Color 101: Create Your own Flawless Color Palette

Do you ever wonder if there is a trick to finding colors? 

Well, thanks to the internet, you can skip the boring color theory class and use online tools to look like a professional designer or even be a better one!

I have recently embraced a trick that I didn't learn in design school, but honestly, don't know how I lived without it.

Here are my two favorite new words, and I think they will be yours too...MOOD BOARD!

As a business owner, you need to think on your toes when it comes to the creative elements of your brand. As a kid, drawing and creating came so naturally to me, that I thought everyone could do what I did. Now that I own my own business and have a tight budget, I understand that I am super lucky to have a background in design, because I need it all the time. I wouldn't be able to afford to hire a designer either.

I want to help you think like a creative, because, frankly there are easy ways to make your business look great and be more profitable, without always having to hire a graphic designer for the smaller things.


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in this post, You'll learn how to:

• discover the one thing your website needs
• set the tone for your brand
• brand your blog and biz by using a mood board
• customize photos to create your "Hero Image"
• pull color from images to create a custom color palette
• find the programs that will help you find images
• create a layout
• find the variety of images needed to make a balanced board
• use you board


Someone like me, just needs to share the insider secrets, right?

RIGHT!

Believe it or not, color isn't always easy for me either. I have been known to get nervous creating a color palette because there are just so many options! But, the good news is that there is a foolproof way to calm those nerves, even for newbies.

 

1. Brand Your Blog and Biz

If you have a blog and need a color palette, this little trick will help you create a cohesive, well balanced looking blog or website.

Every page should have what is called a Hero Image. The Hero Image is the large image at the top of the page that usually spans the width of it. If you are looking for find a color palette for your website, this is the best place to start.

Mine includes a To Do list that I designed as a freebie for new newsletter subscribers. It was important for me to showcase my work right away, since I am a graphic designer for solopreneurs. You want to choose an image that makes a beautiful statement, because:

How to Customize Stock Photos For A Fantastically Personal Hero Image

You can do what I did on my hero image, by taking photos of your products or by purchasing some flat lay photographs from Creative Market.
Here's how...
1. In the search bar, type in feminine desktops (for example) and purchase a pretty image.
2. In Photoshop, make a new layer and place an image of design work you have done on the desktop in the image you just bought, or on the wall if you find one with a gallery of frames. If you don't have Photoshop, you can always try it for free for 30 days by going here.
3. Add a 35% or less drop shadow to give the effect that it is really in that picture.

Create The Perfect Color Palette With These Easy Steps

1. Click here to access an app called Pictaculous.
2. Upload your hero image by clicking "Browse".
3. Find your Hero Image on your computer's desktop and click "Get My Palette" after selecting your image.

4. Sit back for a few seconds and wait for your colors to be generated. It's as easy as that!
5. Look at the top bar of colors that are in large square boxes. The numbers underneath the squares are the web colors or otherwise known as Hex Codes. These would be typed in where the color is asked for. Depending on what website platform you use, these Hex Codes are placed in the style section for Headings, Subheadings, hover colors, etc.

 


Pictaculous

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This app is from MailChimp, the email marketing service, and allows you to upload a photo of your choice. After it is processed three different color palette suggestions will appear. You can also conveniently download an Adobe Swatch File to your computer. Above is an example of an image that I chose and the colors that they suggest. I would recommend choosing the palettes with the most contrasting varieties. The top one is a good example of what I WOULDN'T CHOOSE. They are all too similar. My favorite would be the third one down on the right, in the Colourlovers column because of the variety. I also wanted some kind of teal or blue green, since I see that when I look at the picture. These are great jumping off points, but you can think outside of the box too. If you click on any of the smaller suggestions in the two columns, you will be taken to a color wheel. Here you can find similar colors to the original palette. You can choose better colors for your taste here.

That is the fun part! Remember, there is never one right answer in designing your palette. Just use this rule of thumb when searching for color: if you feel an immediate positive reaction, go with your gut. If you're not sure, keep looking. This applies to images and fonts too!

2. How to design a Mood Board

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Why do you need a mood board?

Well, there are several reasons.

I didn't start creating mood boards as a part of my design process until last year and it has been invaluable. So, here's the all important WHY...
1. Because a mood board sets the tone for the vibe and personality of your brand or project. It gets the creative juices flowing.
2. They inspire a color palette.
3. They can present branding ideas in one cohesive design.
4. If you are a designer of an sort, this helps you get into the head of your client. It shows you what colors and mood they are drawn to. It is much easier for people to do this in pictures than in words, plus it is an almost foolproof way to create the perfect brand, event or home decor style.

HOW...
1. You can use images from Pinterest (like I did above), your own gallery (if you are an interior designer, wedding planner or event planner with client images), or you can use different designs (if you are a graphic designer) to be presented to your client, like Kyle Taylor did below.
2. Read this awesome article by Canva that will show you how to create a mood board, lickity split, in Canva.
3. Choose your design. Layout the images with or without white space. In the wedding/event styled board I did above, I used white space to give the eye the boundaries that it searches for. For more artistic boards, leave out the white space like Kyle did below.

