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Methods for Choosing Color Combos:

Most color palettesI use are chosen by intuition…but I do use a few strategies:

1. Tints and Shades

I choose a color or two, and then add white to come up with secondary colors. To add white you can add a layer of solid white on top of your original colors, and then decrease the opacity on the white layer. In illustrator, I just convert my colors to “spot colors” by double clicking on a color and choose “spot color” from the drop down menu that pops up.

Then illustrator gives you a handy spot color slider letting you increase the amount of white on the fly producing tints.

(another quicky but not completly accurate way is to choose “lab” mode when you are choosing a color in photoshop and move the slider up.

Sometimes I need an additional dark color for contrast or for text. Adding black to one of my chosen colors will produce a “shade".

True black can be dull and flat looking…especially in print media. A common tactic used by print designers is add just a bit of blue to large black areas so they are not pure black…which creates a “richer” black.

Sometimes I do similiar things for the web. Instead of using pure black text… I use a very dark shade of one of the colors in my project’s palette.

2. Choose color by similiarity.

I don’t know how to explain this one, although there is probally a design term for it that I’m unaware of… but I’ll try to show graphically how I do it.

In the above example I again went with lab mode in photoshop’s color picker. Using the other modes such as HSB and RGB you’ll find a different resulting palette, so fiddle around with those modes too.

3. Blending for dollars


Layer colors over top of each other, and use blending options (in photoshop’s layer menu or illustrators transperancy menu) to produce new colors that happily co-exist with your palette.


4. Results:


I used the above techniques along with some luck and came up with a nice palette I used in this illustration.


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