How To Learn Color Theory In Less Than One Hour

Joel Lee 16-10-2014

Basic knowledge of color theory can mean the difference between an “amateur” aesthetic and a “professional” one. This applies to nearly every visual medium on the planet: digital photography 7 Key Photography Tips for Absolute Beginners These photography tips will help you take better photos, whether you're a beginner or have some practice already. Read More , painting, website design The History of Web Design Do you remember how websites used to look almost 20 years ago? Read More , video games, fashion 6 Online Fashion Communities For Stylish Men And Women Fashion is not always avant garde and experimental. There are tried and true style basics that can propel you into new levels of self-confidence and self-expression. These communities will help you get there. Read More (both male 7 Men’s Fashion & Style Blogs That You Should Follow Ever since the proliferation of services like Blogger (formerly Blogspot) and Wordpress in the mid-2000's, blogging has grown to become one of the largest corners of the Internet. Recently, this corner has been dubbed the... Read More and female 7 Womens Style & Fashion Blogs That You Should Follow Let me start this post off with a sort of disclaimer: I'm not a woman. Because of that, this article will inevitably be skewed in a certain way. I’m not a woman, so I don’t... Read More ) – and that’s just scratching the surface.


Many creative types have skipped learning about the fundamentals of color, or they’ve forgotten what they’ve already learned. The result? Sub-par products that appear flat and lifeless to the eye. Don’t be one of them!

Color Theory For Web Design


These days, color is arguably most important in web design. Your choice in scheme and shade might be so bold as to scare off your visitors, so subtle as to bore and snore your readers, or so generic that your website fails to distinguish itself as unique.

Ten minutes of color theory study could fix that right up. A simple search on Google would be enough to point you towards hundreds of web design tips and tutorials but here are some Tuts+ articles that I highly recommend as a starting point.

Once you’re done with all of those, you might find these color picker tools How To Pick A Color Scheme Like A Pro Colors are tricky. It might seem easy enough to pick a handful of colors that look good together, but as any designer who has spent hours tweaking shades will tell you: it's tricky. Read More extremely useful when picking palettes for your next web design. Finally, in all that you do, be sure to adhere to these web design commandments 11 Commandments of Web Design We've featured the 10 commandments of typography, 10 commandments of colour theory, 7 commandments of computer usage. So what else could we possible feature? Oh sure, Web design. Read More .


Color Theory In Photography

The amazing thing about color is that it picks up nuance depending on which medium we’re talking about. While the basics of color theory hold true no matter what you’re doing, the applications of color theory can differ between, say, web design and photography.

This 22-minute video by Ted Forbes from The Art of Photography is one of the best introductions to the topic in this field. Using the free Adobe Kuler tool Find The Perfect Color Scheme Every Time With Adobe Kuler Whether you're building a website, designing a brochure or painting your spare room; finding the perfect combination of colors can be a daunting task. It often takes more than just personal taste to marry shades... Read More , Ted explains the concept of color and how you can manipulate it to produce better photographs.

It’s an eloquent video with a candid tone, which makes it a fantastic resource for those who want to learn colors in a non-boring way. In other words, it’s not a dry lecture and you’ll probably retain most of what you hear.

Color Theory For Painting


By nature of the instruments involved, one’s approach to color in painting will be different than one’s approach to color in web design or photography. Instead of picking specific shades, you rely more on mixing and contrast.

This tutorial series by SchaeferArt will take you back to basics and teach you everything you wanted to know about using color to your advantage when painting. Most of the lessons can be applied to various forms of painting, including oil and acrylic.

By the end of the 12-video series, you’ll have dipped into some intermediate and advanced topics that will equip you with what you need to know to elevate your next paintings to the next level.

Color Theory For Video Games



Valve is one of the most successful companies in the realm of video games and one reason for their success is their careful attention to detail. Take a look at games like Team Fortress 2 Team Fortress 2: The Free-to-Play Steam Game You Must Play Is Team Fortress 2 just a quick game to test graphics and performance, or is it a game worth playing repeatedly? Read More , Dota 2 What Is Dota 2 & Why Should You Care? In the world of games, Valve Corporation has recently grown into one of the largest and most consistent game publishers (with the skyrocketing success of their Steam distribution network) and game developers (with the international... Read More , and Portal 2 6 Video Games That Will Make You Feel Smart These clever video games are so well-designed that they'll make you feel like a genius for beating them. Read More to see the kind of stylish graphics that they’re capable of making.

Have you ever wondered what kind of process is involved when directing art for video games? Then you’ll want to check out their Dota 2 Character Art Guide which is available as a free download in PDF format.

Inside you’ll find approximately 15 pages of character art tips and examples that show the tips in action. Tips #2 through #7 explain the importance of concepts like color schemes, color mixing, and color keys. Seriously, it’s a must-read!

Color Theory In Fashion



Wouldn’t you like to wake up in the morning and pick out a color-coordinated outfit in the blink of an eye? Without the need to mix-and-match piece after piece, you could free up a significant chunk of dawn time every day.

Here are some awesome links that will teach you a bit about color theory and how it can make you look great:

And there you have it. With all of these lessons under your belt, you’ll never look at color the same way again. Also, if you happen to be color-blind, don’t fret! Here’s a wonderful article that can explain color theory for the color-blind.

Are there any other useful resources for learning about the magic of color? Do share with us posting a comment below!

Image Credit: Male Fashion Via Shutterstock, Dota 2 Characters Via DeviantArt, Web Design Via Shutterstock

Related topics: Fashion, Video Game Design, Web Design.

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  1. Charu Malik
    June 9, 2018 at 11:51 am

    might use your advice for my youtube channel's branding. thank you

  2. Dann Albright
    December 14, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    I've never thought very much about color theory, but that video from Ted Forbes on color theory in photography is really great. His whole channel is really useful, actually. Thanks for pointing this out!

  3. Ramu
    October 24, 2014 at 10:19 am

    A Very good Article on Color theory

    • Joel Lee
      October 28, 2014 at 1:45 pm

      Thank you! I appreciate it. :)

  4. Robin
    October 16, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    mix-and-match piece after piece, you could free up a significant chunk of dawn time every day.

  5. Steve Miller
    October 16, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Wow, this is probably the best compilation of information about color I have run across. Thanks for sharing.

    • Joel Lee
      October 19, 2014 at 1:51 am

      That's kind of you to say, thank you! Glad you found it useful. :)