Designing With Color Contrasting

Whether you are designing on the web or interior designing, there is a lot more to colors than just the mood that they inspire. Colors can create a temperature, contrast, and depth as well, and understanding these aspects of color can generate a plethora of design options when creating a website, a newsletter, or even painting a room in your home.

The Temperature and Saturation of Colors

Each color corresponds to a different temperature; warmth or coolness. The red end of the rainbow provides the warmest tones, while the blue and purple end represents cooler hues. Think about the color red and the associations that come with it: fire, love, passion; all three are warm feelings. As a warm color, it will bring some heat to you graphics.

Blue, on the other hand, is associated with water and the sky, and it can feel icy and cold. It compliments the backgrounds of Christmas cards with snow perfectly due to its cool nature.

The strength of the color is considered its saturation. Saturation is basically the amount of grey or muting that a color contains. The stronger colors, or more saturated, are brilliant, dramatic, and bright and the colors that are less saturated are subdued, softer, and muted.  Colors are also characterized by their lightness or darkness; this is their value. The saturation and value can have a tremendous impact on the outcome of a graphic.

Cool or Warm?

Did you know that warm hues are picked up by the human eye before the cooler colors? Were you aware that warm hues appear to pop out of the graphics while cool colors seem like they are receding?  The two triangles below represent the warm and the cool coloring; the brown appears to be coming toward the viewer and the blue seems to be moving away.

Illusions that Colors Create

The same exact value of a color could appear to change when contrasted with different types of surroundings.

In the figures above, the shade, or value, of peach is exactly the same. However, the shapes will appear to maintain dissimilar values when contrasted with a white background. When graphic designing or interior designing, it is crucial to keep in mind the background that the colors will be placed on, the whitespace or other affecting backdrops, and how the appearance of the color could be modified when contrasted.

When two different shades of a color are displayed against each other, the lighter hue will look lighter and the darker shade will appear even darker. The purple shapes above exemplify this speculation, as the lighter purple appears just a bit lighter when positioned inside the darker hue, as opposed to the lighter purple shape that is situated against the white background.

Similarly, if the same color is placed on a darker background, such as the yellow on black background above, it will appear lighter or brighter than the same yellow circle located on the white background. When designing, it is imperative to remember that the setting that a color is positioned in defines how light or dark it appears.

In the first rectangular shape above, the dark box outlining a lighter shade intensifies and enhances the lighter color. The opposite, also above, has a lighter shade on the outside of the darker shade. In this case, the color is not enclosed and is allowed to spread toward other colors. While the first rectangle amplifies the inner color, the second color pairing reduces the strength of the darker color on the inside. In web design, this can be used to highlight an object, a word, or anything else that you want readers to pay close attention to.

Tips for Color Combination and Contrast Designing

Although the color schemes pictured below are interior designing examples, the idea can also be applied to web design as well. The pictures that you see are just examples of how designing with color can enhance appearances.

Monochromatic colors, or similarly hued colors, and combine an assortment of saturation and value to create an interesting color scheme, such as the purple room below.

Complementary colors, or the opposites on the color chart, flatter each other and bring both warm tones and cool tones to a design technique. Notice how the orange and blue are less saturated and create a wholesome appeal.

Analogous colors would be three colors that sit together on the color wheel, such as the colors in the example below. The red/orange/yellow scheme below shows how the colors compliment each other when arranged together.

Experimenting with color combinations can inspire new appearances. There are tools that can be found in paint shops or online to conduct experiments with the mixing of colors in order to find the perfect combinations for your web or interior design projects.

Study other websites, magazines, and publications for designs in order to assess schemes that appear more engaging and attractive than others.

Most favorite online tools:

  • GenoPal
    Harmonious color schemes creator used by more than 2 millions around the World.
  • Color Wheel Pro
    Create color schemes and preview them on real-world examples.
  • Color Blender
    Free online color palette for design and matching.
  • EasyHues Pro
    Lets you create color schemes and explore the world of colors.
  • ColorSchemer
    Color matching application for anyone from hobbyists to advanced professionals.
  • ColorShade
    With just a few clicks you will have an attractive, harmonious color scheme.
  • Color Wheel Expert V4.5
    Innovative and easy-to-use professional color utility application available.
  • Aquarelle Color Suite
    You can select base colors from a color wheel, pick them from your desktop or load an image file, and quickly generate a color scheme based on your selection.
  • ColorJack
    Multiple online color scheme generators used by designers.
  • Jrm Color Palette Generator
    Generate a color palette based on an image.
  • Colorcombos
    Web color combinations testing tool for web developers.
  • ColorHunter
    Color palette generator from images.
  • Color Style Studio (paint color schemes)
    Created for professionals in the sphere of painting and decorating.

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Paul Viluda

Cruzine magazine founder interested in everything around graphics and design.

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