Hello! Aly Dosdall again here from the design team to share another fun design principle with you (truth be told, this is one of my favorites)! The last couple of weeks we’ve learned about the rule of thirds and balance. This week we’ll focus on color and contrast. Technically color is an element of design, rather than a principle, but that’s a discussion for another time. =)
There is a ton of information related to color, so I’ll try to hit the basics. First, I must introduce you to the color wheel (or color circle):
The color wheel is comprised of the three primary colors (marked with a “P”), the three secondary colors (marked with an “S”), and the six tertiary colors (marked with a “T”). Primary colors (red, yellow, blue) are the three pigment colors that form all other colors and cannot be formed by any combination of colors. Secondary colors (green, orange, purple) are formed by combining two primary colors. Tertiary colors are formed by combining a primary color with a secondary color.
The color wheel can be divided into warm colors, and cool colors.
Warm colors are vivid, energetic, and tend to advance in space. Cool colors evoke a sense of calm, reflectiveness, and seem to recede in space. Black, white, and grey are considered neutral colors and can be combined with the color wheel hues to create different tints, shades, and tones.
Color in design is used to evoke emotion, to bring emphasis or focus, and to enhance beauty. These goals are achieved by using certain combinations of colors, or color harmonies. These combinations have a fixed relation to each other on the color wheel. When combining colors, contrast is an important piece to consider. Contrast is basically the difference between two colors. Using contrast effectively is very pleasing to the eye.
Next, let's look at a few effective color harmonies, or color schemes. Analogous colors sit next to each other on the color wheel.
Analogous colors match well, and when used together they create a sense of harmony and comfort. Make sure to create enough contrast when using analogous colors, and remember to use one dominant color, one supporting color, and one accent color (together with a neutral color—black, white, or grey).
Example: About A Girl
The above layout I created using the Enchanted Power Palette incorporates analogous colors—various blues and greens—with some black and white thrown in as accents and to provide some contrast. Notice in particular the black ribbon border at the bottom which creates a visual triangle with the two black paper flowers at the top left and top right. Using these contrasting elements in a visual triangle creates a frame around the page that keeps the viewer's eye engaged in the photos and journaling.
Complementary colors are opposite each other on the color wheel. Because of their high contrast, they create a vibrant energetic look.
Complementary colors work well together when you want an element on your page to stand out. The card I created below using the Enchanted Power Palette demonstrates a good use of complementary colors.
Example: Hi Card
Notice the red sentiment next to the green border on the card. The sentiment (or most important element of the card) stands out because green and red are complementary, or opposite colors on the color wheel. The neutral white background also provides a nice contrast to the red sentiment.
Split-complementary colors include the base color, and the two colors adjacent to its complement. In other words pick a color on the color wheel along with the two colors on either side of its opposite.
A split-complementary color scheme has similar strong visual contrast to a complementary color scheme, but with a little less tension since the colors are not directly opposite each other on the color wheel.
Example: A Trip to the Beach
The above layout uses a split-complementary color scheme. Click here to go to the project center for full instructions and supplies. The three pervasive colors in the layout are dark blue, orange and yellow. The cool darker blues provide a nice, but not overwhelming, contrast to the warm orange and yellow colors. The lighter blues serve to balance the advancing oranges.
There are many more color schemes than there is room or time to discuss here. The Creative Memories Design Inspiration Pinterest Board is a wonderful source for fun color schemes. Be sure to check it out! Also, we are lucky to have fabulous Creative Memories designers that take all the guess work out of the design process for us by creating perfectly coordinating products, like Power® Palettes! But if you ever feel like stepping outside the box and creating your own color schemes, just try out what we learned today.
Be sure to come back next week when I share another design principle. (Here’s a hint…anchors away!) Please feel free to ask any questions you might have in the comments section below.