Color Concept for Professional Designers, Traditional Color Schemes

• 11 minutes READ

A very instinctive part of a design is its color and it plays a major role in stimulating a person’s reaction or attitude which may vary from individual to individual. At times, the reason may be because of cultural background of an individual or even may be because of personal reasoning.

Read more: How to Create a Perfect Color Scheme [Infographic]

Studying the color theory is a mere science where we learn how colors influence people emotionally as a group or individually and there are also people who have framed their careers based on this theory.

Color Wheel

It is something like changing the shades of a color that can completely stimulate or influence a person’s feeling. And there are vast cultural differences about these colors in this world where one color make people happy in one place and afflicts in another place. Colors like yellow, orange and red and its variations are all called as warm colors.

These colors are in the sunrises and sunsets, fallen leaves, fire and these colors are denoted as sensual, positive and triggering. The principle colors are the yellow and red and when mixed both we get orange color, that explains warm colors are always created from the combination of the same type and not with cool colors.

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Primary Color – Red


Red color is considered hot since it is affiliated with warfare, violence and fire and at the same time it is also attached with passion and love. During the ancient times, the red color was affiliated with cupid and devil. This color can really have a physical reaction towards people by increasing the heart rate or the blood pressure. It has also been proved that red color enhances the metabolism of human beings. At times, this color is also connected with anger and simultaneously attached with one’s prestige (for example – red carpet at celebrity shows and award shows). The color also signifies danger due to which the traffic stop lights and many warning signs and symbols are red in color).

The red color has various alliances in the western countries. For instance, the red color is considered as lucky color and is associated with happiness and good fortune. In the eastern countries, this color is used in the weddings for the dress of the brides. At the same time, the red color is a symbol of morning in the South Africa and is also affiliated with communism. In the African continent, because of the RED campaign, this color is attached with the awareness of AIDS.

The red color could be a powerful accent in any design and when utilized too much in the designs or in fabrics, it could look dominating or conquering. When this color is used in any design, it conveys a sensual power or a feeling. Red is a very flexible color; it projects charmness and power when used with darker shades of designs and looks aggressive when used with brighter shaded designs.

Secondary Color – Orange


Orange color looks very energetic and dynamic and mostly it is affiliated with autumn seasons and also with the Earth. Since this color is associated with seasons that change, the orange color is usually denoted with movement and change in life. It is also associated with the fruit orange and because of which, the color can also be termed for energy and health.

When we apply this color to the designs, it is not as dominating as the red color but it definitely commands attention of others. Because of these reasons, the orange color is very appealing and friendly.

Primary Color – Yellow


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Generally, the Yellow color is known as the most vitalizing and the brightest among the other warm colors since it is attached to sunshine and cheerfulness. At the same time, this color is also connected with cunningness and timidity (it is like calling a coward as yellow).

In most of the countries, we would have come across people tying yellow color ribbons when any other of their family members are at war and because of which it is also attached to hope. Sometimes, this color is also connected with danger signs though not mostly like red colors. This color has different implications depending on the countries. This color stands for mourning in Egypt while denotes bravery in Japan and at the same time, the Yellow color is connected with merchants or businessmen.

When this color is used in designs, it represents bills or cheerfulness and unlike pink or blue colors, the soft yellow is used for babies and children as a gender neutral color. When compared with brighter yellow designs, the light yellows denote peace and calmness. Usually, the golden colored yellows and their darker shades could represent antiques and is very much liked to be used in designs.

Cool Colors

Purple, blue and green are all called as the cool colors and are generally suppressed than the warm colors. They are connected with relaxation, serenity and conserved and because of which they are associated with nature, water and night.

Among the cool colors, the Blue color is the primary one because the other colors are attained by combining with this color only. For example – (combined with yellow gets green and combined with red color for purple). Most of the characteristics of the yellow color are taken by the green color and in the same way; the purple color takes the characteristics of the red color. When these cool colors are used in the designs, it denotes professionalism or calmness.

