The Childs Creation of A Pictorial World, which explains various moods and feelings of children based solely on color choice. Author Claire Golomb explains how children use certain colors and various shapes for certain emotions (angry, sad, etc.). I was very intrigued why, for example, kids will draw in red to show anger even if they have never been exposed to what the color is conventionally used for.
As designers, one of the most crucial things we do is communicate. Just as we develop a verbal language to understand each other, graphic design has its own unique vocabulary and set of rules (that many of us love to break). The world around us heavily influences the way we feel and what we design. For example, hospital walls are painted in calming and muted colors, such as grey or green, so patients are relaxed when being attended to. If hospital walls are more fulvous, patients are more likely to feel uncomfortable and anxious. From these simple examples, there is a clear connection between color and emotion; however, it is the anatomical reasoning that helps to decipher why.
To understand how attitudes are formed, it is vital to first understand the creative mind. According to Craig Grannell and Paul Birch of Computer Arts Magazine, “Most definitive statements you hear about the mind and brain are wrong.” Very few people are capable of clearly giving an explanation of how the brain works. What we do know is that our brain is divided into two separate halves. The left side of the brain controls the logical, verbal, sequential, and numerical thinking, while the right manages arts and holistic thinking. The brain is filled with billions upon billions of cells that organize thoughts.
Color and shape affect us and our emotions before we can express ourselves through drawing or speaking. Children learn depending on their culture and from what they see around them, from how others react to what is around them, from TV, and from all the unconscious signals that we send out as we negotiate and respond to the world. The Child’s Creation of a Pictorial World explores the relationship between affect and color-choice in children’s drawings. In Golomb’s first task, she asked children (175 elementary school children at each of the six grade levels) to draw a happy, sad, and angry child. On the second assignment, Golomb asked the children to draw a happy dream and a frightening one. Most of the children used the same color to depict the same feeling at each of the three different mood states. However, as grade level progressed, the percent of children using the same color to depict the same mood diminished. The first graders used purple to show happiness, blue to show sadness, and red to depict anger. Yet, the sixth graders chose blue to represent happy, sad, and angry. This is probable because as we get older, we are culturally expanding ourselves.
Emotion is not solely expressed by color, but also by shape. Experience proves to us that shapes that are rounded and soft edged don’t hurt and are more likely to be associated with human comfort, and shapes like triangles and things with sharp corners and angles can hurt. Interesting enough, studies have said that an infant recognizes a human face before anything else. Less knowledge is required to know and understand what a human face normally looks like from an infant’s point of view (i.e. a large circle, and inside, two smaller circles).
As the brain develops, so does our understanding of happiness within the human face. In Golomb’s experiment, older children were found to have expanded on the upward curved mouth and had turned it into a two-dimensional heart-shaped mouth. Third graders drew semicircles and diagonal slashed lines to represent different emotions, and only 10 percent of first graders drew a tear to represent sadness, as opposed to 50 percent of third graders. The study of color and shape did not stop at the early ages, but continued on to higher education.
The Psychology of Color and Design, written by Deborah T. Sharpe, contains a chapter in which the relation of color and personality are compared to the association of color with college students. Similar to the 6th graders, many of the college students used identical colors to show the same emotions. There is a generality among these students within the warm spectrum (red, yellow, orange) that relates these colors to excitement and stimulation, whereas the cool end (blue and green) expresses restfulness and tranquility. Research findings “point very strongly to a basic commonality of color preferences among individuals.” says Guilford, an American psychologist. It’s with this information that we begin to understand the links that we as a culture, as individuals, and as a people make with color, mood, and shape.
We can study this question for years on end, yet there is a great possibility that there will be no single universal answer as to why color and shape affect us independently. Answers will vary depending on cultures, beliefs, traditions, and any other reasons that influence us. Some individuals have spent their entire professional lives studying the effects of colors within a single shape. This may be a great wonder that never has a definite answer.
The Power of Visual Communication.
What we see has a profound effect on what we do, how we feel, and who we are. Through experience and experimentation, we continually increase our understanding of the visual world and how we are influenced by it. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Studies find that the human brain deciphers image elements simultaneously, while language is decoded in a linear, sequential manner taking more time to process. Our minds react differently to visual stimuli.
