Skip to main content
Wikispaces Classroom is now free, social, and easier than ever.
Try it today.
Elements of Visual Design
Pages and Files
Composition and Layout
Emphasis or Focal Point
Format & Orientation
can convey a message. It can change or emphasize the meaning of a word or an image. In design, color should support the message whether it is an advertisement, a website, a logo, or any persuasive text. The meanings of color and the emotions conveyed vary according to culture (see
). Therefore, it is vital for designers to understand their audiences' perception of color as a part of effective design plans.
The Vocabulary of Color
Hue is what we normally think of when we say "color" (red, green, blue, etc.)
Saturation refers to color purity. The example image below shows all of the saturation and value variations on the color red. At the top of the image, the lightest red runs from high saturation on the right to white on the left. As you move down the wedge, the reds get darker and the saturation range from right to left gets narrower.
Value refers to the lightness or darkness of a color; it depends on the amount of white or black added.
Tint means the amount of white added.
Shade refers to the amount of black added.
Monochrome means the use of a single hue; only the value of the hue changes.
Warm colors are red, orange, and yellow; they seem to advance or appear more prominent in images.
The cool colors are green, blue, and violet; they appear to recede in images.
The colors in adjacent positions on the color wheel are harmonious.
The colors opposite each other on the color wheel are contrasting colors.
yellow, red (magenta), and blue (cyan) one can mix
ll the other colors of the spectrum. They are also known as the subtractive or colorant primaries. Thus
that reflect the
of one of these
and absorb other wavelengths may be mixed to produce all colors. Also, the light (-source) primaries: Lights of red, green, and blue wavelengths may be mixed to produce all colors. Light primaries are used in theatrical stage lighting, and in color
and computer screens.
Based on the White Light Color System. Primary colors are red, green, and blue. Secondary colors are cyan, magenta, and yellow. Used in video and colors viewed on screens.
Based on the Paint or Ink Mixture System and used in traditional print situations. Primary colors are red, yellow, and blue. Secondary colors are green, purple, and orange.
Stands for cyan, magenta, yellow, and key (black). Based on the subtractive color model. Used primarily in the printing industry.
Using Colors Together
When color is combined on the page (or canvas), the color of the background or the placement next to another color can change its appearance. In the circles below, the center dot is the same color including value and saturation. However, it looks different when applied against stronger and lighter valued colors.
Michel-Eugene Chevreul, considered one of the greatest color theorists, published principles of color harmony and contrast in 1839. His theories have helped artists and designers use color effectively. The following link provides a brief summary and examples:
help on how to format text
Turn off "Getting Started"