Monday, February 25, 2008

Basics of Design - Color

Everyone loves color! But we need to be careful as to what colors we use and when we use them. Here are some more rules of thumb to think about:
• Know that hue is the actual shade or color itself.
• Remember that saturation is the relative brilliance or vibrancy of a color. The more saturated a color, the less black it contains.
• Use warm colors to suggest warmth (e.g., red and orange are the colors of fire). Cool colors suggest coolness (e.g., blue and green are the colors of water).
• Remember that warm colors appear larger than cool colors.
• Know that warm colors seem to move toward the viewer and appear closer; cool colors seem to recede from a viewer and fall back.
• Use highly saturated or high-intensity colors (a pure hue with no other colors mixed in) or busily detailed areas to draw attention and therefore give the appearance of carrying more weight than less saturated, low-intensity or visually simpler areas.
• Use hues that are lighter at maximum saturation (e.g., yellows and oranges) to appear larger than those that are darker at maximum saturation (e.g., blues and purples).
• Create a monochromatic color scheme that uses only one hue and its values for a unifying and harmonious effect.
• Remember that value is the relationship of light to dark.
• Consider that black and white are thought of as neutrals because they do not change color.
• Know that the primary colors are red, yellow and blue. When mixing pigments, primary colors make up all other colors.
• Remember that in printing, process colors: yellow, cyan (bright blue), magenta (blue red), and black make up all other colors.
• Know that on computer or television screens, red, green, and blue make up all other colors.

Spot Color
• Consider that spot color results from adding a specific second color to the single color normally used (black is the traditional single color).
• Use spot color to direct the reader's eye to special sections or important information for fast identification.
• Screen one, or both, of your colors, and achieve the effect of printing in multiple colors. Screening is the process by which you use a percentage (or lower value) of a full color, creating a lighter shade of the original. You can also add black to the color to make it darker.
• Add a single color to black-and-white photographs (creating a duotone) to bring depth and richness to the document. Look for examples of different duotones in design books.
• Substitute a different color for black in a two-color job as an effective way to increase the appeal and richness of the document.
•Be smart, a well designed piece with two-colors and screens (tints of the two colors) will always be less expensive and probably better looking than a piece designed with mediocre four-color images.
• Know that if you are designing a four-color piece, it will probably require a five, six, or more run through the press. You will probably want a spot color (a special non-process color other than Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black), a varnish (protective coating), and among other things a double hit (a second printing of a background color).

• Use color to emphasize type or graphics, even if it is a subtle use of color. Avoid colors that are too similar to black (e.g., dark brown, dark blue).
• Show separation between design elements, inject color into the layout. Color also helps the reader segregate different types of information making it easier to read and find specific content.
• Remember that most colors carry emotional and psychological implications.
Red = hot, passionate, and urgent
Blue = cool, melancholy, and quality
Green = nature, health, cheerfulness, liveliness, and friendliness
Purple = royalty and intelligence
Yellow = warm, cowardice, and caution
• Use values that are close together to give the design a calm appearance.
• Use values of pure hues as well as those of tints and shades to create movement.
• Use value contrasts to show texture and as an effective means of directing viewer attention in a composition.
• Use a pair of high-intensity complementary colors, placed side by side to vibrate and draw attention to the element.
• Not all color schemes, based on complementary colors are loud and demanding -- if the hues are of low-intensity the contrast is not too harsh. Intensity can only be altered by mixing a color with its complement, which has the effect of visually neutralizing the color. Changing the values of the hues, adding black or white, will soften the effect.
• If you select a color from a color swatch book and ask 1,000 printers to reproduce that color, you'll get 1,000 different colors.
• The color of the paper affects the color of the ink.

I hope these are useful in your adventures with color!

This will wrap up my basics of design section and I will jump into some more marketing topics after our Professional Development Conference which will be held in Tulsa next week! Keep an eye out for some blogging from the conference as I may sneak away and post some of what is going on from the conference!


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