Colour can really help to attract people’s attention and make your designs look appealing, so your choice of colours is really important. But sometimes when you’re designing it can be tricky to find a good colour scheme – a group of colours that work well together. So if you ever get stuck when choosing colours, here are 3 simple ways to create great colour schemes.
The first way is to use kuler, Adobe’s online tool for making colour schemes, or themes; there are many apps like this around but kuler is really easy to use. You start by choosing the main, or base, colour for your theme, in this case I’m using a deep pink, and kuler will show you 4 other colours which should work well with it.
By using different settings, such as monochromatic, triad, or compound, and moving the sliders on the colour wheel you can get different supporting colours for your design and vary their brightness and saturation.
This is really useful if you’ve already picked the main colour for your design and are deciding which colours to use with it. If you haven’t picked your main colour yet though, you can try using the Create from an image option, or browse themes that other people have made for inspiration.
Another online tool for choosing colours is EasyRGB. Again, it helps if you’ve already picked your main colour, as you need to enter a colour value in order for the app to suggest harmonious colours.
Using the same deep pink, Easy RGB suggests 12 other colours to use alongside it. As you can see some are very similar to kuler’s suggestions.
EasyRGB works better if you’re choosing colours for screen work, such as websites, as the colours are entered and given as RGB and HTML values. If your project is print based, it’s better to stick to kuler as it also gives you colour values in CMYK, the standard for colour printing.
If you’d rather not use an app, here’s a DIY method to create colour schemes; it works in a similar way to kuler’s Create from an image option.
Firstly, grab a photo which you think has great colours – it could be a photo you’ve taken yourself, or maybe a stock photo. (For stock photos, you could try sxc.hu which has a large selection of royalty free images, or the images on Photodune are really affordable.)
Open the image in Photoshop and then you want to simplify the shapes in the image to make it easier to pick out a selection of colours; I like using the mosaic option of the pixelate filter to do this as you end up with little blocks of colour. Play around with the cell size – the smaller the cells the more colours you have to choose from.
From the blocks of colour you get, pick 3-5 to use in your project. It’s a good idea to pick one bold colour as the main colour in your design, plus one contrasting bold colour to use as an accent colour, for example to use in highlighting important details.
Then look for a couple of more muted, neutral colours to work alongside the two bold colours; if you choose too many bold or bright colours, they’ll start fighting with each other for attention but adding a neutral colour will balance the design and create harmony.
This method involves more trial and error than using an app, but it’s worth practising to give you more confidence in choosing colours and adding a bit more of your own style to your designs.
So there are 3 simple ways to create great colour schemes for your designs. How do you choose colours? If you’ve got a great way of picking colours why not leave a comment.
Castle photo: SXC