Color as a signifier

show more Color as a signifier provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the Photoshop for Designers: Color show less
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Color as a signifier

We all know the red means stop and green means go, but red and green and all other colors can mean different things to different people. Maybe you have a sunny disposition, maybe you get the blues. We all see red sometimes. Perhaps you wear a pink ribbon to promote awareness of breast cancer or tie a yellow ribbon for troops serving overseas. Maybe you are an Arsenal fan and red is your color. Maybe you support the Blues. Orange might mean Halloween to you or Dutch football, or the San Francisco Giants, or all of these things, or none of them.

Red and green might make you think of Christmas or maybe something hotter. Colors carry all sorts of messages, some of them contradictory. Colors can signify sports teams, political parties and ideologies, even religion. For every positive, there is a negative. These are not reasons to avoid colors, just considerations to be aware of. There are no right or wrong colors. We frequently use color to navigate our way in an airport, on a motorway, or freeway.

Perhaps you live in a metropolitan area where the underground bus or light rail has color-coded lines. This is the Washington, DC Metrorail, here is the granddaddy of them all, the London Underground, which has used the color coding in its diagram as the basis for its branding for the best part of a century. Just think about how important color is to branding. I am sure you can instantly match the color to the appropriate logo. Another important consideration with color is that color is relative. This example is adapted from Josef Albers' book 'The Interaction of Color.' These two orange rectangles are exactly of the same color, but because the one on the right is against a field of bright color, it too seems a lot brighter.

There is no such thing as an absolute color, only a relative color. Colors of course are very prone to trends. These are the colors of the year as defined by Pantone, which every year and it's coming up real soon December 2011; they will announce the color of the year for 2012. And of course the popularity of colors can be parodied in a funny way. Here is an interesting website by a guy called Christophe Courtois, he makes these amazing collages of movie posters, which hint at the popularity of colors for certain movies.

In dependent movies, it seems need to have posters with yellow backgrounds. Nature movies are commonly advertised with blue backgrounds. And this one is particularly funny. So when you have an action movie you need to have your protagonist at a slant, running down a blue road. What then can we say about different colors and what they signify? Colors have connotations. Many of these connotations are culturally specific, some of these we take for granted.

There's no such thing as an absolute color, only color in the context of other colors. And finally, colors are very subject to fashion trends, except of course black, which never goes out of style.

Color as a signifier
Video duration: 3m 14s 5h 18m Intermediate


Color as a signifier provides you with in-depth training on Design. Taught by Nigel French as part of the Photoshop for Designers: Color

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