Color Theory

The Colors and Meanings

For each of the following colors create 
(1) a graphic swatch, Photoshop or Illustrator GIF or JPEG format
(2) for each color create a link to a website that uses that color in its scheme
(3) meaning of color in your own words.

  • Red
  • Orange
  • Yellow
  • Green
  • Blue
  • Violet
  • Black
  • White
  • Neutrals

In Brief…

While the information contained here might seem just a bit overwhelming, color theory is as much about the feeling a particular shade evokes than anything else. But here’s a quick reference guide for the common meanings of the colors discussed above:

  • Red: Passion, Love, Anger
  • Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality
  • Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit
  • Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
  • Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth
  • Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
  • Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue
  • Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability
  • Tan or Beige: Conservative, Piety, Dull
  • Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity

Shown below are the color, a website that uses the color, how I interpret the colors definition (usually pointing to how the colors are seen in the media) and examples of either websites, media or characters and how wearing the character shapes the color. If there is a mention of a trope within the description, refer to TV Tropes.


Red (Primary Color)

Red is a flaming color that is often avoided on websites. They say that red too much red would make the user angry or can serve as a trigger because red is the color of blood.

However red is a passionate color that can also stands for being hot blooded. In media, the color red is usually defined as the hero's color (such as Power Ranger Red) meaning that red also implies leadership, recklessness and often used to portray a character who can use fire magic. Red on the villain is a bad sign as it usually implies them being a blood knight or insane. The element red is associated with is fire. When combined with darker colors, the overall mood becomes dark (such as red and black often used in a lot of rated M games) while with warmer colors, red becomes light hearted such as combining red with green for a Christmas setting. Shown below with Persona 5 trailer using dark colors on the left and Christmas on the right. Its to be noted that the sin that represents the color red is wrath.


Orange (Secondary Color)

Orange is another bright color that is often associated with the changing seasons particularly autumn. A color that is known for change also means that its the least representive of the colors of the rainbow due to having identical meanings of red (passion and being hot blooded) and yellow (bright and energetic).

This also shows in the media too. Finding characters who wear orange is tough because it doesn't stand out as much as red or yellow. In fact, if a character is associated with orange, they will portray the same traits as red or yellow. This also applies to the elemental colors where orange is either shared with the element fire or the element of light. This is why the element of the sun is associated with orange the most when its not yellow because the sun's solar flares are so powerful that it can't be defined by yellow that is often a stand in for electricity. Orange can also be associated with the seasonal elements (if its not green or white) but orange overall is overshadowed by the rest of the colors in media. Its a delicious drink though.


Yellow (Primary Color)

Yellow is the happiest and brightest of the colors focus on a blast of energy, happiness and hope. The sun is associated with yellow and gives light to the darkness of the world. You can't help but feel happy when you see the color yellow on websites that are often targetted at children (many food websites are yellow as well).

In the media, characters who are blondes or wear yellow are amoungst the happiest of the cast (and sometimes the dumbest). The yellow character might also be the Chinese person of the group due to stereotypes and are often the ones that are running around from one place to the next. If magical girl series in anime, if the protagonist is not a character with pink hair symbolizing her role as the main character, the next color in line is yellow (such as Sailor Moon). Of course, despite yellow being a happy color, yellow is colorized as the sin of greed due to gold being associated with the color yellow. Yellow can also mean deciet (hence the turm yellow journalism) and if a character is surrounded by money, you might not want to associate with them if they're not the spoiled sweet or ignorant rich child.

Additionally, yellow is often associated with the element lightning. Lightning applies to either the protagonist or the villain but regardless of what side is always dangerous. Below is Pikachu, the electric mouse and mascot of Pokemon who is known for its electric abilities. Its adorable but can pack a punch. On the right is the antagonist Gilgamesh from the Fate series. Despite his tales describing him as a hero, he's far from that in the series and when the Holy Grail poured all over him with the negative emotions of humanity, he just shrugged it off and said, "You're going to need more than one Grail to change my personality." (This implies that he's so evil that he can't be tainted by one Holy Grail of negative emotions).


Green (Secondary Color)

When one thinks of green, they think of the color of nature. Green is everywhere in the world and refers to peace and quiet. Green is often paired with blue for a more soothing affect or red for the holiday season. Green can also mean the color of envy though (and can refer to money) so chances are when you see a character who has green hair, they will either be one with nature or they'll represent the sin of envy (or the hair just happens to be green). The stereotype of a character having green hair though is often a shy (or blunt) but rather intelligent person. Green is an iconic color to have for hair as well.

In the media, the element wind is often associated with the color green (as well as any nature character). For a character, green is often the sixth ranger (of the Power Rangers) and is usually the odd man out (if s/he is not part of the elemental chain of green anyway). Wind is often associated with pranksters and fragile speedsters so expect green to be the wild child of the group or the trickster. On the villain side, almost always a character filled with envy to the protagonist. Below is our favorite hero Link from Legend of Zelda who is known for wearing the heroic color green tunic. In most games, Link often gets along with animals (associated himself with nature) and in Ocarina of Time, Link is raised in a forest with a bunch of other children that is watched over by the Great Deku Tree. To the right are the Seven Sisters of Puragtory from Umineko. It doesn't take a genius to figure out who is Leviathan (Envy) of the sisters.


