Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring alternate color options, part of Color for Design and Art.
- The early stages of a layout or an illustration can be some of the hardest-working, deepest-digging, and stress-generating times in the life of a designer. These are the parts of a project where you've met with a client and you're brainstorming, and sketching ideas, and getting started finalizing content by trying out color schemes and choosing fonts and all that kind of thing. And it's hard work and it's sometimes long hours. So, I don't know about you, but when I finally get to the point where things have come together and I'm looking at a layout, a logo, a graphic, or an illustration that I'm happy with and I'm feeling eager to present the thing to my client that's when all my feelings of stress and pressure they just go away, they disappear and it feels good.
And you know what, interestingly, I've learned that the best thing to do at this very moment, this perceived moment of victory is to pull my chair a few inches close to the computer and I'll wipe off my glasses, crack my knuckles, and dig even deeper into my search for the best possible solution for my project. Much in the same way a movie director might look into alternate endings for a movie they're working on. Now, bringing this around to the topic of color, this is what I'm talking about here, say you've just finished a layout, you pull up a fresh copy of your design and you ask yourself hey, what about this headline? I know it looks good in red, but what if I brightened it or muted it or went with two different reds? What if I did away with the red completely and borrowed a cool color from the photo instead? And cooled down the light background color too.
And then applied a warm, neutral shade to the initial cap and to the company's name. And since all of the color swaps and palette changes I've just made were so easy to do with my digital tools, I'll just keep right at it. Like what if I really change direction here and converted my entire layout's palette to warm and cool grays, including the photo? And then maybe I popped in an accent color, or a couple of accent colors. And maybe do something tricky with the photo's colors and then echo one of the photo's colors in the border.
While I'm creating all these different possible outcomes for my design, believe me, I'm saving each one either on a page or in a document of its own. I want to be able to compare these things to each other to decide which one, or which ones, I want to present to my client. I might even put every last version on my laptop or my iPad and bring them to my meeting just in case I get the feeling that my client wants to see some more ideas. I do this kind of alternate-ending color explorations when I'm working on pretty much any kind of design project, could be a layout, website, illustration, signage, whatever.
And why not? This is work that usually starts after the stress of coming up with a good idea is already gone. So you got nothing to lose at this point and as often as not, I'm telling you you're going to find solutions here that make your earlier ideas look like second place finishers.
Primarily aimed at designers and illustrators, the course leans heavily toward digital tools such as Photoshop and Illustrator, but concludes with some challenges using real-world media (inks and paints!), so members can get a solid understanding of mixing colors and what tools and combinations work best.
- Navigating the color wheel and color vocabulary
- Why a color's value is so important
- RGB vs. CMYK vs. spot
- Finding the perfect color
- Working with grays and browns
- Building a color palette
- Borrowing hues for palettes
- Establishing color hierarchies
- Fixing color problems
- Altering color in photos and illustrations
- Using texture with color
- Painting for learning and fun