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Choosing a Color Palette

Choosing a color palette for a project is my favorite part of the graphic design process! Color plays an integral role in communicating the message of a piece and, whether we like it or not, can make or break the design. Here are a few tips for choosing a color palette that will make your design shine!

1. Think about the mood.

When choosing colors, take into consideration how you want your audience to feel when they interact with your design. I won’t go into color psychology in this post, but if you’re interested in learning more about it, you can check out this article by Oberlo that really dives into how people feel when they see and interact with certain colors. The chart below gives a quick overview of emotions and feelings associated with colors. Consider how you want your audience to feel when choosing a color palette.

Image source: The Logo Company

For my own business, I wanted the traits of friendly, exciting, and trusting, which is why I chose a complementary color palette of mostly oranges and blues! I threw a little bit of coral in there for the exciting aspect, too. Colors are a great way to convey extra meaning without having to literally spell it out. 

2. Don’t reinvent the wheel.

This has a double meaning.

First, color wheels are purposely designed to help you figure out what colors go best together. Pictured below is a standard color wheel along with four types of color palettes. There are many other color scheme formulas, but these are the most basic. 

Color WheelsComplementary: Colors opposite the color wheel often create a striking design.

Analogous: Colors next to each other on the color wheel create a harmonious and delicate design.

Monochromatic: Colors in various tints or shades of the same color. These often have impact when used in larger doses.

Triadic: Colors creating an equilateral triangle within the color wheel. In a standard color wheel, they are separated by three colors on either side.

While there are standard color palette formulas as shown above, you can also use the color wheel to get more creative, too!

Second, when it comes to choosing colors, utilize what you already have available for your piece. You don’t necessarily have to create a completely unique color palette for every design (aka reinvent the wheel). If there are stock photos you’re set on using and they are in color, not black and white, you can pull colors directly from them! The same goes for graphics and illustrations. It’s okay to use resources designed for that purpose.

3. Get inspired!

There are lots of websites out there with color inspiration available. One of my favorites to use is Pinterest! If I know I want my piece to be inviting and friendly, I might search something like “warm analogous colors” or “friendly monochromatic color palette.” Another way to get inspired is to get out of the office. It’s refreshing and helpful to get out into nature and observe God’s beautiful creation! It’s always amazing to me to recognize how He’s used the different types of color schemes in His own design.

It’s refreshing and helpful to get out into nature and observe God’s beautiful creation!

So, there are three things to keep in mind when choosing a color palette for your next design piece! Which kind of color palette do you gravitate toward? 

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