Primary Color – Blue


In the language of English, the Blue color represents sadness or depression. It can also be associated with authority and quietness. The light blue colors denote friendliness and freshness while the dark blues are more trustworthy and powerful. In many country’s tradition and culture, this color is generally connected with the religious and spiritual significance. (For instance, the Virgin Mary wears a blue robe in the churches).

The implications of the blue color largely depend on the degree of its shade and complexion. The design is distinguished on the shade or the type of blue color you choose. The bright colors in designs denote refreshment and energy while light blue colors denote calmness and relaxation. The dark blue colors in designs are very apt for company sites or in the sites that largely needs dependability and strength.

Secondary Color – Purple


The Purple color is always connected with supremacy or royalty. This color is attained when we combine the blue and red colors and thus it has the characteristics of both the colors. In general, purple stands for fantasy and creativeness while this color is associated with mourning in the country of Thailand. Generally, light purples are very soft and stand for romance and spring while dark purples are connected with prosperity and aristocracy. When this color is used in designs, it gives a royal and a luxury effect.

Secondary Color – Green


Green is an earthly color that denotes birth and development and also indicates prosperity and recurrence and at the same time, this color also stands for jealousness and hatred. Most of the characteristics of blue and some characteristics of yellow are also affiliated with the green color. When this color is applied in designs, it gives a harmonizing and an adapting effect and is also quite resistant. The green color would also be suitable for designs that are described to recurrence, prosperity, nature and perseverance. Olive green colors stands for the universal while the brighter greens are vitalizing and energetic. The darker greens are associated with stability and wealth.


The neutral colors are mainly used as backgrounds in designs and are usually mixed with bright accent colors. They can still be used separately and helps in making cultured layouts. When compared to the cool or the warm colors, the neutral colors are largely disturbed by the surrounding colors.



One of the strongest colors of the neutrals is the Black color which has a positive effect in it such as charmness, conventionality and power. It also has negative effects like it is connected with death, evil spirits, and mysteries. In most of the Western countries, this color is associated with mourning and in certain traditions; it is connected with revolt and mystery.

This color is well suited for elegant as well as edgy designs. Depending on the combination of the colors with black, it could be conventional at times and sometimes can also be unconventional or contemporary. Due to its neutral power, the black color is commonly used for typography and various other occupational elements. Usually, this color stands for mystery and culture.



In the sequence of colors, the white is at the complete edge of the spectrum and just like the black color, it goes well with any color. Usually, this color stands for pureness, virginity and integrity. The white color is commonly used in weddings that take place in Western countries. This color is also connected with the hospitals or healthcare industries and is mostly used by nurses, physicians and dental doctors. This color represents kindness or graciousness and because of which mostly angels appear in white colored clothes.

When the white color is used in designs, it combines with any other neutral background to reflect a sound effect. This color is mostly used in minimalist designs since it portrays chastity and cleanliness. At times, this color represents the summer or the winter seasons.



The gray color appears at the sensational end of the spectrum colors and could depict a moody feeling. In certain designs, the light gray color could be used as an alternative for white and in the place of black; the dark gray color could be used.

Mostly this color could be very conventional and rigid and could be described as a mourning sign but in certain cases, this color can be very stylish. When you need proficiency or formalities, the gray color is widely used because of its sophistication. Most of the gray shades have black color mixed to it and in certain grays; brown or blue shades are used. Backgrounds using gray color are quite common in occupational elements just like gray typography.



Usually, the Brown color is connected to stone, wood and earth. It is a warm neutral as well as a natural shaded color that is connected with honesty and devotion and with fidelity and rudeness. Brown is also considered to be a dull color.

This color is mainly used as background in designs and can be depicted in stone textures or in wood textures. When the color is used in designs, it gives a benevolent and a warmth feeling. Sometimes in Typography or in backgrounds for designs, the dark shades of brown color are used as an alternative for black.

