Graphic Design 101: Color Theory For Beginners

Graphic Design Jun 25, 2022

You’ve heard the words “color theory” being thrown around a lot but never really got to the point where you sit down and learn about it. What really is it and how does it take your designs to the next level. Let’s discuss all in this video.

To be fair, colors really do not exist. It is our perception of colors in our eyes and brain and with the help of light.

Certainly, not everyone likes one particular color. In most cases, your favorite color is directly connected with a particular emotion, feeling, or even scenario that produces the most dopamine (chemical of happiness) in your brain.

There have been many instances of color illusions taking over the internet. The arguments exist because not everyone’s eyes work the same way.

It is impossible to think of a “new” color. It is impossible to tell if the “red” I perceive is similar to your “red”.

What is Color Theory?

Color theory is both the science and art of using color. It explains how humans perceive color and the visual effects of how colors mix, match or contrast with each other.

The Color Wheel

A circle of color primarily consisting of red, yellow, and blue.


Primary Colors: Red, Blue, and Yellow — colors that are natural and cannot be obtained by mixing two colors.

Secondary Colors: Green, Orange, and Purple — obtained by mixing primary colors.

Tertiary Colors: Yellowish Orange, Greenish Blue, Bluish Purple, and more colors obtained by mixing of neighboring secondary colors with another

Color Harmony & Harmony Rules

Color harmony can be defined as the arrangement of colors in a pleasing way in a visual experience.

Some colors naturally go-together. And there are rules for that.


Using only one particular color and its shades and tones to define depth.


Using two distinct colors that oppose each other on the color wheel. Examples are the film-popular Blue & Yellow color scheme, Christmas festive themed Red & Green, and more. This is my favorite harmony of colors.

Batman movie still displaying blue-yellow complementary colors
Use of Blue and Yellow — a popular complementary color set

Other examples

The two I just mentioned are the most popular harmony schemes. You can generate awesome color palettes with them and more with the harmonies given below.

Further Reading:

Graphic Design 101: Make Professional Designs Without Design Skills
Interested in graphic design but don’t have professional tools or design skills? Here are the easiest and perfect fundamentals that will…

That’s all for today!

There’s a ton more to colors — shades, tones, saturation, contrast, brightness, hue — but only so much time to write in one single article. I encourage you to learn more about them and I will see you in the next one!

Did you find this helpful? Let us know!

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Hi - I'm Roonie. I am the lead-editor and manager at Netcord Publications. I make videos on YouTube, and I run a community server on Discord. I love music and graphic designing.