Owen gives quick but detailed overview of how colors and color theory relate to human emotion and how this associations can be utilized to quickly create a specific feeling or tone to your animation and design.
- [Instructor] Let's talk color, you all. Color tends to be the first thing we notice and the last thing we forget in most design and animation. Even a lack of color is a use of color. We are greatly affected by black and white animation and probably have preconceived notions that we jump to about it faster than we might a colored scene. Black and white means old, classic, as if the animator is going for the 1950s black and white TV original Mickey Mouse on a steamboat feel. So color is a big deal.
Now, we use color to generate emotion, to find importance in elements and generate a tone and style quickly without having to do a bunch of exposition. How does this work? Well, all colors tend to have general preconceived emotions and ideas attached to them, and we use that color to bring out these feelings in our viewers. We tend to group colors in three main categories. We have the warm colors, red, orange, yellow. They're also referred to as active colors.
They tend to jump out at us, get our attention, make us notice. Then we have cool colors, blue, green, purple, which are also referred to as passive colors. These tend to take a backseat to the warm colors. Often they pacify us. We notice them in very different ways than the active colors. Finally, we have neutral colors. These are your blacks, your whites, grays, and browns, colors that tend to adapt to the colors around them.
But don't let that fool you. Neutral colors have a meaning all their own. I promise you. So how do our individual colors incite emotions and the feelings deep down inside of us? Well, that has to do with cultural norms. Our different cultures have histories with color. Many cultures around the world think very similarly about most colors, allowing our designs with them to be very universal, though not all cultures carry the same meaning for all cultures, yet many will.
So let's talk about some of those meanings. Red. Red is a very active color. It feels intense. All our most extreme ideas and emotions tend to be associated and wrapped up in red. We think fire and blood. We think energy, war, danger, love, passion. Yellow. Yellow is another of our active colors. It's possibly the most active of colors. We really notice yellow. It gives off a positive feeling. We think sunshine, joy, cheerfulness, energy.
Also, because it's a real attention-getter, you'll often see it in street and safety signs. Actually, yellow and black combined make really good warnings both in design and in nature. Heck, we avoid those yellow and black bees because of their terrible stingers, right? Orange. Orange is another of our warm and active colors, though likely it's the most gentle of those active colors. We tend to associate orange with safety, the warmth of fire, the coziness of being bundled up inside in autumn.
It is a comfortable warmth. It's stimulating, gives off the feeling of enthusiasm, happiness, success, and creativity. Now let's move on to our cool colors, like blue. Blue is a strange color. We tend to associate it with the sky, the sea, depth, stability, and both depression and happiness. The value and intensity of blue makes a huge difference. A light blue gives us that happy sky tranquility feel, the feeling of floating, calm happiness, but a dark, deep blue might make us think of depression, aka having the blues.
It's a very strange and versatile color depending on how you use it. Green. Green is another of those passive colors with extremely varying meanings. Green reminds us of nature, growth, healing, safety. Think of the green movement, that of recycling, saving the Earth, and all that's quickly associated with green. But here in the U.S., where I currently am located, green takes on another idea. Green makes us think of cold, hard cash.
I'm talking money, baby. So it's also associated with greed and envy based on that idea as well. Purple. Now, purple classically makes us think of royalty. This is because only the richest of the rich, kings, dukes, and that sort could afford the expensive dyes that can make purple robes and clothing. But in modern time purple is taking on some different meanings. It's looked at as more mysterious now, especially when mixed with black, which associates it with the goth movement.
Yeah, purple. Then we have colors that defy general categorization, such as pink. Pink toes the line between active and passive, though I think it's more active, yet it is a color all its own. It's often thought of as a feminine color, associated with little girls and toys, but in modern time it's the color of the breast cancer awareness movement. It's strength, and because it toes that line between passive and active and has some strength associated with it now, it's had a resurgence with the punk rock movement.
When combined with black, it feels bright and vivid. It's noticeable, it grabs attention, it rocks. Now let's talk about some of those neutral colors. Black tends to be looked at as powerful, elegant, mysterious but it also is thought of in relation to death, darkness, depression, space, emptiness, the great void that surrounds our meager human existence. White, well, here in the Western world, white represents purity, innocence, sacredness.
It's also the white flag of surrender. It has that clean feeling of peace, so at times white can be associated with the idea of cowardice. But in Asia, white is often associated with death and mourning. Heck, aren't ghosts white? Gray, yeah, gray is a really interesting neutral color. We think of gray as being void of feeling, lacking in emotion. Come on, robots are made of metal. Metal is just a shiny version of gray, so they lack empathy and are detached, and they're going to take over the human race.
Do not trust your Roombas. All right, back to colors. Finally, when we combine lots of various colors together, it gives off an idea of diversity, inclusiveness, like everyone from everywhere is invited to join along. Companies use colorful logos to try and appeal to as many different kinds of people as possible. We use it to open our arms to everyone and say, "Hey, you all, this design is for everybody. "Give me a hug." Maybe without the hug part.
Now, there is so much more to color design than the emotional meaning behind those colors. How we combine colors will create a visual story that needs no text or animation to get across a core idea, but I'll let you experiment with that on your own and dig deeper into color theory. Just remember how you use color in your design and animation is how you use emotion in it, and it will be noticed.
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