Ultimate Guide to Colour: from A to Z

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Colour is the core of all marketing materials you create in your brand. Starting from the post on social media, company presentation, website, logotype, it is crucial to understand how to find the colour that will look consistent and be in harmony with all parts of your brand visual identity.

Top 6 Tips for selecting the right colours

  • Utilise the colour wheel as a foundation for the proper colour selection
  • Approach your design project with a colour scheme that favours harmony
  • Focus on the context and emotions as the heart of the colour selection process
  • Take advantage to employ contrast to improve the legibility of elements on the page
  • Apply shades and tints of colour to build flexibility
  • Avoid combinations that can generate issues for users

The Color Wheel: primary, secondary and tertiary colours

Remember: the colour wheel is vital in deciding which colours pair well together.

Primary Colours: colours comprised of red, blue and yellow. 

Secondary Colours: colours are created by mixing two primary colours, forming green, orange and purple.

Tertiary Colours: colours are formed when mixing a secondary and primary. In other words, it is the colours that we can describe with the two-word name:

  • Red-orange (Vermillion)
  • Yellow-orange (Amber)
  • Yellow-green (Chartreuse)
  • Blue-green (Teal)
  • Blue-purple (Violet)
  • Red-purple (Magenta)


Additive & Subtractive Colour Theory

If you’ve ever experimented with colour in a computer program, you’ve probably come across a module that described RGB or CMYK colours with numbers next to the characters.

Have you ever thought about what those letters mean?


Colour Palette

The Colour palette is the result of matching two or more colours together. Before you start to use the colour wheel, you should be aware that there are four different colour palettes to consider:

  • Monochromatic
  • Complementary
  • Analogous
  • Triadic

Monochromatic.

The most simple colour scheme possible employs a single colour with different shades and tints to build a monochromatic palette. The scheme’s colours are all derived from the base colour. While all design elements can feel alike, using high contrast may help break up the monotony. When added to your projects, these monochromatic colour schemes help to create an ordered appearance. A single colour can provide an instant sense of harmony. 

Example:

Source: Adobe Color

Complementary.

A complementary colour scheme employs colours that are opposite each other on the colour wheel. For example, if you choose blue as your primary colour, it will establish the most remarkable contrast and intensity with orange.

Example:

Source: Adobe Color

Analogous.

Analogous colour schemes combine three or more colours that are adjacent on the colour wheel. In most cases, one primary colour (or hue) is paired with a second to help and a third to accent the colour palette. Colour schemes that are similar build a visually appealing and soothing appearance.

Example:

Source: Adobe Color

Triadic.

Triadic colour schemes, including complementary colour schemes, add extra pops of colour while allowing you to use a broader colour palette. Triadic colours are the three colours that are equidistant on the colour wheel from one another.

Example:

Source: Adobe Color


Colour Psychology

Colour psychology can influence how people interpret a design and relate to the colours used because each colour has a different context and purpose. Choosing the right colours will aid in the nonverbal communication of a product’s meaning and emotion.


Colour trends

Pantone Colour of the Year 2021

PANTONE 17-5104 Ultimate Gray + PANTONE 13-0647 Illuminating

A marriage of color conveying a message of strength and hopefulness that is both enduring and uplifting.

Learn more about Pantone colour of the year 2021


Colour Tools

Adobe Color: Discover Colour Wheel & Trends

Source: Adobe Color

Pantone Connect: Discover & Create Colour Palettes

Source: Pantone

Khroma: learn which colors you like and create limitless palettes based on AI

Source: Khroma


Learning & Practice Materials:

CodeAcademy: Course “Learn Colour Design”

W3schools: Colors Tutorial

BrandColors: the biggest collection of official brand color codes

Khroma: learn which colors you like and creates limitless palettes based on AI


Article Sources:

CodeAcademy: Course “Learn Colour Design”

The Designer’s Guide to Color Theory, Color Wheels, and Color Schemes


Read previous posts:

Photoshop goes Neural: Top 4 AI-based Filters

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About Author

Ekaterina Barras

Hello! It's a pleasure to meet you! In the blog "Lumos Maxima", you will find articles on the topics that will bridge the areas of marketing and design. The project's primary aim is to help people that create a blog or set up a start-up implement a tailor-made design and apply it across various marketing touchpoints to market it efficiently. I will offer a range of practical exercises to support my readers by illustrating step-by-step instructions and showing them how to create a project from A to Z. Get ready! You will learn how to edit photos professionally, build a website, create a logo, choose colour palettes and typography for your brand, work in Indesign and creating a newsletter using state-of-the-art software tools.| Need help to change HTML code or any advice in Illustrator or InDesign? Just send me an e-mail or write to me on LinkedIn, and I can explain how it works! E-mail: ekaterina.barras@stud.hslu.ch

6 Comments

    • Ekaterina Barras
      Ekaterina Barras on

      Dear Elena,

      Thank you very much and I am pleased that you like the useful side of this post.

      Kind regards,
      Ekaterina Barras

  1. Sofia Demidenko
    demidenko sofia on

    This is such a detailed overview! Thank you for providing so many useful links, I have saved some of them!

    • Ekaterina Barras
      Ekaterina Barras on

      Dear Sophia!

      Thank you very much for your feedback! Let me know if you are interested in some topics that I can tailor my content to your needs!

      Best regards,
      Ekaterina

    • Ekaterina Barras
      Ekaterina Barras on

      Dear Demet,

      Thanks for the feedback and for sharing another colour generator. I have tried it just now, and it is fantastic: fast and adjustable for people with colour blindness!

      Best regards,
      Ekaterina Barras

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