Exploring Color Theory

Choosing colors for a design is both highly subjective but also highly scientific. Most designers search for a color palette that looks nice or will make their client happy. However, its much more than that. The most effective color choices go beyond the personal preference. Colors have an ability to influence mood, emotions, and perceptions; take on a variety of meaning; and consciously and subconsciously attract attention.

For us designers and marketers, the challenge is in balancing these roles that color plays to create an attractive and effective design. The basic understanding of color theory is very important. Traditional color theory can help you understand which colors might work well together in your design. Using colors in a design involves a lot more than choosing two or three hues and applying them equally in parts in your layout. Effectively applying color to a design project has to do with balance — and the more colors you use, the more complicated it is to achieve balance. Simplify your choices.

Try splitting your color choices into dominant and accent colors. The dominant color being the most visible and most frequently used in your design, while one or more accent colors will complement and balance out that main color.

A well-known rule of thumb for using a basic, three-color palette in a design is known as the 60-30-10 rule. Your dominant color will account for 60% of the color in the design, while two accent colors use up the remaining 30% and 10%. A good analogy for understanding how this works is picturing a man’s suit: the suit jacket and pants account for 60% of the color in the outfit; the shirt accounts for 30%; and the tie offers a small pop of color at 10% — creating a balanced, polished appearance. Using different shades and tints (or lighter and darker versions of a chosen hue) is another effective way to keep your color palette simple and balanced.

Color choice can really do a lot for your design, so use it to your advantage.

Below is an info graphic that helps a little with color coordination.


2014 Annual Report Design…

Leon County’s Annual Report is by far one of the most imperative documents for the organization that informs the public of Leon County’s overall performance over the past year… And I get to design it. Unfortunately, there will not be a lot of new design elements to be introduced this year because the frame work will need to remain the same as the previous year. So I am searching for ways to make this document fresh and new, while keeping the overall frame work.

I am researching ways to report results and display overall teamwork through placement of photos and design elements. I want this to look modern and fun, while still relaying important facts and research. Often these two concepts don’t go well together and the overall design leans more to one end of the spectrum. I’m looking to balance this equation with my design.

Here are a few snapshots of the research I’ve done to draw inspiration:

CANVA – Amazingly simple graphic design…

I’m always searching for sites that offer inspiration, first and foremost, but also easy access to ideas and design elements. A co-worker of mine stumbled upon Canva.com. Canva is an easy to use online design tool that allows people who aren’t graphic designers, design beautiful designs for just about any occasion.

Canva offers layouts for invitations, posters, Facebook covers, Twitter covers, google pages and tons of other design elements. For me, I use Canva to draw inspiration or if I am designing something quick and simple for Leon County’ social media pages. Canva certainly deosn’t perform as well as some of the other design programs I’ve used, but it is quick and easy and you don’t have to be a designer or know to use the site!

Check Canva.com out and create simple, yet beautiful designs.

Below are some designs that can be created on Canva.com.

Font Picks of the Month…

Choosing the right font and typeface for a design is one of the FIRST things I do when designing. There are so many factors that come into play. Does it mesh well with the type of event? Is it too busy? Is it clean enough? Does it need to be more playful? Does it work well with the other fonts used, if any? Is there enough contrast? As I said, SO many deciding factors need to be considered.

I like using fonts that I can get away with in pretty much as situation. They are my “safe zone fonts.” Of course there are those few exceptions, but for the most part they work. But that doesn’t hold me back from discovering new fonts and trying them out.

Each month I choose a few and add them to my font book. I thought I would share my picks of the month:

To learn more about font choices, read What Font Should I Use by Smashing Magazine.

Operation Thank You – The Perfect Logo…

Another Leon County project has sparked many creative thoughts.

Just to inform you: Leon County has a long tradition of supporting its local veteran community through an array of programs and services. Since 2012, the County has held Operation Thank You events each year to honor veterans who have dedicated their lives in order to protect the basic tenets of freedom. Operation Thank You Events have helped the County to forge strong partnerships with a number of veteran groups in the community, allowing the Leon County Veteran Services Division to better serve the more than 18,500 veterans and their families in Leon County.

Okay, back to design, Operation Thank You, since 2012, has had a working logo that has been used through different collateral/promotional pieces for the event. A former designer for the county established the working logo and I can’t commend her enough. You know a logo is the perfect logo when it can be used on hundreds of different pieces, and it all works! I enjoyed developing different designs for the event, which will be held on June 6, 2014.

To learn more about this year’s Operation Thank you, please visit: www.LeonCountyFL.gov/OTY

Below are some design pieces that were used in promotion:

Live Well LEON – Save the Date Design…

As part of becoming a part of the Leon County family in beautiful Tallahassee, FL, I’ve been getting familiar with the overall design elements and requests made throughout our departments. One recent request was to create a save the date for the annual Live Well LEON Well-Being Fair. I was able to incorporate the bright colors from our Live Well LEON logo and create a flyer that was informative, clean, crisp and bursting with color.

For me, it was important to use our bright colors, but most importantly, BE DIFFERENT in the way that the information of the event was laid out.

The event was a huge success, many Leon County employees came out to the event and gathered tons of information on how to better improve their overall health.

Below are the design elements that were created for the event:

The Perfect Color Palettes…

For the love of color, I’ve gathered a few inspiring color palettes to display. It’s always important to design with a nice color palette, which is usually sampled from a strong image or theme. Complementary colors make perfect sense when designing with such beautiful images. Even though the visionaries may not notice, designing with specific color palettes help the interpretation of the design.


Below are some inspiring color palettes: