Unit 1: Intro to Design
Unit 2: Figma Fundamentals
Unit 3: The Creative Process
Unit 4: Color Theory
Unit 5: Introduction to Illustrator
Unit 6: Typography
Unit 7: Layout
Unit 8: Typesetting
Unit 9: User Interface Design
Unit 10: Design Systems
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Creating Effective Color Palettes

Now that we have learned the basics about color theories, we can start applying them in practice so that we can build custom and unique color palettes that are just right for the brand we are designing for.

We have a step by step recommendation to help designers approach the daunting task of constructing effective color palettes.

First of all, before getting to the color palette, we need to define the brand’s personality. Even though brands are companies, they need to speak to their customers in a relatable way, which is why every brand needs a personality. Is the brand more fun? Is the brand more traditional? Does the brand want to come across as upscale or more friendly to budget?

After you do the keyword exercise and decide on a brand personality, you can start relating it to color psychology. Each color family has associations with emotions, which helps you decide which color family, a.k.a. hue, you want to use as your brand’s main color.

This is the first step of the process. Every brand needs a color that people associate it with. Think world-famous brands like Starbucks. What color pops into your head? Green, specifically the dark green that’s in Starbucks’ logo. Think of more brands – McDonald’s is primarily red with a touch of yellow; Cadburry is purple; Walmart is primarily blue with a touch of yellow.

We can list more, but you get the idea. The first and foremost step is for you to decide on a main brand color.

After you decide on the brand color, you can move on to Step 2, which is using classic harmony to add colors into the palette. Do you want a brand that primarily focused on 1 color hue? If so, monochromatic color harmony will serve you well. Create several tints and shades of the main brand color. Remember to vary the difference of brightness and saturation so that you cover each side of the spectrum.

If you want some other colors that complement the main color or even provides a “pop”, you might want to consider other color harmonies, such as complementary color harmony. If you want an accent color, complementary color harmony is especially useful because it gives you the opposite color of your main color on the color wheel.

There are no rules regarding how many other colors you need besides your main primary brand color. You can have as many as your design needs, but remember not to inundate your palette with unnecessary colors that you won’t use in your design. We suggest starting off with 2-4 secondary colors. You can always delete or add as you work through your design and realize that you need additional or not as many colors.

Finally, you should add a neutral color component to the color palette. Colors that can be considered as neutrals include black, white, gray and sometimes brown. These colors are useful because we always need them for text. The presence of neutral colors make primary and secondary color pop more. As a rule of thumb, body paragraph text color should always be in neutral colors, with the exception of hyperlinks in between, which can be in other colors.

When you check your palette, you should clearly see a dominant color, which is your main brand color with a few variations of itself in the form of tints and shades. Other colors in the secondary palette should be used more sparingly to support the main color.

As a tip, we suggest getting inspirations from other designer’s work, album covers, poster designs, photographs that you can find online. You can even extract a photo’s color scheme via Adobe Color and use it as your inspiration. You may also look at sample color palettes online to get your creative juices flowing. You should not be copying and pasting from these palettes, but if several colors look great for your projects, you may want to take them into account when constructing your own color palette.

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