Relatively speaking, in terms of communication, textual ubiquity is brand new. Thanks to millions of years of evolution, we are genetically wired to respond differently to visuals than text. For example, humans have an innate fondness for images of wide, open landscapes, which evoke an instant sense of well-being and contentment. Psychologists hypothesize that this almost universal response stems from the years our ancestors spent on the savannas in Africa.(1)
People think using pictures. John Berger, media theorist, writes in his book Ways of Seeing (Penguin Books, 1972), "Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak." Dr. Lynell Burmark, Ph.D. Associate at the Thornburg Center for Professional Development and writer of several books and papers on visual literacy, said, "...unless our words, concepts, ideas are hooked onto an image, they will go in one ear, sail through the brain, and go out the other ear. Words are processed by our short-term memory where we can only retain about 7 bits of information (plus or minus 2). This is why, by the way, that we have 7-digit phone numbers. Images, on the other hand, go directly into long-term memory where they are indelibly etched." Therefore, it is not surprising that it is much easier to show a circle than describe it.
When it comes to quick, clear communication, visuals trump text almost every time. Presented with the following textual and visual information, would you pet this dog?
The very same visual elements that we are indelibly drawn to and so quickly absorb not only communicate data more efficiently and effectively but also affect us emotionally. For instance, research shows that exposure to the color red can heighten our pulse and breathing rates. What is your reaction to the following picture?
How do you feel when you look at this picture? How quickly did you feel that way? Can you see how this image could be used to quickly elicit a strong emotional response and influence the viewer? If I were to textually describe this picture, your emotional reaction would not be as strong and it would take more time to digest the information. J. Francis Davis, an adult educator and media education specialist, captured it well when he said, "...in our culture pictures have become tools used to elicit specific and planned emotional reactions in the people who see them." Visuals are not only excellent communicators but also quickly affect us psychologically and physiologically.
Don Norman, author of Emotional Design, said in a Discover magazine article, "Beauty and the Beastly PC: The Graphics on Your Computer Screen Can Affect the Way You Feel—and Think,"
"I started out as an engineer, and I thought that what was really important was that something worked. Appearance—how could that matter? And yet for some reason, I would still buy attractive things, even if they didn't work as well as the less attractive ones. This puzzled me. In the last two years, I've finally come to understand that it's a result of the extremely tight coupling between emotion and cognition. Emotion is about judging the world, and cognition is about understanding. They can't be separated."
How many times have you heard, "I didn't believe it until I saw it." Studies show that the old saying "seeing is believing" is mostly true. Of course, we know that what we see can be manipulated but the point is that visuals are persuasive. The Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab asked 2,440 participants how they evaluated the credibility of Web sites they were shown. Almost half (46.1%) said that the Web site's design look was the number one criterion for discerning the credibility of the presented material. The following are some of the captured participant comments:
"This site is more credible. I find it to be much more professional looking." -M, 38, Washington"More pleasing graphics, higher-quality look and feel ..." -F, 52, Tennessee"Just looks more credible." -M, 24, New Jersey"I know this is superficial, but the first thing that struck me is the color difference. The ... site is a soothing green (sort of like money) while the [other] site is a jarring purple." -M, 56, Virginia
The ability of visual stimuli to communicate and influence is undeniable and inescapable. Through evolution, human beings are compelled to view and disseminate visuals. Recognizing the importance of visual communication is key to your success. Allen Ginsberg, poet and author, stated, "Whoever controls the media—the images—controls the culture." As early as the late nineteenth century, advertisers, based on their collective experience, were convinced that illustrations sold goods. World War II propaganda posters were very effective at manipulating popular opinion.
The Sunday New York Times published, "Good as a Gun: When Cameras Define a War," an article that effectively dealt with how the images photojournalists capture have influenced world affairs. Despite the best efforts of politicians, commanders, generals, and others involved with the war efforts, it was imagery that became the catalyst for some of the most pronounced changes. Reading or hearing about a situation is very different from seeing it.
