in Images and Colour
Creating colour harmonies
Creating beautiful colour schemes is easy if you rely on any of the tried and true colour harmonies. Whether you are working on a printed piece, a website or any other communication, the colour wheel can be your best friend when it comes to an attractive palette. Here are the basics of colour harmonies.
Complementary colours are easy to identify: they are always opposite each other on the colour wheel. By their very nature, complementary colours create a high degree of contrast, which can make them difficult to work with. When used in large doses, they can overwhelm your design. One trick: mute one of the colours by choosing a lighter or darker shade of the hue.
Use complementary colours to:
- Convey youthfulness or vibrancy.
- Draw attention to a point of focus.
- Create a bold look.
- Inspire action.
Split complementary harmonies create a three colour palette with one primary colour and two colours adjacent to its opposite on the colour wheel. This harmony has the benefit of creating contrast while reducing the chance of the contrast overwhelming your design.
Use split complementary colours to:
- Make a strong impact that doesn't overwhelm the eye.
Analogous colours are adjacent on the colour wheel. It's a low contrast combination that creates a calming effect on your design. Choose a base colour and then add two or three analogous colours as accents. Use only warm or cool selections to avoid complicating the harmony. Mix it by selecting shades and tints.
Use analogous colours to:
- Make a monochrome colour scheme a bit more dynamic.
- Create a calming design.
- Unify a look that won't distract.
- Connect with nature.
A triadic colour harmony employs three evenly spaced colours at 120° from each other on the colour wheel. Triadic colour schemes are more vibrant yet tend to lack the intensity of a complementary colour harmony. Consider letting one colour dominate, and using the other two as accents. You can calm it down by using a darker primary shade and lighter versions of the two others in the triad.
Use triadic colours to:
- Create drama and contrast.
- Avoid over-the-top looks.
- Design with more than two colours.
- To grab the reader's attention.
- To evoke a youthful, bright message.
Monochromatic colours create a palette of shades of a single colour for a clean and simple aesthetic and a sense of unity. It's the safest and easiest colour scheme option and is inherently forgiving for inexperienced designers.
Use a monochromatic colour scheme to:
- Achieve a serene design.
- Create a sense of calm.
- Convey reliability.