Difference Between Warm And Cool Colors

By | 12/10/2022


As artists, we will be familiar with the terms warm and absurd colors. But what do they really mean? In this commodity, we are going to explore both the warm color palette and the cool color palette in-depth to discover what the terms mean, and the office that warm and cool colors play in interior pattern and in fine art.

Table of Contents

  • 1
    A Definition of Warm and Cool Colors

    • ane.i
      The Meanings Behind Warm and Cool Colors
  • 2
    The Temperature of Neutral Colors
  • 3
    The Importance of Colour Temperature in Paint Mixing
  • 4
    Introducing Color Into Your Home

    • 4.1
      Warm or Cool Colors?
    • 4.2
      What About Warm and Cool Colors Together?
  • v
    The Role of Colour Temperature in Art

    • v.1
      Decision-making Color Temperature
    • 5.2
      Famous Paintings Using Warm, Absurd, and Neutral Colors
  • six
    Ofttimes Asked Questions

    • 6.1
      What Are Warm Colors?
    • half-dozen.ii
      Can I Use Warm and Cool Colors in the Same Room?
    • half-dozen.iii
      Are Neutral Colors Warm or Absurd?
    • half dozen.4
      Is Pinkish a Warm Color?
    • vi.5
      In Art, Is Greenish a Warm or Cool Colour?

A Definition of Warm and Absurd Colors

Nosotros can trace the meanings of warm and cool colors all the fashion back from the Renaissance and the Middle Ages to Classical Antiquity. At first, all colors – including black and white – were linked to the iv elements of earth, water, fire, and air. Just it was Sir Isaac Newton who, in 1704, discovered the color wheel and laid out the colors on the light spectrum – red, orange, yellow, green, blueish, indigo, and violet – in a circumvolve.

A few years later in 1758, chemist Robert Dossie published
The Handmaid To the Arts
in which he stated that the terms “warmth” and “coolness” were being used by painters. He explained that the terms referred to the colors on the wheel and the distinction betwixt them in terms of the feeling they evoked.


In other words, some colors gave off the feeling of heat and others of cold. Co-ordinate to Dossie, red and yellowish “incline towards warmth, while light-green and blue incline to coolness”.

So, what does it mean if a color is warm or cool? Well, modern theories regarding color have inappreciably changed in 300 years. They are also based on the six-indicate colour wheel of chief and secondary colors, the master colors beingness ruddy, yellowish, and blue, and the secondary colors green, orange, and
purple. An imaginary dividing line running through the color wheel separates the colors into warm and cool. Ruby, orangish, and yellowish are warm colors, while bluish, dark-green, and royal are cool.


What Are Warm Colors

Although it is like shooting fish in a barrel to identify the temperature of the colors that are opposite each other on the bike, it is a bit more of a challenge when it comes to the colors that sit adjacent to each other. The easiest mode to do this is to wait at what is known as the “bias” of each color, in other words, the color it leans towards on the chief or secondary bike.

Let u.s.a. look at red and purple which sit next to each other on the wheel. They are a primary and a
secondary color, respectively. As y’all can see, purple is a bluish-red, thus a cool color, whereas red, which has a yellow bias, is warm. Only what about dark-green? Is green a warm or absurd color? Wait at the wheel. You will run into that green is definitely a absurd colour, thus all colors that accept a dark-green hue will be cool as well.


In a nutshell, yellows, reds, and oranges belong to the family of warm colors, while cool colors include purples, greens, and blues.

The Meanings Behind Warm and Absurd Colors

Now that nosotros have identified which colors are warm and cool, the question remains
why? It is because of the feelings they evoke and the
emotions with which nosotros place when looking at a particular color. Permit us look at present at the meanings of the main and secondary colors.

Shade Colour Temperature

of Color

Hex RGB CMYK Meaning of Color
Red Warm #FF0000 255, 0, 0 0, 100, 100, 0 When we look at the colour cerise, we immediately call up of honey and passion, but at the

aforementioned time, danger, and power.

