NHS Designs

the quality of an object or substance with respect to light reflected by the object, usually determined visually by measurement of hue, saturation, and brightness of the reflected light; saturation or chroma; hue.

a dimension taken through an object or body of material, usually downward from an upper surface, horizontally inward from an outer surface, or from top to bottom of something regarded as one of several layers.

the amount of space, measured in cubic units, that an object or substance occupies.

related concepts

  • primary and secondary colors
  • warm, cool, and neutral colors
  • color value, hue and intensity
  • complementary colors and mixing them to make neutrals

Graphic Design Principles of Visual Design


Color depends on light because it is made of light.

There must be light for us to see color.

A red shirt will not look red in the dark, where there is no light.

The whiter the light, the more true the colors will be.

A yellow light on a full-color painting will change the appearance of all the colors.

Color in Fine Art

Pierre Auguste Renoir - Fruits from the Midi
Pierre Auguste Renoir - "Fruits from the Midi", 1881

Renoir painted this painting to emphasize the color and richness of the vegetables and fruits of France. It is basically a cool color with warm accents. Renoir was an Impressionist painter who used color to show depth and volume in his paintings.

Source: Elements and Principles of Design: Student Guide with Activities, published by Crystal Productions

Color in Graphic Design

Black Cat Menu by Dennis Clouse

Black Cat Menu
Dennis Clouse
Cyclone Design

This menu is designed using all warm tones. Warm tones consist of any color on the warm side of the spectrum: yellows, reds, oranges and purples. The effect is great for a menu because it communicates a comfortable feeling and a compatibility with food. Could you imagine this same menu done in cool tones: blues and greens? The effect would be completely different. It is no coincidence that most fast-food restaurants use yellows and reds for their identities. These colors have been shown to be among the most appetizing.

Source: Design Basics for Creative Results by Bryan L. Peterson

You'll find out a whole lot more about color when we get to Color Theory.

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