Sources for Color Theory or Psychology of Color

Does anyone have a recommendation for a good book/blog/forum that focuses on design principles such as psychology of color, specifically where it relates to picking a color palette for a communication design work?


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Method 1

Smashing Magazine did a 3-part series last year on Color Theory. You might find it relevant:

  1. Part 1: The Meaning of Color
  2. Part 2: Understanding Concepts And Terminology
  3. Part 3: Creating Your Own Color Palettes

Method 2

I really enjoy the Colors on the Web website on Color Theory and their Color Wizard. It makes color theory and picking colors for the web more fun. It’s also very useful.

Method 3

I recently wrote an article on my website, How To Choose A Color Scheme For Your Website, that compiles a list of the most useful tools and resources I could find on color theory and color psychology. It also provides a sample workflow for choosing a color scheme. While it’s geared for websites and web apps, it could be applied to any type of design work.

Method 4

This is a valuable resource for quickly summarizing different meanings of colours across different cultures. We often forget that in different countries a colour can mean something quite different!

Colours in Culture Visualization

Method 5

I can see these on my shelf from where I sit. I have more; but, these references will cover most casual questions superficially, at least. The first four cover psychological aspects with some cultural references. No applied knowledge, though. The rest are more colour theory oriented —Different theories.

  • The Symbol Sourcebook (the short colour section in the back), by
  • Color & Human Response, by Birren (or anything by Faber Birren)
  • The Luscher Color Test, by Luscher
  • Principles of Visual Perception, Bloomer
  • Color And Its Reproduction, by Field
  • Color Primer 1 & 2 by Zakia, Todd
  • Vision & Art, by Livingstone
  • The Eye, Torstar Books
  • The Optics Handbook, Optical Society of America
  • Principles of Color Design, by Wong
  • Colour Mixing By Numbers, by Hickethier
  • The Interaction of Color, by Albers
  • A Grammar of Color, by Munsell
  • The Elements of Color, by Itten
  • The Colour Primer, by Ostwald
  • Principles of Color, by Birren
  • The Contrast of Colors, by Marx

Method 6

You asked for a specific book, but my recommendation is to buy a book written by someone from the culture you are targeting.

Color perception varies from culture to culture. If you use the advise from an US author and you are targeting Russian people, there will be a mismatch.

Method 7

Two perception psychology books i recommend :

Method 8

A classic website that you may have already come across is – it has a good blog featuring articles that may be of interest. Another great feature is the user contributed pallets for everyday pieces of work (magazines, posters, fashion catalogues).

All methods was sourced from or, is licensed under cc by-sa 2.5, cc by-sa 3.0 and cc by-sa 4.0

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