Color Combination Suggestions to Draw the Eye

Color is crucial to visual communication. It’s a basic property of light. It captures your eye. Color impressions are both quick and long lasting.

The human brain requires a sense of order or it will reject whatever it sees. It’s important to remember that color is the first thing registered by a person. If it is pleasing, they will read on — if it’s displeasing you may lose them in a nano second.

Marketing psychologists’ state- color accounts for 60% of the acceptance or rejection of what a person sees- a lasting impression is made within ninety seconds. Color can sway thinking, change actions, and cause reactions. The colors used for a carpet manufacturer product, web site, business card, or logo cause powerful re-actions. Decisions about color are a critical factor in success of any visual experience.Color combinations can attract or distract. The right color combinations can be as important as the individual colors.

Color Basics

Several factors affect the way we perceive color. One of those factors can be shown by the position of colors on the color wheel in relation to other colors. These color wheels take out all or some of the transitional colors so that you can more readily see the relationship of the colors to one another.

Adjacent or harmonizing colors appear next to each other on the color wheel. Harmonizing (adjacent) colors often work well together but if too close in value they can appear washed out or not have enough contrast. They work well together (usually). For example Green and Yellow or Purple and Magenta. Generally one of the colors has a little touch of the other in it (i.e. with the Blue/Magenta pair, Magenta is made up of Red and Blue).

Complimentary colors also referred to as contrasting colors are separated by another color on the color wheel. Complimentary colors printed side by side can cause visual vibration making them a less then desirable combination. Red and Green are contrasting colors. The more transitional colors separating two colors, the greater the contrast. For example, Magenta and Orange is not as high contrast as Magenta and Yellow.

Clashing colors are directly opposite each other on the color wheel. You’ll note that these clashes occur between primary/complementary or Additive/Subtractive pairs such as Blue and Yellow or Green and Magenta.

Primary Color Scheme

This is the use of a single color in varying shades. This can be a clean and interesting look. It’s soothing and pleasing to the eye especially the blue or green hues. Primary Colors are Red, yellow & blue.

Secondary Color Scheme

This is using high contrast of color by selecting colors directly opposite from one another on the color wheel (such as pink and lime green). This puts a warm color with a cool color and is pleasing to the eye. Secondary Colors are yellow plus blue (green), blue plus red (violet/purple) & red plus yellow (orange)

Tertiary Color Scheme

When primary color and an adjacent secondary are mixed, tertiary colors are the result. This scheme uses three colors equally spaced from each other around a color wheel. It’s popular and allows for a harmonious color scheme. Tertiary Colors are yellow plus green (yellow-green), green plus blue (blue-green), blue plus violet (blue-violet / ultramarine blue), violet plus red (red- violet), red plus orange (red-orange), orange plus yellow (yellow-orange)

Color Selection & Use

Colors fall into three general categories: warm, cool, and neutral. The way we mix those colors along with attention to value, can add interest, enhance the design concept, or convey specific messages.

Neutral Colors

The neutral colors of black, white, silver, gray, and brown make good backgrounds, serve to unify diverse color palettes, and also often stand alone as the only or primary focus of a design.

Neutral colors help to put the focus on other colors or serve to tone down colors that might otherwise be overpowering on their own. To some extent blacks, browns, tans, golds, and beige colors are considered warm. While white, ivory, silver, and gray are somewhat cooler colors. Yet these warm and cool attributes are flexible and subtler than that of reds or blues.

Black

Black is the color of authority and power, stability and strength. It is also the color associated with intelligence. Black clothes make people appear thinner. It’s a somber color sometimes associated with evil. In the western hemisphere black is associated with grieving. Black is a serious color that evokes strong emotions.

Use the color black to convey elegance, sophistication, or perhaps a touch of mystery. Dark charcoal gray and very dark brown can sometimes stand in for black.

Be careful using black with very dark colors. It can work, but if the colors are too similar they blend together. Black works well with bright, jewel-toned shades of red, blue, and green. Black is the ultimate dark color and makes lighter colors such as yellow really pop out. Photographs often look brighter against a black background. Black and gray is a conservative combo as is medium or light blue and black.

White

For most of the world this is the color associated with purity (wedding dresses), cleanliness (doctors in white coats). It is also used to project the absence of color, or neutrality. In some eastern parts of the world, white is associated with mourning. It is a compression of all the colors in the color spectrum.

In most cases white is seen as a neutral background color and other colors, even when used in smaller proportion, are the colors that convey the most meaning in a design. Use white to signify cleanliness or purity or softness. Some neutral beige, ivory, and creams carry the same attributes as white but are more subdued, less brilliant than plain white. Use lots of white for a summery look. Use small amounts of white to soften a wintery palette or suggest snow.

When used with light or pastel tones, white is soft and Spring-like and helps to make the pastel palette livelier. White can make dark or light reds, blues, and greens look brighter, more prominent. Red, white, and blue makes a patriotic palette.

