For creatives, color isn’t only pretty to look at. It’s a helpful tool that can be applied anywhere—from pulling off a daring #OOTD look, creating a successful brand identity, or giving your artwork some added sophistication. And nothing is more mesmerizing and inspiring than an amazing color scheme.
In this installment of my Color in Practice series, I’ll share how color theory helps us mix and match colors with confidence and share a few ideas for how to apply those color schemes to your work ASAP!
Covered in This Post:
- How Do You Create a Color Scheme?
- Additional Resources
How Do You Create a Color Scheme?
If the fear of clashing colors is keeping you from exploring your options, color schemes are sort of like a map of the color wheel. This makes choosing colors to combine in our work simple, because we know these pairings are universally tried and tested. Here are some of my favorites:
Sometimes one good color is all you need. A monochromatic scheme lends itself well to anything from a minimalist design to intricate illustration. Don’t let the singular hue limit your creativity! By selecting tints and tones of the same hue you can end up with results that are anything but one-note.
A monochromatic scheme is helpful when learning about value and contrast in art, and can be a smart route for brand identity or business-related graphics because having a signature color is one of the easiest ways to strengthen identity and visual association.
The analogous palette is what would happen if monochrome had some siblings. Instead of playing with variations of one hue, use colors that sit directly next to your starter to add visual interest. For example: with purple as your starter, you can end up with a serene combo of eggplant, indigo, and teal OR something more fiery on the opposite side with orchid, scarlet, and tangerine.
Don’t forget! With the limitless ways to mix color, a small adjustment to tone, hue, value, or saturation might lead to something clean and classic, super-subtle, or bold and highly contrasted.
Hues that sit across from each other on the color wheel are known as complementary. In other words, they’re opposites that totally attract! This is perhaps the easiest type of color scheme to use because it gets those memorable and beautiful results every time, guaranteed.
Complementary colors have the strongest contrast of all the hue combinations, which makes them appear more striking or nuanced. Because they naturally enhance each other, it’s an easy way to get dynamic results. Just be careful! Blending these colors can cancel out their hues entirely.
If the classic complementary palette isn’t keeping you interested, a split-complementary scheme is a fun variation. Instead of using the color directly across the wheel from your starting point, use the adjacent colors directly to the left and right.
I like using split-complementary because it’s less expected compared to a complementary or triadic scheme. Playing with the ratio is key! In equal measures, these combinations can look quite graphic, but adjusting how much of each color you use will change the visual impact of the colors within your palette.
There are many other ways to combine colors, so be sure and do your research to learn about more color schemes and combinations!
Here are a few helpful tutorials and tools to help you learn more and combine colors like a pro!
- Adobe Color
- Coolors Palette Generator
- Thread on Color Theory from @emeldraws
- Using Colour to Become a Better Designer from Satori Graphics
- A Brief Lesson on Color from Rhea Lelina Manglapus
- Guide to Creating Color Schemes from Ann Maulina
Want to learn more? Here are some extra topics to research!
- Types of Color Schemes
- Color Harmony
- Value, Saturation, and Contrast
- Color Perception / Color Interaction
- CMYK vs. RGB
Now You Try!
Download the worksheet and put your newfound knowledge to use! Feel free to share your results in the comments section.
See you next week for the third and final installment of the Color in Practice blog series!
Support my creative work by sharing a favorite post with a friend, leaving a comment here on the blog, or making a one-time donation via Ko-fi.
One thought on “Color in Practice: A Beginner’s Guide to Color Schemes”