Color Studies – Part 6 Color Applications

By Sheri Doty


Follow this link to visit Sheri’s website to view more of her work and to learn more about her.

Color Studies – Color Applications and Definitions

Part 6 – Color Applications

(Click Images For Larger Views)

Color Applications in 4 Categories or Divisions.
Symbolic, Mood, Subjective and Objective 


Color has been used throughout the centuries to represent affiliations, loyalties, religion, mood and qualities.

  • A. Affiliations: School colors, school uniforms, military decorations, etc. (In ancient Rome a red flag was a symbol for battle/in our lexicon a white flag is a flag of surrender.
  • B. Loyalties: A country’s flag, i.e., United states-white denotes purity, red denotes valor, blue denotes justice.
  • C. Religion: The color of ecclesiastical vestments. Violet is the color of the advent and lent. A priest wears black. In the middle ages brides wore green to symbolize fertility.
  • D. Mood: Red with rage, “I feel blue.”
  • E. Qualities: A blue ribbon represents the best or first place; if you are “true blue,” you are loyal and faithful; the colors of a country’s flag represent the qualities of her people.

Color and Mood 

It is important to choose colors that will strengthen the design elements in your picture but do not detract from the mood you would like to evoke in the viewer. The same subject may bring into play different moods depending on the intensity and values of the colors you use.

An excerpt taken from “The Psychology of Color in Marketing” by June Campbell 

You’d be wise to consider the psychology of color when designing your marketing materials. Be it business card, brochure, web site, posters or other material, you’ll be making color choices. Colors not only enhance the appearance of the item — they also influence our behavior. You will do well to consider the impact that the colors you use will have on your target audience. For instance, have you noticed that most fast food restaurants are decorated with vivid reds and oranges? It’s no accident that these colors show up so frequently. Studies have shown that reds and oranges encourage diners to eat quickly and leave — and that’s exactly what fast food outlets want you to do. However, the effects of color differ among different cultures, so the attitudes and preferences of your target audience should be a consideration when you plan your design of any promotional materials. For example, white is the color of death in Chinese culture, but purple represents death in Brazil. Yellow is sacred to the Chinese, but signified sadness in Greece and jealousy in France. In North America, green is typically associated with jealousy. People from tropical countries respond most favorably to warm colors; people from northern climates prefer the cooler colors.

Subjective Color Choices 

“Subjective color” is a personal preference or personal thinking. You have your own personal or subjective opinion about which color combinations are harmonious. The psychological study of color also falls into the subjective category. Designers and sales people who are sensitive to color will be successful, if they do not impose their own personal color choices on the taste of their customers and clients.

“Arbitrary Color” is another term used for subjective color choices.

Objective Color 

A study of color based on practical experience. From a rainbow of colors constructed within a color wheel, colors are mixed into a multitude of variations between black and white. This outline is based on objective color harmony.

The physics of color as a scientific study are not included in my outline on color harmony, definitions and applications.

Art  credits: I use my own art, my own photographs and photographs by my son Joseph Arthur Doty as examples throughout this lesson.  See more from Joseph Doty on

<< Back to the Beginning


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *