Color Basics: Dos and Dont's

Color Basics: Dos and Dont's

This is a guest post written by Vivien from Inspirationbit. You can see the original post here.

Did you know that colour and visual elements activate the right brain (emotions), while the printed words activate the left brain (logic)? Colour and Typography remain to be the two most important elements in design. When you harmoniously combine them all you attract a quicker attention to the subject, reinforce impact and recognition, help in establishing powerful identities and brand, set a mood. Today we examine the DOs and DON’Ts in designing with colour.

Babies are colour-dominant: they are more attracted by colour than form. And even though we generally become more form-dominant as we mature, colour still plays an important role on how we perceive the message. For instance, why does red always call to attention? Whether you want to tweak the colours of your site, or design an ad or a poster to attract people to your products or services, or even paint the walls in your house, these colour essentials should help you in becoming more colour-wise.

DO take time to learn the colour wheel.

All colours are made up of three primaries: red, blue and yellow. When you combine the primaries, you get the three secondary colours: orange, purple and green. When you combine each secondary colour with its neighboring primary, you get six tertiary colours: yellow-orange, yellow-green, blue-green, blue-purple, red-purple, red-orange. That’s how you get the familiar 12-colour wheel.

Every colour has a temperature: from the red/yellow side of the spectrum it’s warm, and from the blue/purple side it’s cool. It has an intensity that’s described as saturation or chroma. Saturation is determined by how much or how little grey a colour contains. High intensity colours are pure, bright and vivid. Less saturated colours are muted, soft and subdued. Every colour has a value, determined by its lightness or darkness. When planning a colour combination, value and saturation are as important as the hue (synonymous with colour).

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Hexadecimal Color: Grey 88

Hexadecimal Color: Grey 88

This is a Guest post by illustrator and web designer Gerren Rabideau. You can see the original post here, or check out the rest of his work over at Gerren Design.

Once upon a time I was building a website and one of the colors I had picked out just wasn't quite right. I kept having to pop in and out of photoshop in order to tweak the color I was using. I didn't understand the Hex code enough to adjust it on the fly. After about an hour of tediously going back and forth with photoshop I gave up and started scouring the internet for a method of using hex code without another visual tools.

Like most people I discovered multiple sites that explain how HTML uses hexadecimal notation (xxxxxx) to define color. Hex code uses base-16 math to write a shorthand version of the binary code that is used to represent each of the different colors in the RGB color set. For instance, #f9f9f9 would be translated into RGB as 249,249,249 and then into binary as 111110011111100111111001. If that was too confusing, just think of #f9f9f9 as "off-white".

This article isn't really about explaining how the hexadecimal color system works. You can find plenty of websites out there that can explain that far better than I can. This article is about developing a method of thinking about hex code that will allow you to read and manipulate it without having to pop into photoshop in order to see the color itself. I've been calling this method "grey 88".

Before I get into that though, lets talk about color sets for a minute...

I come from a fine artist's background and learned about color by applying it to paint. I had my crayon set and yellow plus blue made green. This is because painting is a subtractive color set based on pigments. The chemicals used in creating the paint would react with each other when mixed and create green. You start with a white canvas and add colors until you get black. CMYK works in the same way. Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow are pigments that are mixed to create darker colors (black is also used, but only to reduce the need of having to mix CMY all of the time).

CMYK (subtractive color) pigment based

cyan (00ffff)magenta (ff00ff)yellow (ffff00)black (000000)

By default, photoshop, your computer monitor, and HTML files use RGB. RGB is an additive color set that is based on mixing light instead of pigments. Your monitor starts with black and adds different spectrums of light until you get white. In RGB the three primary colors are Red, Green, and Blue.

RGB (additive color) light based

red (ff0000)green (00ff00)blue (0000ff)white (ffffff)

Because RGB is based on light it has a much wider gamut of colors than pigment based color sets. In fact, all of the colors in CMYK are also in RGB (the reverse is not true). This means that Hex is unique in the sense that it is really has both RGB and CMYK.

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Eclectic Color Roundup

Eclectic Color Roundup


Where The Wild Things Are Character Toys

Medicomtoy; Highsnobiety

The much anticipated release of director Spike Jonze’s live-action adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s classic children’s book, Where The Wild Things Are, is just around the corner. To commemorate the movie, Medicom Toy will be releasing the “Where The Wild Things Are” Kubrick set, featuring overall 6 characters from the movie. Due to come out in October 2009, the Kubrick Set can already be pre-ordered at many toy stores around the globe.


