** Note: as you may have noticed, this guide is not technically complete yet! But I can see from my back end stats that people are finding it through Google searches so I'm leaving it available in it's incomplete form which I still believe is helpful! **

Hello + welcome... to YOUR Ultimate Color Guide!

This is a fun overview of color, color schemes + color theory. 

I believe so deeply in the healing and transformative power of color... I am so happy to be sharing this with you!

A few notes:

- This is a starter guide. For the artists + designers, think of this as a refresher course. I'm certain there's something new and exciting for everyone to learn in the color theory section at the bottom!

- I will continue to edit and add to this page as I discover new tips and answer more of your questions. This includes separate blog posts and other valuable information I will add links to for each of the colors below.

- This is called YOUR Ultimate Color Guide for a reason. The process of learning, exploration, enjoyment, transformation... it's all uniquely YOURS. If there is something that doesn't feel right to you, it's probably not! Trust your gut and move on. 

Let's get started!


1. A Colorful Start

There are 12 colors of the color wheel: red, red-orange, orange, yellow-orange, yellow, yellow-green, green, blue-green, blue, blue-violet, violet and red-violet. 

Primary Colors:

Red, yellow and blue are primary colors.

Secondary Colors:

Orange, green and violet are secondary colors. (red+yellow=orange, yellow+blue=green, blue+red=violet)

Tertiary Colors:

Red-orange, yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue violet and red-violet are all tertiary colors. Tertiary colors are a mix of a primary and a secondary color. Most people know the primary and secondary colors, while tertiary colors are less talked about (but just as important!). Also, notice that the primary color always comes first when noting a tertiary color. Tertiary colors are better known as other names. For example, blue-green is often referred to as teal (or turquoise when it has white added). 

Tint + Tone + Shade + Desaturate:

When you add white to a color, it is called tinting. When you add gray it is called toning. When you add black it is called shading. When you add it's compliment (the color exactly opposite on the color wheel) it is called desaturating. Example: pink is a tint of red (red+white=pink)

2. Color Scheming

Color schemes are lots of fun. They can help you design  your home, website, logo and wardrobe so that you have a few main colors to focus on to create balance and make design decisions easier. 

Mono-chromatic:

Using any shade, tint or tone of just one color. This can be a fun use of just one room or a small area in your home, or if you are a neutral lover, you can choose just one color to add to your neutral scheme. This idea also works for building a wardrobe and a website when you are working with a favorite color and/or don't want to use too much color but still need a little something to keep it fresh and alive. 

Analogous:

Using any shades, tints or tones of colors that lie adjacent to each other on the color wheel. Example: blue-violet + violet + red-violet.This gives more variety than a mono-chromatic scheme, but still blends easily. There is less contrast and often a generally warm or cool feel. 

Achromatic:

A colorless scheme using blacks, whites and grays. I personally don't know when you would want to use this! Even when wearing all white or black it's fun to bring in a pop of color with make-up or accessories. Even the most minimally designed home will have a green house plant or a window with blue sky  beyond.

Complementary Colors:

Combing a shade, tint or tone of one color and the color opposite on the color wheel. Example: red + green. This is probably the most common color scheme we see used. It creates a nice contrast and usually feels complete even with just the two colors. 

Split Complementary Colors:

Choosing one color and using the color on each side of it's complement on the color wheel. Example: yellow + blue-violet + red-violet. This is probably the most versatile color scheme. It feels balanced, a little unexpected and works for everything: your home, wardrobe and branding. 

Diad:

Using two colors that are two colors apart on the color wheel. Example: yellow-orange + green. This scheme can feel a little dated when it is used for a logo and in general it lacks balance. It can be interesting when done well but often just feels like someone randomly chose two colors without thinking about their relationship to one another. 

Triad:

Using three colors equally spaced from each other on the color wheel. Example: red + yellow + blue. I really enjoy triad color schemes. They are classic, fun and balanced. 

Tetrad:

Using two sets of complementary colors. Example: yellow + violet, orange + blue. The more color the better ;) This color scheme gives great options. You can choose a favorite color or two to focus on and then accent with the other two colors in smaller amounts.  

Rainbow:

Using every color on the color wheel! I personally like to have every color in my home (as you can see in my website images) because why not?  If you're thinking this doesn't work for a wardrobe, check this out: The other day I went to an event and my friend April showed up in a rainbow color scheme outfit : red, yellow and orange patterned shoes, a green blouse, blue pants (and not denim, actual blue pants) and a purple jacket. She was even wearing a necklace with a rainbow to tie it all together. She was glowing, it was awesome. 

3. Light + distance + other terms

Light + Color:

Lighting changes the look of colors. 

Warm + Cool Colors:

Warm: reds, yellows and oranges. Cool: greens, blues and violets. 

Light + Distance:

Warm colors come forward while cool colors recede. If you study a landscape painting you will notice that cool greens  such as blue-green, are used for the  background while the foreground consists of warmer yellow-greens. Also, distance causes cool/receding colors to disappear or "black out". Fun fact: yellow is the last color to disappear with the absence of light. 

Hue:

Another name for color. 

Key Color:

The dominant color in a color scheme or mixture. 

4. Color Meaning + Psychology

There is a ton of information out in the world about the psychology of color. I've personally read dozens of books and articles and have taken two color theory classes (color theory was a requirement for both my degrees in interior design and architecture!) 

On my spiritual journey I became fascinated with chakras and auras which has lead to new color learning in terms of it's healing abilities and spiritual meanings. My dreams are vividly colorful and I get a sense of color when I have visions during meditation (there is often a "feeling" of one specific color I get during a vision). 

From my experience working with design clients over the last 10 years I have learned quite a bit about what colors are most common, least common, what people feel most comfortable with, what makes them uncomfortable and a whole lot more.

Whether you are designing your bathroom, an office space, your logo or website, creating art or searching for life-guidance... color is powerful. I'm happy to share insights on both the traditional meaning, spiritual meaning and my own experiences below. You will find that certain words come up for both the traditional and spiritual meaning of a color so pay special attention to those. Enjoy!

 

 
 

Red:

Traditional psychology meaning: Excitement, youthful, bold. 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Earth/root chakra. Grounding. Vital, sexual, passionate, energized, forceful. 

Uses: Red is an excellent accent color. It works great in seating, books, and wall art. Red, yellow + blue is a well know color scheme that is fun and balanced. Too much red can feel aggressive and overstimulating. If you plan to use red in large amounts try a red-orange or red-violet instead of a true red. 

Orange:

Traditional psychology meaning: Cheerful, friendly, confident. 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Sacral chakra. Emotional. Active, motivating, optimistic, emotional, sociable, enthusiastic, affectionate, humanitarian. 

Uses: Orange is such a friendly color. But interestingly is not a common favorite color. 

Yellow:

Traditional psychology meaning: Optimism, clarity, warmth. 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Solar plexus chakra. Intellectual. Creative, precise, cooperative, reasonable, innovation, originality, wisdom, instinct.

Uses: I think of yellow as the introvert color. It is warm and friendly but soft-spoken. Not loud or attention-grabbing. It works well in the kitchen, dining and living areas and is always a great accent color. People (especially children) feel uncomfortable around large amounts of yellow for an extended period of time so when used in a children's room or nursery it is best as an accent or when mixed with orange. 

Green:

Traditional psychology meaning: Peaceful, growth, health. 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Heart chakra. Love. balance, harmony, brotherhood, hope, growth, healing, peace, prosperity. 

Uses:

Blue:

Traditional psychology meaning: Trust, dependable, strength. Cool, 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Throat chakra. Communication. Truth, loyalty, serenity, faith, spirituality, creativity, expression. 

Uses: Blue is the most common favorite color of men and woman. 

Violet:

Traditional psychology + meaning: Creative, imaginative, wise. Regal, 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Brow chakra. Seeing the unseen. Guidance, intuition, secrets, integrity, knowledge, spirituality, inner child, mystery, dignity. 

Uses:

Neutral - Grey/White/Beige:

Traditional psychology + meaning: Balance, neutral, calm. 

Spiritual psychology + meaning: Crown chakra. Neutrality. Enlightenment, consciousness, purpose, wisdom, spirituality, unity, expansiveness. 

That's it!

I want to keep this short and sweet but also plan to continue to add to this document. If you have questions please email me directly jess@jesslaine.com or comment below

Now that you know the rules, know that they are meant to be broken! 

5. Bonus Resources

Brand Colors:

Chakra Wisdom Oracle Cards:

Radiant Human Aura Photography:

Reading Aura Colors:

Diving Deeper into Chakras and Meaning:

** Note: as you may have noticed, this guide is not technically complete yet! But I can see from my back end stats that people are finding it through Google searches so I'm leaving it available in it's incomplete form which I still believe is helpful! **