This is the second in a series of blog posts about how I go about redesigning slides. Yesterday, I covered the first step: isolating ideas on their own slides and removing as much text as possible. Today, I’ll show you how I choose a good color scheme.
Color matching is one of the areas I’m least confident in. There are so many choices that it’s difficult for me to find a good starting place to build from. I definitely need a little help.
If you’re like me, you’ll probably be thankful to learn about Kuler. Kuler (pronounced “cooler”) is a tool developed by Adobe (the same people who gave us Photoshop, InDesign, and a host of other professional-grade creative tools), that helps you create and share color schemes. If you’ve never tried it you need to check it out.
As I mentioned, Kuler allows you to create and share color schemes. You have two choices if you want to create your own: from scratch or from an image. If a client sends me a presentation with some imagery included, I might start by uploading one of the images to Kuler and seeing what kind of color scheme it comes up with. (For more information about how to use Kuler’s many features, check out this excellent post by Garr Reynolds.) For this project however, we don’t have any existing imagery, so we’re kind of free to try whatever we think is good. In that case, I usually use the social, sharing aspect of Kuler to browse color schemes that have been created by others. There are tons of different variations to try and you’re free to choose whichever one you think works well, but here are some things you should keep in mind while browsing.
First and foremost is contrast. You need to make sure that whatever color scheme you choose has sufficient variation in it to allow the font color you choose to show up well against the background color you choose. Experiment with the color and shades you find until you find one with sufficient contrast.
How the colors make you feel.
This might sound like I’m getting a little frou-frou, but stay with me. Another thing to take into consideration is your subject matter. This slide is about enticing butterflies to stay in your yard or garden, so cold, steely blues and grays are probably not going to give us the right feel. If we used colors like that, the look of the slide wouldn’t match the ideas we were presenting. Remember that we want all aspects of our slides to reinforce the overall message of the presentation.
In this case, I might choose colors that are reminiscent of a physical garden: green grass, brown soil, and bright, flowery pastels. In fact, just typing “garden” into the search box on Kuler yielded several good choices including the one below which its creator titled “Spring Garden.”
I like this color scheme because it will allow us to have a nice, two-tone background on which the bright greens will stand out nicely.
Kuler will then tell you the exact RGB values for each of these colors so you can reproduce them in PowerPoint or Keynote. The RGB values for our Spring Garden are:
Darker Brown: R – 33, G – 21, B – 8
Lighter Brown: 56, 30, 16
Blue Green: 69, 148, 31
Yellow Green: 159, 219, 67
Light Green: 195, 255, 110
A second way to go about this is to search Flickr or iStockPhoto for an image that has the look and feel that you want your presentation to have. As I said earlier, Kuler has a way to find a color scheme based on an image. Once you’ve found an image you like, upload it to Kuler and a color scheme based on that image will be generated. You can then tweak that color scheme as desired until you get to something you like. You can then use that color scheme even if the image you used to create the color scheme never appears in the presentation at all.
So that’s how I would select a color scheme. Not too painful, right? Tomorrow I’ll discuss the process of selecting good fonts.