In 1986, a 3M-sponsored study at the University of Minnesota School of Management found that presenters who use visual aids are 43% more effective in persuading audience members to take a desired course of action than presenters who don't use visuals. The goal of the experiment was to persuade undergraduates to commit their time and money to attending time management seminars. Presenters of various skill levels participated. Researchers found that average presenters who used visual aids were as effective as more advanced presenters using no visuals. In addition, the study found that the audience expected the advanced presenters to include professional, quality visuals. What about you? Have you noticed the increase in visual aids during presentations? Do you prefer presentations with or without visuals?(2)
Human communication has existed for about 30,000 years. In the beginning of recorded history, the vast majority of what we communicated was not text based.(3) Textual communication has been with us in one form or another for only 3,700 years. With the invention of tools like Gutenberg's movable type printing press in 1450, text took center stage. Graphics were too costly to include. As printing costs dropped graphics soon resurfaced and their frequency is rising. In 1995, Charles Brumback, the chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, said, "as newspaper penetration falls ... the culture itself moves from textual to visual literacy."(4) Gunther Kress is a Professor of English and Education at the School of Education, University of London. His research confirms this change over. As an example, Kress compares science textbooks from 1936 and 1988 showing that textbooks have progressed from a majority of text to a majority of graphics.(5)
The change isn't limited to textbooks and newspapers. Signs, maps, instructions, schematics, icons, symbols, and packaging sell products, warn of possible hazards, and give visual direction when words alone are not sufficient. Graphics are found on Web sites, TV shows, appliances, and computers; in vehicles and books; and at museums, malls, restaurants, and grocery stores. More and more professions that rely heavily on communication and persuasion are embracing graphics as a tool of choice. In the Boston Globe article, "Courtroom Graphics Come of Cyber-Age," author Sacha Pfeiffer found that "... new technologies—and a new willingness in legal circles to embrace them—have taken the use of visual images in the courtroom to a level unimaginable even a decade ago ... The result is a slow but significant shift in the way many trial lawyers, who historically have relied largely on their verbal skills to sway juries, try cases ... More prosecutors see high-tech graphics not as a luxury, but as a necessity."
Graphic communication is more ubiquitous than ever before. Why? Because graphics do what text alone cannot do. They quickly affect us both cognitively and emotionally:
1) Cognitively: Graphics expedite and increase our level of communication. They increase comprehension, recollection, and retention. Visual clues help us decode text and attract attention to information or direct attention increasing the likelihood that the audience will remember.(6)
2) Emotionally: Pictures enhance or affect emotions and attitudes.(7) Graphics engage our imagination and heighten our creative thinking by stimulating other areas of our brain (which in turn leads to a more profound and accurate understanding of the presented material).(8) It is no secret that emotions influence decision-making:
"(Emotions) play an essential role in decision making, perception, learning, and more ... they influence the very mechanisms of rational thinking."(9)
Behavioral Psychologists agree that most of our decisions are based on intuitive judgment and emotions. Herbert A. Simon, Nobel Prize winning scholar at the Carnegie Mellon Institute in Pittsburgh, studied corporate decision-making and found that people often ignored formal decision-making models because of time constraints, incomplete information, the inability to calculate consequences, and other variables. Intuitive judgment was the process for most decisions. Neurologist Antonio Damasio studied research on patients with damaged ventromedial frontal cortices of the brain, which impaired their ability to feel but left their ability to think analytically intact. Damasio discovered that the patients were unable to make rational decisions even though their ability to reason was fully functional. He concluded that reasoning "depends, to a considerable extent, on a continual ability to experience feelings."(10)
Psychologists Amos Twersky and Nobel Prize winner Daniel Kahnerman demonstrated that decision-making also depended on how the problems were framed or described, which results in predictable cognitive patterns and errors in judgment. Consider the following example:
"A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?"(11)
The question is asked in a way that clouds the correct answer. If the question were worded as follows:
A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat cost $1.05. How much does the ball cost?
The answer would be obvious: 5 cents. Much as phraseology influences the response to a question, how and what you show influences the audience's response.
So visuals are processed 60,000 times faster than text, graphics quickly affect our emotions, and our emotions greatly affect our decision-making. If most of our decisions are based on relatively quick intuitional judgment and emotions, then how many decisions are influenced by visually appealing, easily digested graphics? The answer is no secret to advertisers.
Billions of dollars are spent annually to find the right imagery to sell a product, service, or idea. The United States Military spent $598 million in 2003 on advertising to increase "brand identity" and meet their annual recruitment goals. Nike spent $269 million in 2001 on its image to sell their products. Anheuser-Busch spent $440 million to promote its products in 2001. Pepsi budgeted over $1 billion in 2001 on its image. Not to be out done, Coca-Cola budgeted $1.4 billion for its image in the same year. Graphics help create "brand identity." Visuals paint the picture of who the advertiser is, what they stand for, and how the audience may benefit. Graphics sell because of their ability to influence. How you use graphics greatly affect how you and your business are perceived.
