design while earning from this process. So, to know more about how affiliate marketing works check here in detail. Thus, you will gradually learn about how to scale and expand your horizons in Graphic Design.