add color to design

To add color to your design is to essentially add breathing to your design — you effectively give it a life form, one that users can relate to. This life form can elicit emotions, convey messages and create memorable experiences.

However, with so many different colors and combinations to choose from, the art of color choosing can be somewhat overwhelming — a goddamn daunting task. If you’re not a professional designer, it may be fairly easy for you to slap your preferred color onto whatever it is you are trying to achieve or create. But as you will likely find out, your preferred colors will not always fit the given design or even accentuate the design perspective.

Please, allow me, then, to tell you that choosing a color is an art. It is a delicate practice. And here is why.

The Color Theory

color theory

Aristotle created the earliest known theory of colour in Ancient Greece. He proposed that God sends down colour from the skies in the form of heavenly rays. He distinguished four colours as representing the four elements: earth, fire, wind, and water.

In his Treatise on Painting, Leonardo Da Vinci was the first to suggest an alternative hierarchy of color. He argued that while it is normal for philosophers to view white as “the receiver of color” and black as the absence of color, both were essential to the painter. He listed six (6) colors in the following order:

  1. white
  2. yellow (earth)
  3. green (water)
  4. blue (air)
  5. red (fire)
  6. black

While this may be a useful guide, it is important to understand that our detailed understanding of the science of colors began in 1666 when Isaac Newton, using two prisms, observed that white light was composed of all the colors of the rainbow, and could be identified and ordered. Newton first used the word “spectrum” for the array of colors produced by a glass prism. Early theories of color were based purely on this spectrum, but with more data at hand we can now effectively explain how the brain perceives and receives color.

The Psychology of Color

Before getting into the process of colour choosing, it’s critical to understand colour psychology. Colours provoke different emotional reactions and have cultural connotations. Warm colours, such as red and orange, are generally linked with energy and enthusiasm, whilst cool colors, such as blue and green, suggest peace and tranquillity. Yellow, for example, might represent optimism and pleasure, whilst purple is frequently connected with innovation and elegance.

Understanding these fundamental color connections allows you to select colors that correspond to the mood and message you wish to portray via your design.

Consider Your Audience

Your color selections should be greatly influenced by the purpose and target audience of your design. Consider the project’s scope: are you creating a business website, a children’s book, or a healthcare campaign? Understanding the context and audience can help you make color choices. Professional and understated colors may help corporate designs, yet bright and lively colours are sometimes required for children’s designs. Consider cultural elements that could impact colour preferences in your target audience. Colors can have different connotations in different cultures, so it’s critical to conduct research to ensure your colour selections resonate well with your target audience.

Contrast and Accessibility

High contrast is vital for readability and legibility, especially in text-heavy designs. Choose colours that have enough contrast to keep the content readable. A typical pairing is dark text on a light backdrop, or vice versa. Consider the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which describe contrast requirements for various font sizes and colour combinations. These standards guarantee that your design is inclusive and accessible to those with visual impairments.

Testing and Iteration

Once you’ve decided on your initial color palette, you must put it to the test by adding it to your design. Create mock-ups or prototypes and get input from coworkers, clients, or target consumers. Examine how the colours interact with one another and whether they elicit the desired emotions and messages. Iterate and make modifications as needed to obtain the desired effect. Experiment with various hues, tones, and saturation levels to get the ideal balance.


It is import to know how to add color to your design. Following these standards and embracing your creativity will allow you to produce aesthetically appealing designs that will engage with your audience, successfully express your message, and leave a lasting impact. Colors have enormous power, so select wisely, add color to your design, and allow them to raise your design to new heights.

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