Many people neglect to realize the psychological affect color has on the brain, and the way in which the two interact. Color can be daunting; color can be calming; color can be fun. And, so can color theory.



Red is a dynamic color that evokes intense emotions when properly used. It conveys warmth, love, danger, fire, energy, passion,  and anger. And, the emotion being communicated is dependent on placement, tone, and value of the color. For example, a deep shade of red conveys lust when worn by people. Brighter reds thrive when communicating energy. Darker reds convey passion, and orange-red conveys anger and frustration.


(Red) Daily life:

-checkers board

-telephone booth

-red carpet

-coca cola

Consider why the designer used red in each example.



Blue is all around us in the sky and in the ocean, and it is a favorite color of many. It conveys tranquility, calmness, depression, and can be very intense. Light shades convey calmness and silence. However, dark tones often communicate a sense of honesty, and contains intense depth. Blue can be associated with sadness due to phrases like “feeling blue.” The interpretation of colors is not universal and can be seen differently. Realize that there is no right or wrong way to feel about color. Therefor, your interpretation is based on your personal experience, and reflects what colors speak to you.


(Blue) Daily Life:

-police (box)




Consider the way blue is used in these examples and how each use affects the viewer.



Yellow is a bright color that symbolizes the sun more than anything. It grabs your attention; yellow is energetic, optimistic, frustration, and very complex. For example, bright neon yellows convey energy and life. On the other hand, darker shades communicate anxiety and frustration. Yellow itself is a frustrating and irritating color because it is so hard to look at. It is not a color for the introverted.


(Yellow) Daily Life:





Once again, what was the purpose of using yellow and what do each convey?


The way in which the artist manipulates color will affect the emotional experience the viewer has. Remember: red conveys danger, blue conveys serenity, and yellow conveys optimism. Each color conveys different emotions. Additionally, whenever making a connection between the colors, more emotions and option open up. Thus, the study of color theory is important for any artist to understand and execute color designation effectively.


For a more in depth guide, including all color palettes, refer to The Designer’s Dictionary of Color by Sean Adams.

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