top of page

Visual Communication: Color Psychology


We live in a vibrant world, and images and colors significantly affect our perception of our surroundings. Without colors and images, creating a visually appealing piece would be impossible. Indeed, the most important parts of a visual media design are color, images, and text (Liu et al., 2021). Graphic design is the process of creating visual content that satisfies the demands of its audience, conveys intended messages, or provides a solution to a stated issue. Graphic designers employ visual components like color, typeface, and pictures to communicate with users and effectively create a memorable experience. One of the most important aspects of a design is color. People’s emotional responses may be provoked, evoked, and stirred by it. However, they should be used cautiously, and the interface should include aesthetic cohesion. The spectrum of human emotion is represented by the spectrum of colors (Bagree, 2019).


People have always been curious about color and its effects, but it was not until recently that this curiosity was channelled into the scientific study of color psychology. Colors were utilized as medicine and to affect moods in ancient societies. They also had an impact on several religious rituals. When white light is passed through a prism, all colors are shown, as was discovered by English scientist Sir Isaac Newton in 1666. Additionally, Newton discovered that there is only one wavelength per color, meaning that they cannot be further dissected. Additional studies showed that different light colors could be created by mixing different wavelengths. For example, orange is produced when red and yellow lights are combined. When combined, specific colors, like green and magenta, cancel each other out to produce white. “Given the prevalence of color, one would expect color psychology to be a well-developed area”, researchers Andrew Elliot and Markus Maier stated. “Surprisingly, little theoretical or empirical work has been conducted to date on color’s influence on psychological functioning, and the work that has been done has been driven mostly by practical concerns, not scientific rigor” (Cherry, 2022).


Figure 1: A drawing of Sir Isaac Newton dispersing light with a glass prism (Apic/Getty Images, n.d.).

Color serves as a vital means of expression and communication. Color is one of the most important and impactful aspects of any visual design. Psychologists and market researchers have shown that different colors affect people differently, powerfully influencing our actions and perceptions (“The Importance of Colour in Graphic Design”, 2020). Color is perception. When our eyes see something (grass, for instance), information sent from our eyes to our brains tells the specific color (green). “People decide whether or not they like a product in 90 seconds or less. 90% of that decision is based solely on color” (Decker, 2017). When it comes to expressing one’s feelings in a certain environment, color can serve as a powerful tool. It is interesting to think about how one color can have so many different connotations depending on where you are in the world. In China, for instance, white is associated with mourning because that is the color mourners traditionally wear, but in some European cultures, white is seen as a symbol of innocence, purity, and cleanliness. According to De Bortoli and Maroto (2001), the color orange is associated with danger, delays, and fast food in the United States, whereas in Asia it is seen as a symbol of positivity, enlightenment, and celebration of life (Kurt & Osueke, 2014).


Color palettes are often utilized to highlight a design’s key elements or elicit a particular response from the audience. Color is one tool designers employ to create a cohesive look. It is evident that color is a significant factor to consider when developing a brand and producing promotional materials. The subtle but substantial impact color has on how people respond to a marketing message or brand is something that graphic designers and marketers should constantly consider (“The Importance of Color in Graphic Design”, 2020). Color harmonies, blending, and palettes are still developed using it by artists and designers today. There are three primary colors (red, yellow, and blue), three secondary colors (green, orange, and purple), and six tertiary colors (colors generated by combining primary and secondary colors, such as blue-green and red-violet) that make up the color wheel. Separate the warm colors (reds, oranges, and yellows) from the cool colors (blues, greens, and purples) by drawing a line down the center of the wheel (Decker, 2017).


Figure 2: A traditional color wheel is composed of primary, secondary, and tertiary colors, and each color serves as the complement of the opposite color across the wheel (PeachPit, n.d.).

When we think of warm colors, we frequently think of energy, brightness, and activity. But when we think of cold colors, ideass of calmness, peacefulness, and serenity prevail. When one realizes that colors have temperatures, one can see how selecting just warm or only cold tones might alter the meaning of a logo or website’s design (Decker, 2017). Visual communication is the most accessible way to explain complex scientific concepts to people of all ages and backgrounds. Communication via images has always been crucial, but it has taken on an increasingly essential role in shaping our collective identity in the 21st century. Visually oriented forms of communication are more likely to be cited by other researchers in the field, perhaps because they are more effective in capturing and holding our attention (Murchie & Diomede, 2020).


To summarize, colors and images are crucial in graphic design and visual communication. Although color has a powerful effect on our emotions and may be utilized to transmit messages, caution must be taken to avoid disrupting the viewer’s sense of aesthetic harmony. Varied colors have varied impacts on individuals, which may profoundly influence our behaviors and perceptions, which is why color psychology has recently attracted so much attention. A color is a powerful tool for graphic designers and marketers to establish a brand identity and evoke a specific reaction from their target audience. Successful designers firmly grasp the color theory and use well-thought-out color palettes. In the 21st century, visual communication – primarily via image – has become more crucial to convey complicated concepts to a broad audience and create our collective identity.


Bibliographic References

Bagree, R. (2019, September 5). Understanding Color Theory in Graphic Design. ProCreator Blog. https://procreator.design/blog/color-theory-understanding-color-theory-in-graphic-design


Cherry, K. (2022, November 29). Color psychology: Does it affect how you feel? Verywell Mind. https://www.verywellmind.com/color-psychology-2795824


Decker, K. (2017, February 27). The fundamentals of understanding color theory. 99designs; 99designs. https://99designs.com/blog/tips/the-7-step-guide-to-understanding-color-theory/


Kurt, S., & Osueke, K. K. (2014). The Effects of Color on the Moods of College Students. SAGE Open, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244014525423


Liu, C., Ren, Z., & Liu, S. (2021). Using Design and Graphic Design with Color Research in AI Visual Media to Convey. Journal of Sensors, 2021, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1155/2021/8153783


Murchie, K. J., & Diomede, D. (2020). Fundamentals of graphic design—essential tools for effective visual science communication. FACETS, 5(1), 409–422. https://doi.org/10.1139/facets-2018-0049


The Importance of Colour in Graphic Design - Gold Rabbit Ltd. (2020). Goldrabbit.co.uk. https://goldrabbit.co.uk/the-importance-of-colour-in-graphic-design/

Visual sources

3 Comments


For those who want to decorate for holidays or special occasions, vinyl stickers are a festive touch that are easy to apply and remove. In window film, you can find more information on the topic of vinyl stickers. This makes them the perfect non-permanent option for seasonal decor. I was interested in this.

Like

nick smith
nick smith
Dec 19, 2023

Interesting post for a designer, I also choose the color balance for my projects, sometimes I use the service where you can find computer files images it is a reliable platform for obtaining high-quality stock photos, vectors, videos, and other multimedia content. With a wide range of topics and a professional approach, this service is becoming an indispensable resource for content creators

Like

Good day! As a designer, my mind brims with diverse ideas, many of which are sparked by exploring various intriguing platforms. I found great inspiration in europe images . This platform has motivated me to embark on creating something akin to the captivating concepts I discovered.

Like
Author Photo

Lasha Sikharulidze

Arcadia _ Logo.png

Arcadia has an extensive catalog of articles on everything from literature to science — all available for free! If you liked this article and would like to read more, subscribe below and click the “Read More” button to discover a world of unique content.

Let the posts come to you!

Thanks for submitting!

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn
bottom of page