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A Very Brief Overview of Color Theory

While professional graphic designers usually undergo years of studying, practice and work experience to reach a level consistent with industry standards, it is nonetheless invaluable to brush up on one's knowledge of color theory.

A firm understanding of shape, contrast, grids and typography all have roles in design, but in most cases, color is what breathes life into print materials, web pages and other visual mediums.

To begin, consider the primary colors of the color spectrum or wheel: red, yellow and blue. These three tones form the base for all other colors. They also have specific emotional or psychological connotations that are separate from the secondary colors – green, orange and purple.

"Primary colors are useful for designs or art that needs to have a sense of urgency," writes graphic designer Ryan Ford for "Primary colors are the most vivid colors when placed next to each other, which is why you'll notice that most fast food joints use primary colors in their logos, as it evokes speed."

Entire textbooks have been written on color theory, providing graphic designers with a trove of material. Those in the print design field would do well to refresh their knowledge from time to time.

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