A comprehensive guide to color palettes

Color can be an important aspect in any design. It’s something that always needs to be taken into account for just about any project. Color helps with expressing emotions and creating visual interest, but if used incorrectly or without much thought, it can take away from the overall message you are trying to convey. This is why understanding how color palettes work is essential for an overall successful design.

The basics of color

Let’s start with the basics: Colors interact with one another, and it’s important to know how they are perceived by viewers. It includes understanding the hue wheel, which consists of 12 basic colors and their various tones, tints and shades. First, there are three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue—which cannot be created by mixing other colors together. These three colors form the basis of every other hue on the color wheel. The combinations of these primary colors create secondary (orange, green, violet) and tertiary (yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-violet) colors. You can use color wheels or online tools like Adobe Color CC to experiment with different hues and shades of each color. Knowing this information is important in creating the most effective color palette for your project. Always keep complementary colors in mind—colors that are opposite on the wheel—for maximum visual impact.

Approaches to color palettes

There are many different ways to approach picking a color palette. You might choose one dominant hue with complementary shades or pick two complementary hues that contrast each other nicely. You could also opt for monochromatic shades of one single hue or use analogous hues that sit next to each other on the wheel. Experiment with different combinations until you find one that looks good and feels right for your project. It’s important to keep in mind that less is more; too many clashing colors will make your design look messy and unprofessional, so stick with a maximum of four or five hues in your palette. 

Web colors vs print colors.

When creating designs for print versus web, there are some important differences. For web design, RGB (red, green blue) should be used as this will give a truer representation of your colors on screen than CMYK (cyan, magenta yellow, black). For print designs, however, CMYK should be used instead as this will provide a more accurate representation of your chosen colors once printed out onto paper or other materials. Additionally, Pantone colors can also be used for printing as they provide a uniformity between different printers and substrates so that all prints match perfectly regardless of where they were printed or what paper was used. I like to compare pantones to the paint you buy at the store: a solid fill of color vs. multiple colors placed on top of each other to become the desired color.  

Accounting for accessibility

Accessibility is another factor to keep into account when deciding a color palette. This means making sure your designs look good not just for people who can see all the colors clearly but also those who may have a form of colorblindness or difficulty seeing certain shades accurately. To ensure your design looks its best when viewed by people with these conditions, try using contrasting hues such as red/green or yellow/blue instead of similar shades that may be difficult to differentiate between when viewed by someone with impaired vision.

Understanding color palettes is an important part of graphic design work whether you’re creating something for print or web applications. Differentiating between CMYK and RGB is essential for getting accurate results on either platform while understanding basic principles of color theory will help you create visually appealing designs that stand out from the crowd. Finally, keeping accessibility in mind when selecting your palette will ensure everyone has an equal opportunity to appreciate your work regardless of their vision capabilities!