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  • Writer's pictureGabriela Torres Vanegas

Understanding the magic behind the COLOUR spectrum

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

From art, to design, to everyday life; colour has the capacity to influence our emotions, perceptions, and choices whether we understand the basics of colour or not. When we think about colour, in ignorance, we might see it as a complement to the visual construction of an object. However, it is more than just that. Colour has the power to undoubtedly influence our perceptions and experiences.

Colour theory defined

How colour works, individually and in combination, is what is referred to as “colour theory”. This blog will familiarize you with the essentials of colour theory, shedding insights into its significance and usage in the various domains such as art, design, and marketing

Understanding the Basics of colour theory

Colour wheel: A visual guide

It is a circular illustration that organizes the colour in a logically structured system. It helps us visualize the relationship between primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries. It also helps us understand colour temperature.

Primary colours:

red, blue, and yellow. These three are the fundamental colours and cannot be created by mixing any other colour.

  • To create the colour wheel, visualize a triangle and place the colours at the end of each corner.

Secondary colours (Primary + Primary):

Orange, green, and purple. These are created by mixing two of the three primaries.

  • Once you have placed the primary colours in the triangle, set the secondaries in between two of the three primaries that create that colour (eg. place orange between red and yellow).

Tertiary colours (Primary + Secondary):

These are the result of mixing a secondary colour with a primary colour, leading to colours like: orange-yellow, blue-green.

  • follow the same step as with the placing of the secondary colour.




Colour harmony

With your newly made colour wheel, or with the illustration here, we are going to understand what colour harmony is. Colour harmony is how we create aesthetically pleasing colour combinations.


These are the colours that are opposite in the colour wheel. A good rule to remember is that the complementary in the most basic sense of the wheel is:

  • a primary + the secondary colour that is created by the other two primaries.

What do Complementaries do?

Complementaries create a vibrant look when put together as they create the highest contrast and are used in design and art to create shapes/subjects and highlights stand out.

  • Ex: yellow and purple are complementary colours. Yellow is a primary and purple (blue + red) is the secondary colour that is created out of the combination of the other two primaries.


these are a combination of three colours that sit side by side in the colour wheel (yellow, yellow-orange, orange).

What do analogues do?

Analog colours are pleasing to look at, creating a harmonious display. They usually evoke a sense of calmness and serene designs.


Triatic, like the name suggests, uses three colours that are evenly displayed in the colour wheel, like yellow, blue, and red. The best practice to use it is to choose one as the dominant and the other two evenly acting as accents.

Accent colours are used to complement or contrast the predominant colour in a room or design


Warm Vs Cool

Warm colours:

Yellow, orange, and red. This colour evokes warmth, energy, and passion. Warm colours make things look closer in space.

This is why unless you want to make someone claustrophobic at home, you better not paint your bathroom or any small room with a warm colour. But do feel free to do so if you wish to make a big room cozier or intimate.

Cool colours:

Blues, greens and purples. These often evoke a sense of calmness, relaxation, and serenity. The opposite happened here; it makes objects appear farther away in the distance.

Cool colours have the power to amplify a small room giving the illusion that it is bigger than it is.


Psychology and colour

Colour psychology

Colour psychology is the study on how colour influences our behaviours, emotions, and perceptions. It studies how these influences can be used in various contexts from design and art to everyday decision making.

Although in the general sense a certain colour evokes specific emotions: yellows and oranges remind us of summer, while blues of winter, it is worth noting that colour psychology can be dependent on cultural, historical, and personal contexts.

How powerful is colour psychology

Colour psychology is used by many industries to influence the consumer perception of the brand and behaviour. The colour that you see in branding, logos, websites are not selected randomly. Depending on the knowledge of the designer behind it, each colour was strategically selected to visually elicit the brand’s aesthetics and targeted audience.


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