What is Color? Different Types of Colors

We live in a world of color. For the most part, our lives would be very bland without them. From red stoplights to yellow caution signs and green lights that tell us it’s safe to cross the street, colors are everywhere. In fact, there is even an entire field of study called “color theory” which studies how colors interact with each other and their effects on humans’ moods!

There are many reasons to be interested in colors. We can use them to represent our moods, backgrounds, and emotions. Colors provide a way for us to feel more confident and better about ourselves when we look at things that enhance who we are as individuals. The color you wear or the paint on your walls might not matter so much if it doesn’t make you happy!

Colors can actually change the way you feel about something or make you react in certain ways such as feeling more confident or energized or making you hungry for food like blueberries because they look so good!

It’s impossible to ignore the importance of colors in design. Whether you’re looking for a logo or a website, color is an essential part of how your content will be perceived by customers and potential clients.

What is Color?

The color of an object is determined by the light it reflects or emits. Objects also give off colors because they are heated, or cooled, so that their molecules change to become a different color. The wavelength and frequency of light determine what color we see objects as.

We are able to see different colors because of something called “wavelengths”. Wavelengths are a bit hard to understand at first sight; however, if you think of them like a wave it becomes much easier: red is just one type of wave that has a longer wavelength compared to other waves. Similarly green is another wavelength with shorter wavelengths than red.

You could even say that white is the combination of all these different types of waves. That’s why we see everything as white or grey when there isn’t any light hitting our eyes! So when you look at a red object, only the red wavelength will hit your eye. This is why we see objects as red!

A human being has three different types of cones in its retina (red, green, and blue). These are all tuned to different wavelengths so this means that we are able to distinguish between the colors.

Different Types of Colors

Primary Colors

Primary colors refer to a set of colors that are considered the building blocks for all other colors. These colors are red, blue, and yellow. They are called primary because they cannot be created by mixing any other colors.

All other colors can be made by combining different amounts of these primary colors. For example, mixing yellow and blue creates green, while mixing red and yellow creates orange.

Primary colors are essential in art, design, and printing, as they provide the foundation for all other colors used in these fields. Understanding the primary colors is important for anyone interested in color theory or creating visually appealing artwork.

Secondary Colors

Secondary colors are formed by mixing two primary colors together. The three secondary colors are:

  1. Orange: By combining red and yellow, we get the vibrant and energetic color orange. Orange is often associated with enthusiasm, creativity, and warmth. It can add a playful touch to designs and is commonly used to grab attention.
  2. Purple: Mixing blue and red results in the majestic color purple. Purple is often associated with royalty, luxury, and spirituality. It carries an air of mystery and can add a sense of elegance and sophistication to any design.
  3. Green: The combination of blue and yellow gives us the refreshing color green. Green is often associated with nature, growth, and harmony. It has a calming effect and is frequently used to represent environmentally friendly or sustainable concepts.

Tertiary Colors

Tertiary colors are formed by mixing a primary color with a neighboring secondary color. This results in a wide range of nuanced hues, expanding the color palette even further. Some examples of tertiary colors include:

  • Yellow-green: This color blends the vibrancy of yellow with the freshness of green. It can evoke feelings of youthfulness, optimism, and renewal.
  • Blue-violet: Combining the tranquility of blue with the richness of purple, we get the serene color blue-violet. It carries a sense of calmness and introspection.
  • Red-orange: Mixing the intensity of red with the warmth of orange creates the captivating color red-orange. It can convey passion, excitement, and confidence.

Warm and Cool Colors

Colors can also be categorized into warm and cool tones based on their visual temperature. Warm colors, such as red, orange, and yellow, tend to evoke feelings of energy, warmth, and enthusiasm. They can create a sense of intimacy and grab attention effectively.

On the other hand, cool colors, including blue, green, and purple, have a calming and soothing effect. They are often associated with tranquility, relaxation, and stability. Cool colors can be used to create a sense of space and serenity.

Complementary Colors

Complementary colors are pairs of colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel. When used together, they create a strong contrast that can be visually striking. Some examples of complementary color pairs are:

  • Red and Green: This pair, despite being opposite on the color wheel, can create a vibrant and balanced visual effect.
  • Blue and Orange: The contrast between blue and orange can create a powerful and attention-grabbing combination.
  • Yellow and Purple: When yellow and purple come together, they create a visually pleasing and harmonious contrast.

The Psychology of Colors

Colors have a psychological impact on our emotions and behavior. Understanding the psychology of colors can be valuable when it comes to marketing, branding, and design. Here are some common associations with specific colors:

  • Red: Symbolizes passion, energy, and urgency. It can stimulate appetite and create a sense of excitement.
  • Blue: Associated with trust, loyalty, and tranquility. It is often used by businesses to convey reliability and professionalism.
  • Yellow: Represents happiness, optimism, and creativity. It can grab attention and create a feeling of positivity.
  • Green: Symbolizes nature, growth, and health. It is often used in branding related to environmental or sustainable practices.
  • Purple: Evokes a sense of luxury, spirituality, and creativity. It can be used to create a sense of elegance and sophistication.


