The Colour Red

Adobe Spark-14


The colour red is the colour that attracts attention, excites curiosity and arouses to action.  Red is psychologically stimulating, and it can be used to increase blood circulation.  Representing passion and power, red is the colour that will attract the most attention. The colour red is the colour of fire and blood, so it is associated with danger, war, energy strength, determination desire, and love.

Red is one of the primary colours; it was the first colour to be given a name. As a colour that is striking, too much can make people uncomfortable. Hence, in design, its use is recommended only to highlight relevant information.

Colour of Passion

Red is the colour of passion, love, and hate.  It is visceral colour and in many regards is the colour of the body. We go red when are angry or embarrassed.  Red symbolises love, in the most erotic sense. We give red roses to our lover.

color red quote

By being associated with fire, red also represents desire, energy, heat and pleasure.  Red is the colour of extroverts.

Like the colour of blood, red is also associated with war aggression and anger. Red was chosen by the workers during the nineteenth and twentieth century.  The Communist parties and the extreme left have adopted the colour red that symbolises the blood that was spilt in these struggles.


Ralph Lauren Advertisement
Red Ralph Lauren Advertisement


Warning Signals

Red is quickly noticed by the human eye, long before other colours.  It is for this reason at night especially red is used to warn of impending danger. Red flashing lights are used on emergency service vehicles.  Red is used to indicate fire exits in theatres., factories and hotels and to mark the dangerous parts of machinery.

If any colour needs to get our attention, sounds a warning that colour is red. It stops us in our tracks at a traffic light.  Even those with only a passing interest in football know that a player is leaving the pitch when shown the ‘red card’.


Red has been associated with nobility and has symbolised power and wealth.  Even today the red carpet is used in events in which celebrities or distinguished persons are being acknowledged.

Duchess and Duke of Cambridge
Duchess and Duke of Cambridge

Light red represents joy, sexuality, passion, sensitivity and love.
Pink signifies romance, love, and friendship.  It denotes feminine qualities and passiveness.
Dark red is associated with vigour, willpower, rage, anger, leadership, courage, longing, malice, and wrath.
Brown suggests stability and denotes masculine qualities.
Reddish-brown is associated with harvest and fall colour color

Colour schemes for red

Color gets it meaning from its relationship with other colours.  The effect of a colour is determined by many different factors: the light that is reflecting from it, the colours that surround it, or the subjective perspective of the individual experiencing the colour. Here are some colour schemes I generated using Adobe Color.


Red colour scheme - complementary


red monochromatic




red analogous




Red shades

Further reading

The color Red: What does it mean?

Valentine’s Day was last week and it seems like the only color anywhere is red. Red is associated with love and the holiday of love. All the heart-shaped boxes are red, the flowers are red, everything is red. But why? As Color Wheel Pro puts it, “red is the color of fire and blood, so…

How the Color Red Influences Our Behavior

Red is a powerful color. It’s the color of Cupid and the Devil, the color of love and hate. It brings to mind hot-blooded anger and Scarlet Letter shame. It means luck in China, where bridal wear is red, mourning in parts of Africa and sex in Amsterdam’s red-light district.

teamSimon is a Sydney based digital designer. He is the Director of a boutique digital design studio, Bailey Street Design located in the vibrant inner west suburb of Newtown. Simon studied graphic design at Shillington College and specialises in web design for small and medium size businesses. Simon and his team (Toby the studio dog) are passionate about visual communication in the digital environment.


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