Study after study, experiment after experiment has proven that graphics have immense influence over the audience's perception of the subject matter and, by association, the presenter (the person, place, or thing most associated with the graphic) because of these neurological and evolutionary factors. The audience's understanding of the presented material, opinion of the presented material and the presenter, and their emotional state are crucial factors in any decision they will make. Without a doubt, graphics greatly
influence an audience's decisions. Whoever properly wields this intelligence has a powerful advantage over their competition.
influence an audience's decisions. Whoever properly wields this intelligence has a powerful advantage over their competition.
Larry Tracy, who now trains corporate executives to make oral presentations for government contracts, headed the Pentagon's top briefing team and worked for years with the Department of State. He was aware that graphics were so influential in the government's decision to purchase goods and services that bad buying decisions were made based on the quality of the visuals in the presented materials. This has in turn led to the government, at times, putting constraints on presented graphics by requiring black and white submissions, or even requiring that no graphics be used in a presentation in order to reduce the likelihood of high-quality, polished graphics unfairly persuading evaluators.
I spent many years analyzing how the proposal industry works (an industry that focuses on the submission of written and oral presentations to secure work that will increase or maintain a company's revenue). I found that the priority of graphic development increases as award value rises. The industry understands the influence that graphics have on their audience. It is common knowledge to companies like Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Boeing, and Lockheed Martin that graphics are an essential part of winning new government business. In fact, it is not uncommon, when exceptional graphics are used, for government evaluators to commend the presenter on their use of graphics.
Flags, eagles, and other symbols of patriotism are often included on proposal covers simply because of the positive emotional influence patriotic imagery has on government evaluators. Part of the cover's goal is to instantly establish that the presenter is a supportive, trustworthy, reliable patriot. As a result, the government evaluator is more likely to be in a positive, agreeable state of mind when reading the proposal. As stated earlier, emotions influence the very mechanisms of rational thinking, so if the evaluator's mood is elevated by the visuals, the more likely he or she is to agree with the presenter.
I am not saying that graphic communication is better than text. The combination of graphics and words has a communicative power that neither singularly possesses.
"Pictures interact with text to produce levels of comprehension and memory that can exceed what is produced by text alone."(12)
Without graphics, an idea may be lost in a sea of words. Without words, a graphic may be lost to ambiguity. Robert E. Horn, an award-winning scholar at Stanford University's Center for the Study of Language and Information, said, "When words and visual elements are closely entwined, we create something new and we augment our communal intelligence ... visual language has the potential for increasing ‘human bandwidth'—the capacity to take in, comprehend, and more efficiently synthesize large amounts of new information."Our communication paradigm is evolving. Source
The Influence of Graphics on the Emotions of Surface Textures.Designers are increasingly aware of the influences that affect the way people emotionally engage with products. These include previous experiences, society and culture, and the situation in which the product will be used. Whilst recently developed generative techniques usefully provide insight into consumers' contexts, it remains useful to determine the interaction of product features at a more fundamental level. If one cannot examine the influence of a product feature separately from its broader context, then can one determine the extent to which any particular sensation contributes to the consumers' emotional engagement? The experiment described in this paper explores the influence of graphic design on peoples' emotional engagement with surface textures. The semantic differential technique was used to identify adjectives to describe touching transparent surface textures that had been screen printed onto clear acetate and shown against a plain, white background. Then, the same technique was used to characterise peoples' emotional engagement when looking at 'smileys', small graphical representations of faces, or emoticons, depicting various emotions. The first experiment with the surface textures was repeated but with the smileys behind and showing through the surfaces and finally by asking respondents to look at, but not touch, the smileys. Comparison of the principal components of the semantic differential experiments gave an objective evaluation of the influence of the graphics on peoples' engagement with the surfaces. Whilst the results of the experiment are themselves to some extent context dependent, the experiment demonstrates a process for making decisions about product packaging at a product type or brand level. Source
Colours in design, and they effect people.
