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Now that you have been introduced (you know…you and color) and you are at least on first name basis, let’s delve a little deeper into their lives. Let’s observe color play color. Time for our second exercise.
How do colors talk to each other? Are they chatty? Quiet? Romantic? Chirpy? Or is it just a nasty riot in front of your eyes?
Why do some colors "go" with others and some families are just dysfunctional?
Designers have been yelling various theories for centuries and dictating trends (and for good! because otherwise, the rest of us would be sticking to reds and blues).
There’s that theory about the color wheel–choose complementary (red and green, orange and purple, blue and yellow). Then there’s the pursuit of balance between warm and cool (like baby blue and pink) or staying within the same temperature range (like turquoise and purple) or even the same color but play with the shade (like dark green and lime). They all have excellent reasons, they all work in their own worlds, they all speak volumes. But the important question for you the combination-seeker is: are they speaking what you want to say?
Imagine managing a team of people. Your job is to hire the right people who chime with each other and deliver the result YOU want. Why would that be any different when putting colors together to convey the message you have? No point being afraid about making that decision. The tips and tricks are grammar, so once you have made up your mind, feel free to apply that very grammar to write your own message.
Balance, for example, is good but is that your theme? Or would you much rather go heavy on one side? Are you creating a hot, solar experience? Or a sea-side spa? A frolicky kitchen to serve salads? Or a dress for summer? Or are you designing a color for your logo a company that is grounded in values and humility but is not scared to take a chance? A group that means business while still having a sense of humor?
A room for activists who believe in doing something good for the earth? A young team that sells ideas?
Talking of examples: Black and white goes with everything. Yes everything. So we are not going to go into that (also because that will lead us directly into the dark/faded/bright route that we avoided so tactfully ahem in Exercise 1)
Blue & green, green & yellow, and yellow & orange are great with each other, they convey a message of Nature that very few can. If you looked closely enough, you’d probably agree that red and brown never worked without orange in it, neither did beige and electric blue.
Of late, combinations like shades of ‘grey with a touch of yellow’ and ‘deep chocolate brown with a drop of liquid turquoise’ have spread like wild fire. Have you noticed that the balance here is a little airy with a solid grounding?
Do you think greys and yellow can create a room for happy playfulness in a mature personality?
Can you dress a witty, wise, non-exuberance in turquoise and chocolate?
My mother has always loved grey & baby pink. She likes flowy shades. Her choice of baby boy blue & grey is however nature derived and purely stormy.
I love lime & deep purple– I think it’s like rare, elegant orchids.
Dark teal & light grey for a low-key living room I can melt into after a long day.
Eager to know what you want to say through color…
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Simple & Solid
Color is for everyone. For Pantone Pros, to those seemingly uninitiated. And if you are mumbling a sexist even racist excuse to run away from color or the decision of choosing color, you really are fooling yourself. You know the color of your clothes, your car, your rooms and even work (no matter what you do) says something, does something, so why deny that relationship?
Have you ever watched a group of otherwise nonchalant adults with crayons and a piece of paper? The freedom (to color) shows. It brings out powers of your mind– from concentration to emotions, that you probably never knew existed. Not to mention, the happiness of being one with color is rather pure and pretty undeniable.
Avoiding detailed references to the science of Optics, the graphs of hue-saturation, the CMYK and the RGB coding, lets talk about color the easy way. Lets start by imagining you have an open canvas –something that you are adding color to ( (or paper, palette, dress, wall, car). How would you start? With your favorite colors? For some, yes that is our first reference point.
Now, for those of you, who say "favorite color" but are conjuring a "pattern" or "combination of colors", scoot back, take a few breaths and start again. At only one solid color. Now explain how you chose it.
We come back to combinations in Colors 102
How would you describe a color without using names of any color pr specific item? So no, no "greenish blue"-s or "chocolate" allowed. Think of colors in terms of descriptors like warm or cool. Maybe airy and grounding? (please note, for the sake of not going into hue-saturation, we are not going to use the words dark/ faded/ bright)
For those graphically inclined, do you see how a color can be described as a matrix? For simplicity sake, lets assume 4 attributes along 2 axes creating a 2D matrix, dividing each other in halves at 90 degrees (like obedient, planned roads)
Now lets start adding colors to this matrix.