Color Theory: Symbolism and Harmony

color theory

Whether you’re painting, or putting together an outfit, you may notice that the colors you use matter. Maybe you’re try to convey a certain emotion or mood? Or maybe you want to pair the perfect hues together? Whatever your vision is, you’re using what’s called Color Theory. In today’s blog, we’ll go over what this theory is as well as discuss color symbolism and harmony. 

What is Color Theory?

Color Theory is both the science and art of using color. It focuses on perception of color, the message that the hue communicates, and how colors match or contrast with one another. The theory creates a logical structure for color. Therefore, an essential element of Color Theory is the Color Wheel.

Here, different tones are organised into three categories: primary colors, secondary colors, and tertiary colors. 

The Color Wheel

A Color Wheel is a circle that is divided into a number of segments that is divisible by 3. All the primary colors sit in segments of equal distance away from each other. In between the primary colors sit the secondary. In between the primary and secondary colors sit the tertiary colors. 

Color Symbolism

Color Theory also concerns itself with symbolism and meaning. This is the emotions and moods we associate with certain hues. While it is possible to go into deeper depth for each color, here is the basic symbolism theory for some key tones. 

Color Harmony

The last aspect of Color Theory we’re going to touch upon is Color Harmony. There are many different schemes that can be used to define “harmony”, but we’re just going to focus on three. 

Scheme 1: Analogous Colors

These are any three colours which are side-by-side on a 12-part Color Wheel. For example: green, yellow-green, and yellow. 

Scheme 2: Complementary Colors

These are any two colours which are directly opposite each other. For example: yellow-green and red-purple. 

Scheme 3: Nature

This scheme works on the theory that if the colors are found together in nature then they can be used together. 

And this has been a basic lowdown on Color Theory. Of course, you might have your own interpretation of the symbolism and harmony of colors, but consulting the theory can help with developing graphic design and branding skills! 

About the Author

Lydia B.

Lydia B.

Lydia is a Gooroo Courses Tutor at Gooroo, a tutoring membership and online learning platform that matches students to tutors perfect for them based on their unique learning needs. Gooroo offers math, English, ESL, Spanish tutoring, and more.