Reflections on Color from “Graphic Design The New Basics”

Up until now, we’ve been working in black and white for all our projects, and for good reason – color is complicated. The world however is not black and white – it is a full spectrum of colors, so it’s important to understand color and how to incorporate it into design.

There are the usual ways to describe color like primary, secondary, and tertiary colors that most of us learn in elementary school. You’ve likely heard of complementary colors as well. But color can also be described in more detail. Each hue has a distinct value (light/dark) and intensity (brightness/dullness) to it measured by shade, tint, and saturation.

Another aspect to consider is the different color models. Printers for example use a subtractive color model known as CYMK, whereas screens use an additive system known as RGB. While colors can be described using either model, knowing how these models work to form colors and when to use them is key in designing with color.

Once you know the basics of color and which model to use for your project, you have to consider how colors interact with each other. Colors together create different effects causing some aspects of your design to come forward while others fade to the back. Using this to your advantage is one way to emphasize particular areas creating drastically different designs.

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