October 22, 2015

Color Harmony

Harmony is defined as “the state of being in agreement or concord”. In a visual sense harmony is something that is pleasing to the eye. It engages the viewer and creates a sense of balance. When something is not harmonious it is either boring or chaotic.

Color harmony concerns the right choice of colors to create that harmonious sense and equilibrium between complexity and stimulation. A satisfying balance and unity of color results in a design that is visually intriguing and aesthetically pleasing.

Color harmony theory looks at the differences in perception and the relationships and effects colors have on each other; the relativity of color. For example, how they can make other colors appear more brilliant or dull and even make objects appear larger or smaller.

There are certain formulas to follow in order to select a harmonious color palette. Some of which are:

  • Analogous – simple harmonies created with any three colors that are side-by-side on a 12-part color wheel. One of the three colors tends to dominate.
  • Complementary – any two colors that are directly opposite each other, i.e. red and green, blue and orange. These opposing colors create maximum contrast and stability and a sense of visual tension.
  • Natural Harmonies – nature provides perfect examples of color harmony, regardless of whether it fits into a technical formula.
  • Triadic – adopt any three colors at an approximately equal distance around the color wheel.
  • Tetrad – combinations made up of four hues, equal distance from one another. Forming a square or rectangle on the color wheel.
  • Monochromatic – uses various values (tints, tones and shades) within the same color family.

While these formulas are certainly useful, color harmony is a complex issue as our responses to color are open to the influence of many different factors, from individual differences to cultural and conditioned reactions.

Choosing the right colors for your brand or business involves numerous considerations, including color harmony, and other color concepts we will continue to explore…