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Color musings

Since the fall color is starting to transform our plant world, I find myself thinking about color.

Color has an effect on us. We can use that to our advantage throughout our lives. I’ve read that people make quick judgements about us by the color of the clothes we wear. I have to hope not. Other than in the house and garden, I’m usually looking at color to enhance communication for business.


Obviously color is used extensively in marketing. For example, here is a tidy infographic/overview of how color affects purchases:The graphic also notes a few other influences. (Thanks to Susan Wasinger for sending the link.)


Pleasing color combinations can be achieved simply by applying age-old color theory. Want to brush up on color? Here’s that story.


I choose project colors dependent on several factors, not necessarily in this order:
audience: gender, age, design literacy
project topic
if there are color photos in the project, what are the dominate hues in those photos
what emotions am I trying to elicit (as in the graphic link above)
color trends
output capability
I usually limit the palette of a project to 3 to 5 colors, adding lighter or darker values of those colors when needed.


At one time, the idea of infinite potential color combinations was overwhelming. But in time, I’ve come to think they are more like a country song, essentially C, F and G, with some sharps, flats, and 7ths (variations in value, tone and saturation) thrown in for interest.


Random thoughts about color:
Libyan rebel flags are green, as was the french revolution banner before it went to the tricolor. The recent Ukrainian revolution color was orange. I wonder how that gets decided.
I also wonder if it is a full time job for the person that makes up the names for the colors in the forecasts.


Color forecasting seems to bring up the chicken or the egg question.


Crusty Mike’s Olde Tymes: When I started in the biz, most printing was in one color, it was rare to get a “full color” project. It was a big deal when I could design something in two colors. Today you can shop by color on Etsy. You can also waste a lot of time just playing with the graphic.


I sometimes download a seasonal color palette and keep it on my wall just to make sure I don’t do everything in red, white and blue.


Here’s another color forecast:


spring color 2012


I think the fall colors in Colorado are glorious. Are you with me on that?


fall color




2 Responses to “Color musings”

  1. gordon wickstrom says:

    God, how I love color, any and all of them. I think we are born to love color.
    The aspen and the willows are spectacular just now, as fine as ever I saw them.

    • Michael says:

      I’m with you Gordon. And the long low light seems to make the color all the more vivid. I wonder if our enjoyment is also heightened because we know we’re heading into those dark days.