Join Jim Krause for an in-depth discussion in this video Pairing hues, part of Color for Design and Art.
- Designers often use pairs of colors for corporate branding projects. Or for print jobs, there are limited two colors of ink. Or, when they're just aiming for the simplicity of a powerful two color palette. So, let's talk about these two color palettes. This emblem style logo, it's going to be our guinea pig for all the color schemes we'll be looking at. We'll start by coloring it with pairs of hues that are meant to convey themselves energetically. When I'm looking for energy I usually go for the warmer side of the color wheel, for at least one of my two colors.
So, how about a bright red? I'm going to pair it with a vibrant red-orange. That is an energetic palette. But, I can see already that we've hit a snag. These two colors just don't show up very well next to each other. They're too close in value. So, let's lighten the red-orange and darken the red, just slightly. That's much better already. And what about making the red-orange even lighter, to increase contrast. Now, you'd think this might help but, you know what, I think it actually takes us in the wrong direction since this light red-orange has kind of an Easter bunny pastel look to it and that's not the kind of energy that I'm aiming for.
So, let's go back to where we just were. The two bright colors we've been working with come from nearby spots on the color wheel which is fine, but I will say that what they convey, in terms of energy, they lack in terms of diversity. So, on the other hand, if we were aiming for a blend of energy and diversity, then we might go with something different. So, let's try this. Let's keep our bright red-orange and replace the red with a wide range of other high-energy hues. So, here are six examples of energetic color combos that also deliver feelings of diversity.
Palettes like these can work well for companies and organizations that are looking to express themselves in an especially dynamic way, you know, athletic teams, fitness clubs, kids toy manufacturers, and so on. One thing these kinds of palettes often lack are feelings of sophistication. And that's because these color combos come across like two voices that are both shouting, fairly loudly, harmoniously, yeah, but loudly. So, let's see what happens when we leave the red-orange bright and we quiet down all the other hues by muting them.
Now, that's a whole different range of looks, wouldn't you say? And here, I'll swap out the red-orange with six other bright colors, some warm and some cool. Color combos like these often work well for corporate branding projects because what feels like a sophisticated blend of two different color ideas. We've got bright versus muted, and at the same time, lighter versus darker. What about going further and adding black to the mix? Designers often include black with pairs of corporate colors, as well as white.
Another thing that's often done with colored printing inks and when using black, is to include lighter shades of all these ink colors, which, in terms of color, that just means you're expanding each color to include their monochromatic relatives. So, yes, turns out you can do quite a lot with just three colors of ink, if you want to. And last, let's look at combinations where all the hues are muted. These are color schemes that aren't necessarily meant to scream for attention but rather to show up on the scene, you know, with looks that can range from gritty and urban to understated and elegant, to natural and earthy.
There, we just looked at 36 color combos for one logo design and it didn't take us that long. Digital helpers like Illustrators Color Guide and the Color Picker, that you can get from both Illustrator and Photoshop, and online aides like Paletteton, make this kind of creative exploration really easy and really quick. So, be sure to explore your options thoroughly the next time you're coming up with intriguing and attractive pairs of colors.
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