Color PsychologyWhen designing in theatre (costumes, sets, lights), we need to keep color in mind. Colors make us feel certain emotions and moods. We want the colors we design with to help tell the story and tell the emotions and moods of the story.
Meanings of color
Here is a table of colors and many of the meanings they tend to evoke, particularly in Western cultures. Notice how colors can mean very different things - it is not that the colors themselves have meaning, it is that we have culturally assigned meanings to them. For example, red means warmth because of the color of fire. Likewise, it means anger because of the increased redness of the face when it flushes with blood. Purple symbolizes royalty only because the only purple dye that was available for many centuries was very expensive.
Color Western meaning RED: warmth, love, anger, danger, boldness, excitement, speed, strength, energy, determination, desire, passion, courage, socialism PINK: feminine, love, caring, nurture ORANGE: cheerfulness, low cost, affordability, enthusiasm, stimulation, creativity, aggression, food, halloween, liberal (politics) YELLOW: attention-grabbing, comfort, liveliness, cowardice, hunger, optimism, overwhelm, Summer, comfort, liveliness, intellect, happiness, energy, conflict GREEN: durability, reliability, environmental, luxurious, optimism, well-being, nature, calm, relaxation, Spring, safety, honesty, optimism, harmony, freshness BLUE: peace, professionalism, loyalty, reliability, honor, trust, melancholia, boredom, coldness, Winter, depth, stability, professionalism, conservatism PURPLE: power, royalty, nobility, elegance, sophistication, artificial, luxury, mystery, royalty, elegance, magic GRAY: conservatism, traditionalism, intelligence, serious, dull, uninteresting BROWN: relaxing, confident, casual, reassuring, nature, earthy, solid, reliable, genuine, Autumn, endurance BLACK: Elegance, sophistication, formality, power, strength, illegality, depression, morbidity, night, death WHITE: Cleanliness, purity, newness, virginity, peace, innocence, simplicity, sterility, snow, ice, cold
- The more towards the red end of spectrum you go, the hotter it gets.
- The more towards the blue/purple end of the spectrum you go, the colder it gets.
- Darker and more intense colors seem heavier.
- Lighter colors seem, unsurprisingly, lighter.
- Darker colors, such as burgundy red, tend to show opulence (they are often called 'rich' colors).
- Dull shades, such as gray and dark browns indicate poverty.
- Pastel and light shades are delicate, feminine, springtime.
- Bright shades of primary colors indicate summer.
- Earthy shades of brown, yellow and orange speak of nature and the fall.
- Cool shades of white, black and blue represent winter.