Creating your very own colour library

A lot of my recent posts have been focusing on technical drawing skills and the image side of design but today is all about colour!

So I will admit I do like to be bold with the colour palettes in my designs and often struggle with the whole ‘less is more’ concept (just like the image I have shown) getting carried away with my paints. When building a colour palette I like to create a balance between complementary and contrasting colours so it is essential to paint lots and lots of colour chips so that you can test your colour schemes. Make sure you also paint a variety of shades of each hue as you will need to experiment with different combinations of tones of each colour. If you prefer a more natural palette, consider using a feature hue in small amounts in your designs to create a contrast.

I am going to share with you a useful tool that you can make within an afternoon and will be by your side through every design process; your very own colour library. This is your personal version of Pantone chips and the first one I created was with gouache paints as they create lovely smooth colours but the same principles can be applied to all kinds of media. Firstly make sure you have a whole spectrum of paints, (have plenty of white paint handy as you will use a lot of it), and sheets of fairly thick A4 paper.

The process is easy: choose your initial colour and paint one square of it straight from the tube then gradually add small amounts of white, noting down the proportions of colour under each square until you reach the lightest colour and then repeat the process with black. After this imagine your colour wheel and choose a contrasting colour to create a completely different hue, again noting down the proportions and producing a range of colour sheets. Repeat this process until you feel like you have exhausted your colours and pop it all into a file, keeping it handy for when you are designing!

I hope you will find this a useful tool for understanding your colours!

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