Best Made Axes

Best Made

"Every high-rise condo, luxury office, executive suite, ranch house, and farmstead must have an axe in it. We know that axes shouldn’t only be in the hands of lumberjacks: anyone and everyone should have an axe in their name. Put it in your cubicle, give it to your niece as a graduation present, or your dad for father's day, bring it to the company picnic, carry it to the door next time Jehovah's Witness come, or just lean it up against your living room wall and admire. An axe is indispensable and sublime, the epitome of self-reliance and independence, a perfect design object, a timeless instrument."

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How Color Influences Consumer Behavior
The Colors Of Gothic Brides

The Colors Of Gothic Brides

This is a guest post written by speakin_colors.
A wide variety of styles fall under the term gothic. A gothic wedding dress may be similar to a Renaissance dress, or it may be closer to the dark style of the underworld look of vampires and witches. It could also include some typical Celtic elements adapted to the gothic fashion, with rich fabrics and a variety of deep colours. Other designs could include a skin-tight black or red dress with a Victorian neckline or a plunging or lock-lace bodice, a goth corset with black ribbon detail, a long flowing skirt with lace or a webbed black hose.

Click on the image for the link.

Medieval Wedding Dresses
Gothic themed dresses may also incorporate the look of the Medieval ages. Though some Medieval dresses are in white, darker colours can be chosen for a darker and more dramatic design while still retaining the rich materials and delicate trims that are often featured in Medieval dresses. Typical distinguishing characteristics of the Medieval dresses are puff-sleeves and ruffled necklines.

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The Colors Of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

The Colors Of The Wonderful Wizard Of Oz

The classic story and illustrations of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are a testament to the talent and imagination of both L. Frank Baum and W.W. Denslow. Their use of color helped shape the tale of Dorothy, the Tin Woodmen, Scarecrow and Cowardly Lion along with all the other characters in the land of Oz.

The regions have a color schema: blue for Munchkins, yellow for Winkies, red for Quadlings, green for the Emerald city, and (in works after the first) purple for the Gillikins, which region was also not named in the first book.(This contrasts with Kansas; Baum, describing it, used "gray" nine times in four paragraphs.)

Map of OZ

In The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, this is merely the favorite color, used for clothing and other man-made objects, and having some influence on their choice of crops, but the basic colors of the world are natural colors. The effect is less consistent in later works. In The Marvelous Land of Oz, the book states that everything in the land of the Gillikins is purple, including the plants and mud, and a character can see that he is leaving when the grass turns from purple to green, but it also describes pumpkins as orange and corn as green in that land. Baum, indeed, never used the color schema consistently; in many books, he alluded to the colors to orient the characters and readers to their location, and then did not refer to it again. His most common technique was to depict the man-made articles and flowers as the color of the country, leaving leaves, grass, and fruit their natural colors.

Colors of Oz

Colors_of_Oz Kansas_Cyclone

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Color And Productivity

Color And Productivity

You may remember a few weeks ago in one of the weekly color roundups we mentioned an article about a recent study done by the University of British Columbia, Sauder School of Business testing cognitive response in relation to color. With such an interesting and important findings, especially being related to color, I thought we should take a closer look at the findings.

In a yearlong study 600 participants were asked to complete a series of six cognitive tasks that required either attention to detail or creativity. The tasks were conducted on a computer screen with either a red, blue, or white background.

It was found that red increased detail oriented cognitive function such as proofreading and memory by 31% compared to blue which was found to double creative responses in brainstorming exercises compared to those with a red background.

The author of the study, Juliet Zhu of UBC’s Sauder School of Business, who conducted the study with Ravi Mehta, a doctoral student, attribute the findings to unconscious motivation in response to color, noting that these responses develop due to learned associations.

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The Chinese New Year & The Color Red

The Chinese New Year & The Color Red

As it is the first day of the Chinese lunar new year I thought we would take a look at a little history of the celebration and why the color red is so important. So, let us wish everyone a happy 'Chinese year' of 4707, 4706, or 4646. We hope much luck will come in this year of the Ox.

