Ever wondered how some colours just seem to go so well together? Look no further, as this article will uncover the secrets behind colour matching techniques and extend them to graphic designs, layouts, web designs, and even photography.
The first step towards effective colour matching starts with the understanding of the colour wheel. Why is it called a colour wheel? Well, the colours lie against each other in a circle to show how they relate to each other. Each colour’s light wavelength determines its position in the wheel.
The most common colour wheel consist of 12 distinct segments. Firstly, the primary colours of Red, Blue and Yellow form an equilateral triangle (A triangle with three equally long sides and having same angles). Next, the mixing of primary colours produces the secondary colours of Orange, Green and Violet. Lastly, we get the 6 remaining tertiary colours by combining adjacent primary and secondary colours together.
On a whole, the colour wheel becomes the foundation of many colour schemes. It guides us how colour matching. While these matches seem rather simple, they remain ever useful today – even to experienced designers.
The term monochrome is often confused with Black and White. While all black and white graphics are monochromatic, the reverse is not true. In reality, monochromes refer to a combination of different shades of the same pure colour (hue), not limited to just black or white.
A monochrome colour scheme is basic yet classy. Famous brands such as Animal Planet and Apple chose monochrome versions of their logo in their products. After all, monochromes simplify complicated designs, while reinforcing their association with that brand colour. Furthermore, monochromes are popular in photography – famous for looking timeless – especially when we lose the natural colours.
2. Analogous Colours
Simply put, analogous colours lie next to each other in the colour wheel. For example, green, blue-green and blue are consecutive colour segments – with blue-green being in the centre. Usually, a primary colour is the dominant colour. Compared to monochromes, analogous colours are richer and more vivid.
Analogous colours remain ever relevant and popular today. They imitate colours we see in a natural environment, evoking a sense of comfort and peacefulness. In fact, BP, a multinational oil and gas company, adopted a matching of analogous colours (Green, Green-Yellow and Yellow) in their rebranding exercise for this reason. Such colours help to get rid of the negative image consumers have of the company and highlight the company’s connection to nature.
3. Complementary Colours
Complementary colours lie directly opposite to one another in the colour wheel. These colours are more vibrant than analogous colours and thus result in a stronger contrast. People commonly refer them as “Clashing colours”.
However, this is not necessarily a bad thing in design. Due to the high energy the clash generates, analogous colours make graphics exciting and dynamic. As a matter of fact, they have been scientifically proven to be pleasant to our eyes. As these colours play up each other, they increase intensity and vibrancy. Hence, it is not surprising that several global brands make use of this colour scheme. This includes furniture maker IKEA – with its iconic blue and yellow brand colours – and 7-11’s mix of red and green colours.
4. Triad Colours
The triad colour scheme involves three colours that are evenly spaced out in the colour wheel, forming a triangular relationship. Triads are popular for the reason that they create high contrast but still look vibrant and balanced. Just like analogous colours, there is normally one dominant colour.
An example of a triad colour scheme is the prominent red, blue and yellow colour combination. Other than being primary colours, they are also triad colours. This colour matching technique is practically everywhere, ranging from flags to even video games. In terms of industry practice, Buzzfeed’s web design is a well-known case. The company uses this same triad colour scheme for its online news platforms. The red attracts attention, the yellow excites and the blue assures readers that the company is still reliable. Together, they create not only an eye-catching but also effective colour combination.
Has this colour matching guide been useful to you? Comment down below. Find out more about colours and design by reading our article explaining the hidden meanings behind brand colours.