Yellow Warm #FFFF00 255, 255, 0 0, 0, 100, 0 Xanthous is a happy and joyful color, the color of sunshine.
Bluish Cool #0000FF 0, 0, 255 100, 100, 0, 0 Blue makes u.s.a. recollect of the sky and h2o. Information technology is both strong and peaceful.
Green Cool #00FF00 0, 255, 0 100, 0, 100, 0 Light-green is the colour of cool grass and shady trees. It is reminiscent of our environs and the harmony of nature.
Orangish Warm #FFA500 255, 165, 0 0, 35, 100, 0 Like red, orangish is an energetic color that is symbolic of burn down, warmth, and security.
Purple Cool #A020F0 160, 32, 240 33, 87, 0, 6 Purple does not often appear in nature, only it is the color most unremarkably associated with royalty and luxury.

The Temperature of Neutral Colors

Nosotros have discussed at length where the primary and secondary colors fit into the categories of warm and cool colors, but what about
neutral colors? Indeed, what well-nigh black and white? Before we can reply that question sufficiently, we first need to identify what neutral colors are. There are six master colors:

  • Beige
  • Blackness
  • Brown
  • Grayness
  • Ivory
  • Taupe
  • White

In add-on to these neutrals, we should non forget gold and silverish, and perhaps surprisingly, pink. You might be asking yourself, is pink a warm color? It depends entirely on the mix of reddish and white.  Pink is, after all, a desaturated carmine, although y’all will not find it on any traditional color wheels.


Neutral vs Warm Color Palette

Considering these colors are neutral, their individual temperatures depend largely on their surrounding colors. Still, some artists argue that black and white, every bit well as aureate and dark-brown, are warm colors, while gray and argent, ivory and white are cool. Pink tin can be either temperature, depending on how saturated it is with cerise. At the same time, neutral colors are rarely if always used in isolation. They are either utilized every bit accent colors or to highlight a color or colors that accompany them.


Yet, neutral colors are equally of import in their own right, and each one has a particular significant.

Shade Color HEX RGB CMYK Meaning of Color
Beige #D9BB9B 217, 187, 155 xv, 25, 40, 0 Beige is a relaxing, sober color that some artists would also call a traditional color.
Black #000000 0, 0, 0 fourscore, 70, seventy, 100 Black is sophisticated, but conservative and mysterious at the same time.
Dark-brown #A65E18 166, 94, 24 x, 60, 100, xxx Brown
is bawdy and wholesome, elementary, and friendly.
Gray #939598 147, 149, 152 0, 0, 0, 50 Similar blackness, grayness is conservative and elegant.
Ivory #FFFDE9 255, 253, 233 0, 0, 10, 0 Ivory is a quiet and formal color, and more gentle than white.
Pink #FAD5E5 250, 213, 229 0, 20, 0, 0 Pinkish is romantic and playful, a fragile
color that mixes
well with most of the neutrals.
Taupe #483C32 72, 60, fifty 0, 17, 31, 72 Taupe is between beige and grey and symbolizes intelligence and practicality.
White #FFFFFF 255, 255, 255 0, 0, 0, 0 White symbolizes purity and innocence, but information technology can be soft and sophisticated every bit well.
Silver #CAD5DA 202, 213, 218 20, 10, 10, 0 Although silver is similar in hue to gray, it is more of a rich, glamorous color.
Gold #D3BA34 211, 186, 52 10, fifteen, 90, ten Gilt is extravagance, richness, and tradition.

Just by looking at the colour chart, we can meet which colors work well together and which clash. But recollect, neutrals are hardly ever used on their own or even in pairs, so you would need to take a holistic view of your paint selections to enable you to make an informed decision about the colors you will ultimately select.

The Importance of Colour Temperature in Pigment Mixing

This is where things go a scrap tricky. When it comes to the countless range of pigment colors, the same color tin exist both absurd and warm. So although nosotros have just learned that, for example, red, yellow, and orange are warm colors, where paint is concerned they tin can be cool colors as well.

The trick is to compare your color to 2 others. For instance, accept two colors that y’all know are warm and cool such every bit a warm red (which will have a yellow bias, similar light Cadmium red) and a cool red (which will accept a blue bias, such every bit alizarin cerise).

Shade Color  Temperature

of Color

Hex RGB CMYK
Lascaux Cadmium Red Light Warm red with a yellow bias

#D82429

227, 0, 34 0, 100, 85, 11
Alizarin Ruby Absurd blood-red with a blue bias #E32636 65, 102, 245 73, 58, 0, 4

Compare your third color to them and you lot will see its particular bias, that is, whether information technology leans towards the yellowish-cherry (warm) or blue-red (absurd). In one case y’all accept identified the third color’s bias, you will be able to categorize its temperature as well and thus select the nigh appropriate color to mix it with.

