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Vanessa Rodriguez Esparza |Color Theory History, Psychology of Color

Color theory History, psychology of color


I was interested to see Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s contribution to color theory since I know of his work as a playwright but had no idea that he also strongly disagreed with Newtons conclusions about light and color. His experimentation pushed color theory to another level past just the physical properties of light. This than opened new ways to represent and explain the emotional and physical response that humans have when interacting with color.

This concept was explored further by Johannes Itten at Bauhaus, he began to study color for the psychological effect its presence had on people.


His student Joseph Albers developed developed a new organization method to explain balance in color for color combinations by using mathematical proportions to create these new combinations. His book “Interaction of Color” became a staple for color theory as it is a deep investigation on what happens as colors interact with one another. Munsell’s color tree introduced a “tree” styled graph to see color in all three dimensions  based on Hue, Value and Chroma (HV/C) this new form of organizing color became the norm for industrialized systems.


The six basic color relationship concepts are :


Split complementary

Double complementary




Vanessa Rodriguez Esparza | Research Project Notes


cones capture the red, blue and green rays. rods help us see in dim lighting. contrary to what many people believe, most animals are not color blind


many researchers have continued to tweak the color wheel. these experiments have expanded our knowledge on color mixing and have given us a broader color spectrum


albert munsell described a cylindrical color wheel model that depicts hue, value and chroma (saturation)


all colors have positive and negative meanings depending on the  hue, value and saturation


pantone color is achieved though a chemical solution


offset printing can be an extremely useful tool when you need a high quantity of prints


color is perceived much faster than text therefore, color is the most important aspect of a logo

color wheel reading

I was interested to learn more about the evolution of color.  The process the color wheel had undergone from the first time Newton collected his findings about color, to what modern colorist have discovered is very interesting.

I am more eager to know about mixing colors, so that I can appreciate these differences and the importance it has on my future work.

Color Properties | Color Harmonies

Color Properties

I always found light rays to be fascinating.

I once read that galaxies in the outer regions of space looked red to the observers gathering research.  In learning more about light and the different wavelengths its easier to understand why. If Red has the longest wavelength, then it makes sense that only these lightwaves can reach us from so far away.

I was also enjoyed reading about primary and secondary color.  It made me aware of information regarding color that I had taken for grated. For example I knew that a printer carried CMY K but never really felt interested to learn more about the process. This information has made me more aware of my surroundings.

Color Harmonies

Color has an effect on moods and human emotions, because of this it is important to have color harmony so that these colors work well together to achieve the purpose you want for them.

I was interested to find out about the many people who use  color harmonies in their everyday. In the design field I can see how important it is to master this theory so that you can communicate the right message to the public.




Vanessa Rodriguez Esparza



Two summers ago, while taking an Environmental Biology class, I researched a book by William McDonough and Michael Braungart that introduced me to “cradle to cradle” design and product innovations. I was astonished by what design could be and a wave of possibilities, brought on by a career I suddenly wanted to know everything  about, overtook me. I realized that consumer products did not have to come from the bleak lines of conveyer belts. Instead, they could be designed with purpose and foresight from the very beginning. Using sustainable materials, products can be delivered to the consumer with something I call a  “retirement plan,” or a system developed along with the product that keeps the materials active after they serve their original purpose . This is the reason why my  intended Major is Industrial Design.

In regards to this Color Theory class,  I am  honestly excited about it!

I am fascinated by  Newton and his experiments with light and color and I am very interested in learning about the links between all mediums and especially how it translates into digital media.