Color in design is very subjective. What evokes one reaction in one person may evoke a very different reaction in somone else. Sometimes this is due to personal preference, and other times due to cultural background. Color theory is a science in itself. Studying how colors affect different people, either individually or as a group, is something some people build their careers on. And there’s a lot to it. Something as simple as changing the exact hue or saturation of a color can evoke a completely different feeling. Cultural differences mean that something that’s happy and uplifting in one country can be depressing in another.
This is the first in a three-part series on color theory. Here we’ll discuss the meanings behind the different color families, and give some examples of how these colors are used (with a bit of analysis for each). In Part 2 we’ll talk about how hue, chroma, value, saturation, tones, tints and shades affect the way we perceive colors. And in Part 3 we’ll discuss how to create effective color palettes for your own designs.
Warm colors include red, orange, and yellow, and variations of those three colors. These are the colors of fire, of fall leaves, and of sunsets and sunrises, and are generally energizing, passionate, and positive.
Red and yellow are both primary colors, with orange falling in the middle, which means warm colors are all truly warm and aren’t created by combining a warm color with a cool color. Use warm colors in your designs to reflect passion, happiness, enthusiasm, and energy.
Red (Primary Color)
Red is a very hot color. It’s associated with fire, violence, and warfare. It’s also associated with love and passion. In history, it’s been associated with both the Devil and Cupid. Red can actually have a physical effect on people, raising blood pressure and respiration rates. It’s been shown to enhance human metabolism, too.
Red can be associated with anger, but is also associated with importance (think of the red carpet at awards shows and celebrity events). Red also indicates danger (the reason stop lights and signs are red, and that most warning labels are red).
Outside the western world, red has different associations. For example, in China, red is the color of prosperity and happiness. It can also be used to attract good luck. In other eastern cultures, red is worn by brides on their wedding days. In South Africa, however, red is the color of mourning. Red is also associated with communism. Red has become the color associated with AIDS awareness in Africa due to the popularity of the [RED] campaign.
In design, red can be a powerful accent color. It can have an overwhelming effect if it’s used too much in designs, especially in its purest form. It’s a great color to use when power or passion want to be portrayed in the design. Red can be very versatile, though, with brighter versions being more energetic and darker shades being more powerful and elegant.
Orange (Secondary Color)
Orange is a very vibrant and energetic color. In its muted forms, it can be associated with the earth and with autumn. Because of its association with the changing seasons, orange can represent change and movement in general.
Because orange is associated with the fruit of the same name, it can be associated with health and vitality. In designs, orange commands attention without being as overpowering as red. It’s often considered more friendly and inviting, and less in-your-face.
Yellow (Primary Color)
Yellow is often considered the brightest and most energizing of the warm colors. It’s associated with happiness and sunshine. Yellow can also be associated with deceit and cowardice, though (calling someone yellow is calling them a coward).
Yellow is also associated with hope, as can be seen in some countries when yellow ribbons are displayed by families who have loved ones at war. Yellow is also associated with danger, though not as strongly as red.
In some countries, yellow has very different connotations. In Egypt, for example, yellow is for mourning. In Japan, it represents courage, and in India it’s a color for merchants.
In your designs, bright yellow can lend a sense of happiness and cheerfulness. Softer yellows are commonly used as a gender-neutral color for babies (rather than blue or pink) and young children. Light yellows also give a more calm feeling of happiness than bright yellows. Dark yellows and gold-hued yellows can sometimes look antique and be used in designs where a sense of permanence is desired.
Cool colors include green, blue, and purple, are often more subdued than warm colors. They are the colors of night, of water, of nature, and are usually calming, relaxing, and somewhat reserved.
Blue is the only primary color within the cool spectrum, which means the other colors are created by combining blue with a warm color (yellow for green and red for purple). Greens take on some of the attributes of yellow, and purple takes on some of the attributes of red. Use cool colors in your designs to give a sense of calm or professionalism.
Green (Secondary Color)
Green is a very down-to-earth color. It can represent new beginnings and growth. It also signifies renewal and abundance. Alternatively, green can also represent envy or jealousy, and a lack of experience.
Green has many of the same calming attributes that blue has, but it also incorporates some of the energy of yellow. In design, green can have a balancing and harmonizing effect, and is very stable. It’s appropriate for designs related to wealth, stability, renewal, and nature. Brighter greens are more energizing and vibrant, while olive greens are more representative of the natural world. Dark greens are the most stable and representative of affluence.
