let’s talk about COLOR

let’s talk about COLOR

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For my first real post on my site, it makes sense to start with something I love: color. 

I’ve presented on Design, both in process and design elements, at several conferences. As a business teacher, design was something I always considered, and taught my students. As I create instructional materials and digital content, I design with my audience in mind.

Of the Design Elements, color is the most fun to talk about. Even as a child, I was talking in terms of cerulean and goldenrod, rather than blue and yellow (thanks, Crayola).

Here’s a quick guide to color, as sketchnoted by me, and using color in design.Color Wheel (1)

We’ve all seen the color wheel, right? Sometime in early grade school, most likely. On one side, you have warm colors, reds, yellows, and oranges. On the other, you have cool colors, blues, greens, and purples. I, personally, tend to lean towards cool colors.

Complementary Colors

Starting with one color, if you look directly across the color wheel, you will find that color’s complementary color. Green and red are complementary, as are yellow and purple.

Complementary 1

However, just because two colors are complementary doesn’t mean they automatically pair well. Yellow and purple, orange and blue…who uses those color pairings? Professional sports teams. That’s it.

In the example below, I took the purple and added some black to make it a grayish-plum, and lightened the yellow to make it gold. Now, these complementary colors look great together! The same could be done with Red and Green, and taking them to Hunter Green and Light Red (Pink)

Complementary 2

Monochromatic Colors

Another way to play with color is to pick one color and use a Monochromatic scheme around it. You can do this by adding shade or tint. Shade happens by adding black to a color, and tint happens by adding white to a color. You can create a huge spectrum of monochromatic colors by mixing any color with black and white!


In this example, I started with the Google Green, #1DA362, and used the color slider in Custom Colors to add black and white. It created a really great green color scheme. In the same image, I used the watercolor brush on my iPad to show a monochromatic scheme with the Google Purple, #540787.

Color Palettes

Finally, building your own color palettes is the best way to go. If you’re new to pairing colors, I suggest trying one of the examples below. Choose some warm colors, mess with their shade and tint, then throw in one cool color to provide contrast. If you are a fan of crazy, bright colors, pair them with neutrals like black and gray.


I hope this helps you think about color pairing for your digital creations, teaching materials, or even decorating your house!Featured Image.png

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