Monday, October 4, 2010

The Psychology of Colour

"colour is a psychological phenomenon that exists in our mind" 

The psychology of colour focuses on two main approaches: symbolic and formal.

The symbolic considerations are personal, communal and cultural. 
The formal considerations are empirical and include these basics: 

blue: cold, depth, spatial, calm
red: warm, moves forward in space
white: overflows its boundaries
black: contracts

An interesting observation: almost all logos and most flags are predominantly red, blue and white or a combination of these three colours.

Class activity: have students write down their associations with different colours. Compare with the whole class and make lists noting which are common to all or many (communal, cultural, empirical) and which are personal. 
A follow-up exercise: look through magazines or other texts with images to find examples of different functions of colour.  

Some important and frequently confused terms:

Primary Colours: Red, Yellow and Blue, can't be mixed from any other colours
Secondary Colours: Two primary colours mixed together to make violet, orange and green
Tertiary Colours: One primary and one secondary colour mixed together
Chroma: the intensity of a colour
Hue: another name for colour
Tone: Colour + Gray
Tint: Colour + White
Shade: Colour + Black
Value: the lightness or darkness of a colour
Mono-chromatic: using any shade, tint or tone of one colour
Analogous: Using any shades, tints or tones of colours that are at 90 degrees on the colour wheel 
Acromatic: using only blacks, whites and grays
Complementary: opposite colours on the colour wheel (and their shades, tints and tones)
Split Complementary: choosing one colour and using the colour on each side of its complement on the colour wheel

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