Tutorial Tuesday: Choosing Colors

Today, I’m kicking off a new segment I’m calling ‘Tutorial Tuesday’. Each Tuesday I’ll be posting a series of tutorials designed to help you get better at some aspect of presenting and presentation design.

Today’s tutorial theme is choosing colors. Color selection and color matching are some of the most difficult areas of design for me. Maybe you feel similarly. Fortunately there are lots of resources out there that can help us find colors that work well together.

Books arranged by color.

Color Theory Tutorials

Color Theory is the study of color, and it can be very involved and complicated. Fortunately, there are many summaries out there that explain color theory in a very understandable way. A good one is over here.

“Stealing” Color Palettes

Picasso is credited with saying “good artists copy, great artists steal.” Whether he actually said this or not, it’s true that a good way to get good design ideas is to “steal” them from designs you see around you. This requires that you expose yourself to as much good design as possible. Look at colors from nature: trees, leaves, rocks, and animals. Or observe color schemes used by professional designers: commercials, websites, or even pro football jerseys. A few months ago, the Duarte Blog posted about color schemes taken from movie posters. All of these are great ideas, and are totally acceptable places from which to cull colors.

Adobe Kuler

Adobe has created a site for anyone to create color schemes that work well and to share these color schemes with others who can then favorite them, save them for later, modify them, or pass them around. It’s called Kuler. You can use Kuler to browse color schemes created by others, create your own either from a base color using various color theory color harmonies, or select colors from an uploaded picture. Garr Reynolds created a really good Kuler tutorial on his blog, Presentation Zen, about a year ago and it will tell you everything you need to know about using Kuler. If you’re a Mac user, there’s even an app (called Mondrianum) that will allow you to access color palettes you’ve saved in Kuler directly from other Mac applications, like Keynote.

It’s okay if you’re not confident in your ability to choose colors well. You just need to know where to turn for help.

Do you know of some other color resources out there? Please share!

[Image credit: missha]