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3. Tips for Finding and placing images

Now, THIS...THIS is what has kept me from writing a post on creating mood boards.

I have always wondered how I am going to tell someone how to pick and place images. It feels so natural and intuitive to me... Kind of personal... OK, VERY personal. It is an extension of my very being. I am creative to the core! So when I was creating my last mood board, I paid careful attention to how I actually DID it, so I could help you.

My best advice would be that there is NO RIGHT WAY TO DO THIS! There is however, a way to feel more comfortable making one.

First off, go to Pinterest and type mood boards.

You'll find many, many to choose from. Look for styles that you like and when you go to pin your first one, create a new board and click the button that says secret: yes or no.

Click it to yes.

This will just be for your eyes and no one else. After you do this, start pinning the one you LOVE. When I go shopping, I usually only have enough money for necessities. That means I can only buy what I love. No retail therapy at my house! LOL!!

This works great for mood boards. Stick to the ones that get the most reaction out of you.

You may be using your own images and not Pinterest pics for inspiration...it doesn't matter. Choose according to your gut!

Pin Away!

If you are a wedding or event planner, pin cakes, dresses, invitations, bouquets, topieries, beautiful fabrics, place settings, shoes, balloons, twinkle lights draped from trees...you get it? Look for images that portray the vibe that you are going for. Bright and bold? Pin those types of colors. Light, airy & romantic? Pin only those types of colors and photography.

Interior designers or home stagers? Look for lamps, rugs, textures, furniture, art, plants, etc. When you type in mood board, add in home decor and use those boards as models.

A Balanced board

1. Color

To achieve a professional looking board, Your color palette should have at least 4 colors, in my opinion. You could have 3 main colors and a couple of tints of the main colors. If you look at my board above, the light pink is a tint of the golden rose color. I like having a very light version of a color for contrast, and I think you will too.

2. Images
• Texture
• Sayings in calligraphy
• Nature: plants and flowers that apply
• Zoom in on some photos and use some that are farther away. TIP: Look at images that are not zoomed in and see if you can crop to expose details that add interest.
• Choose images with colors that match your palette.

Click here to find out how to create your own design in Canva. In this newest blog post of mine, I make it easy with step by step guidance. At the end, you will have a template that you can use on your social media platforms, perfectly branded with your own colors and images.

Using the program InDesign for Layout

There is one last way to find your color palette.

I saved it for last because not everyone uses Adobe Indesign, BUT, it is my preferred layout program. If you have been wanting to have inDesign yourself, but were holding off on buying it because it is crazy expensive, did you know that you can try any of the Adobe products for 30 days.? Well, you can. The Adobe Creative Cloud Suite is also heavily discounted for teachers and students. Lynda.com has a host of tutorials to get you started, as well as Adobe itself.

InDesign Step by Steps

     • After you pin your images in Pinterest, screen shot your favorites. On a Mac it is Command, Shift, 4, held down together.
     • Use the cross icon to drag and drop what you want to capture on the image.
     • Make a new folder and title it Mood Board Screen Shots.
     • Drag them into the folder.
     • Open inDesign
     • Go to Document Setup under FILE on the top left hand side. This box will appear.
     • Choose these specification if you want the same size as mine.

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Do you want a template in inDesign, so you can easily pop in your images? I have got you covered! Sign up below to receive the layout that I used for my most recent mood board, complete with circle image space and 5 color boxes. If you are doing this for the first time, this will help you out a lot, because...well, I have already done the hardest part for you!

Pulling Color From Images

After you alternate the pictures that go next to each other, and move and tweek things to get the look you are after, you can pull colors for the color boxes. This is how your color palette will come together. If you are creating a color guide for your brand, these colors will be your go-to's when designing your marketing pieces for print + online.

• Go to the Tool Bar on the left side of inDesign.
• Go down towards the bottom and click on the eye dropper, two icons up from the magnifying glass.
• Take that over to a color in one of the images that you like and click.
• Look at the color swatch to the left. This is where the color will show up. Click on the top box and the color values will appear.
• If it is for web, choose the RGB setting. For Print, choose CMYK. Then save that to your color palette swatches.
• Continue this process until you have found the color palette you love. That is how I created the pink palette in this post and it was super easy to do! I didn't know what colors would have gone together, without this step. Once I saw them all together, I didn't need to pull anymore colors...I was in LOVE!

Using this process insures that you will get the perfect color palette for each project. Just a few simple steps helps make this a fun, but extremely effective way to embrace color.

Refer back to this article when you need to. Bookmark it for easy reference.

Place a link to your finished mood boards in the comments below, so I can see! Have fun!

Jean Coelho