Art Synk

Color Theory for Crafting Better Characters

Art School, Mar 23, 2022
asuka langley soryu rei ayanami color theory anime characters

When constructing a character, think about what they symbolize. They should have a message that allows the viewer to identify and understand them. One of the best ways to do that is through an effective use of color. Understanding color theory allows artists to use psychology, cultural beliefs, and visual harmony to create their most memorable characters.

The color wheel is an essential tool for understanding color theory. It can be split into an array of categories. For this lesson, we are dividing the wheel into warm and cool tones. Red, orange and yellow constitute warm colors, which are used to symbolize heat, light, and movement. Green, blue and violet are cool colors, which are used to symbolize water, darkness, and silence.


Red

asuka langley soryu color theory anime characters

The color red is a fiery hue. It demands full attention and, in any case, is difficult to ignore. It stirs emotions of passion, power and provocation. On the positive side it represents vitality, excitement and confidence, while on the negative side it represents danger, aggression and dominance.

Characters associated with this color have vibrant personalities that make them popular with others. They can also be hot headed and arrogant. Evangelion's Asuka Langley optimizes this color with her monochromatic design and over the top personality. In western society, redheads are often considered quirky and artsy. Disney's Ariel is a great example of this take on the color red.


Orange

kaworu nagisa orange color theory anime characters

Orange is like Red's more approachable friend. It exudes emotions like optimism, adventure and creativity, encouraging and uplifting those around them. Its positive attributes are warmth and spontaneity while its negatives include insincerity, showiness and impatience.

Characters of this color are youthful and dynamic with an openness to change. They can also be prideful and attention seeking but typically without being too aggressive. Ed from Cowboy Bebop with her exuberant personality and endless energy is a great orange character. Also Kaworu Nagisa, with his confident yet approachable aura, radiates the power and warmth of this color.


Yellow

yellow color theory anime characters

Yellow is the color of cheerfulness and fun. This color inspires feelings of joy, optimism, and originality. Its positive attributes are good vibes, power through light and open communication, while it can also represent cowardice, fear and impatience.

Yellow is energizing and radiant like the sun; characters associated with this color are often bubbly and friendly. They are attention getting without aggression but can be prone to anxiety and feel over critical. With her bright blonde pigtails and never ending supply of spunk, Usagi of Sailor Moon personifies yellow.


Green

spike spiegel green color theory anime characters

This earth tone promotes feelings of harmony, growth, freshness and a relaxed energy. Its positive qualities are prosperity, hope and wellbeing. However it can also symbolize greed, envy and materialism.

Green is an interesting color because the way it is used can completely change its meaning. When used for subtlety or clothing, it gives the character a relaxed and approachable feel, like Gon from Hunter x Hunter. When used for hair or skin color, it gives an alien effect. It can also be used effectively for villains to highlight their greed or ill will towards other characters. With her long, lime green hair Esmeraude from Sailor Moon is an ethereal and conniving villain.


Blue

blue rei ayanami color theory anime characters

According to countless polls, blue is the most popular color. It's non polarizing and exudes feelings of trust and serenity. It gives the soothing feeling of peace but also with the impression of authority and commitment. Its negatives, however, include fragility, sadness and coldness.

Characters associated with blue are likely calm and reliable. They may also be distant, unfriendly or prone to depression. With her ice blue hair and her stoic presence, Rei Ayanami exudes the coolness of this color. She is both aloof and alluring, drawing the audience in slowly and revealing her true, caring nature with time.


Purple

faye valentine purple color theory anime characters

Because of its rarity in nature, purple is associated with royalty and the supernatural. This sovereign color inspires the imagination and invites mystery. On the positive side, this color exudes compassion, wisdom and wealth. On the negative, it can represent superiority, immaturity and uncontrolled emotions.

Purple blends the serenity of blue with the attention grabbing nature of red. Characters that utilize this color have a lot to play with. With her mysterious past and taste for luxury, Faye Valentine of Cowboy Bebop wears her purple angled bob well.

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