Beige and Tan

Beige and Tan

In the entire colors of spectrum, beige is one of the most unique colors due to its warm and cool shades. Depending on the colors surrounding the Beige, it changes the mood. It has the coolness of the white color and at the same time has the dullness of the brown color. In most situations, beige is a conventional color and thus mainly used for background designs. Beige also represents devotion.

Backgrounds that have paper textures usually use the Beige color. This color usually takes the attributes of the color surrounding it which affects the entire design.

Cream and Ivory

Cream and Ivory

Both these colors are blended mostly giving coolness from the white color and warmth from the brown color and mostly represent calmness and stimulate a sensation of history. Since it is connected with the white color, it depicts quietness and pureness.

When cream and ivory colors used in designs, it represents a feeling of calmness and elegancy. It gives an earthy quality when associated with brown or peach color. In most cases, both these colors are used for lightening the darker shades of colors.

In short

With the above information, you may have felt that the details given about the color theory have been very conquering but it is very true that the shades of any color stimulate a person’s feelings. Take a look at the common characteristics of the below mentioned colors:

  • Red: Emotional, Love and Enmity
  • Orange: Vigor, Cheerfulness and Liveliness
  • Yellow: Confidence, Cunningness and Contentment
  • Green: Growth, Nature and Prosperity
  • Blue: Liability, Quietness and Depression
  • Purple: Imaginative, Prosperity and Royalty
  • Black: Bad or Evil, Occult and Gracefulness
  • Gray: Conventional, Rigid and Moody
  • White: Clean, Purity and Integrity
  • Brown: Reliable, Simplicity and Natural
  • Beige and Tan: Dullness, Conventional and Religious
  • Cream and Ivory: Calmness, Purity and Elegance

Types of Traditional Color Schemes

There are various strategies of color standards with which one can create fresh and new color schemes easily which is suitable for the beginners. Some of the examples of the traditional color schemes are the:



These color strategies are formed with various color shades, complexion and tones of a particular shade of color. These schemes are quite easy to design and since these colors are of the same shades, at times it creates an ugly or a jarring scheme.



These color strategies are quite simple and also easy to create. On the entire 12-spoke wheel of colors, these strategies contain 3 colors. All the schemes that are analogue have the same intensity of colors and the schemes could be improved by adding more shades, hues or tones.



When we combine the colors that are present in the opposite ends of the wheel, we get the complementary schemes. Generally, they contains only two colors but can be broadened by adding more tints, hues or shades. When we use colors that use the same intensity of colors, the result could be very jarring in most cases and at times, vibrates at the corners of the border. We can also avoid this by adding a color in between or by using a white space.

Split Complementary

Split Complementary

These strategies are just simple as the complementary strategy schemes. In this type of scheme, you would have to use the opposite color of your base hue on both the sides of the color shades.



Such schemes are usually made up of shades that are equally distributed around the color wheel. These color schemes are quite difficult to form and if formed can be very vibrant and energetic.

Rectangle (Tetradic)

Rectangle (Tetradic)

The rectangle or tetradic color scheme uses four colors arranged into two complementary pairs. This rich color scheme offers plenty of possibilities for variation. The tetradic color scheme works best if you let one color be dominant. You should also pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors in your design.



The square color scheme is similar to the rectangle, but with all four colors spaced evenly around the color circle. The square color scheme works best if you let one color be dominant. You should also pay attention to the balance between warm and cool colors in your design.


These strategies are very hard to design and always make sure you use intensity, fullness and value that are very important when creating color schemes.



In the entire article, only the color theory is covered. There are experts around the world who have spent their lifetime to discover new and fresh colors based on situations. The only best method to learn to design beautiful schemes of color is to regularly practice. Try to develop a scheme on a daily basis with the help of Photoshop or the automated tools. Whenever you come across a beautiful color, try to create a scheme for it.

Read more: How to Create a Perfect Color Scheme [Infographic]

There are numerous websites online where your color schemes could be easily uploaded and can be used for future references. It helps you to develop your color library and can easily access it in future.

Andrian Valeanu

Designmodo Founder.

Posts by Andrian Valeanu
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