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Improving a color palette by reducing optical vibration

From: Typography for Web Designers

Video: Improving a color palette by reducing optical vibration

Using color takes practice. A common mistake web designers make when using color is choosing two colors that vibrate together. The colors might be complementary to each other. That is, opposite each other on the color wheel, or the colors might simply be too bright. Add a bright color to a black background and it can start to hurt your eyes. Remember, people read what interests them, but if we make text too hard to read, people won't read it, even if they're interested in it.

Improving a color palette by reducing optical vibration

Using color takes practice. A common mistake web designers make when using color is choosing two colors that vibrate together. The colors might be complementary to each other. That is, opposite each other on the color wheel, or the colors might simply be too bright. Add a bright color to a black background and it can start to hurt your eyes. Remember, people read what interests them, but if we make text too hard to read, people won't read it, even if they're interested in it.

We're going to pick a color palette for our sans serif bibliography. I already have a background image in mind. We can use it to inspire our color palette. We used a subtle palette for our elegant bibliography. We'll use more color here, but still stay simple. When I think of simple, I often think of primary colors. Red, blue and yellow. We don't have a lot of red in this image, just a bit of reddish orange, but we can use it to pick a red color for the text. We'll start with a red and yellow color combination. Wow! That's bright. There's not a lot of optical vibration, but the colors themselves are not easy to look at for a long time. We need to reduce the brightness.

I've made the yellow a little lighter, duller and well, maybe a little peachier. The red I've made darker, duller, and a tad purplier. Here I'll show you. By making the colors less bright, they're gentler on our eyes. By increasing the contrast between the text and background color, that is, making the text darker and the background lighter, the text is more readable. Now let's look at a blue and yellow color palette. Again, the colors are too bright and their values are too close together.

We need to change that. Here I've used the new yellow background I used for the red and yellow palette and I've chosen a darker blue, but the colors don't feel right yet. The blue is slightly too purple compared to the blue in the image and the yellow feels may be a little too orange here. We need to change it again. I've kept the blue dark but made it a bit grayer and greener. Here I'll show you the color changes. The blue is a better match for the blue in the image. The yellow is still warm.

That is it still a bit peachy, but I lightened it up more. Last but not least, we'll look at a blue and red color palette. This is too bright and the colors are too similar in value and we need to fix both of those things. Here, I just try to using the blue and red we already developed for the first two color palettes. They're less bright, but they're very hard to read because they're both so dark and there is little contrast between them. This is more readable, but it just feels too blue so I'll try again.

I've got the blue so light and dull, it's almost gray here, but the red is a little warmer, so it's not too dull. Here I'll show you the color changes. Even though we had already chosen colors that worked in the other two palettes, they didn't work when used together. So we had to keep looking. We've got three color combinations. The question is, which one should we use? All three color palettes are readable, but I think the red will be a bit much for a whole page of text, so I'm going to go with the blue and yellow combination.

Now let's get these colors into our sans serif bibliography. Start by looking at the HTML file in the browser. We haven't set any color yet. You can see it's just black-and-white. We'll add the colors in our CSS file. For now, we want the whole page to have the background color. So we're going to add it to our body selector. We'll add the property background-color: #fcf8d0.

You notice I used the hash mark. If your color ever doesn't work, make sure you have a hash mark in there before your syntax. We also want all the text to have the text color. So we're going to go into our universal selector here and add the property color: #264c73. We'll save this and we can review it in our browser.

I'll hit refresh and there is our color. It looks great. It uses colors from the image and it uses more color than our elegant version, but it remains simple and it retains legibility. I think we found our starting color palette for this bibliography. As we add color for links and place the image in full size, we may end up having to shift the color slightly, but for now I think we're good.

