The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing a Color Scheme

Green Fin Studio > Design > The Do’s and Don’ts of Choosing a Color Scheme

Do you spend a lot of time trying to find the right color choices for a new project? Whether you are designing a website, fact sheet, brochure, or graphic, deciding on the overall color scheme can be difficult decision.  And rightly so. Choosing the best colors for your graphic, fact sheet, or website is fundamental to creating engaging visual graphics and conveying non-written messages.

One reason it can be difficult is because colors have feelings too, you know. Certain colors evoke specific emotions or bring to mind certain characteristics. According to Canva, “A number of studies on the relationship between color and branding (here, here and here) reveal that up to 90% of snap judgments made about products can be based on color alone, that colors influence how consumers view the ‘personality’ of the brand in question, and that the relationship between brands and color hinges on the perceived appropriateness of the color being the right ‘fit’ for the particular brand.”

Those are some pretty powerful arguments to put some serious thought into colors. Here are some of our favorite tools and tricks for choosing the right color for your project:

 

1) Make a plan but don’t be afraid to iterate

When you’re creating something visual, it can be tempting to just dive right in and choosing colors randomly. Green grass here, a blue sky here… but by the end you’re left with a graphic that looks generic, cartoonish, and disconnected. Take, for example, a first draft we made of an ocean scene. When we first started this graphic, we were thinking basic greens and blues for the background, with colorful fish in the foreground.

A slightly embarrassing first attempt at an ocean scene.

Notice how the green-ish mass at the bottom clashes with the blue water around it. All of the blues and greens are just a little too similar and every color is bright, so they compete for attention.

 

2) Use a color generator

Using a color generator is a great way to get the creative juices flowing. Color generators, like Coolors.co (one of our favorites), help you find colors that look good together. With this particular tool, you can choose up to five colors at once. You can lock a color you like, then just press the spacebar to get a new suite of colors that compliment the one you locked. You can continue locking and moving around colors until you find a color scheme you like. Then, just copy the hex codes into your design software and see if your color scheme works in your graphic.

A screenshot of our favorite color generator.

 

How did that help our draft graphic? After spending some time finding a good mix of blues, greens, and browns, we were able to upgrade our coastal scene into a graphic that used more subdued, natural tones along with shading for depth.  And we relied on colors with enough contrast to grab the viewer’s attention:

A much better ocean scenery, with natural hues that work together.

 

3) Choose high-contrast text

There’s nothing more disappointing than opening up a beautifully-designed brochure or website, and not being able to read the text. Regardless of what color you choose for a background, choosing a text color that stands out, is absolutely essential. While you’re choosing, also consider using a contrasting text color that accents your color scheme. For example, we made an interpretive signed that had a lot of green on it.

 

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At the time, it seemed natural to choose the same light green we had already used to make the subtitles pop, but what really made the sign stand out was a few key areas of yellow text. Which brings us to our last point…

 

4) Don’t be afraid to go bold

Working with a lot of colors in the same range, like greens in blues? Try adding a pop of a contrasting color to create more visual appeal. This trick works in logos, websites, and printed materials. It can help break up large scenery graphics and help move the eye around the page, creating a sense of energy in the graphic.

A touch of a warmer color in a cool-toned background, or vice versa, can be eye-catching and bold, even if reaching for an orange or yellow isn’t your first instinct. Don’t be afraid to use colors outside your comfort zone.

For example, we used the blue from a client’s logo to create a website for their conference. Instead of making the icons the same color, we chose a high contrast orange:

A website we designed for a conference.

 

Need more help on making high-impact graphics? Green Fin Studio can help with your needs. We can create design products such as fact sheets, custom graphics, and websites all in-house. Send us an email to get started.

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