According to tales and legends, the beginning of Chinese New Year started with the fight against a mythical beast called the Nian or "Year" in Chinese. Nian would come on the first day of New Year to devour livestock, crops, and even villagers, especially children. To protect themselves, the villagers would put food in front of their doors at the beginning of every year and believed that after the Nian ate the food they prepared, it wouldn’t attack any more people. Once, people saw the Nian was scared away by a little child wearing red, they then understood that the Nian was afraid of the color red. Hence, every time when New Year was about to come, the villagers would hang red lanterns and spring scroll on windows and doors. People also used firecrackers to frighten the Nian and from then on, the Nian never came to the village again and was eventually converted by Hongjunlaozu, a Taoist in the old time, and became his mount.

Happy Nian; Photo by cactusbeetroot

New Year Practices

The Chinese New Year celebrations are marked by visits to kin, relatives and friends, a practice known as "new-year visits" (Chinese: 拜年; pinyin: bàinián). New clothes are usually worn to signify a new year. The colour red is liberally used in all decorations. Red packets are given to juniors and children by the married and elders.

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Colorful Architecture By Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Colorful Architecture By Friedensreich Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser was an Austrian painter, architect and sculptor. Born in Vienna, he became one of the best-known contemporary Austrian artists, although controversial, by the end of the 20th century.

Hundertwasser's original and unruly artistic vision expressed itself in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of facades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing (among other areas). The common themes in his work utilized bright colors, organic forms, a reconciliation of humans with nature, and a strong individualism, rejecting straight lines. He remains sui generis, although his architectural work is comparable to Antoni Gaudí in its biomorphic forms and use of tile. He was inspired by the works of Egon Schiele from an early date, and his style was often compared to that of Gustav Klimt. He was fascinated with spirals, and called straight lines "the devil's tools". He called his theory of art "transautomatism", based on Surrealist automatism, but focusing on the experience of the viewer, rather than the artist.

600px-hundertwasser_nz_1998_hg.jpg Although Hundertwasser first achieved notoriety for his boldly-colored paintings, he is more widely renowned today for his revolutionary architectural designs, which incorporate natural features of the landscape, and use of irregular forms in his building design. Hundertwasserhaus, a low-income apartment block in Vienna, features undulating floors ("an uneven floor is a melody to the feet"), a roof covered with earth and grass, and large trees growing from inside the rooms, with limbs extending from windows. He took no payment for the design of Hundertwasserhaus, declaring that it was worth it, to "prevent something ugly from going up in its place".

He felt that standard architecture could not be called art, and declared that the design of any building should be influenced by the aesthetics of its eventual tenants. Hundertwasser was also known for his performance art, in which he would, for instance, appear in public in the nude promoting an ecologically friendly flush-less toilet.

Waldspirale Residential Complex

Photo by Joachim S. Müller

Waldspirale (wooded spiral in english) which is colorfully painted with earth tones, is located in Darmstadt, Germany and was built in the 90's. It features 105 units, a green roof, an inner courtyard and playground, small artificial lake, 1000 unique windows and unique handles on every door.

Photo byJoachim S. Müller

Photo by hans s

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Color In Marketing: Yahoo Goes All Purple

Color In Marketing: Yahoo Goes All Purple

No, it's not some sort of uber green that Yahoo has achieved, it's just another marketing campaign.

We all have our favorite new marketing campaigns: the ones where companies do seemingly unrelated things to boost their street cred and show everyone they care about things other than money and you buying their products...

I will be quite the branded color palette if I add purple to my yellow live strong bracelet, my white ONE campaign bracelet... I think the orange campaign is done now that the Olympics are over, so that should free up another article of clothing. I could put my pink back on for breast cancer awareness... I certainly can't use magenta anymore, thanks to t-mobile... Man, I better start grabbing up some colors of my own before people start to think I'm a billboard for an NGO or tech company even though I won't actually have any visible company names on my clothing, just colors. I might not be wearing the names of designers but with they way things are going fashion labels are sure to buy up black any day now and then where will we be.

In such a campaign, Yahoo has launched a new web portal as a base of their new “Start Wearing Purple” campaign about being purple. Purple, as yahoo says, is the color of "creativity and innovation" and has been a part of their corporate identity since it's beginnings, even though I thought they were red, but who goes by logos these days when companies are filling the streets with purple bikes that record a photo every 60 seconds to capture the bikes journeys on a flickr account, or get funny people to do funny things with the color purple, both of which are a part of yahoo's purple campaign. Other highlights of the campaign include: daily purple links, a store of purple wears, purple pranks, and so on.


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