Element of Colour


Colour is a visual sensation produced by light. Colour is usually identified by its name.

For example: • redgreenblue.

Colour keywords (descriptive)

  • Bold
  • Subdued
  • Vibrant
  • Bright
  • Subtle
  • Warm
  • Cool
  • Primary
  • Secondary
  • Tertiary
  • Contrasting
  • Complementary
  • Dominant
  • Dynamic
  • Calming
  • Emotive
  • Pastel
  • Restful
  • Energy
  • Loud

Colour can be used to create:

  • Contrast
  • Hierarchy
  • Mood
  • Convey Emotions
  • Define Space


Primary colours are:

Primary colours cannot be mixed from other colours


Secondary Colours

Two primary colours mixed together produce a secondary colour.

secondary colours
secondary colours

Adding black or white to a colour will produce a gradation of that colour

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Harmonious colour

Colours that are side by side on the colour wheel are described as harmonious. For example, orange is harmonious with red because orange has red in it.

Complementary colours

Are colours which are opposite each other on the colour wheel.ie: yellow/violet, orange/blue, red/green

Tertiary colours

Are produced when primary and secondary colours are mixed together 


A Tint is sometimes called a Pastel. Basically it’s simply any color with white added.

A Shade is simply any color with black added.


Refers to the intensity and brightness of a colour

The Colour Wheel

Colour wheel
Colour wheel

Colour can suggest:
• emotions
• feelings
• ideas

Colours such as red, orange and yellow can create an illusion of warmth.

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Colours such as blue, green and purple can create an illusion of coolness.

Pastel colours can suggest stillness, quietness, peace and calm.

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Bright complementary schemes can suggest energy, loudness, excitement and action.

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Colour design examples:

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