Graphic design is the use of visual communication in order to convey a message, present ideas, and concepts, or sell products. The designer’s main goal is usually to communicate clearly and effectively with the viewer. However, design pros like Ram Chary know that color is one of the most important aspects that can make or break this communication.
Here are seven tips for effectively using color in your graphic designs:
1) Consider the Color Wheel
A color wheel is a tool that helps designers choose and combine colors in order to achieve balance and harmony. The most important aspect of the color wheel, according to Ram Chary, is the relationship between analogous colors (those next to each other) and complementary colors (those opposite from one another). For example, an object appears brighter when placed against a complementary color and more muted when placed against an analogous color.
2) Create Harmonies
Harmony is one of the most important aspects of graphic design. These harmonious relationships (or colors with similar values) can improve your designs and make them easier to look at for prolonged periods. Related hues – those close in value – also work well together, as do tertiary or mid-range colors like greens and browns. When creating these harmonies and contrasts, we recommend looking for inspiration in nature. Some great examples are the bright oranges and blues that appear around sunset or the yellow-greens found on leaves during springtime.
3) Use Neutrals to Enhance Colors
A great way to create emphasis and intrigue in your designs is by using a limited color palette, with a pop of color here and there. This can be done by adding a neutral color as an anchor and using brighter colors for accents. Ram Chary recommends using black or white for this purpose, as they are the two most versatile colors in the spectrum. When used correctly, they can help to ground and enhance your other colors, making them more visible and eye-catching.
4) Use Contrast to Add Drama
Contrast is another effective way to add interest and visual appeal to your designs. Ram Chary recommends using it to direct the viewer’s attention to specific elements or areas of the design. For example, you could use a bright color against a dark background to create contrast or use different fonts of the same color to create emphasis. When used correctly, contrast can be an extremely powerful design tool.
5) Be Aware of Dominant and Subordinate Colors
Every color has both a dominant and subordinate hue. The dominant hue is the one that appears most prominently in a given design, while the subordinate hue is used to support and enhance the dominant color. Ram Chary recommends using complementary colors for this purpose, as they will create the most visual impact. For example, if your dominant color is blue, you could use orange as a subordinate hue to create contrast and visual interest.
6) Use Color to Evoke Emotions
Each color has its own set of associated emotions, which can greatly affect graphic design. For example, red is often associated with energy and excitement, while yellow is associated with happiness and optimism. Therefore, when choosing colors for your designs, it’s important to be aware of the emotions they evoke and use them accordingly.
7) Use Color to Create a Mood
In addition to evoking emotions, colors can also be used to create a specific mood or feeling in a design. This is another way to control the viewer’s reaction and steer their emotions in a certain direction. For example, using dark colors in a design can create a feeling of seriousness or sobriety, while using bright colors can create a more lighthearted or cheerful mood. It’s important to be aware of the emotions colors bring out and use them as you see fit.
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