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Colours : Primary, Secondary & Tertiary Colours


Understanding colours depends on the individual’s vision, light and the brain’s interpretation. Without proper lighting, there cannot be a proper vision. And without good vision, there is no proper interpretation.

Have you ever sat down to ask yourself what makes us see, or probably what aids the eyes to say this is red, blue or pink correctly? The human eye has photoreceptors called rods and cones, and the cones overpopulate the rods.

Rods are responsible for low-intensity vision or scotopic vision. They help us to see at night or in darkness. Rods are very sensitive and can respond to a single photon of light. Hence, their effectiveness at night. Rod cells don’t help with colour vision, and this is why you see everything as either black or white at night.

Cone cells are less sensitive and so need more light photons to respond. Due to this, they are active at day. At day, they send signals to the brain, which interprets the received signals as any other colour apart from black or light. Therefore, cones are responsible for photopic vision, which is high-intensity vision.

With this understanding of what aids our eyes to see an object as a particular colour, what then is colour? Colour is the property possessed by an object of producing different sensations on the eye due to the way it reflects or emits light.

Over 40,000 years ago, the earlier artist combined chalk, animal fat, burnt charcoal and soil for their work. This brought about the five basic colours which became the root of art: red, black, yellow, brown, white. Sir Isaac Newton, in 1704 added two colours (indigo and orange) to the five already perceived colours of the rainbow to make it seven.

Types Of Colours

Primary Colours

They are red, yellow and blue. The primary colours (red and yellow specifically) and the colour orange are known as warm colours, and they tend to make you think of warm things such as sunlight and heat.


The colour red is believed to be the first colour named after black and white, and it is the first colour used in art and has a heightened sense of symbolism. Red is the colour of blood and fire, and it also evokes love, passion, heat, danger and determination.

Spiritually, this colour evokes passion, power, will and courage. Red brings security, stability and grounding to your relationships, life and work. Having a personality red colour means you are a determined person who is not afraid to take risks.

On the road, a red post sign can indicate danger ahead. In medicine, red stands for an artery. Red is mostly worn during Valentine’s Day and sometimes on Christmas and Easter, and it can also be worn during occasions of grief and death in some cultural settings.


Yellow reminds us of sunflower and ripe cashew nuts or even ripe bananas. This colour stands for optimism, cheerfulness, and also promotes interaction. Cowardice, sickness and mental illness are some negative connotations of this warm colour.

People with the personality colour yellow have a cheerful and illuminating essence. They are fun to be with, but are analytical thinkers.

People with red or blue undertones look best in yellow. This bright colour is associated with road signs and stands for nerve in medicine. Yellow can be worn for parties, a date night, to work or even to church as this colour radiates positivity and cheerfulness.


This colour has worldwide popularity with its calming effect and mind healing. Have you ever wondered why the sky and sea are mostly painted blue in our comic books? This colour is associated with open spaces, imagination, freedom, intuition and inspiration.

In the aspects of love, blue represents trust and loyalty. Blue doesn’t like to disrupt the status quo, and it’s for this reason that there is so much predictability associated with it.

Wear blue when you want to exude power, have mental control, be conservative, respected, or communicate an important message. Don’t forget that the blue colour in your medical anatomy practical represents a vein.

Secondary Colours.

These are orange, green and violet, and they are produced by an equal mixture of two primary colours.

Blue, green, violet and indigo are cold colours. According to the traditional colour wheel, red and yellow make orange, red and blue make violet, and blue and yellow make green.


This colour is described as bright, happy and uplifting. In some cases, it can seem too bright and overwhelming. The colour tends to be controversial: people can either hate or love it. People might associate orange with prison uniforms in the United States, and in other countries, it is linked with spirituality and royalty. The colour orange is a highly stimulating but friendly colour.

It is an attention-grabbing colour, and so it is mostly associated with road signs. The most negative associations of the colour include crassness, rudeness and frivolity. Don’t be surprised why many sports teams use orange in their uniforms and branding, and this is because colour orange is a vibrant colour.

People with orange personality tends to be witty, optimistic, eager and bold. Orange blends well with green, light blue, black and brown. You can wear an orange dress during a casual party, at work, workouts and sports events. Don’t forget that the colour orange is attention-grabbing, hence, it’s best to wear it during a presentation.


Green is universally associated with nature: trees, plants, grass. It’s the colour of growth and renewal, spring and rebirth. It evokes a feeling of abundance while providing a restful and secure feeling. Green conveys stability, endurance, good luck, generosity, hope, health, vigour, safety, and renewal.

Green, the fourth rainbow colour, is a good listener, and it loves to contribute to the harmony and growth of a community. The soothing colour green is preferred in therapy, as it helps ease anxiety and depression. The colour has negative meanings in some cultures.

In China, green means infidelity.

In Indonesia, green has been traditionally forbidden.

In Israel, green is a sign of bad news.

People with the personality colour green dislike chaos and strive for consistency and balance. They understand that time is money, and they are environmentally friendly and involved in community affairs.

Others admire your clarity and respect your objective and fair outlook. One of the best occasions to wear green is at work because of its symbolism. This colour is associated with money and the word ”go” which are related to work.


This is one of the seven colours labelled by Isaac Newton when dividing the visible spectrum in 1672. It has a short wavelength, and it’s between blue and invisible ultraviolet in the colour spectrum.

Violet has long been the colour associated with royalty, quality and luxury. Violet is a compassionate colour, inspiring reflection and self-awareness. People with violet personalities are full of wisdom.

They seek to impress, inspire and show creativity. It’s a colour associated with humanitarian, psychic and religion. Some of the best colour combinations of violet are:

Violet and Silver

Violet and Gold

Violet and Blue

Violet and Cream or Beige

Violet and Pastel Pink

However, note that this colour best suits a formal date, work, christening and other religious gatherings.

Tertiary Colours

Combinations make these of primary and secondary colours. They sit between the primary and secondary colours they are mixed from on the colour wheel. The tertiary colours are yellow-orange, red-orange, red-violet, blue-violet, blue-green, and yellow-green. 

With this in-depth knowledge about colour, we hope you will know the perfect colour of the dress to take for that date night or that interview. Our world is a colourful place, and colours spice up our occasions. Just as the rainbow makes the sky beautiful, colours make our world beautiful. Be uniquely you. Stand out. Be colourful.


In this article, we provided all you needed to know about colours.

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