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Learn Color Theory for fun and profit! Do you like math, art, and the pursuit of balance? If so follow along as the highlights of Color Theory are revealed.
Primary Use Cases
- Communicate effectively with your audience
- Super-charge the aesthetics of your design project
- Add harmony to your creations
- Data visualization in diagrams, chart, and graphs
Use The Right Tool
Color theory provides a couple of primary ways of managing your color.
The Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (CMYK) color model is a subtractive color model, based on the CMY color model, used in color printing, and is also used to describe the printing process itself.
Use the CMKY color model when printing data visualizations
The Red, Blue, and Green (RGB) color model is an additive color model in which red, green, and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors.
Use the RBG color model when presenting on digital displays
Definitions in Color
Let’s start with some definitions.
Color Schemes or color palettes are the choices of colors used in various artistic and design contexts. It’s difficult to learn color theory without an understanding of color schemes. If you are excited and want to get started with color theory, try out Adobe’s Color Wheel application.
Monochromatic colors are all the colors (tints, tones, and shades) of a single hue.
Complementary colors are for the mixing of colored light, Newton’s color wheel is often used to describe complementary colors, which are colors that cancel each other’s hue to produce an achromatic (white, gray or black) light mixture.
Split-Complementary colors are a three-color combination consisting of a base color and two colors that are 150 degrees and 210 degrees apart from the base color.
Double Split Complementary
A double complementary scheme is when two hues (colors) are next to each other on the color wheel and are paired with two adjacent hues on the opposite side. This overall creates a color palette of four hues that are adjacent but opposite such as blue-green, blue, orange, and red-orange.
Achromatic colors lack strong chromatic content and are said to be unsaturated, achromatic, or near neutral.
Analogous colors (also called Dominance Harmony) color scheme are groups of colors that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, with one being the dominant color, which tends to be a primary or secondary color, and two on either side complementing, which tend to be tertiary.
Triadic colors are a three-color combination consisting of a base color and two colors that are 120 degrees and 240 degrees apart from the base color.
Color Scheme Definitions
With a view of color schemes under our belt, we can learn color theory further with color scheme definitions.
Learning Color Theory is required for graphics designers, print designers, and other professions presenting data in color to convey a message. If you’re a technology professional, learning color theory will help you get your point across more effectively. It might even give you an art appreciation. 🎨
Learn Color Theory – Beyond the Basics
- Color Theory Fundamentals (Pluralsight)
- Graphic Design Foundations: Color (LinkedIn)
- The Beginner’s Guide to Color Theory for Digital Artists (Udemy)
- Color Theory: The Mechanics of Color Applied and Theoretical Color (The Gnomon Workshop)
- Smashing Color Theory Blog Posts – Maggie Maggio
- How to learn the color theory – Quora
- What is the best online material to learn color theory? – Quora
- Color Theory Class – Learn Color Theory Online Free | Alison
- Learn Color Theory – Best Color Theory Tutorials | Hackr.io
- Red, White, and Blue – Seven rules about color palettes that everyone (including non-designers) should know