How to use color theory to improve your design skills

Color Theory

How to use color theory to improve your design skills

Color theory is a way of understanding the effects that different colors have on the emotions and perceptions of people. It can help you improve your design skills by helping you choose colors that will be effective and pleasing to viewers.

When designing websites or products, it’s important to take into account how different colors can affect people’s moods and motivations. By understanding color theory, you can create a more successful online presence or product.

It is important for designers because it helps them create color schemes that are pleasing to the eye and create a cohesive design. The color theory also tells designers how to use color to evoke certain emotions in their audience.

Basics of color theory

Colour Tint Hue Shade Tone
Image By Lindsay Marsh Design

When it comes to understanding color, there are a few essential basics to keep in mind. The first is the color wheel. This is essentially a tool that helps us to understand how colors are related to each other.

Colors on the wheel are organized in terms of their hues, tints, and shades. The hues are the pure colors, while the tints and shades are adding white or black to the hue, respectively.

The secondary colors on the wheel mix two primary colors together. And finally, tertiary colors are made by mixing a primary color with a secondary color.

Another key concept when it comes to understanding color is complementary colors. These are pairs of colors that sit opposite one another on the color wheel and create high contrast when used together. For example, red and green make a great complementary color pair, as do blue and orange.

Using color to create moods and emotions

Color is all around us and can create moods and emotions. In art, color is used to express feelings and ideas.

Colors can be warm or cool, complementary, or analogous. Warm colors are typically associated with happiness, while cool colors are often seen as calming.

Complementary colors are opposite one another on the color wheel and create balance in a painting. Analogous colors are similar on the color wheel and often create unity in a painting.

The right color tone can help create a relaxing and comfortable environment in your home, or it can be used to influence and stimulate productivity in your office space.

Psychology of Colour
Image By Lindsay Marsh Design

Color schemes

In the world of color theory, there are three main categories of colors: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Within these categories are various color schemes that can create different effects. Color schemes when used correctly, can be very effective in grabbing attention.


One such scheme is the split-complementary color scheme. The split-complementary color scheme uses two colors on either side of the complementary color on the color wheel. For example, blue and orange form the split complementary color scheme. This combination can be used to create a high-contrast look with bright colors.

Triadic Colors

Another popular color scheme is triadic colors. Triadic colors are three colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. This combination creates a vibrant and eye-catching look. Red, yellow, and blue is excellent examples of triadic colors.


A monochromatic color scheme uses different shades and tints of the same color. This type of color scheme is often used to create a sense of harmony and unity. Monochromatic schemes are also popular for creating subtle, timeless designs. When using a monochromatic scheme, it’s important to vary the brightness and saturation of the colors to avoid creating a dull or boring design.


Analogous colors are colors that are right next to each other on the color wheel. They usually match well and look good together. Some examples of analogous colors are red, orange, and yellow; blue, green, and purple; and pink, red, and orange.

One reason to use analogous colors is that they create a sense of unity. When all of the colors in a design are similar, they can be pleasing to the eye.

Additionally, using analogous colors can make objects look smaller or larger than they actually are. If you want something to appear bigger, use a color that is farther away from its counterpart on the wheel.

Color Harmony
Image By Lindsay Marsh Design

Tips for using color in your designs

Designers are always looking for new ways to stand out and using color is one way to do that. However, it’s important to use color thoughtfully. Here are a few tips for using color in your designs:

1. Experiment with different colors and combinations to see what looks best.

2. Be mindful of the context of your design. For example, if you’re designing a website, make sure the colors you choose are compatible with the overall tone and style of the site.

3. Use color to create visual contrast and interest. For example, pairs of complementary colors (e.g., red and green, blue and orange) can create a visually striking effect.

4. Think about how your design will be used or viewed by your target audience.

5. Minimize the utilization of too many colors in a design, it will probably make a messy surrounding, and make audiences uncomfortable. Keep it simple

Create the color mood board

When starting any new project, it’s important to first establish the mood you hope to create. This can be done by creating a color mood board. A mood board is a collection of images, textures, and colors that represent the feeling or tone you want your project to evoke.

To create a color mood board, start by finding images that evoke the feeling you want to achieve. Once you have a few images in mind, search for corresponding colors and textures. Collecting inspiring quotes and fonts can also help set the tone for your project.

Once you have gathered all of your materials, it’s time to start arranging them on your board. Try to find complementary and contrasting colors, as well as different textures and shapes. Experiment with different layouts until you find one that feels right.

Adobe Color: A perfect color tool for designer

Adobe Color
Image By Adobe Color

Adobe Color is a perfect color tool for designers. Adobe color has many features that help designers create color palettes and to match colors.

With Adobe color, you can create custom colors and save them in your library. You can also share your library with other people. Adobe color also has features that help you to find the best matching color for your project.

It provides a massive example for reference, all come with a perfect match color palette, and you can download it to your Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator to use immediately.

If you need additional colors, you can upload a photo or an image to the search bar, and it will search for a palette of colors for you. You can also use a word or phrase in the search bar.

Adobe Color offers multiple trendy colors in the field of fashion, graphic design, illustration, game design, architecture, and more. Using this color tool was convenient for finding the color you wanted.

Color Theory
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on


Designers use color theory to create visually appealing and effective designs. By understanding the basics of color theory, you can choose colors that work well together and create a harmonious design.

In conclusion, color theory is an important tool for any designer. By understanding the principles of color, you can create beautiful and effective designs that communicate your message to your audience. So use these tips to help you create stunning color schemes for your next project! Thank for reading!


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