One of the hardest parts of papercrafting is choosing your design in the first place - the actual crafting part you can do in your sleep! Whether you're making cards, scrapbooks, or origami, the colours you choose can transform a simple project into a masterpiece.

Understanding colour theory can be really helpful when getting started on a new project, so we've put together a little bit of info to help you with your crafting.

What Is Colour Theory?

On a simple level, colour theory is the science of how colours mix and match with each other, as well as how humans perceive colour both physically and psychologically.

The Colour Wheel is a great tool for helping understand what colours "scientifically" go together according to colour theory.

Different Types of Colour

Primary Colours:

Blue, Red, Yellow - they cannot be created by mixing any other colours

Secondary Colours:

Green, Orange, Purple - created by mixing two primary colours

Tertiary Colours:

These are created by mixing a primary and secondary colour together, eg red-orange or blue-green.

Colour Psychology

Using colours in your designs can help to evoke certain emotions, and having a good understanding of this can help you communicate the right mood for your projects.

This is something that is hard-wired into us as human beings and we all tend to feel similar emotions for the same colours.

  • Red: Passion, Love, Energy, Excitement
  • Blue: Calm, Trust, Serenity
  • Yellow: Happiness, Joy, Brightness, Warmth, Optimism
  • Green: Growth, Harmony, Freshness, New Beginnings
  • Purple: Creativity, Luxury, Mystery
  • Orange: Enthusiasm, Creativity, Warmth, Joy

You should also consider the connotations of warm and cold colours and how the evoke feelings too.

Choosing the Perfect Colour Scheme

Selection the perfect colour scheme for your cardmaking or papercraft projects is a super-tough decision at times, but breaking the decision down into categories can really help!

Colour harmony is the theory of knowing what colours work well together in general and are more pleasing on the eye. The basic theory of this is that opposite sides of the colour wheel look particularly well together, which is known as a Complementary Colour Scheme.

For example, red and green, blue and orange, yellow and purple - they all have a stark contrast between each other, and using both colours on a design can make your creations really pop!

You can use a Monochromatic theme instead to create a more atmospheric feel. This technique uses different shades of the same colour to build depth and interest to your creation.

Some people love using black and white, some love colour drenching using different shades of one colour only - which works really well, for example, on a Ruby Wedding Anniversary with only shades of red/pink.

Add some colour psychology to the mix, and you're also sending out feelings of love, passion and warmth.

Neutral Colours can be used to create a more calming feel to your designs. White, black, greys and browns can help to balance out more vibrant colours and are often used as background/secondary colours to a design to make the primary colours really stand out.

Applying Colour Theory to your Designs

Now you know the Colour Theory fundamentals - it's time to apply this knowledge to your papercraft and card making designs.

Half of your choice will probably be determined based on what stock you have in and what you're in the mood for using right there and then - but the other half can be determined based on a few simple things.

  • Firstly, who is your audience?
  • Who is your project for?
  • Are they fun and outgoing?
  • Do they love bright happy colours and everything bright?
  • Are they a little more reserved?

Once you've decided that, you can think about what mood and message your card is going to purvey.

Start with one colour, and go from there using all of the tips and tricks you've learned in the above steps. If you're still struggling, or want a little bit more guidance, here's a few colour combos to get you started!

So, next time you sit down to craft, take a moment to consider your colour choices and watch your projects come to life in vibrant, stunning hues.