Colorimetry: The art of choosing the color that best matches your design

5 minutes
Index

You’ll find it in the biggest TikTok videos, and lurking in every Instagram filter. Completing every fashion magazine in this, our digital universe. And yet it remains for many an indecipherable mystery. Colorimetry is here to stay and not only in the field of beauty, but also in graphic design. 

If you want to know which colors ‘favor’ your designs the most and impress everyone with gorgeous color palettes, read on!

The 4 seasons: A whole world of hues

Ok, let’s start at the start; what is colorimetry? Simply put, it’s the science that studies colors or, rather, the measurement of colors. This science is based on the harmony between colors: depending on the template or blank canvas you have chosen for inspiration, some colors will look better than others.

Let’s get into it. Color harmonies can be divided into warm or cold. And within these 2 categories are the 4 seasons. These depend on the colors in your template and the elements you have chosen. 

  • Spring: If you thought Vivaldi’s Spring was good, wait until you see the colorimetry spring. Warm and bright, this is a color palette in which green, coral, and yellow take up a lot of space. 
  • Summer: Mixed in with the smell of sunscreen and mojitos, here we’ve got hints of lightness. However, in this palette the colors are softer and cooler. The kings and queens of summer are pastel shades: baby blue, mint green, powder pink …
  • Autumn: Blankets of leaves covering the ground, roasted chestnuts, and early sunsets. I don’t even need to tell you what shades belong to this palette. Oh alright then: we’ve got oranges, mustards, browns, olive green … If there is a romantic color harmony it is this one. 
  • Winter: if this season were a Disney villain, it would definitely be Yzma from ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’. Electric blues, purples, magentas, and other dark, cold, and bold tones. They’re so Yzma. 

The psychology of color

If you thought red was for Gryffindor and green for Slytherin, we regret to inform you that color theory is far more complex than the Harry Potter universe. While it is true that colors and emotions have as close a relationship as Taylor and Selena, it must also be recognized that the psychology of color depends on social, cultural, and even individual factors. Because sometimes, people’s perceptions can be affected by their life experiences. 

This means that it’s essential to take these kinds of factors into account when starting a project. Because using the color white, for example, for a presentation in the U.S. doesn’t have the same meaning as in eastern countries.  

How to know which colors to use in your content

  1. Analyze other projects

If you’re creating a presentation, look at the colors others have used for projects similar to the one you are presenting. In the Inspiration section, you’ll find tons of templates created by the Genially community that can inspire you on a chromatic level or help you spot color gaps. 

  1. Inspect the colors

What does your client want to communicate? What do you want to tell your audience? Though it may seem basic and obvious, asking these questions before approaching any project is vital for us to know how to convey the values we want through color. 

  1. Justify your design

That’s right. This is in your best interest not only in case the client changes tack – you know the type of client we’re talking about, we don’t need to bring down the tone of our blog by calling them out – or questions your choice of colors, but also to lay a solid foundation for the project in terms of branding. 

  1. Look around you

Soak up the context. Do your research and fill your brain with current references from the sector the project is based on in order to connect with your audience. 

So, what color should I use?

Did you know that the human eye can distinguish up to 1,000 colors? But don’t let the infinite options overwhelm you! Choosing the ideal color for a project is difficult, but with these tips based on color psychology and colorimetry, you’ll be quicker than Lightning McQueen tearing up the track. 

  • Presentations and video presentations

So you’re a fan of a good pitch or deck and classic digital content. Your best ally when making a presentation to engage your audience could be winter colors, specifically dark blue. It conveys security, calm, and oozes a professionalism comparable to that of Don Draper. 

What goes with winter colors? Well, like everything in life, it depends … but usually with a cold color like this it’s hard to go wrong with elements in summer shades, such as powdery pink or mint green. Soft and light colors that contrast with a bold and solid background. 

Got questions about presenting a report? We’ll clear them all up here. 

  • Gamification

Quizzes, games, escape rooms … These types of creations always – or almost always – have a specific objective: fun. That is why it is important to use a combination of colors that live up to the escapades and shenanigans that are afoot! 

Warm colors are dynamic and convey enthusiasm, joy, and vitality. Autumn colors, such as oranges, yellows, and some greens, with some cooler spring shades like light blue or mint may be the way to go. In any case, Pantone has yet to come out with a color that doesn’t go great with gamification; for example, we’re certain no one will forget this awesome content in a hurry: 

  • Infographics

Maps, timelines, diagrams, one-pagers… Choosing colors for infographics is not always a simple task and will depend a lot on the information and data we want to convey to the audience. What is clear is that a tame background is key to making sure the data captures the audience’s attention. Plain black, white, or dark blue backgrounds can be great allies. 

As for graphs, it’s important to bear in mind that light but striking colors (but not garish!) are the ones that stick best in the minds of your audience: orange, blue, red, green … Spring tones are ideal for telling stories with numbers.

  • Reports and dossiers

If reports were a person they would be Billie Eilish. Always serious and means business. In this case, simplicity is always a good choice to bring a touch of elegance and professionalism.

You can choose from brighter winter colors like yellow, red, and green to totally summer colors like baby blue or pink, as long as the palette you choose does not contain too much contrast, to lend a consistent style to the whole project. You’ll knock their socks off! If you want to know how to choose the perfect palette for your genially, check out this post. 

Did you find these tips helpful? Did you already know the basic gist of colorimetry? Let us know in the comments!

Marina López
Marina López
Writing works as a fight against chaos. Virginie Despentes

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