Welcome back to another colourful article, this time dealing with last month’s favourite, chosen by you! Just as last time, it includes a showcase of websites, artwork and palettes, so there is a little something for everybody.
Blue is one of the three primary colours and as such is also part of the chromatic spectrum. It is a cool colour which covers a relatively wide area of the spectrum, ranging from cyan to a more violet tint. Of course you could always nitpick, but there is usually little doubt as to what all its different shades should be called; light or dark, greenish or not, you can still call it blue and get away with it.
According to its proper theory, blues are considered far colours, meaning that they seem to expand whatever shape they fill; a room, for example, will seem larger if painted blue, rather than yellow or orange.
It is easily perceivable by the human eye, given that blue colours present a wavelength between 440 and 490 nm. All three types of photosensitive cells respond to this range, albeit to varying degrees. On the other hand, the inclusive nature of the name means that some shades are (literally) easier on the eyes than others. Nevertheless, blue is a common sight in top favourites.
Although present in living beings (mushrooms and frogs, for instance), generally it has more inorganic and abstract associations.
One of these is the sky. Light tones give a sense of open space and freedom, an overall calming effect. Using light blue backgrounds in web design can make a site look friendlier, but large backgrounds have the risk of becoming dull. To avoid this, take inspiration from nature: the sky is much more appealing when the Sun creates a sort of gradient, rather than when it’s more or less one solid colour.
Next is the sea (or water in general). As a symbol of life and vitality, it also represents versatility; you can find it nearly everywhere, filling different shapes in different states. Although it is colourless in small quantities, in reality water has a slight blue tint that becomes more obvious in large quantities. While the image of a still body of water can be considered peaceful, remember that it can just as easily turn into a source of turbulence.
Blue is also a powerful corporate colour because of its association with stability and confidence. This is also why many IT companies prefer to use it in their visual identity, trying to combat the (to a certain degree) volatile nature of technology. Of course this all depends on the company’s philosophy, profile and desired image, but reliability seems to be the most wide-spread.
Some of the more negative associations are cold and melancholy. Less saturated shades remind of murky skies on cold days, while brighter shades closer to cyan have a frostier feel to them. Also, save for eye colours, the presence of blue on the human body is an indication of something wrong. This can be both physical and mental, hence the expression “feeling blue”.
Bright, electric shades of blue create a fantastic effect when combined with dark, ash brown. Although it dominates and gives the overall composition a cool feel, at the same time it manages to generate energy. It works well with dark metallic colours as well.
Together with teal or mint green it creates a natural, watery scheme that is also very fresh and inviting. Of course, there must be some balance and hierarchy between the two colours; otherwise they will compete with each other if they have the same intensity.
Using blue for less important details in orange or yellow schemes can cool down the design and take away some of the glare. While traditionally, orange is blue’s complementary, combinations with yellow will have roughly the same effect.