Using Type: Use of Color


Color is my daylong obsession, joy, and torment. -Claude Monet

Never underestimate the power of color. It is an effective, powerful tool that provokes emotion, creates a mood, emphasizes an area, and evokes a response. Color is not something that should be taken lightly or considered less valuable to the overall design. It is a design tool that should be handled and distributed with care…

The Importance of Color

Color can play a significant role in the way a design is perceived. Why? Because color plays a big part in igniting our emotions and perception. Since birth we are trained to connect color with certain objects and sentiment. If you see a baby dressed in blue what do you instantly think? It’s a boy! Therefore, we attribute blue to a masculine color. Take a look at the following designs:


Which one of the images above looks correct? Do you think the client would be happy with the design on the right? The design on the left is bold, powerful and commands attention. The design on the right is muted, understated and does not convey what the image obviously suggests: something terrifying. How about if we removed the color altogether?

Compare the black and white design on the left to the two colored images above. How do they differ? Does the design on the left give the same feeling as the colored designs?

Now let’s use only one color. Notice how the colored elements of the design really standout from the rest of the image. This is a great way to get a specific element noticed.

Notice that although you don’t get the same emotional charge from the black and white design as you do from the color versions, the layout of the design is still done well. Don’t let color carry your design. Good layout speaks for itself. A good way to ensure you’re not relying too heavily on color is to do the layout entirely in black and white or muted hues. Worry about the layout and overall design first, making sure its at its best before applying color.

The Art of Color Selection
Many experienced designers have their own formula for choosing color combinations. For those that need some pointers, here are some starting points:

Build a foundation. Begin by choosing a single color that fits the design best. It is important to consider the product and audience. After making an initial color choice, explore different color schemes to see which one best suits the project.

Notice in this design the biggest text is the name of the company but, since the company is not world famous (think Nike or McDonalds) the name doesn’t indicate what the product is so, while it is important to showcase the company name, it is not the most important message in the design. It is because of this the designer highlighted the product (Sisters Cider Company) in a bold red color to draw the readers attention and make it the focal point in the design.

The Seven
Designer: Partick Kalange
Fonts used: LHF 62 Thes / LHF Signmaker / LHF Egyptian

Experiment with color. Creating effective, harmonious color combinations is a learned skill, that takes experience, instinct, awareness of trends and a basic understanding of color theory. Don’t be afraid to experiment. Experimenting with possible color combinations is a way to challenge your imagination and can often lead to unexpected, yet positive, new solutions. Try out several color options to see which combination best conveys the message you’re going for. Go out on a limb every now and then. Think outside the box. After all, you’re an artist, and artists are meant to be creative!

Color contrast is key when using type.
Good contrast between your background and letters makes text much easier to read and helps minimize eye strain.  Try these combos out.

Pay attention to color trends. It is important to keep up with color trends. Look to color palettes of the past, present and future. Pay attention to color trends in fashion, interior design and advertising. In every industrial realm, color is big business and every decade has its distinct color palette. For example, would you choose an avocado refrigerator for your kitchen? Not likely but in the seventies muted green fixtures were flying off the shelves. How about the orange shag rugs of the sixties? Groovy then, but not so hot today.

The designer of this 60’s era bowling alley logo was careful to get the colors of the period correct. Otherwise this design would not look near as authentic.

Designer: Partick Kalange
Fonts used: LHF Retro Ricky and LHF Retro Ricky Doohickies

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