5 Steps to Choosing Colours for your Project

Choosing the ‘right’ colours for your art project (whatever project that may be) can sometimes be the hardest part of the project. Sometimes there are no ‘right’ colours and you are left with too many options to decide between and end up lost in a rainbow coloured limbo…


Photo by Tim Arterbury on Unsplash

I’ve been researching colour (casual, like) and this blog post is my way of putting the multi-coloured contents of my brain into something nice and simple and ordered. Lets apply a bit of colour theory to something practical. Start by thinking about your ‘project’ – be it a logo, fabric surface pattern design, advert, or art for your bedroom wall.

Step 1 – The Who and What: First you need to think about the who and what. If you don’t have a who and what yet then… there’s no time like the present to figure it out!

  • Your target audience. Who is your project going to be aimed for? What sort of colours are they drawn to? Are they likely to be attracted to bold, bright and cheerful colours, or something softer? Don’t forget different age groups react to colour combinations differently.
  • What is your project for? A spa, for example, will probably benefit more from calmer colours with a more muted tone. Be as specific as you can – if you are designing a fabric pattern then try and have a purpose in mind. Are you envisioning that your fabric will be used on children’s bedding or more grown up clothing? Keep in mind that if you are creating something to go with an existing brand then you’ll have to consider that brands colours/theme.


Photo by Pete Bellis on Unsplash

Step 2 – Tea and Science: Okay that’s great. Next step is to get a cup of tea* and think about colour psychology. This great little colour wheel image is from a good blog post on Creative Bloq and I found it on Pinterest when I searched for colour psychology:

Colour Association

*tea is completely optional. 

Its a pretty simple colour chart so if you want to dive deeper I recommend looking into colour psychology.

Step 3 – Inspiration gathering: With all this in mind go and find some colour palette inspiration. Put yourself into the mind of you target audience and see what you are drawn to. Pinterest is obviously awesome for this (although I’ll admit now that I am a Pinterest addict) but there’s also books, existing artwork, the garden, life in general or whatever else floats your boat… I can recommend creating a Pinterest Board and filling it up with everything that you are inspired by that also fits your target audience. Its useful being able to search for ‘bright colour palette’ or ‘romantic colour scheme’ which can be helpful if you don’t know where else to start.

Here is a screenshot from my Pinspiration board:

Step 4 – Revisit your goal: It’s probably wise to do this now in case you are at risk of getting carried away with all the lovely colours and inspiration you have found. You are knowledgeable about colour and you understand your audience and it’s almost time to piece together your colour palette. But first go back to the first three steps and think about whether your new ideas for your colour palette are still in keeping with the who and what, and the meaning you want to get across with your colours. Then with this fresh in your mind take another look over your inspiration compilation and make sure it all ties in nicely.

Step 5 – Put your palette together: Hooray – you have made it this far! Your colour palette is so nearly ready I can almost see it already. Here are a few tips to help you get started in creating some beautiful colour palettes that work for you:

  • Depending on the project choose between 3 and 6 colours. Obviously take this advice flexibly – if you are designing a logo then one colour (plus a white or black background) will work out fine.
  • You may prefer one colour but different shades of it – don’t forget about that little gem called ‘monochrome’
  • Add a dark colour and a light colour. Sounds simple but what I’m getting at here is that you need enough contrast so your art can be seen – so drawings or text drawn in white over a dark background or vice versa. Its very popular to have a light or white background but don’t forget the power of a dark background.

Hope you have enjoyed these tips! Here is a parting splash of colour to kick off your colour inspiration🎨😃🌷

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