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Color Scheme Tools

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Promo Expert

All right, so I might be a stress ball with bright pink skin, but that’s not the only reason I think color is important. In this article, we’re going to learn how you can pick colors that work together to make your promo products worthy of an art gallery show. I can practically see your water bottles up on a pedestal now!

Along with elements like line and shape, color is one of the basic visual components of art. Artists use color to bring the core principles of art and design (like balance, emphasis, and contrast) into their work. Painters, digital illustrators, and graphic designers all use color, although each artist uses it in different ways.

Because color evokes certain feelings (blue is calming, red stimulates passion and energy, etc.), it plays an important role in advertising materials. The color scheme you choose for your corporate logo, your website, and your promotional products can influence the message you send to your customers.

So let’s think about the colors you’d like to use for your next project!

Hue - Simple colors like red, green, and blue are all hues when it comes to art. This is a color in its most basic form.

Tint - Add white to a hue and you'll have a tinted color. There can be grades of tints; the more white you add to a hue, the lighter the tint will be.

Tone - This is what you see when you add gray to a hue. Like tints, tones can exist in grades.

Shade - Shade is what you see when you add black to a hue. Like tint and tone, it exists in grades.

Primary color - Red, yellow, and blue are primary colors. You can't mix any two colors together to make these hues.

Secondary colors - Secondary colors are the ones created by mixing two primary colors. Orange, green, and violet/purple are all secondary colors.

Scheming with Color

Creating a color scheme for your design involves mixing and matching those entries on the color wheel in different ways. There are numerous color schemes out there, but the basic building blocks in the world of design are listed below.

A monochromatic color scheme uses a single hue along with all of its tints, tones, and shades. Variations in lightness and saturation of a key color are used throughout the design, creating a balanced, uniform look.

A complementary color scheme uses one hue along with the hue directly across from it on the color wheel, as well as their tints, tones, and shades. A complementary color scheme often pairs one primary color with one secondary color. For an example of a complementary color scheme in action, check out the blue and orange in our logo!

An analogous color scheme uses three hues that are adjacent to each other on the color wheel, along with their tints, tones, and shades. Usually, one of the three colors is chosen to be the dominant one. Yellow combined with yellow-green and yellow-orange is one example of an analogous color scheme.

A split complementary color scheme gets interesting. Instead of using a hue and its complementary color, it uses a hue and the two colors on either side of its complementary color. To go back to our logo, if we were to redo it with a split complementary scheme, we would use blue, red-orange, and yellow-orange. We could also use orange, blue-green, and blue-violet.

A triadic color scheme uses three hues spaced evenly apart from each other on the color wheel. You could connect green, orange, and violet, for example, by drawing an equal-sided triangle. Those three colors would compose a triadic color scheme.

A tetradic color scheme uses two pairs of complementary colors, balanced in equal amounts. So instead of two or three colors, you'd have four colors in your design. For example, red and blue could be paired together with yellow and violet.

An achromatic color scheme doesn’t use any colors on the color wheel. It’s just a fancy way of saying that you’re using all black, white, and gray.

Picking and Choosing

Now that you’ve been armed with all sorts of artistic ideas and information… you may still have trouble picking a color scheme. That’s understandable! It can be tough to imagine how colors will look together.

Luckily, there are plenty of tools and resources available to help you select a color scheme. A great place to start is with a color scheme generator. You'll have immediate access to complementary hues, analogous hues, and any other color scheme you want for your design.

Another way to find inspiration is to visit color blogs and graphic designers’ websites. The Internet has made it incredibly easy for artists to share some of their favorite color combos. In fact, some blogs are dedicated entirely to finding new and creative color schemes. Plus, there’s Pinterest, a fine source of creative arts and crafts ideas.

Once you have your colors in mind, Quality Logo Products can help you find the best imprint matches possible thanks to our exclusive Pantone Matching System Color Tool and Embroidery Color Chart. What can we say? We know how to add some color to the world!