Shade Color  Temperature

of Color

Hex RGB CMYK
Ultramarine Blueish Warm blue with a xanthous bias #4166F5 65, 102, 245 73, 58, 0, 4
Cerulean Blue Cool blue with a green bias #2A52BE 42, 82, 190 78, 57, 0, 25

Of class, there will e’er be exceptions to the rule because colour temperature is non an exact science. Information technology is perhaps past a stroke of luck that ii warm colors, yellow-red and reddish-xanthous work well together. On the contrary, cool greenish-yellow works improve with warm xanthous-green. (Recall, we asked earlier if green is a warm or cool color and we discovered that it was cool.) You can as well attempt our
online color mixer
to test-mix your colour combinations.


Notwithstanding, if yous can place the color’southward ascendant bias and thus its temperature, yous volition be able to select the best color to mix it with.

Introducing Color Into Your Home

While it’s true that not all of us are artists in the traditional sense, we still accept a blank canvas on which to work: our homes. At present that we have learned a scrap more than about the theory and temperature of colors, it is time to bring them indoors.


Warm Colors in Interior Design

Warm or Absurd Colors?

At the showtime, the most frequently asked question is, which are amend, warm or absurd colors? The reply is neither. Or both. It depends entirely on the wait and feel you lot desire to achieve in the room you lot are working on. Let us look at a quick snapshot of the benefits of both colors.

Warm Colors

  • On the warm color palette,
    y’all should not make the mistake of thinking that the term warm besides means hot, and thus uncomfortable.
  • By using warm colors in large spaces,
    they volition brand the space more inviting because warm colors are cozy and intimate.
  • Warm colors also create a
    feeling of happiness and energy.
  • They are oftentimes used in social rooms
    similar living rooms, dining rooms, and kitchens.
  • Warm colors are typically oranges, reds, and yellows, besides as off-white neutrals such every bit ivory, foam, and beige.
  • If you lot live in a common cold climate,
    warm colors would work well for your rooms.


Warm Color Palette

Cool Colors

  • Cool does non mean cold and clinical.
    On the contrary, information technology is sleek and sophisticated.
  • Cool colors on the bluish side of the color wheel have a calming and soothing effect,
    especially when accompanied by white.
  • They are near often used in bedrooms and bathrooms,
    as well as the private places that are our sanctuaries.
  • Cool colors in the bedchamber
    are calming and promote residue and relaxation.
  • If the climate you live in is hot all twelvemonth long,
    absurd colors are probably your best choice.

What About Warm and Absurd Colors Together?

At that place is no dominion in interior design that states that rooms must exist designed solely with warm or absurd colors. In fact, about people use them together, bearing in heed that the ascendant colour, regardless of temperature and the accompanying colors, volition set the tone for the room.

The other pull a fast one on you demand to remember is that in one case yous have decided on what you desire the room’s temperature to be, y’all need to stick with information technology and stay consistent. In other words, you lot should not have the aforementioned number of warm and absurd colors in the room unless you desire information technology to experience a bit zany and unconventional.


Some designers believe that having a disharmonism of temperatures effectively cancels out the colors and leaves the room without any personality or feeling at all.

Then, for instance, if you are decorating a cool green interior, do not make the error of laying a floor in a warm colour such as terracotta, or take finishing touches in gold or brass, both of which are warm colors. Instead, go for a neutral color that volition not draw attention to itself only instead will set off the greenish in the room.


Is Green a Warm or Cool Color


Similarly, if the furnishings and walls in your living room are warm colors such every bit soft chocolate-brown and off white, you should not put down a carpet or rug in a absurd color such as blueish. Rather go for a warm ruby instead.

The rule of pollex in interior blueprint is 80/twenty, in other words, neutral colors should make upward 80% of the colors in the room, and strong colors the remaining 20%. That means that your dominant colour will stand out amongst the neutral colors of the pillows on the sofas, the lampshades, carpets, and curtains.

The Office of Color Temperature in Art

Only as it is in interior pattern, in the world of art colors tin be categorized as warm and absurd, and sometimes both. Colors practise not exist in isolation, so in order to identify their temperature, you have to compare one color to some other. Then for example, in order to identify a warm blue, y’all would have to compare it to a cool blueish.

