Color Theory - Tips for Game Development

July 18, 2022
Eden Alon
Time to read:
15 minutes


When it comes to designing games, color theory is one of the fundamentals no designer can overlook. Picking the right colors enhances the product for a better look and feel. Colors play a key role as follows.

  • Highlight core game mechanics
  • Create visual clarity
  • Ensures attention to key features
  • Fosters better emotional connection

Let us explain concepts such as the color wheel, color harmony, and the meaning of colors. This guide also elucidates tips and tricks to create an appealing color palette for games. 

The color wheel

color wheel

The color wheel is a circular representation of the entire range of colors the human eye can see and recognize. It can also help designers mix colors and create perfect combinations that attract the eye. Essentially, the color wheel includes three levels of strength.

Three levels of strength

Primary
primary colors

Colors Consists of RED, BLUE & YELLOW. Primary colors are the ones that cannot be formed by combining other colors. These core hues make the mainstay of the game design. 

Secondary Colors 
secondary colors


Consists of ORANGE, PURPLE & GREEN. Secondary colors are derived by mixing the primary colors, so they come on the second level. Also, the impact of these shades on the design is less than the primary counterparts. 



Tertiary Colors 



Consists of YELLOW-ORANGE, RED-ORANGE, RED-PURPLE, BLUE- Cool Colors Action Energy Brightness Calm Peace Serenity Warm Colors  PURPLE, BLUE-GREEN & YELLOW-GREEN. Tertiary colors are the weakest from a design impact perspective as they are formed when a primary and a secondary color combine. 


Warm VS. Cool Colors

Another key concept is color temperature, which creates emotions and helps with storytelling. Warm and cool colors are obtained by cutting the color wheel exactly in the middle. 

• Warm hues denote brightness, action, and energy. 

• Cool hues signify calm, peace, and serenity. 


warm and cool colors


Color Harmony

Color harmony refers to the mutual interplay between colors. Simply speaking, it denotes how well colors compliment each other in a game, a scene, or a product. Understanding harmony is the key to designing visually appealing products. Here are the color schemes that can be used to create a palette

The Meaning of Colors

It is also crucial to understand the traditional meanings of color to create the desired look and feel in the design. While the meanings of colors vary in different cultures and locations, there is a consensus regarding most of them. Let us explain the common meanings of some key colors in the context of game designing 


Red

Red is a strong primary color that signifies heat, passion, blood, gore, and love. It stimulates appetite and works as a call to action. 

Orange

Orange is a secondary color that brings together the warmth of red and the playfulness of yellow. It denotes energy, creativity, youth, enthusiasm, and health. 

Yellow

Yellow is an attention-grabbing primary color. It suggests happiness, positivity, hope, and caution. In games, it is used to represent the sun, smiley faces, and coins. 

Green

Green is a secondary color that represents nature, health, harmony, wealth, stability, money, and approval (green light). 


Blue

Blue is another primary color and is one of the best hues to use for player’ s characters. It connects with relaxation, intelligence, the ocean, and the sky. A darker tone relates to sadness. 

Purple

Purple is also a secondary color that links with prestige, luxury, balance, royalty, and mysticism. It blends the passion of red with the calmness of blue. 

Brown

Brown connects with wood, stability, warmth, honesty, utility, agriculture, and tools. Conversely, it has a negative connotation that associates with excrement and filth. 

Pink

Pink denotes little girls, femininity, candy, playfulness, babies, romance, and gender difference. 

Black

Black signifies exclusivity, elegance, power, and drama. It is a versatile shade that is ideal for creating frames and borders, contrasts, and bold effects. 

White

White is the color of simplicity, cleanness, weddings, and surrender (white flag). Like black, it offers the benefit of versatility 

to create a natural space. A color palette refers to a unique color scheme with harmonic hues that balance a game's design yet sets it apart. Designers can leverage creativity and reliable tools to create color palettes. They can also seek inspiration from successful use cases of color in competing products. 

Creating a color palette

A color palette refers to a unique color scheme with harmonic hues that balance a game's design yet sets it apart. Designers can leverage creativity and reliable tools to create color palettes. They can also seek inspiration from successful use cases of color in competing products. 

Here are some free tools that help with the creation of a color palette 

AdobeColor- Color palette creation tool according to color schemes 

ColorHunt - Trendy color palettes 

Coolors.Co - Extraction of color palettes from images


Color Palette Examples & Use Cases: 

Makeover Run

makeover run gameplay

makeover run colors

Balls And Ropes

balls and ropes gameplay

balls and ropes colors

Monster Gang 3D

monsters gang gameplay

monsters gang colors

Perfect Time

perfect time gameplay
perfect time colors

Find The Alien
find the alien gameplay

find the alien colors
Whip Master

whip master gameplay


whip master colors
CPI
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$0.5

$0.35

D1 Retention
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38%

D0/ D1 Playtime (sec.)
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750

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