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News . Print Solutions

31 Aug 2017

Whether you are new to flexographic products, or you’ve been working with them for many years, you need to be aware of the Flexography 101 booklet series from the Flexographic Technical Association (FTA). The sixth and latest addition to this series on industry essentials is ‘An Introduction to Color Fundamentals’. Its launch is a great excuse to look in a little more depth at the role colour plays in all our lives, and how we can harness its power to get brand messages across and influence purchasing decisions.

The FTA hope that this latest addition to the series will build upon or refresh a basic knowledge of colour. Which, of course, we all have. Colour is a vital part of our lives and many of the decisions we make each day are based on an inherent understanding of colour. It’s why we wash our hands under the red tap, but fill a drinking glass from the blue one.

How we perceive colour comes down to not just the arrangement of rods and cones in our eyes, but also our evolutionary history. Our hunter-gatherer ancestors would have made food choices based on, for example, the colour of berries.

Today, we have invested colours with so many associations that vast amounts of information can be communicated by a single hue. Red, as we all know, means danger. It also signifies love and passion, and – perhaps conversely – is an order to stop.

Pink is for girls and blue is for boys, right? But blue also represents coolness, freshness, and cleanliness. That’s why you’ll find it used on packaging designs for toothpaste, chewing gum – and toilet cleaner. Some colour associations are cultural: a certain famous business newspaper faced consumer resistance in Japan because its paper colour – pink – is strongly associated with pornography there.

In recent years, black seems to have overtaken gold as the signifier of luxury and opulence. Think credit cards without limits and all those luxury SUVs with flashing blue lights, holding up the traffic.

Armed with this knowledge of colour, graphic designers can use it to sway the way people perceive products and make them want to buy them. Given that colour is so powerful, it’s vital that those of us in the industry understand it on a technical as well as an emotional level.

We need to be fluent in basic colour model descriptions and be comfortable roaming across the electromagnetic spectrum, searching for that precise shade. Colour comparisons are also vital – you might feel that a certain colour is right (or wrong) – but how do you demonstrate that?

From green grass to blue skies and big yellow moons, we live in a colourful world. Colour guides what we eat, keeps us safe and lets us express ourselves. Because humans are such visual creatures, colour is one of the most important ways we have of giving each other messages, from the subtle to the shocking. If you work in flexography or graphic design, knowledge of the science and language of colours is not something you can afford to be without.

To learn more about ‘An Introduction to Color Fundamentals’ and the other booklets in the Flexographic 101 booklet series, visit