Forbidden Color Combinations?

Forbidden Color Combinations?


Color theorists and designers in fashion or computer graphics have coined phrases based around what colors shouldn't go together. A recent forum post, Red and Green Should Not Be Seen? discusses two of the sayings ("Red and Green Should Not Be Seen" and "Blue and Green Should Never Be Seen Without Something in Between"), and some lovers have even responded in protest, showing how there is no 'wrong' in love. Here are some palettes and applications of the forbidden colors that really work.

Red and Green Seen

ze cod 05Tin Car Bell
napolitanasummer tree fairy

shot downsalsa for the people
rosacepico de gallo.
green pillow with red fringebrick red and green Victorian home

Blue and Green Seen

blue greensblue green v2
blue green are seenDevblog - Blue Green
Tidepool Flying FishTogether Now
Featheredoutside and beyond
green and blue tieralph lauren blue-striped shirt with green

Oddly, these color rules work under specific contexts, which follow 'clashing' colors. Sure, red flowers on green leaves make perfect sense, and can be beautiful, but red text on a green background doesn't always work, so there is some weight to the statements. Of course, that weight really shouldn't be the end-all. Other color combinations that are said to not work are as follows:

Pink and Mauve

mauvelousnebular red
MUDdlePlum Splat
Quiet and ComfortClear as Purple Mud
Feeling MauveyAubergine Split
skully badges in mauve and pinkgirl on pink and mauve background

Pink and Orange

I Will Remember YouMellow cheddar
nightfall minxMixirica
Safe and SoundFlora Persica
blissful ignoranceSalmon
pink and orange bagpink and orange fabric design

Brown and Black

one night onlySweets to the Sweet
EvidenceTrick or Treat
BaskingEarly Hallowe'en
Dapper HotdogGuinness Draught
pequin brown and black bagbrown and black zeus statue

What I've found to be true about what's "right" and "wrong" is that a good general rule, opposed to gospel. Because colors are flexible, it follows that these rules don't always apply. What it really seems to come down to is using colors correctly. Using colors that 'clash' properly can give a wonderful contrast. In the world of color, I've found that there's no such thing as 'no' in the world of color.

Do you need help or inspiration finding the right color combination? Check out Creative Market for some ideas and immediate downloads.


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29 Comments
Showing 1 - 29 of 29 Comments

_stefan

Nice article, thank you! There's a whole group about color-clashs and "forbidden" combinations.

rrhoades

Great article. You're right about saying there is "no" to the combination of colors. Look at Dunkin Donuts' logo, Pink & Orange. Works perfectly.

indiethought

way to tear it down! *goes to make clashy palettes now*

beaurybe

"forbidden color combinations tend to make the most intense, and beautiful pallets. I find this is surprisingly true when seeking eyeshadow pallets for my clients.

groutboy

re: red & green..........you'd think complimentary colors would... ah... compliment eachother (??)

i'm all about mixing it up, though. sometimes those chance-taking palettes are crazy and refreshingly gorgeous.

groutboy

and now.... some stuff!

Summer Night Makeout

manekineko

dinsdale

Deep Want

The Imminence

Forget-Me-Now

Scholar

Impender

Punchclock

ruecian

@groutboy: Those are some amazing finds. Have you seen any other combos that "don't" work?

groutboy

thank you, ruecian.

and as for palettes that don't work:

oh yes.

of course, and many are my own :)

i'd rather not flaunt crap, i prefer celebrating awesomeness... or, at least, intended awesomeness.....soooo i shall not post any broken palettes today.

_stefan



It's not comfortable to read, but I enjoy how it seems to burn.

indiethought

here we go!

springtime candycane

pnk n prpl make orng

bluegreenbluegreen

velvet revolution

fade to black

never say 'no' to me!

misat*

my red & green ...?
duskish grove

_stefan

@well: I had to make a palette from it!

Should Not Be Seen

_stefan

... and some older ones:

anti-biz

fashion mafia

ON STRIKE

_stefan

Oops, I've misspelled your name. Sorry, wells.

wells

Stefan, I'll save that palette for Xmas! How about a "Clashful Xmas" with Eggnog:

Clashful Xmas

lukeyg

"What it really seems to come down to is using colors correctly. Using colors that ‘clash’ properly can give a wonderful contrast."

I think when there is a clash, the clash itself needs to be the focus of attention. If you are trying to read text or see what's going on in a photo then a clash can be disorientating and frustrating. When you make a feature of a clash, however, it's pretty fun!

bloodstream disco

vredeling

Actually my own website has a red/green combo. But I do agree it needs a redo. New design is coming up and it gets even greener (and a little lighter on the red). But still a red/green combo. I don't intersect the colours directly though.

bunigrl33

I think blue and green go very well together. I wear that color combo often. Here are some of my blue/green palettes.
Refreshing
Summer Day
Dragonfly

ZicoCarioca

SomeFever+Alchemy+TheAntidote= TheAlchemist

hilaglam

Nice article, loved reading it. :)

faded jeans

Wonderful article -- very enjoyable and fascinating read :)

therr

Not to be mean, but the reason red and green are a no-no, especially when it comes to design, is because color blind people cannot see these two color when their side by side. When you put red text on a green background you make it imposable for the color blind to read information. Also, for the non-color blind; bright and annoying shades of red and green together make it very difficult for anyone to read it.

Just some extra information. =)

Heather

asteria24

"In the world of color, I’ve found that there’s no such thing as ‘no’ in the world of color."

Glad to see such a well-written article.


Hm... but I do know that in the fashion world, red and green together are a big no-no. That is, unless one wants to look like a Christmas tree.
On the other hand, nobody ever told me about the blue and green "rule".
In the words of one of my good friends, "with art, nothing is concrete". Or something along those lines.

coryslater

The green tie is a killer!

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