Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Blue Color Theory

About Blue Color Theory

Color theory pertains to the study and application of the three primary colors---red, yellow and blue---which, when mixed properly, form all visible colors. The color blue is used with complementary hues in Hokusai's "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" to enhance the natural power of water, while a monochromatic blue painting in Picasso's blue period emphasizes sadness and loss. Blue makes some people less hungry, but research shows that colors also attract customers to a product.

Color Wheel

A color wheel resembles a rainbow of colors placed in a circle. The three primary colors sit opposite the three secondary hues---orange, violet and green---with six tertiary colors---yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green and yellow-green---between them. The wheel's center remains white to symbolize the additive mixture of the three primary colors.

Color Schemes

The color blue has orange as its complementary color because they are opposite hues on the color wheel. Blue may be used in a monochromatic or analogous color scheme. Monochromatic colors include all the tints, tones and shades of a single hue whereas analogous colors are arranged next to one another on the color wheel. Blue-green and green, or blue-violet and violet are examples of blue's analogous colors.

Types of Blue

Many blue pigments occur naturally and have long been mined and used for the visual arts. Ultramarine blue originates from lapis lazuli, a stone found in Afghanistan containing lazurite, calcite and pyrite. The name refers to its origin, beyond the sea, and has a darker tint and almost violet hue.

Cobalt blue comes from the cobalt metal and appears semi-opaque. Prussian blue contains iron-cyanide and has a dark tint and heavy saturation. "The Great Wave off Kanagawa" uses Prussian blue to a great extent.


Traditionally blue represents living things and objects that are blue in nature, but sometimes artists and advertisers use the color blue for psychological and emotional reasons. According to the Color Matters website, blue is an appetite suppressant in large part because few edible foods are naturally colored blue.

The color blue represents a variety of emotions from sadness to tranquility. It represents an entire genre of music in the blues typified by a feeling of depression. Picasso's blue period monochromatic paintings, with titles like "The Tragedy" and "The Old Guitarist", portray cold and somber figures.


Advertising plays a significant role in consumer habits and preferences. Words, sounds and specific colors are used to enhance brand identification and give a product or service more appeal. The Color Matters website examines a study done at the Seoul International Color Expo in 2004 in which over 80 percent of those surveyed believed color was an important factor in choosing a product. Dairy and frozen products often use the color blue because it resembles something cold.

Tags: color blue, three primary, analogous colors, Blue Color, Blue Color Theory