Being knowledgeable about what makes RGB and CMYK color modes different from each other is essential, especially if you are creating a design. This has to do with planning and optimizing your design. Knowing the difference is not just about memorizing its acronym meaning. It is about determining what it can offer to your project.

As mentioned earlier, CMYK and RGB are the two popular color modes when it comes to graphic design. If you are more on printed products, opt for CMYK color modes. On the other hand, if you found digital works are best for your design, consider using the RGB colors.

RGB is the abbreviation for the colors Red, Green, then Blue. As mentioned, it is a color palette intended for digital pictures. This color mode is recommended to use if your design will be shown on a screen, such as a camera, television, tablet, mobile phone, computer, and many more. Opt for RGB color mode if your graphic design includes visual content, social media posts, branding, and web and app design!

On the other hand, when we say CMYK, it stands for Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, then Key/Black. As stated, this is the recommended color palette if you are more on creating printed outputs. You can use this color mode if your design is intended to be printed. If you are planning to create or remake your past designs using paint or ink, the CMYK color palette will help you enhance its beauty and give you more precise outputs.

CMYK is a good color mode if you will create outputs for branding, advertising, merchandising, and other essential materials, such as product packaging.

Before you decide which color mode you want to use, make sure that you know what output you want to make. Is it printed? Go for CMYK colors. Is it digitally screened? Go for RGB colors.


Grey is an intermediate color between black and white. It is the color of a cloud-covered sky, of ash and of lead. Gray colors are displayed using an equal amount of power to all of the light sources. What is...

Brown is a composite color. In the RGB model, the color is made by combining red and green, in specific proportion. What is Brown Color? Brown color is a very interesting and unique color. Brown can be an earthy, natural...

Green is the color between blue and yellow on the visible spectrum. It is the color of life, renewal, nature, and energy. What is Green? Well, it's a color and the word comes from the Old English word "grene" which means grass. In fact, in...

Orange is the color between yellow and red on the spectrum of visible light. It gets the name from the fruit of the same name. The earliest recorded use of orange the fruit in English is from the 1300s and...

All other colors are reflections of light, except black. What is Black Color? It is the darkest color, the result of the absence or complete absorption of visible light. Unlike white and other hues, pure black can exist in nature...

Red color is at the end of the visible spectrum of light, next to orange and opposite violet. Varieties of the color red may differ in hue, chroma or lightness , or in two or three of these qualities. The...

Yellow is the color between orange and green on the spectrum of visible light. In the natural world, yellow is the color of sunflowers, lemons, egg yolks, banana, and bees. The color yellow is one of the most recognized colors in the world....

Violet is a color similar to Pink. It is the color of light at the short wavelength end of the visible spectrum, between blue and invisible ultraviolet. Violet contains the energy and strength of red color and the spirituality and...

Pink is a pale tint of red that is named after a flower of the same name. We often think of pink as a delicate color, one of romance and compassion and friendship. Pink is a color that often gets overlooked. It's...

Purple refers to any of a variety of colors with hue between red and blue. It is normal if people refer purple as violet. Purple is a color that can be seen as the mixture of red and blue hues. It has been used in...

White is the lightest color and is achromatic. It is a color at its most complete and pure, the color of perfection. You can find it in fresh snow, chalk and milk. A white color is the result of a...

Indigo is a dark blue color based on the traditional dye of the same name. Indigo is both a color and an emotional state. The word comes from the Latin root "indiges," meaning dark blue, which refers to the deep...

Electric colors are bright colors with high intensity. Electric color is a vibrant, bright and unique type of paint that has been on the market for many years now. The paint was originally used by painters to make their paintings...

Dark colors are ones with low light intensity. Many would think that dark colors are just a shade of black, but there is much more to these colors than meets the eye. To some, darkness can evoke feelings of fear...

Color is something that we all take for granted. We see it every day and don't really think about what it means to our lives. It's easy to forget that colors can make people happy, sad, calm or angry. Colors...

Denim is a range of light and dark blue colors. It is named after cotton textile. Denim color is the most popular and practical type of denim. It has been around for over 100 years and it's still going strong....

Aqua is a spectral color between green and blue. It is named after color of water. Aqua is a color that can be seen in different shades of blue from light blue to deep navy. It is not as popular...

Ember is a spectral color between yellow and orange. Amber is thought to have been named for its yellow-orange hue - which was originally used to describe other things such as honey and urine. The term has since become more...

Blue is one of the three primary colors of pigments in painting and traditional color theory, as well as in the RGB color model. Blue is nature’s color for water and sky. There's a lot of misconceptions about the color...

Why Colors Are Important?

Many people may not think about the importance of colors. You might be wondering, “Why is this relevant to me?” Well, when it comes to color psychology, you can’t deny its significance! There are many different factors that factor into what a certain color does for an individual like their moods or how they feel on any given day.

For example, red signifies passion and love which could lead someone to have greater self-esteem during times when they need encouragement most. Color meaning affects everyone differently depending on who we are as individuals so take time in your life to consider these meanings before jumping right in with wearing anything new!

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