Of course, there are no hard and fast rules in art. If you lot wanted to categorize all reds every bit warm and all blues equally cool, that would exist entirely your own option. Yet, if y’all were to do that yous would limit the possibilities of bringing temperature into your painting and thus the subtle nuances and differences between warm and absurd colors. Merely once you have go attuned to these differences, not just will you be able to create marked contrasts between colors such every bit reds and blues, y’all will also exist able to highlight the differences within the colors themselves.


All great painters, past and present, have mastered the art of color relativity. And once y’all have trained your eye to find the temperature of colors, you will be a master of color relativity besides.


Painting With Warm Colors

Controlling Color Temperature

A color’s temperature in a painting plays far more an of import role than but making the viewer feel warm or absurd. Past controlling the temperature of your painting, the opportunities arise for added nuances such equally:

  • Presenting a specific mood or feeling
  • Introducing additional dimensions to the subjects
  • Integrating color and calorie-free into the painting
  • Creating depth and dimension
  • Defining the relationship between the objects in the painting

One of the most important areas of color command is that of
landscape painting. Colors create the illusion of space and form, and in landscapes in item warm colors advance towards the viewer while cool colors recede. This is a good tip to bear in mind when it comes to the space and form in your own painting. Sometimes the proportions tin seem a trivial off fifty-fifty though the painting is technically correct.


All you need to do to suit information technology is change the temperatures of your colors. In other words, the areas that seem too large should exist cooled down, and those that seem besides small should be warmed upwardly.

Famous Paintings Using Warm, Absurd, and Neutral Colors

This is a wonderful case of the duality of warm and cool colors. In this
Portrait of a Immature Girl
by
Peter Paul Rubens, painted in 1616, the warm ruby and the carmine-orange of the girl’s cheeks, equally well equally her auburn pilus, attract immediate attending. These colors are perfectly kickoff by the pink of her forehead, a cool xanthous pink. The neutral white of her collar serves to highlight these warm areas.

Paintings With Warm Color Palettes

Portrait of a Young Daughter
(1615-1616) past Peter Paul Rubens;Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In stark contrast is Picasso’s
The Former Guitarist, which he painted in 1903. The painting is made up primarily of cool dejection but for the guitar which is a warm orange. This splash of warmth in an otherwise absurd composition jumps out immediately and grabs the viewer’s attention. It is a lovely example of a complementary relationship between warm and absurd colors.


At present that we have explained what warm and absurd colors are, y’all will accept a amend idea of how to use them in your portrait and landscape paintings, and how to comprise them into your habitation. And remember, you exercise not accept to have cool paintings in cool rooms. The aforementioned can be said of warm colors. Why not bring a little more pizzazz into your cool room by hanging a painting equanimous of warm colors in it. The painting volition bring in an extra dimension to the room and provide a indicate of visual interest.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Are Warm Colors?

On the colour cycle of master and secondary colors, the warm colors are red, yellow, and orange. Colors that have a red, yellow, and orangish hue, will also exist warm. On the contrary, green, purple, and blue are cool, thus colors that lean towards these tints will be absurd likewise.

Can I Utilise Warm and Cool Colors in the Aforementioned Room?

Yep, you can. Nonetheless, y’all demand to decide beforehand if you want the room to feel warm or cool. Whatsoever your option, your dominant color needs to reflect it otherwise your room may feel unbalanced.

Are Neutral Colors Warm or Cool?

Technically, neutral colors in and of themselves are neither warm nor cool. However, they are rarely practical in isolation just serve to either highlight or tone down other colors, regardless of whether in a painting or decorating a room. Neutrals also tend to take on the temperature of the colors that accompany them.

Is Pinkish a Warm Color?

Pinkish is an interesting color in that information technology is basically a mix of white, which is neutral, and red, which is warm. It could be argued that it is, therefore, a warm color, but over again, it depends on the colors it appears with. Remember the yellowish pink in Rubens’
Portrait of a Young Daughter? That pink is definitely a absurd color.

In Fine art, Is Green a Warm or Cool Color?

Whether in art or interiors, green is definitely a absurd color. Think of the shade from a leafy tree, or cool grass below your feet. Colors that are mixed with green, that have a definitive dark-green hue, are also cool. Just if it is mixed with a warm color, and takes on the hue of that color, can it exist considered warm.

Source: https://artincontext.org/warm-colors/