Olivia M Design



As you may have noticed from last week’s Saturday Skills blog, color is a very important part of design. With color, you can affect people’s moods, make them feel a certain emotion, or bring up a memory. It’s a powerful tool that can completely change your design depending on how you use it.

I’ve always had a love of color. When I was younger my bedroom walls were bright blue and my comforter was orange, purple, and green (yikes). My favorite outfit was orange and pink capris with an orange shirt. My first guitar was blue with a zebra striped strap. Clearly my taste needed some refining, but I was just having fun! I loved going to Home Depot and picking out as many color swatches as my parents would let me and cutting them up and using them as decorations in my room, I’d make collages and cover my whole cork board with colorful squares.

It’s funny now, because most of my clothes are neutral and my style is fairly minimal. I like white walls and natural textiles, but I love adding pops of color. A bright pillow, a bouquet of flowers, or a piece of colorful wall art are where you can find color in my house now, and I like to spice up neutral outfits with bold lipstick. So my love of color never left, it just grew up with me.

I mentioned in last week’s Saturday Skills blog the meanings of the different colors. Each color has so many meanings and it really depends on what other colors it’s paired with and the context it’s being used in. For example, red can mean danger or energy, but it can also make you hungry. Yellow can mean sadness, but it can also make you thirsty. Go look at fast food restaurant logos and you’ll notice that a lot of them use red and yellow in their branding.

Red Yellow.jpg

Context is key when it comes to choosing a color palette. If you want something minimal you may only choose two colors. But you can also have a minimalist design with four colors. My whole website and brand is very minimal even though I use three main colors and some pattern.

Color Examples.jpg

An important thing to keep in mind when choosing a palette is the different color harmonies. If you have a color or two but are having a hard time pulling together a full palette, go back to the harmonies and see how you can add a color using one of those. Sometimes it looks ok, but something’s not quite right, and it’s probably that your harmony is just a little off. This is something that you’ll have to consciously think about at first, but after a while it will come naturally.

POP QUIZ: Without going back to look, name all the color harmonies and what they mean. GO!

It’s totally ok if you failed that pop quiz, but I do encourage you to go back and memorize them and practice making your own palettes using each harmony!

A fun way to start experimenting with color palettes is to go out and take a photo of something that you think is aesthetically pleasing, put that photo into PhotoShop or Illustrator, and use the eyedropper to pull out a handful of colors. I suggest making a PhotoShop or Illustrator file where you just collect color palettes you like for future use.

Sometimes there’s that one color that you really want to use but you can’t figure out what other colors go with it. Go out into the world and find that color being used in real life and take a photo and put it into PhotoShop/Illustrator to pull out the colors around it. Pinterest is also another good place to find color palettes, but know that Pinterest is full of a lot of people, not just designers, so use discretion when taking design advice from it.

Speaking of Pinterest, go follow me for lots of design inspiration, how to’s, and pretty things!

Now go out into the world and get inspired! And post your color palette creations in the comments below!