Mixing it up
One technique that’s currently popular with many creatives is to add a seemingly random shade to the mix. This can be as simple as picking a base or contrasting colour for your work using Adobe’s Kuler tool.

Designer Pablo Alfieri stresses paying attention to the basics: “I always try to say something with colour, to send out an emotion. Thanks to associations and symbolism, colour is an important element of human emotions, but many designers don’t understand its meaning – the physics, the spectrum and our perception of colour.”

One designer who uses colour across many media is Danny Sangra. His advice is: “Go with whatever works, don’t over-think it”. But, he warns, “It takes time to develop an informed colour palette, so try things out and make mistakes.”

Pablo Alfier

Working with colour in design is a question of picking out precisely what’s right for the job – so be flexible and you’ll be more creative. “Colour looks different on a wall to how it does on a computer screen,” stresses Danny. “When they hand-paint, some artists try and exactly copy what they do digitally. Why bother? Do what works best for each.”

If you’re working for print, you’re only limited by colour reproduction and printing. If you’re working on screen only, there are even fewer limitations – but remember that sometimes restrictions can turn out to be a creative bonus.


Get snappy
Want to use more colour in your work? Are you looking for palettes that zing off the page and make your work instantly attention-grabbing for their sheer originality? Look beyond the computer screen in your search for those magic combinations: research, explore, and take Sangra’s advice; “travel to see colours work in different environments.”

Carry a camera, and capture colour wherever it strikes you. Then learn the rules so you can break them.