Warm Colors

Warm colors convey emotions from simple optimism to strong violence. The warmth of red, yellow, pink, or orange can create excitement or even anger. The neutrals of black and brown also carry attributes of warm colors.

Red

If you want to draw attention, use red. It is often where the eye looks first. Red is the color of energy. It’s associated with movement and excitement.

Color Suggestions

  1. Red and green combo. Use lots of black and a bit of yellow to create an eye-popping look
  2. Pastel pinks won’t be washed out with a judicial dose of black to make those pinks pop.
  3. Using the gray and beige colors in place of white with black and red softens the color scheme.

Yellow

Cheerful yellow the color of the sun, associated with laughter, happiness and good times. A person surrounded by yellow feels optimistic because the brain actually releases more seratonin (feel good chemical in the brain) when around this color.

Color Suggestions

  1. A mellow, earthy yellow blends nicely with dark brown and orange.
  2. For a psychedelic look: pure yellow, magenta, cyan, green, and purple.
  3. Opposites attract – blue and yellow – while white add light to this slightly dark palette.

Orange

The most flamboyant color on the planet! It’s the color tied most this fun times, happy and energetic days, warmth and organic products. It is also associated with ambition. Orange is associated with a new dawn in attitude.

Color Suggestions

  1. Orange and black (or charcoal gray) don’t have to be just for Halloween. Pale yellow provides a lighter note.
  2. Orange with a complementary pink and an opposite of blue to suggest the sixties.
  3. An earthy palette of brown, green, and orange.

Brown

This color is most associated with reliability, stability, and friendship. More are more likely to select this as their favorite color. It’s the color of the earth itself “terra firma” and what could represent stability better. It too is associated with things being natural or organic.

Color Suggestions

  1. For a wonderful earthy palette use brown, green, and orange together.
  2. Black and brown create a strong neutral background for a splash of orange-red. Use a touch of white to provide light and contrast.
  3. A pale pink and light brown work nicely together with a beige and black for this neutral art deco color scheme. Use more of the pink to wake it up a bit.

Cool Colors

Cool colors tend to have a calming effect. At one end of the spectrum they are cold, impersonal, antispectic colors. At the other end the cool colors are comforting and nurturing. Blue, green, and the neutrals white, gray, and silver are examples of cool colors.

Blue

Much of the world is blue (skies, seas). Seeing the color blue actually causes the body to produce chemicals that are calming; but that isn’t true of all shades of blue. Some shades (or too much blue) can send a cold and uncaring message. Over the ages blue has become associated with steadfastness, dependability, wisdom and loyalty.

Color Suggestions

  1. Dark blues and gray create a dark, conservative look.
  2. More attraction between yellow and blue (both a light and a darker blue) with a dash of orange thrown in.
  3. Pastel blues with a dash of yellow and pink for a softer touch.

Green

It’s the color of growth, nature, and money. A calming color also that’s very pleasing to the senses. Dark forest green is associated with terms like conservative, masculine and wealth. Hospitals use light green rooms because they too are found to be calming to patients. It is also the color associated with envy, good luck, generosity and fertility. It is the traditional color of peace, harmony, comfortable nurturing, support and well-paced energy.

Color Suggestions

  1. The harmonizing colors of green and yellow are accompanied by black and white.
  2. Red and green isn’t just for Christmas. Make it an orange-red and throw in a dash of purple and white for a vibrating sixties color scheme.
  3. Shades of brown and tan are enlivened with a bright teal.

Purple

What color were the robes of kings and queens? Yes, they were purple, our most royal color that is associated with wealth, prosperity, rich sophistication. This color stimulates the brain activity used in problem solving. Use purple most carefully to lend an air of mystery, wisdom, and respect. Young adolescent girls are most likely to select nearly all shades of purple as their favorite color.

Color Suggestions

  1. Opposites of purple and green make an attractive match with black and white added to the party.
  2. Golden yellows pops when placed on a background of purple.
  3. Dusky shades of purple, pink, and blue have an earthy tone.

Gray

Gray is most associated with the practical, timeless, middle-of-the-road, solid things in life. Too much gray leads to feeling mostly nothing, but a bit of gray will add that rock solid feeling to your product. Some shades of gray are associated with old age, death, taxes, depression or a lost sense of direction. Silver is an off- gray and often associated with giving a helping hand and strong character.

Color Suggestions

  1. A neutral palette with gray, brown, and a dose of black.
  2. Monochromatic palette shades of gray or tints of black. All with a dash of white to brighten it up.
  3. Light grays with pastel shades of pink, blue, lavender, and green have a feminine quality. Darken those colors for a more masculine feel. Gray with hot pink can be a little retro. Cool a warm palette by adding gray to rich reds or golden yellows.

 

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