Some claim that color cannot be taught, and there might just be something about it. Theoretically speaking, if you ask a group of people to color something in red, for example, you’ll get 25 different shades of red.
Color is a subjective phenomenon (the color perception). It has several known aspects and several unknown aspects. The geographical area you reside in also affects the color perception.
Nothing can be produced without light, and as climate changes from area to area, so does the light and the color scheme.
The claim that color cannot be taught is based on the fact that people are familiar with a certain color scheme and not another. For instance, in Europe, in places where there is little light, the color scheme is gloomy, and in places with more light, the colors are more bright and less “civilized”.
The other factor affecting the color perception is education. This area is changing but there is still a certain pattern that a person is educated in accordance with (the kindergarten teacher…).
Color is another parameter of objects in visual communication. This specific color theory relates to the West only and does not apply to the art world. These conventions may be broken, but with wisdom, and provided that it delivers the desired message.
A mandatory book – “The Spiritual in Art” by Kandinskey. Kandinskey linked music to color. Various experiments have been conducted – accords were played and people were told to write the first color that came to mind with every accord. Psychological influences may exist but it is subjective and varies from person to person.
In graphic design, the designer has to generalize and simplify things to relate to the general public. The object is always more important than the color.
Color must not be treated as a decoration covering for decisions regarding composition. It can deepen the message but not replace it.
There are 3 basic colors, with which you can produce any shade and any color. The basic colors cannot be produced themselves. The basic colors are Yellow, Red and Blue. All the colors have pigments (powder).
Colors have been produced by nature for a long time. Nowadays, colors can be produced in a chemical process. The pigments are identical in all kinds of colors, the only thing that differs between every type of color (Tempera, Oil etc.) is the medium, which is the material the color is diluted in, with water.
From the biblical aspect (Renaissance) – the color of Joseph’s gown. Joseph is considered a marginal and despised character.
In literature, Yellow is a color of departure, hatred, rejection, the color of the sun.
On one hand, the sun is a source of energy, life, photosynthesis; on the other hand, it destroys, consumes and demolishes.
There are different connotations of the same color. Van-Gogh’s Yellow is also related to madness, for obvious reasons.
In banners (poster-media in Israel), the electricity company or road signs of hazard, the Yellow shade is a Lemon Yellow combined with Black – very powerful and projecting. It’s a warning/deterrence message; Yellow on a Black background poses a strong contrast, to strengthen the deterrence.
Yellow is dominant, aggressive, dissonant and poses danger when used in road signs, that why it’s not used a lot because it attracts too much attention.
From all the different shades of Yellow, the most deadly Yellow is the Lemon Yellow. It is also the Yellow of press.
In the iconography of the Renaissance it can be seen in gowns.
Red symbolizes material, mundane and it’s also two-sided, ambivalent.
On one hand it symbolizes life, blood, and on the other hand it symbolizes death, for the same reason.
Red and Black combined is a pure Spanish combination – Spain and love, relating to death and love, war, negativity, love in the negative meaning (Carmen).
In graphic design, Red and its various shades can be found in meat, butcher shops. One may also perceive mauve as a royal color.
The production of the mauve color was involved in a very expensive manufacture process, people who could afford to use this color were rich and wealthy – priests or kings, as opposed to the earth colors that served the poor.
An antithesis (total opposition) to Red.
Blue is a spiritual, heavenly, religious color.
In graphic design, Blue, Cyan (light Blue) and Turquoise (Blue mixed with Green) can be found in cleaning detergents and may be related to the spiritual / mental / Kabbalah / mystics, cleansing products.
There are no nutritional products using the Blue color, as it’s an non-edible color – we are more likely to find shades of red and orange in nutritional products.
Conclusively symbolizes growth, sprouting photosynthesis.
In graphic design, Green can be found in plant nurseries, diet products and health. There are various shades of Green in graphic design – Grass Green with lots of Yellow as opposed to Green that contains more Blue, and Turquoise (Green-Blue, lots of Blue and a little Yellow).
Anything that has to do with the colors of earth – basic, like the desert, pretty depressing.
Connects the spiritual with materialism (Red + Blue). Kandinskey would say it’s a color of old age – many old women wear Purple clothes 😉
The pastel color scheme (tints) are pigments with some readable percentage of white. The shades contain black, as opposed to tints. Shades characterize the European color scheme (less sun).
The pastel colors in graphic design are mostly used in baby products (clothing etc.) – either the basic color or the softer pastel colors; pastels are also used in frozen Yogurt and ice-cream – because of the cold and ice.
The Classic Color Scheme
If we want to boost the product image and give it a feel of class and prestige, we will take out most of the pigments, thus creating a “classic and civil” color scheme (different shades of gray – from white to black, various off-white shades, marble shade etc. – nearly 0% pigment).
Street posters are becoming smaller in places like North Tel-Aviv, as in Europe.
There is a growing tendency to associate large and noisy posters with the US. The size of the design has social implications. Israel tends to be more like Europe rather than the US. The street posters in the US are damaging for us – large and noisy. Europe = silence, US = scream.
The Glowing Colors (Phosphates)
Associated with the devil’s sect, night life/going out, heavy metal. Target audience – youth, people who like noise. These colors are strong and protrude in the dark.
All colors containing blue are cold. Shades of Red and Yellow are warm.
There is a warm Red and a cold Red, cold Green and warm Green (depending on the concentration of the Blue pigment). The darker the color, the farther it is. The lighter the color, the closer it gets to the front.
The warm colors are naturally lighter and are noticed by the viewer more easily. The closer an object is, the warmer we’d make it, and the farther it gets, the colder we’d make it. Color values refer to brightness/darkness.
There are 3 types of contrasting/complementary colors: Yellow-Purple, Red-Green, Blue-Orange. Making highlights (close/projecting spots) is very good depth-wise, using Yellow, and using Purple to make certain spots look farther/colder.
Every color in a contrasting/complementary pair is in harmony with the other color, and makes the other color more protruding. When creating depth, the shades shouldn’t appear “connected”, the transition must be made as gradually as possible.
There are two ways of mixing colors:
- Physical – Gouache, Acrylic, etc., mixing a little of each color.
- Optical mixing – the shade is created in the viewer’s eye.