Blue (Primary Color)
Blue is often associated with sadness in the English language. Blue is also used extensively to represent calmness and responsibility. Light blues can be refreshing and friendly. Dark blues are more strong and reliable. Blue is also associated with peace, and has spiritual and religious connotations in many cultures and traditions (for example, the Virgin Mary is generally depicted wearing blue robes).
The meaning of blue is widely affected depending on the exact shade and hue. In design, the exact shade of blue you select will have a huge impact on how your designs are perceived. Light blues are often relaxed and calming. Bright blues can be energizing and refreshing. Dark blues are excellent for corporate sites or designs where strength and reliability are important.
Purple (Secondary Color)
Purple was long associated with royalty. It’s a combination of red and blue, and takes on some attributes of both. It’s associated with creativity and imagination, too.
In Thailand, purple is the color of mourning for widows. Dark purples are traditionally associated with wealth and royalty, while lighter purples (like lavendar) are considered more romantic.
In design, dark purples can give a sense wealth and luxury. Light purples are softer and are associated with spring and romance.
Neutral colors often serve as the backdrop in design. They’re commonly combined with brighter accent colors. But they can also be used on their own in designs, and can create very sophisticated layouts. The meanings and impressions of neutral colors are much more affected by the colors that surround them than are warm and cool colors.
Black is the strongest of the neutral colors. On the positive side, it’s commonly associated with power, elegance, and formality. On the negative side, it can be associated with evil, death, and mystery. Black is the traditional color of mourning in many Western countries. It’s also associated with rebellion in some cultures, and is associated with Halloween and the occult.
Black is commonly used in edgier designs, as well as in very elegant designs. It can be either conservative or modern, traditional or unconventional, depending on the colors it’s combined with. In design, black is commonly used for typography and other functional parts, because of it’s neutrality. Black can make it easier to convey a sense of sophistication and mystery in a design.
White is at the opposite end of the spectrum from black, but like black, it can work well with just about any other color. White is often associated with purity, cleanliness, and virtue. In the West, white is commonly worn by brides on their wedding day. It’s also associated with the health care industry, especially with doctors, nurses and dentists. White is associated with goodness, and angels are often depicted in white.
In design, white is generally considered a neutral backdrop that lets other colors in a design have a larger voice. It can help to convey cleanliness and simplicity, though, and is popular in minimalist designs. White in designs can also portray either winter or summer, depending on the other design motifs and colors that surround it.
Gray is a neutral color, generally considered on the cool end of the color spectrum. It can sometimes be considered moody or depressing. Light grays can be used in place of white in some designs, and dark grays can be used in place of black.
Gray is generally conservative and formal, but can also be modern. It is sometimes considered a color of mourning. It’s commonly used in corporate designs, where formality and professionalism are key. It can be a very sophisticated color. Pure grays are shades of black, though other grays may have blue or brown hues mixed in. In design, gray backgrounds are very common, as is gray typography.
Brown is associated with the earth, wood, and stone. It’s a completely natural color and a warm neutral. Brown can be associated with dependability and reliability, with steadfastness, and with earthiness. It can also be considered dull.
In design, brown is commonly used as a background color. It’s also seen in wood textures and sometimes in stone textures. It helps bring a feeling of warmth and wholesomeness to designs. It’s sometimes used in its darkest forms as a replacement for black, either in backgrounds or typography.
Beige and Tan
Beige is somewhat unique in the color spectrum, as it can take on cool or warm tones depending on the colors surrounding it. It has the warmth of brown and the coolness of white, and, like brown, is sometimes seen as dull. It’s a conservative color in most instances, and is usually reserved for backgrounds. It can also symbolize piety.
Beige in design is generally used in backgrounds, and is commonly seen in backgrounds with a paper texture. It will take on the characteristics of colors around it, meaning it has little effect in itself on the final impression a design gives when used with other colors.
Cream and Ivory
Ivory and cream are sophisticated colors, with some of the warmth of brown and a lot of the coolness of white. They’re generally quiet, and can often evoke a sense of history. Ivory is a calm color, with some of the pureness associated with white, though it’s a bit warmer.
In design, ivory can lend a sense of elegance and calm to a site. When combined with earthy colors like peach or brown, it can take on an earthy quality. It can also be used to lighten darker colors, without the stark contrast of using white.
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