Understanding Colour

In this exercise I begin by drawing two grids of squares, filling one with colours I like, and the other with colours I dislike. On the left are colours I like, and on the right the colours I dislike. Soon after I began selecting colours on the illustrator colour wheel, it became apparent that my perception of them changed depending on the colours in the previous squares. In fact, as I completed the grid of “liked” colours, I actually found it to be really hard to look at due to the excessive contrast between them. On the other hand, as the exercise predicted, the grid containing the “disliked” colours was much more pleasant to the eye, even if I did not take into consideration the sea of green in the middle. I am not sure where my dislike for the colour green appears to be so strong, I assume it might be because fashion-wise I see it as a difficult colour to match, even though I actually have plenty of pictures of forest landscapers in my albums, and I do enjoy seeing green in natural settings.

Next I had to experiment with different colour combinations to express different ideas, and given that it was not specified, I did not limit myself to using only the colours that I had placed in my grids. Given that I am not familiar with colour associations other than my own perceptions, I did a little research to improve my understanding.


Red is considered to be a color of intense emotions, ranging from anger, sacrifice, danger, and heat, through to passion and sexuality. 

Characteristics: high visibility, stimulating, vibrant, exciting.


Blending the warmth of red and the optimism of yellow, orange communicates activity, energy, and vibrancy. And of course, it’s hard not to associate it with its namesake, making it feel fresh and healthy.

Characteristics: optimistic, warm, uplifting, energetic.


Being the color of sunshine, yellow puts a smile on the dial. It communicates cheerfulness, friendliness, joy, and energy. It can also be associated with mental clarity and intellect. However, yellow is also a cautionary color used in life vests, police cordoning tape, and hazardous areas.

Characteristics: cheerful, energetic, inspiring, stimulating.


Pink is regarded widely in the western world as the color of femininity. Pale pink is often aimed at little girls, dusty pink is more sentimental or romantic, while hot pink indicates youthfulness.

Characteristics: friendly, calming, playful, romantic.


Blue is a color that has long been associated with royalty, art, military, business, and nature, making it a color with a lot of applications. It is also appreciated for its calming and harmonious qualities being associated with the sea and sky. On the other hand, it’s also used to express sadness or depression.

Characteristics: relaxing, calming, supportive, protective.


Named after the Anglo-Saxon word grene meaning “grass” and “grow” but today it has two common associations that are paradoxical. One being nature and the environment, and the other being finance and wealth.

Characteristics: relaxing, revitalising, encouraging, harmonious, safe.


Purple is traditionally associated with royalty, majesty, or nobility as well as having a spiritual or mysterious quality. Darker shades often represent luxury or opulence while lighter lavender shades are quite feminine, sentimental, and even nostalgic.

Characteristics: enlightening, luxurious, encouraging, creative.


Brown, nature-inspired, represents a feeling of wholesomeness, orderliness, and being grounded. It is simple, strong, durable, and honest.

Characteristics: stability, protective, supportive, comforting.


The colour of compromise and control, grey is neutral, conservative, and unemotional,

Characteristics: soothing, reliable, mature, practical.


Black is to be taken seriously. It represents power, luxury, sophistication, and exclusivity on one hand; and death, evil, and mystery on the other. From formality to mourning to power, black is bold, classic.

Characteristics: intimidating, elegant, secure, authoritative, mystifying.


White represents simplicity, purity, innocence, and perfection. White also comes with a starkness or sterility about it, which is often used by designers to convey a minimalist aesthetic and clean, modern quality.

Characteristics: refreshing, purifying, perfection, openness.

Colour combination

For my colour combinations, I tried to choose higher contrast colours for impactful ideas, such as dangerous and energetic, while going with more mellow combinations for ‘softer’ ideas such as tasteful and reasonable. I feel that overall, my combinations were appropriate, and the only one that would appear a little strange would be the grey combination for ‘new’, although in my mind I associate new with shiny things, and prevalently metallic objects. It was a little difficult to make different combinations for similar concepts, such as sociable and gregarious, or energetic and kinetic.


Combining colours is something that I want to continue exploring, and I will try to keep the emotions associated with each colour in mind for my future designs.


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