Using Color Schemes
December 19, 2010
Andrea Mitchell – NYC, NY
123Triad: Web Design & SEO Company
Using Color Schemes
Just because your computer can display millions of colors, it doesn’t mean you can use all of them in building your website. There is a need for a conscious part on the designer on what set of colors he/she will use. To complicate things further, there are certain colors that just don’t work together, much like people. This is where color schemes come into play.
That is not to say though that just picking out color schemes out of thin air and implementing it on your site will make it look good. It’s just that your choice of scheme greatly affects the feeling you are trying to invoke with your site. This is because colors tend to say something just by being there. They suggest emotions that you can take advantage in making your site more interesting.
Basic color theory teaches as that there are three primary colors: red, yellow and blue. Combinations of these basic colors form the secondary colors: orange (red + yellow), green (blue + yellow) and purple (red + blue). Combining still, these colors results to the tertiary colors and so on. This colors form the famous Color Wheel. The Color Wheel best shows the relationship among colors.
Colors can be generally described as warm or cool. A dividing line through the color wheel can be drawn to show which colors are warm or cool. The warm colors are the colors surrounding and including red, orange and yellow. These colors are fierce and striking. They suggest fire and aggression. The cool colors are the colors surrounding and including purple, blue and green. These colors are laid back and relaxing. They suggest coolness and peace.
Given all the possible colors and their combinations, you got a handful of hues to work on. As I’ve pointed out earlier, you can’t just pick any color for your site just because you can. We need to harmonize these colors into schemes to present an eye catching, but not harsh, page.
If you want to create a large contrast between two objects, use the complementary scheme. This will make objects seem like they will jump out. This is bad for text since too much contrast in colors is straining. This scheme can be implemented by using two colors directly opposite in the color wheel (i.e. red and green).
An easy and safe scheme to implement is the analogous scheme. This involves three colors in the color wheel that are next to each other. This is innately harmonious since it’s commonly found in nature. Hence, the eyes are used to it. The colors though can easily get lost in each other so put enough contrast. Have one as the main color, support it with the other, and use the third as an accent.
The third color scheme is the triadic color scheme. The colors of the scheme can be picked out by drawing an equilateral triangle on the color wheel and picking out the colors on the corners. These colors are equidistant from each other. The colors will always look vibrant together. Use one as the main color and the others as accents.
The fourth scheme, the split-complementary scheme, is the easiest to use since it’s hard to mess up. The colors can be picked by choosing one color and then the colors directly beside its complementary. It has an inherent strong contrast but a lesser tension than the complementary scheme.
Other schemes are the square scheme (four equidistant colors in the wheel) and the rectangular schemer (two complementary pairs). These schemes work best with only one color as dominant and with an ample balance of warm and cool colors.
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