Colour Theory: Types of Colour

This is the 5th instalment in the series ‘Colour Theory: Learn it, Use it, Love it’. If you missed the previous posts you can find them here –

Colour Theory:  Learn it, Use it, Love it.

Colour Theory: What is Colour?

Colour Theory: Terminology I

Colour Theory: Terminology II

Colour theory can be a complicated thing. This is my attempt to simplify it.

As mentioned in the previous post we will be discussing the types of colours and how they affect the designer’s final product.

This is the point where you can toss that colour wheel out the window…or put it neatly into a draw close at hand because we all need refresher courses at some point.

RGB Colour


First we have to tackle the type of colour that I work in the most. RGB colour. If you work in motion then you will understand why I work mainly in RGB. The name RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. In moti9on, these are your primaries (green has replaced the yellow from earlier). By using these 3 colours in various combination you can produce all other colours.

There is one main thing to note about RGB, it is perfect for your tv and your computer monitor so it’s most ideal for projects which are to be shown on those sources. The reason for this is that these colours mix light sources, so the colours you see on your computer monitor will not necessarily translate to print (in some instances they may ap[pear muddy – trust me, it’s happened to me earlier on in my career).

CMYK Colour


This is one of the colour types which work for printing. This colour type is based on colour pigments. The CMYK means Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black (us designers really aren’t imaginative when it comes to names it seems). When you use these four colours, you can create most of the other colours, not as much as RGB but enough to offer variation for print. When you do a project in CMYK for print, it will translate more accurately on the final product. This is why this is the method used by printers the world over.

Pantone (PMS) Color

This is another printing colour method. PMS does not stand for Pink, Magenta, Saturation. The creators of this system was a little more creative as the meaning of PMS is Pantone Matching System which is a LARGE list of colours which have been specially mixed by the Pantone Corporation. Instead of using CMYK to make the colours the colours are made individually so as to ensure purity. If you want a colour, pick from their library and the colour would be made for your exclusive use and the colour would always print the same.

Before running off to order your very own PMS colours, please bear in mind that they are only useful when you have a few colours in your project. Oh yea…they are also expensive.

That’s it for this week, next week we will venture into colour psychology and look at the colours individually to find out what they mean to an onlooker.


5 thoughts on “Colour Theory: Types of Colour

  1. Pingback: Colour Theory: Green, Purple & Pink | the design lounge

  2. Pingback: Colour Theory: Blue | the design lounge

  3. Pingback: Colour Theory: Red & Orange | the design lounge

  4. Pingback: Colour Theory: Colour Psychology Introduction and Yellow | the design lounge

  5. Pingback: Colour | archiabyssniya

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