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Chapter 9: Color Theory

We know a great deal about the science of color, and yet color – and the usage of it – is full of subjectivity. Although we have some psychological reactions to color that stem from prehistoric life, colors carry meanings that differ across cultures and from person to person. Additionally, color is contextual: A color that may connote positive feelings in one context may have the opposite effect in another context. Still, in pursuit of beautiful aesthetics, a great deal of thought and practice has been applied toward understanding and bringing structure to how colors interact to establish a particular mood or feeling. By understanding how colors interact, and what factors are at play in giving color meaning, you can begin to use color well.

To begin to understand color, you need to understand how humans have been conditioned to react over time to certain colors. Additionally, there are some physiological reasons that may contribute to how colors impact us. These factors have worked together throughout the establishment of various cultures to attach particular meanings to colors over time, causing color associations to differ across audiences. On the web, however, some conventional uses of color have begun to emerge that sometimes cross cultural boundaries. Aside from more explicit color communication, some formulaic color relationships have been studied by artists and theorists over time that contribute to implicitly creating a mood or feeling in a design. ...

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