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This video is part of

Image for Typography for Web Designers
Typography for Web Designers

74 video lessons · 13496 viewers

Laura Franz
Author

 
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  1. 6m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 9s
    2. Using the exercise files
      1m 57s
    3. Things to consider before starting this course
      3m 12s
  2. 41m 3s
    1. Understanding how good typography promotes reading
      2m 9s
    2. Understanding legibility
      4m 41s
    3. Understanding how fonts convey meaning
      5m 19s
    4. Choosing web-safe fonts to convey meaning
      6m 13s
    5. Using font size, case, style, letter spacing, weight, and color to convey meaning
      6m 22s
    6. Choosing web fonts to convey meaning
      6m 23s
    7. Downloading web fonts
      4m 9s
    8. Applying web fonts in CSS with @font-face
      5m 47s
  3. 38m 0s
    1. Choosing a web-safe font for use in text
      4m 13s
    2. Applying the web-safe font to the text and the heading
      3m 4s
    3. Setting a class for the resource titles in the text
      3m 45s
    4. Choosing a second web-safe font for the heading
      2m 42s
    5. Applying the second font to the heading
      2m 16s
    6. Choosing a web font from the Google Font API for use in text
      5m 44s
    7. Adding and applying the Google Font API syntax
      4m 29s
    8. Choosing a second web font from the Google Font API for the heading
      2m 56s
    9. Adding and applying the second font to the heading
      4m 52s
    10. Analyzing the fonts on some professional sites
      3m 59s
  4. 55m 31s
    1. Understanding how we read
      4m 34s
    2. Finding and applying a good font size and line height
      4m 50s
    3. Finding and applying a good line length
      8m 6s
    4. Understanding ems
      6m 17s
    5. Using ems to set font size
      6m 9s
    6. Using ems to set line length
      3m 40s
    7. Understanding how color affects readability
      3m 58s
    8. Improving a color palette by improving contrast
      5m 39s
    9. Improving a color palette by reducing optical vibration
      4m 59s
    10. Analyzing text readability on the professional sites
      7m 19s
  5. 1h 11m
    1. Understanding how we "chunk" visual elements
      3m 59s
    2. Developing a system of hierarchy
      2m 17s
    3. Applying hierarchy in HTML and CSS
      7m 16s
    4. Developing a system to help chunk text for readers
      6m 1s
    5. Applying the system in the CSS
      4m 19s
    6. Changing an element by creating and applying a class
      5m 0s
    7. Using multiple columns to create hierarchy
      4m 12s
    8. Building a two-column system in HTML and CSS
      10m 56s
    9. Refining the horizontal space in a two-column layout
      6m 1s
    10. Adding rule lines to improve chunking
      5m 50s
    11. Adding emphasis within a heading
      4m 36s
    12. Analyzing the chunking on the professional sites
      11m 18s
  6. 17m 57s
    1. Understanding classic and modernist typographic pages
      7m 3s
    2. Understanding how to create rhythm and tension
      6m 0s
    3. Applying typography skills when making design decisions
      4m 54s
  7. 55m 47s
    1. Designing typographic links for the traditional page
      5m 54s
    2. Adding a list of links to the traditional page
      8m 44s
    3. Describing the link states in CSS
      6m 30s
    4. Returning links to their original "unvisited" style
      2m 38s
    5. Using different CSS for different kinds of links
      7m 28s
    6. Using CSS notation to organize syntax
      5m 34s
    7. Choosing a background color or image
      4m 0s
    8. Applying a repeating background image
      2m 58s
    9. Shaping the traditional page layout
      6m 38s
    10. Analyzing the traditional typographic elements on the professional sites
      5m 23s
  8. 43m 0s
    1. Designing typographic links for the modernist page
      6m 47s
    2. Making a list of links run across the page
      2m 14s
    3. Adding and removing space between the navigation links
      6m 50s
    4. Styling the inline links on the modernist page
      5m 33s
    5. Choosing a background color or image for the modernist bibliography
      4m 4s
    6. Applying a no-repeat background image
      4m 13s
    7. Shaping the modernist page layout
      6m 58s
    8. Analyzing the modernist typographic elements on the professional sites
      6m 21s
  9. 52m 53s
    1. Fixing quotation marks and apostrophes
      6m 59s
    2. Fixing dashes
      6m 33s
    3. Working with lining figures (numbers) and acronyms
      9m 28s
    4. Fixing characters that don't look right
      8m 19s
    5. Hanging punctuation
      2m 54s
    6. Applying typographic accents
      2m 36s
    7. Vertically centering text
      5m 18s
    8. Creating drop caps
      5m 59s
    9. Analyzing the typographic details on the professional sites
      4m 47s
  10. 3m 9s
    1. Additional resources
      3m 9s

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