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The 10 Commandments of Color Theory: A Visual Guide for Designers and Creatives


Choosing the right colors for designs, ad campaigns, and posters can be a daunting task, especially when there are millions of colors to choose from. Working under a tight deadline can also force many people to choose safe or dull colors that lack substance. However, color is a crucial element in visual communication. It can evoke emotions, create moods, drive attention, and convey messages. For those who are not well-versed in color theory, there’s a handy infographic that can guide them.

The Infographic:

The infographic titled “The 10 Commandments of Color Theory,” created by Glantz Design and available on, is a visual guide that showcases brief descriptions of the foundational colors of the rainbow and indicates when and how to use them properly. The best part about the infographic is the samples. Since all of the samples are on one visual, making comparisons of color combinations can be a quick process.

The 10 Commandments:

The infographic provides ten commandments of color theory, each with a sample color palette and a brief explanation. Here are the ten commandments:

1. Start with the basics: the primary colors – red, blue, and yellow – and mix them to create secondary colors.

2. Pick a color scheme that matches your message and audience.

3. Use complementary colors (opposite each other on the color wheel) for high contrast and impact.

4. Use analogous colors (next to each other on the color wheel) for harmony and cohesion.

5. Use monochromatic colors (shades, tints, and tones of one color) for simplicity and elegance.

6. Use warm colors (reds, oranges, yellows) for excitement, passion, and energy.

7. Use cool colors (blues, greens, purples) for calmness, relaxation, and trust.

8. Use neutral colors (black, white, gray, brown) for balance, subtlety, and sophistication.

9. Be aware of cultural associations and connotations of colors.

10. Experiment, but don’t overdo it. Less is often more.

The Visual Samples:

Alongside each commandment, Glantz Design includes a visual sample of a challenging color combination and how to make it work. For example, the second commandment suggests picking a color scheme that matches your message and audience. The sample shows how to use bright colors for a fun and youthful product, muted colors for a serious and professional service, and complementary colors for a bold and exciting event.


Using color theory to design effective and appealing visuals can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. The 10 Commandments of Color Theory infographic provides a clear and concise guide for designers, creatives, and anyone who works with color. By following these ten principles and studying the visual samples, you can make informed decisions on color combinations that work best for your project, ad campaign, or poster. Remember to experiment, but don’t overdo it. After all, colors are meant to enhance your message, not overpower it.