Posted on 25 Jun 1999
by Javier Velasco (mantruc)
Rated 3.89 (Ratings: 0)
- More articles in Visual Design
So you can imagine my excitement when I saw that question from Dave on thelist,"how do you pick colors?"
By definition, the best two colors to combine are opposite (or complimentary)colors, which are opposed on the color wheel, the 1:1 mix of opposite colors results in mid-grey, neutral color by definition. This "perfect combination" can often be seen in interior decoration and it's always a good place to start, then you can change the hues and tones to give it a personal character and make it unique.
Then when you start adding colors to the palette, it depends only on yourexperience and judging capacity. This capacity to judge must be enriched daily as you simply live with your eyes wide open. Look all around you, we're surrounded by objects of design: clothes, boxes, CDs, books. On the streets: ads, cars, motorcycles (the most flashy colors here), stores, buildings. In nature: (best combinations around) trees, plants, flowers, insects, stones, mountains, branches, birds, etc. Of course, hundreds of master painters who have left years of work as evidence.
Below I have stuck some of the responses to Dave's question pulled from thelist...
Within the confines of that publication I found a link to the mother of allcolor tools, for me - the VisiBone 216-Color Webmaster's Palette, at their Webmaster's Color Laboratory, which you can dial up at: http://www.visibone.com/colorlab/ . Although designed principally for Photoshop, I use it frequently for color theme creations, in conjunction with "Color Harmony 2." The web safe colors are arranged in a circular design, by hue, 'somewhat' similar to a color wheel, and by selecting colors from corresponding positions on the 'color wheel,' you can put together themes in a snap that will utterly stupefy you. It displays colors in RGB, hex, AND CMYK. Try it! It's online, and FREE.
...For sites with a lot of information, stuff that's updated daily or needsto be read by a lot of people.. I always use a base of white for background. It's neat, clean and lends itself well to printing. After that, I might add a picture or grayscale imagery on top of that, but less is more.
So don't try to think of something of your own :) Put away your web palettes,go take a walk outside... pick a flower, take a look at the colours on it and how they're combined. Look at trees, look at grocery store packaging (but not for too long, your eyes will hurt), look around. Surf with the yahoo URL randomizer.
Or for a wonderfully different approach that I use often since I found thispage, check out Joe Gillespie's "web page design for designers" site: I'd start here http://www.wpdfd.com/wpdpal3.htm especially the last paragraph, on using a photograph with the feel you want to capture to create your palette (in short, take a photo, any photo, reduce the palette to the 3 or 4 strongest colours, and use those, in similar proportions to the amount of each colour in the photo).
It's a grand technique, and sometimes when I'm a little stuck, or just messingaround, I take my favourite photo's, and do this to them, and save them in a text file as tags, ready to drop into a page on a moments notice. When I'm stuck for inspiration, I sit there with a temp file changing out body tags I've already prepared, until I find one that either works or sends my mind off on a tangent and comes up with something else.
I do believe nature knows best what colours go together, and she's been doingit a lot longer than we have.
Lauri W, Koping, Sweden
I would only add that you really ought to give consideration to the print collateralof those companies that have worked to establish a visual identity. I, for one, hate visiting sites of companies or (especially) publications whose site incorporates nothing of what makes me like their stuff.
Also, I would suggest you also consider the psychology of the colors you choose.Now, some people don't put any stock at all in the theory, but I personally think there's something to it. Your choice of color can appeal to pleasure, dominance and arousal, which affects men, women and "culture" members differently.
Maria Teresa Molina
Artistic inspiration for me is almost inherent. I grew up in an art galleryand have spent my entire life surrounded by great artists and I think that interaction has helped me greatly. Basically I think you just need to walk around with your eyes open and you'll draw your style and inspiration from the world around you. I think it helps that I take the time and walk to work everyday and honestly make a conscious effort to look at the horizon while I walk instead of the typical 10 foot radius us humans tend to focus on. Try it, you'll be amazed at how much more you see.
I would suggest (in addition to the wonderful ideas already suggested) thateveryone start a clip file. Basically, whenever I see something that sparks my imagination in a magazine or advertisement or postcard I cut it out and put it in my clipboard. I have quite a collection of clips which interested me either for their color scheme, their mood or their typography. Whenever I'm stuck in a rut I pull it out and and get new ideas.
Also, once a month or even more, take a special trip down to a big bookstoreand thumb through all the magazines with visually interesting covers. Buy the ones that have lots of potential "clips" in them. Go to your town's most visually interesting street and wander around picking up not just sights but scents and sounds. Bring a notebook with you and write about it. Take photos so you'll remember how fantastic that red doorway looked in the morning sun. It's not just a good exercise for your brain it's therapy too!