IXD103 Week 5- Colour

I found the lecture on colour to provide a brilliant overview of how colour can be categorised and broken down as well as how to pair and develop colour palettes. This is really helpful as it will guide me through important formatting consideration when producing files on programmes such as Adobe illustrator e.g. set up the file using CMYK colour format for print and RGB for digital outcomes. Other interesting areas covered included the psychology behind colour and how different cultures interpret and prescribe different meanings to colours both of which should be considered when making decisions on colour.

Colour Systems

The four primary colour systems are CMYK, Pantone, RGB and RAL. While I have a good foundation on CMYK and RGB I was less familiar with Pantone and RAL.

Diagram of RGB and CMYK colours

RGB and CMYK are colour systems that relate to on-screen display and printing. RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. As these colours are formed using light beams of different intensities they mix to form white. CMYK stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, Black. This is a subtractive colour system i.e it reduces light blocking out the white and mixing to form black. As a result CMYK outcomes are considerably duller than RGB outcomes. This can however be tackled by using Pantone colours for printing.

Pantone is described as providing a universal language of colour and takes into consideration the different material colours will be produced on and how this will impact the outcome as well as market-relevant colours. As a result, 2 systems have been developed: The Pantone Matching System (PMS) and The Pantone Fashion, Home and Interiors (FHI). For textile coatings and pigments, the FHI system is used and for graphics, the PMS system is used. PMS facilitates the bright colours required in print and packaging.

RAL is a European system primarily used for powder coating, varnish and plastic colouring. It is an abbreviation for (when translated into English therefore the letters don’t match) National Commission for Delivery Terms and Quality Assurance. The system is tailored to meet the needs of architects designers and advertisers. RAL effect is made up of 420 solid colours and 70 metallic colours. It is important for me to be aware of this colour system as I may require something to be painted in my brand colour.

The hexadecimal system is used for displaying colour on web pages and is therefore a colour system I am used to working with. The system can be used to specify colours in CSS or HTML and has is generally considered a 6 digit shorthand for RGB. This means that colour is readily convertible from RGB to Hexadecimal.

When working online I found a great chrome extension tool, ColorZilla. The tool allows you to select colours from any webpage and automatically generates the Hex code, RGB, HSV (hue, saturation and value) and HSL (hue, saturation and lightness) value. This is particularly useful when working on established brands that have already generated web materials or when you stumble across a great colour palette and want to get the exact colour values.

Colour Selections

Colour selections using the colour wheel

When selecting a colour pallet there are various approaches that can be taken as set out in the above colour wheel infographic. These include monochrome, complementary, split complements, Triads, Analougus, Mutual Complements, Near Complements and Double compliments. By considering the impact of colour selection as a designer I can intentionally create a vibrant and active by using a complimentary selection or ad tension by using a triadic selection.

Hue, shade, tint and tone inforgraphic

Other considerations can also be made when selecting colours such as hue, shade, tint and tone. Hue is pure colour, a shade is a hue with black added, a tint is a hue with white added and a tone is a hue with grey added. Taking these measures into consideration can also have a huge impact on colour selection e.g. by adjusting the shade of multiple hues I can create a deep, rich colour scheme, while by adjusting the tint I can create a light, pastel colour scheme, by adjusting the tone I can create a more neutral, earthy colour scheme etc.

Helpful resources

Adobe Color was highlighted as a helpful resource and I definitely found this to the case at it has a built-in selection tool automatically generating Analogous, Monochromatic, Complimentary colour schemes etc.

Adobe colour wheel selection web page

A shown above shade and tint are also readily adjustable shade by the bottom gage below RGB and tint on the actual colour wheel by dragging colours to the centre.

I found Designspiration to be very useful in allowing me to see how a colour scheme can be presented in context.

The Psychology Behind Colour

Colour psychology relates colour to human behaviour e.g. how colour can impact decision making on purchases or can the colour of an icon improve click through rates. It is also considered that colour meanings can influence colour preferences however this is impacted by gender, location, values and numerous other factors.

Colour selection can also impact brand image e.g. if you chose the colour yellow for a funeral service provider it would confuse the audience and may lead to the brand being ignored. Therefore it is important that I consider colour in my own branding within this context in order to fit with my established tone of voice and branding decisions made to date.

Therefore I am going to briefly outline the proposed meaning of a number of colours taken from the website oberlo.

Red– excitement, passion, danger energy and action

Orange– creativity, adventure, enthusiasm, success and balance

Yellow– happiness, positivity optimism and summer

Pink– femininity, playfulness, immaturity and unconditional love

Green– growth, fertility, health and generosity

Blue– stability, harmony, peace, calm and trust

Purple– power nobility, luxury, wisdom and spirituality

Black– mystery, power, elegance and sophistication

Grey– neutrality and balance

However, it is interesting to note that even within Western culture that some discrepancies in these meaning as in the infographic presented in this weeks presentation suggest purple rather than orange is associated with creativity and orange associated with warmth. Therefore I do feel it is important for me to remember that colour psychology is not an exact science and there are further consideration that I feel come into play way looking at colour combinations.

The impact of culture

Another important consideration is the fact that different cultures assign different meaning to colours. In the case of my personal brand, my focus is unlikely to move beyond western culture however this is an important consideration when working with global brands. The greatest concern for me in these instances is some of the more negative associations such as in Europe yellow can mean Cowardice, in Cherokee Blue can mean trouble and in Thailand, Korea and China purple can mean misfortune.

When selecting my brand colour I do feel it is important to consider how other cultures perceive my chosen colour and will therefore take this into consideration when making my choice.

What have I learnt?

  • I now have a good understanding of what Pantone colours are and their 2 systems matching systems: The Pantone Matching System (PMS) and The Pantone Fashion, Home and Interiors (FHI).
  • I now have a basic knowledge of what RAL is and how I might use it in the future.
  • Gaining an understanding of hue, shade, tint and tone has been very helpful in understanding colour selection.
  • It was really interesting to learn how colours can be related to human behaviour and definitely something to consider when making colour choices.

How can I apply this to my work in future?

  • ColorZilla is a very helpful chrome extension that I will continue to use as I work on projects in the future.
  • When generating a colour palette in future I will now consider colour combinations in relation to hue, shade, tint and tone. I while I may have done this unconsciously in the past it is great to have a better understanding of why I am making the choices I am making.
  • Designinspiration.com is a great resource I intend to use in future when selecting colour palettes.
  • When creating design work in different parts of the world and relating to different parts of the world it is important I will have to look at the cultural responses to different colours.
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