Beyond Black and White: Guide to Using Color in Your Design

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How much time do you spend browsing through color palettes for your projects? Are you feeling stuck and wondering how to make your designs pop with the perfect hues?
Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash

We all know how important it is to choose the right color palette for our designs, but sometimes it can be overwhelming, especially if you’re just starting out.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! In this blog post, we’ll share some pro tips on how to pick the perfect colors for your next design project. In this post, we’re going to take a fun and informative dive into the world of color theory. From understanding color relationships to creating vibrant designs, we’ve got you covered.

So sit back, relax, and join us for the next five minutes. You never know, you might just discover the design inspiration you’ve been searching for!

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  1. Mix and match colors like a pro
  2. 60 30 10 Rule of Color Distribution
  3. Primary & Secondary Color
  4. Color Inspiration

But let’s dig into the color model first, where and how to use them correctly.

What is a Color Model?

A color model is a method that assigns numerical values to each pixel in order to represent a color. The term “color” can be defined in a variety of ways, depending on the color model, with each model defining colors by making use of a unique set of color components.

PMS, CMYK, RGB, and Hex color systems are some of the most widely used color systems, and we are going to go through how each of these color systems fits into one of the two primary categories. PMS and CMYK are printing color systems. RGB and HEX are both for the display.

Now that we’ve covered a lot of ground let’s break it down even further by looking at each color type separately and discussing what it is and how it may be used.

PMS (Pantone Matching System®)
Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

The Pantone Matching System (PMS) is a reliable method of conveying color information that relies on the visual equivalence of discrete, pre-mixed hues. This guarantees that no matter where in the world your team is, you’ll all be working to the exact PMS color standard.

PMS colors are used by the vast majority of companies and organizations for their branding, especially logos since they provide the highest level of color consistency across all printed materials and locations.

CMYK Overview

CMYK is an abbreviation for the cyan-magenta-yellow-black color model. It is used to describe colors based on the proportions of these four hues. It is the medium that printers work with, and you may also encounter it referred to as process color because it is utilized in the four-color printing procedure.

RGB Overview

The RGB color model is employed when creating graphics for a digital screen, such as a computer monitor or mobile phone display. Each of the three primary colors—Red, Green, and Blue—is given a value between 0 and 255 in the RGB color scheme, where 0 is black, and 255 is white.

Cr: Moon Learning

In web design, HEX colors are used by both designers and developers. A HEX color is determined by the proportions of red, green, and blue that it contains and is represented by a six-digit combination of letters and numbers (RGB).

It’s time to look into your color options for your design project:

Mix and match colors like a pro

You could have an innate talent for selecting and combining hues. Furthermore, feel free to put it to use immediately. Yet, if you’re apprehensive about choosing brand colors, we’ve got some suggestions. In this lesson, I will demonstrate some methods that can be helpful to you.
Color wheel

Above, you see an RGB color wheel. Which is what we use for screen design. There are 12 main colors in this wheel. They can divide into cool and warm colors.

This is how it will appear in your design software; use this color palette as a reference. For the sake of clarity, I’m going to utilize a shortened form in my examples. This way, the gradations of color are a little easier to see.

Using Material Design Foundation is a great starting point for choosing colors for your brand. If you go to the Colors section of the Material Design website, you can then call a system. It’s a fun concept to play around with in general, and the color schemes may be found here. Because of this, choosing a color scheme and getting started in general is a little less of a challenge. I’m going to take you back to the color wheel and explain how to use it to make a beautiful palette.

1. Monochromatic Approach
Monochromatic Approach

So, our first approach is the monochromatic approach. That is, you choose your color. There are two colors, for example, green and blue. Then proceed to the middle of the color wheel. As a result, you get good shading. Almost any color can be used. The screen typically works great if you’re just getting started and want something safe to work with. I enjoy utilizing this method because it allows me to set the tone. Especially while creating an app.

2. Anologous Approach
Analogous Approach

Next, an anologous approach. Let’s begin by selecting colors that are close to one another. They can be on a different side, just within a 90-degree angle. You may create a more dynamic style while maintaining a professional and stylish appearance.

3. Complimentary Approach
Complementary Approach

The complementary approach is the way to go if you’re seeking something even more lively. You may put this to use by combining it with the color on the other side of the wheel. And by including some additional forms, I’ll make this a little less rigid. You can take this concept even further at this point.

4. Split Complementary Approach
Split Complimentary Approach

You can also employ the so-called split complementary strategy, combining this method with the analogous one. And you select a color beside it. Combining warm and cold temperatures is the most effective method for producing anything with a high degree of vitality. And it continues to operate harmoniously together.

60 30 10 Rule of Colour Distribution
Material Design: Color Tool

Now, in addition to the colors you choose, how you employ them is essential. The 60-30-10 guideline is an excellent rule of thumb. It implies that 60% of your design should consist of your base color. Then 30% of your design should consist of your primary color. And to emphasize, use your secondary color for 10%.

Now, clearly, we have yet to precisely measure a hue. It is more of an impression of dispersal. As you can see from my example, this is wonderful since it allows you to experiment with variants. As is evident from what it does, It provides a very sturdy foundation and an excellent framework. And it draws attention to where you need it, such as your calls to action, if you need to change the colors. This also works nicely with minimal editing.

You can use the Material Design Color Tool to get started if you want to test this rule to see if it works well for your project. And it demonstrates how it will appear in your design.

Primary & Secondary Colour
Material Design Foundation: Color System

What is primary & secondary color? Why is it essential for my design?

This is what we refer to as a color theory. Color theory is the technique of blending colors using the color wheel, which is an ordered representation of the primary, secondary, and tertiary colors. These are essential skills for every designer or artist. Understanding these concepts is a critical first step in formulating suitable color palettes.

Primary colors

Red, yellow, and blue is the three basic hues. Primary colors mix to generate secondary colors.

Secondary colors

Purple, green, and orange are the secondary hues. Purple is created by combining red and blue, while green and orange are created by combining blue and yellow. The creation of tertiary colors occurs when secondary colors are mixed with primary colors.

Tertiary colors

Tertiary colors are mixtures of primary and secondary colors.

Colour Inspiration

It’s cool to set up a color scheme and all the other technical stuff that goes along with it. On the other hand, there are instances when you only need a little motivation to get into the appropriate frame of mind. It’s also possible that there needs to be a set color palette for the brand, despite the fact that there is already a product on the market.

You can obtain some ideas for the next design project you’re working on by getting some color inspiration from this place:

  • Pinterest, if you want some general ideas for moods. Go to Pinterest and just put in the color palette. And then, you’ll get some really great ideas.
  • Coolors, this is a really great tool to generate a color palette.
  • Color Palettes, is another excellent place to create a range of different palettes and inspiration
  • Pretty Colors, this is my go-to site if I feel tired of picking up which color to use

Just to recap…

Color theory can be a bit daunting, but don’t let that discourage you! Understanding the basics is key to creating stunning designs that truly pop. With a little practice and exploration, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish!

We hope this post has provided some helpful tips and insights. If you have any questions or cool resources to share, please leave a comment below. And don’t forget to keep coming back for more inspiration and tips!

If you find our content helpful, please share it with someone you know who’s passionate about design. Together, let’s unlock our full potential and create something amazing!

Ready to give it a go? Check out my latest post, Design Thinking: Speed Up Your Design Workflow

Lists of Open Source Typefaces - Free resources for designer | Product Hunt

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