Colours are everywhere. Our mind is attracted to different colours all the time and associates them with different things. A study entitled The Impact of Colours in Marketing describes how researchers discovered that up to 90% of judgments made about products are based only on colour (depending on the product). But even if we are so familiar with colours there is a great level of uncertainty when it comes to using colours in art or design.
When it comes to web or graphic design, color may be the most important choice. The decision on the right colour is the basis of a cute, attractive and continuous design. However, choosing the wrong colour can destroy a design, even if everything else is correct.
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Now that we highlight the importance of colour, let’s look at some basic rules. If you are a beginner, do not worry. I’m not an artist either, but over the years, I’ve learned a couple of tricks about the colour palette that will make you a genius of colour in no time!
To understand the theory of colour, it is necessary to return to the basics. Let’s go back to preschool, when teachers showed you the three primary colours: red, blue, and yellow. These are easily identified as colours that cannot be created by combining other colours. Instead, you can create all the other colours by combining the primary ones with black and white.
On the other hand, the secondary colours are the 3 colours that are formed by combining the 3 primary colours. In the next image you will see how blue and red create violet; blue and yellow green, and red and yellow orange. There are also tertiary colours, which are obtained by combining the secondary colours, but let’s leave that for another article. From now on, the colour theory becomes a bit more complicated, so pay attention.
Dye, Tone and Shadows
Today, primary, secondary, and tertiary colours are hardly used in web and graphic design. Instead, prolific designers use all colours that are among those already named, which look better on a screen or print.
To understand colour, it is important to understand the concept of “nuance”. A nuance is basically a more sophisticated synonym of colour. For example, the primary and secondary colours are nuances, but so are all the combinations between them (for example, combining green and violet).
Once we add black and white to the mix, things become interesting. This allows the designer to create millions of variations. These variations are categorised in shade, tone, and shade, and you can create them by combining a specific shade with white, black, or grey. The dye is when you mix a colour with white. This creates a spectrum of softer and lighter colours. The tone is when you mix a hue with grey (or black and white). Essentially, what you get is a tone a little different from the nuance. Finally, the shadow is when you mix a nuance with black. This creates a darker and stronger colour.
The following graph shows the difference between tint, tone, and shadow. Now, do you see how these combinations come much closer to the actual design than the primary colours?
3 Rules to Create Your Colour Palette
Now that you know the basic theory behind colour on the web and catalogues, it’s time to start applying your skills to select a beautiful palette of your own! For this, we will keep things simple, and we will limit ourselves to 3 simple rules. Let’s see.
1: Combine the Total Tone of the Infographic
When designing an infographic, you have a specific purpose in mind. You might want to convey a message, provide valuable information to the reader, or simply entertain them. The first step in creating your colour palette is to think about what your goal is, and what the infographic will be about.
A simple image can confuse readers. The same applies for colours. If the infographic is about a horror movie, choose dark colours and shadows. If you talk about boats, then select a blue hue and play with the tint, tone, and shadow. If it’s a business infographic, do not use bright and funny colours like yellow or orange. Instead, choose more serious colours that suit your brand.
2: Choose Colours That Work Well Together
Intuitively, designers know which works together continuously, but there is also some science behind it. The first step is to understand and visualise the colour circle.
- Monochromatic: The first idea to select colours that work well together is to select a monochromatic palette. This is to work with a nuance, and the variation of tints, tones, and shadows.
- Complementary: Colours found at opposite ends of the chromatic circle are considered complementary. By combining these two colours, you can express contrast and interest. They are difficult to use in enormous quantities, but by their contrast they are very good at highlighting something, as a wake-up call.
- Analogues: The colours found next to the chromatic circle are nice together. They are the perfect combination, since they are great for any use, even to highlight and contrast a specific element without too much interruption. As a general rule, select a dominant colour, a second colour to sustain, and a third colour to accentuate.
3: Choose 2 or 3 Colours
Many times, it is best to keep things simple. A common mistake in beginners is to select 5 or 6 colours for the designs. Instead, choose only 2 or 3 – one should be clear and strong and the basis of the design, and the second and third should be a complement to the first, easily identifiable as a call to action or to highlight something important.
When you doubt, do not give up. Instead of choosing 4 or 5 colours, stay with your first two selections and play with tones, tints and shadows.
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