You don’t need to be a very experienced web designer or a color theory specialist to notice that the Internet is full of decent or poor color combinations. Also, there are many bad color schemes in print, including advertising products – it’s about the money mostly, so any mistake is equivalent to a smaller profit. Are designers so uninspired? Or are we this much subjective that we can’t be pleased with any color schemes?
The truth is somewhere in between. Many designers criticized the lack of inspiration when it’s about color choosing of other people and it’s possible that we are in a way too hard to satisfy. We bet that any reader is already thinking: “how do designers select only decent color combinations when the number of colors is infinite?”. The answer is surprising and kinda funny: most of the colors don’t like each other! Yeah, the number of colors is almost limitless, but very few ones are actually “friends”! Plus, there are very few good color combinations comparing to the number of colors.
In order to create and use only good color combinations it is essential to understand the nature and the features of each color. So please welcome a color combination guide that even professional designers would appreciate. Let’s get started. Red, blue and yellow are called primary colors because the rest of combinations are formed from these ones. More pragmatically, you may call these “the parents” of colors. The secondary colors are created by combining the primary colors, in equal parts:
Blue + Yellow = Green
Blue + Red= Purple
Red + Yellow= Orange
Finally, we have the third-level colors that are formed by the combination of the primary-secondary or secondary–secondary colors – of course in equal parts. The results are the following:
Blue + Green = Aquamarine
Blue + Purple = Violet
Red + Orange = Vermilion
Red + Purple = Magenta
Yellow + Orange = Marigold
Yellow + Green = Chartreuse
Another fact that puts the designers in trouble is the worldwide meanings of colors. Maybe it sounds a little bit weird, but a color may represent joy for people living on one continent and the same shade may be considered as a woeful one in another part of the world. In spite of these differences, each color has some particular meanings. It’s highly recommended to know the meanings by heart, but it’s no problem to bookmark this post and consult it when you should choose the colors for your project. Anyway, across time, by getting more experienced, a designer doesn’t need to know the meaning of the colors, he/she feels which color is better for his project. It is difficult to explain, but it is true!
The meaning of the most used colors:
It’s associated to three main situations: love – the hearts are red, Valentine Day’s gifts contain at least a red nuance. Red provokes excitement – it’s the reason why many call-to-action buttons are red; beside that, it raises blood pressure. Thirdly, red indicates danger – have you ever asked yourself why most of the traffic signs contain red? Now you have an explanation.
The next examples are relevant to show that red is very important and extremely useful in creating a wonderful and efficient layout.
Most of the designers would agree with the idea that when someone is not sure which color to use, then the best solution is blue. Being the color of water and sky, blue is everywhere and it gives a special feeling of comfort, calmness and stability – this is the main reason why it is so common in financial related websites. Blue is associated with trust, intelligence, truth and in addition to its specific calming effect, it is highly recommended to use it as background.
These designs show how the theory is implemented in practice:
Yellow is a color that stimulates the brain activity and is associated with energy and joy. Taking these into account, it becomes obvious why so many kids related items are yellow. It has the power to attract the attention of the viewers – the taxis are yellow because of this fact, and at the same time it works as an appetizer – McDonald’s logo is yellow based, isn’t it?
See some yellow website designs in action:
Nowadays, Eco-friendly movement and products that don’t pollute the environment are on trend and of course, the demand for websites related to these is high. The conclusion is simple: green is for environment. On the other hand, green is associated with freshness, youth and money (the dollars are green).
We have here some amazing use of green in web design:
We guess that none can name himself as a designer unless color wheel is something common for him. Practically, it’s a graphic representation of the colors using the shape of a circle. This fact is very important because using color wheel is simple to realize combinations between nuances. So, we are digging deeper to see how is recommended to create color combinations.
This color combination is realized by determining the main color and use variations of it. The variations are created from the main colors by adding black or white. The schema is efficient when it’s not required to have a high contrast and it represents a good solution in the eventuality that is required a modern approach.
The Analogous color scheme is somehow similar to the previous one. At the same, a main color is chosen and it is combined with the neighbor colors. Usually, the neighbor colors are “friends” with each other. Using this solution, a designer may obtain a better contrast as the monochromatic combination, but less powerful than the next type of color combination. The best approach when choosing an analogous combination is to use the main color as much as possible – i.e., as background, the second color to sustain it and the third one just to highlight the most important items.
A complementary color combination is formed from two colors that are located in opposing positions on the color wheel. These colors aren’t close, therefore these are mostly “enemies”. As a result, the contrast is very powerful; any designer should pay tenfold attention not to create a visual tension that hurts the eyes of the viewers.
This color combination is based on selecting colors that form a 120 degree angle between them. This is characterized by a very strong equilibrium, but at the same time it offers a large palette of options.
As the name is pretty much self-explanatory, in this case we are talking about four colors. Two colors are adjacent of the color wheel, while the remaining ones are the opposite of these. It’s more difficult to achieve scheme but the results are really impressive.
The most experienced web designers consider this post as a nice refreshing but the amateur ones will be overwhelmed by the numerous terms and the consistent information. The solution to become a master of colors is to keep calm and just learn stuff – step by step everything may be achieved. All the designers at their beginning weren’t sure which color is the best, therefore color theory may be learned, there is nothing special.
The good news is that nowadays the Internet is full of resources to master your skills in any web design field, including color theory. In addition to that, some web applications are wonderful tools that make much easier the process of selecting a color combination. Here are just some of my preferred ones, you may search for others, it’s about each one’s tastes.
It’s a wonderful application that has an amazing interface. It’s simple to use and very intuitive. Be sure, it’s worth giving it a try!
It has pretty much the same features as the previous application, therefore if you don’t like using Sphere, then this one might be a very reliable alternative. It lets you create various color combinations and see how the colors are matching among them.
It’s another impressive application and the main feature of it is the 3D representation of the colors. The interface is a little bit difficult for an amateur, but once you get familiarized with, it’s improbable to give up to it.
That’s about it, guys. You have all the required resources to become a master of color theory. Be patient, confident and work hard!