I spend less than two minutes picking paint colors from that massive swatch kiosk at Home Depot. I go with my gut. But I really only have myself to please.
It’s different in my design work. There are so many factors that go into developing a color palette for a brand, a campaign or even a poster. What do we want the audience to think or feel? What colors are the competition? What are the fad colors that will fade in a year? What color does CEO’s spouse like? How and where will these colors be seen?
When colors don’t come to me, I seek help and inspiration. These are my top seven resources for color:
I love this online community for color enthusiasts. People from around the world create and share their own color palettes. Kind of like a photo sharing site, but with color. I love the search function. You can specify palettes with as many or as few colors that you want. You can also search by a word. So, for example, type in “spring” and you will get a ton of different ideas for spring color palettes. Not all of the user-generated palettes are great, but there are many combinations that I would have never thought of on my own. I always start here when I need a color kick-start.
Design Seeds® is a beautiful site dedicated to color inspiration created by designer Jessica Colaluca. She focuses on colors derived from nature. Not only are the palettes gorgeous, but I love seeing the image sources she uses. It’s easy to be inspired by her passion.
Much like Design Seeds, Plenty of Colour is a daily design blog devoted to showcasing and celebrating color, created by Vancouver based designer, Chloe. What is different is that her resources for color are anything she can find. I love scrolling through this site because it allows contexts of color to shift based on the subject.
Color trends in the design world often start in the fashion world. I’m no fashionista, so I like to keep up with what is happening by visiting the Trend Forecasting section on Pantone.com. For those not in the know, Pantone is the “world-renowned authority and provider of color systems and leading technology for the selection and accurate communication of color across a variety of industries.”
Color Matters is an awesome resource. They have it all: basic color theory, symbolism, psychology, science, history, surveys, research, studies, the use of color in marketing and more. If you wanted to know something like why school buses are yellow?, this is the place to go. I often visit this site to refresh my memory before explaining color choices to our clients.
The previous references are all dedicated sites for color. I often browse for other news or little nuggets of useful information or different perspectives. I found this article on the misconceptions of the psychology of color very interesting and relevant.
7. My environment
All of the resources I’ve listed are great, but they live on a tiny screen. I can’t really feel color unless I am surrounded by it. Whether it’s grocery shopping, at my daughter’s basketball game, enjoying a run or simply driving to work, color is everywhere and must be wholly experienced to be truly understood. Therefore, my most valued resource for color inspiration is easily my environment.
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