Developing a color palette
The color palette is a fundamental component of any design solution. When developing a color palette, consider the overall intent of the piece as different color combinations will yield different emotional responses from your audience. There are several tried and true strategies that can be utilized when combining colors to develop palettes.
Use the color wheel
The color wheel is a useful tool and a logical starting point when considering color combinations. It shows the relationship between colors in 2 dimensional space. It is made up of primary colors (red, yellow, blue), secondary colors (green, orange and purple), and tertiary colors (yellow-orange, red-orange, red-purple, blue-purple, blue-green & yellow-green).
Monochromatic palettes are created when a color from one segment of the color wheel is varied according to saturation or value. Saturation is a measurement of a color’s purity and is adjusted by adding the complement color, neutral tones or black. Value is a measurement of a how light or dark a color is. You can use varying degrees of contrast in a monochromatic palette to achieve desired effects. Generally speaking, a monochromatic palette will appeared a balanced and steady.
Analogous palettes consist of colors from adjacent segments of the color wheel. These color combinations are often found in nature and usually fit together nicely. The results are pleasant and calming. Be mindful of contrast when using this type of palette, since the colors are so close to each other on the color wheel.
Triadic palettes are created with 3 equally spaced positions on the color wheel. The results can be compelling and provocative. The relationships between the 3 colors are usually visually active and lively.
A color’s complement is its exact opposite on the color wheel. These palettes include a high level of contrast and, when done right, can appear vibrant and energetic. Caution should be used when using this palette, as the results can be jarring and disruptive.
There are just a few of the strategies used to develop a color palette. The goal of any palette is harmony. A palette that is boring will not be noticed. Conversely, a palette that appears too chaotic will discourage engagement. Careful consideration should be paid to the palette to ensure it aligns with your overall message.