Colors, Hues, Contrast and Brightness for Content Aesthetics

Posted by on Sep 5, 2012 in Content, Insight, Menus

Options abound when it comes to digital signage content. Done well and your screens will be a success. Performed poorly and you most assuredly wasted money on the hardware and software. The multiplicity of options for proper content includes more specific reasons for different hues, colors, contrast and brightness. Let’s delve into more specific detail on the “how tos” and reasons for knowing more when it comes to publishing and displaying pictures, graphics, videos, and Flash on flat-panel displays.

Understanding Color, Hue, Saturation, Brightness and Contrast

Digital signage involves projected light utilizing the colors of red, blue and green. Standard, reflected light utilizes red, yellow and blue–otherwise known as the primary colors. Hue is any mix of the projected light colors on a digital display. These colors could include those standard in the typical rainbow or any contrasted red, orange, green, purple, yellow or some mix. Standard hues used in digital generally range with a number, usually from 0 to 239. These different hues can make up the difference in the designs and the way people interpret what is being displayed.

Brightness is a bit self-explanatory. It involves a difference in how bright the intensity of the color being displayed might be. Similarly, color saturation can be looked at as the strength or intensity of the color. If a color could be described as “bleached out” then it generally means the particular color is not very saturated. If you have ever left a printed photo in the sun for too long it can become washed out. In other words, it has lost its saturation.

When it comes to how much black and white is mixed in with the color, you’re generally speaking of luminance. Another way I like to look at luminance is by looking at two different hues of the same color and simply adding “more” to the mix. You can perform an experiment with this in Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Fireworks. These programs are not unique, but playing with hue and luminance settings give the ability to toggle between different levels of color brightness, giving the ability to choose which would be most beneficial for a particular setting.

Finding Complimentary Colors

When choosing two colors that you want to work together, you do not have to go with a graphic designer. This complimentary color tool may help.

Two colors are considered complimentary if they produce a neutral color — black, white, or grey — when mixed evenly. But, that is a mouthful. Simply put, a complimentary color has the opposite hue of a given color.

For those looking to create good content, it may well be wise to use this tool to ensure the colors you are using are at least complimentary and don’t detract from the message itself. In the aforementioned tool all that is necessary is to input the color code into one box and the other box will output the color code of the most complimentary color on the color spectrum for use with your project.

If you wish to use more than just two colors you can do this by picking colors with differing brightness, contrast, hue and luminance and then simply find the corresponding complimentary color.

What the Colors Mean

There are books written on the psychology of color and what each color and color hue might mean. For purposes of this post, I’ll simply go through some of the basic colors and talk about the reaction these colors can produce. This will be important for those who may be looking to do an advertising network. And, depending on the culture you are integrated with, each color may have a very different meaning. Here are some general meanings to help out.

Black–Generally black is used to represent power, but can also be used to imply submission. It is used in clothing lines to help people look thinner, and is also used as the color of aloofness. Black is often used as the color of the villain.

White–Innocence and purity are the two most prominent psychological impacts of the color white. This is why brides wear white on their wedding day and why doctors and nurses wear white. This color is very neutral and can go with any other color you choose.

Red–Red is the most emotionally intense color of the spectrum. It stimulates a faster heartbeat and is the color of love. It is an extreme color and implies the need for negotiations and confrontations. Red is often used as an accent color and should be used to attract attention only when attention needs to be drawn from something else. Because red is an appetite stimulant it could work well with digital restaurant menu boards.

Blue–This is one of the most popular colors and it generally causes the opposite reaction of the color red. It tranquilizes and is often used in bedrooms. However, it can be a depressing color if used wrongly. Studies have shown that people are often more productive in blue rooms, however.

Pink–As the romantic color, pink is tranquilizing and neutral. It generally implies a relaxed state. This particular color is good to use when trying to subdue or relax an audience.

Yellow–Considered the optimist’s color, yellow is an attention getter which can be overpowering if overutilized because it is the color most difficult for the eye to take in fully. The color yellow can also speed up the metabolic rate.

Green–Green is another calming and refreshing color because it symbolizes nature. It also symbolizes fertility. In today’s day and age it could imply health and environmental awareness.

Purple–Purple is the most sophisticated color and implies wealth, sophistication, and femininity. Because the color purple is found rarely in nature, it is often used to imply artificiality.

Brown–Brown is the most reliable of all the colors and is the most abundant in nature. Men are more apt to choose brown as one of their favorites, however brown can be used to create a sad atmosphere.

Colors can effect us in different ways depending on the mood of the audience as well. Conclusively, using a particular color in one situation may not be the best color to choose in another, even if the same outcome is desired. It really depends on the location of the screen and the type of crowd you will be targeting which determines what particular color you will choose. Because you are not limited at all in the realm of digital, choosing a color and hue for particular content may just be a personal preference rather than a advertising technique. It depends on your personal preference. You could be like Louis Armstrong who said, “the colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky are also on the faces of people passing by.”

Enter your details below to subscribe to our blog.
We respect your privacy