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The fourth concept on foundational topics and web design is Color Theory and picking harmonious colors for the web. Color theory explores the nature, history, and role of color in art and design as well as color combinations and color mixings based on the color wheel. Using the color wheel you can easily choose harmonious colors to set the right mood or meaning for the content in your web design. You can create different kinds of harmonous color combinations depending on the number of colors you plan to use in your design.
The most popular color combinations are monochrome, or monochromatic, complementary, split complementary, analogous, and triad. When choosing colors for your own projects, consider both the business and the target audience so that you select colors that will be appealing and harmonious. You might also want to consider the medium, history, fads and competitors.
Let's talk more about these four factors. Medium first. On the web, colors are RGB, which tend to be more vibrant than color in print. This means you might not want to rely on a printed color book when choosing colors for a web layout. Instead, open up one of your graphics programs, and play around with squares in different colors there. Secondly, history. Every decade, or even every year or two, seems to have its own distinct color theme.
For instance, color blocking is currently on trend in web design. You'll also see a lot of monochrome, pastels, rainbow hues, and nature-inspired bright colors. Third is fads. Color harmonies will tend to shift with the seasons. In fact, professional color consultants select new colors several times each year. Web trends often follow fashion. So if you're seeking color inspiration look no further than the runway. You can also check out websites like Color Solutions International for their fashion color predictions. Last, let's talk about the competition.
As much as you admire what your competitors have done or your customers competitors have done It's probably a good idea to not use the same exact colors though it has been done. Instead, create your own palette to make your site distinctive. Color inspiration can come from just about anywhere if you keep your eyes open. You can scan anything including your own photos, magazine tear outs, paint swatches and fabrics and then digitally sample those colors. >> You can also comb through websites like Flickr, tumblr, and Pinterest to find new and interesting color combinations.
There are also some really wonderful color resources available online that I encourage you to explore. For instance, you can download a free standing color picker software or eye dropper software for your computer, or use an online version like the simple one at colorpicker.com In addition, you can install color browser extensions, plugins and color apps for your various devices. If you use Firefox, there's an extension called PixelZoomer that you might be interested in. Likewise, Chrome users can check out an extension called Eyedropper.
There's also a really nice list of color tools for designers at the HongKiat website. If you Google search for useful eyedroppers for designers, you'll find the article. And if you like to create your own palettes and share them with others, check out Adobe's Kuler Website at kuler.adobe.com. That's spelled Kuler and if you're using Adobe programs version CS5 and up, you can even integrate your saved color palettes with your designs through the kuler panel. Wherever you find your color inspiration, be sure to choose a palette that compliments your project.
Most design projects use two to four colors, with a main color, a secondary color, and one or two accents. If you choose a main color for your project that matches the mood of the product or service, you can then use the color wheel to help choose a harmonious secondary and accent colors.
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