Blue (Primary Color)

Blue has a variety of meanings depending on the shade of blue. Blue is associated with calmness, responsibility, coldness and sorrow. This color is used ony many websites because of the chilling affect of the color blue (such as Tumblr, Twitter and Skype). Blue is also a common favorite color of people and is a nice color to look at. Blue is associated with the ocean no matter how deep the water is.

In the media, blue is tied to the element water (and sometimes ice when its a lighter shade of blue). Characters who wear blue or have blue hair tend to be the aloof member of the group and often the smartest. When paired up with a character who wears red, they often complete each other as red characters rush into action while the blue characters stays back and allows themselves to be calculated. The blue colored coded character is always the smart guy of the group of heroes if not the the sidekick or even the hero. When on the villain side, blue always represent coldness and the lack of emotion (plus a chance to abuse their water powers for drowning or ice powers for freezing). Below you have Megaman who is one of the most iconic characters in video games with his heroic shade of blue. He's portrayed differently in each game so whether or not he's hot blooded or cool depends on his prototype (but that's why we have all of them here for the Final Smash in Smash Brothers). On the right is the Blue Cult from Earthbound and while they come off as silly in appearance, it masks the dark intention of how creepy their real life counterparts are (a group of terrorist who did want to paint everything blue in Japan). The sin that blue represents tends to be sloth.


Violet (Secondary Color)

Purple has always been associated with royalty and elegance. Purple is an expensive color that when you see something purple, you think how galliant you'll look or of course think of money and wealth.

This also applies in the media. Purple is always warn by a character who is aloof in nature or displays a vast taste of wealth and elegance. However be warned that because purple is a powerful color, the sin associated with it is pride. Purple also represents the element poison (if its not green) and is considered a dangerous color to associate with. Purple is an unpredictable color that can be worn by anyone but usually associated with the neutral party or the anti-hero or sometimes the insane villain. While princess characters tend to wear pink and be cute, queens tend to wear purple to look regal. Below are two characters who both have purple in their color scheme. Both are incredibly powerful. Morrigan from DarkStalkers is a succubus from a royal family and considered one of the strongest demons in the world. Because of this, her power was split up and she would have to regain it later in the form of her twin sister Lilith. In contrast, Dimentio at first seems like the henchmen to the antagonist Bleck (who noticably wears all white despite being the villain) but later upsurges Bleck in the final battle to become a villain that is similar to the Joker of the Mario universe. This is because he's so devoid of empathy that he will take advantage of people's love, trust and not play by the rules of many video games going as far as to kill Mario's group at one point without battling them because he's so powerful that he doesn't need to let the heroes grow stronger. Then again, jesters are often color coded black and purple/red to show they're bad news.


Neutrals

Neutral colors are the colors used for designing websites rather than being used in any other shape or form. Because neutral colors are considered "boring" (such as brown and gray) they take a backseat to the other colorful colors and serve as a support to the other colors (meaning they can be used with the other colors and still not make things look out of place). In the media though, these colors are associated with either earth (brown) or non elemental/void (gray).


Black

Black is considered one of the most ominous colors in the same vain as red. When one thinks of black, one usually thinks of negative emotions such as hatred and emptiness. Black is associated with death but can also be associated with mystery and power. When a character wears black, one usually assumes s/he is the villain and most of the time, the assumption is correct. Characters who dress in black will more likely be a villain but only recently do dark colors symbolize anti-hero or anti-villain depending on who is the protagonist.

In most media, black comes in two sets. If one character on the hero's side is assigned black, they are either the token minority (usually of African American) or they're the brooding anti-hero (if the anti-hero is not wearing blue). On the villain side, black will always be used by the villain and that's only if they're not wearing white to throw people off. Black powers are associated with dark magic or necromancy (the ability to revive and control the dead). Below on the left, Dark Pit is an anti villain before switching sides and becoming an anti-hero (despite still being crazy in battle). Despite his dark colors, he and Pit are considered the purest characters in the series (if only because Dark Pit is a manifestion of Pit's negative emotions confirmed to be neutral at worse and incredibly cynical to boot rather than flat out evil like one of the villains claims that all dark sides are suppose to be). To the right is Organization XIII from Kingdom Hearts, a villainous group notorious for wearing black hoodies and being the most mysterious. How evil the group is varies as Axel is the least evil of the bunch even switching sides in the newest Kingdom Hearts game while Xemnas, the leader is the worse of the bunch.

 


White

White is considsered a holy color that represents purity, charity and gracefulness. When one sees white especially in the media, one has to think that they're the good guy. White is about virtues and associated with the heavens and angels meaning if you wear white, you're closer to God. Compared to its black counterpart though, white can easily hide the inner demons of a person and must be aware that light isn't always assigned to the good guys or pure isn't always a good thing.

White in the media is usually associated with the church and assigned to those with holy powers. The healer of the group, angels or God are assigned white regardless if you're good or evil. White shows up in weddings and series where good versus evil is a black and white morality where there is no shade of gray. Shown below are two types of angels but one of them is evil despite wearing all white and goes to show that even when white represents all the positive traits of men (and angels) that you must always be wary.