Color has a profound impact on us. The right colors can help calm a room, sway our purchasing decisions, inspire action, and even evoke passion. Prolific painter and art theorist Wassilly Kandinsky may have put it best when he said: "Color is a power, which directly influences the soul."
Adobe Spark's lead expression designer and resident emotive color-lover Chrissy Cox is breaking down how to use the best color combination for 2020 and beyond. 101 custom palettes plus her color wisdom will help ensure whatever you create is setting the mood and helping you communicate on every level. Simply click into any of the palettes below to begin creating with these powerfully evocative palettes.
Pastels and muted tones have a low hue saturation, meaning they are mixed with white to create softer versions of their bright counterparts. Because of this mix, we experience them as understated and soothing. Pastels can be used easily for large blocks of color in a design since they are inoffensive and don’t compete with each other for attention. Try using pastels in your next card or invite creation.
A muted color with a pop of color makes for a modern, clean aesthetic. Think simple and minimalist graphic design with a little something eye-catching. By keeping a palette neutral with one pop of color, your design will feel light and harmonious while staying bold and impactful. These colors work well when you want your message to take center stage.
Gold and silver, being precious metals, have historically been associated with wealth and luxury. Metallic palettes can be utilized in different ways. Use variations of metallic tones to work with a full metallic gradient palette in your design. Or, starting with black or white, add a simple pop of metallic for more minimalist luxury. This combo would be excellent for luxury or lifestyle brands looking to get noticed on visually rich social channels, like Instagram.
With everything '90s back in full swing, so too are neons. Neons can be incredibly effective in a design. They are instantly eye-catching. Add energy and brighten up a subdued palette with a small pop of neon or scream energy and playfulness with a full neon rainbow. Use in everything from logo design to digital, print or photography. These colors are well suited for posters or ads.
Duotone, traditionally a photo effect, is where two contrasting colors are superimposed on a black and white photo, replacing the black and white gradient with colors. For example, a bright yellow and dark pink palette replaces the highlights (yellow), midtones (orangey pink) and shadows (dark pink) of the photo and creates a 2-color version of the photo. Duotone gradients create fun, smooth, palettes. Monochromatic palettes are palettes that draw on variations of the same color. They create smooth and harmonious palettes. What fun projects can you come up with that utilize these two-color theories?
Nature has inspired art since the beginning of time. Our natural environment is rich with diverse color palettes—think of the harmonious neutral palette of a dessert or the bright and rich palette of a cotton candy sunset. There are gorgeous colors all around us. Natural and earthy palettes help us feel grounded. Try grounding your next design with one of these palettes brought to you by the universe (and the team at Adobe Spark). This combo would work well for brands aiming to evoke calm and nature vibes, for example, a health and wellness blog, or social posts for an organic goods brand.
Retro palettes are reminiscent of vintage cars, fabric prints, and home decor. Transform the feel of your design and rewind the clock by using these nostalgic tones. Utilize the colors for photo filters, to create vintage patterns, update your branding, or just have fun and play. Retro palettes are well suited for cards, posters, or trendy social posts.
A common trend in graphic and web design is to create contrast and drama by using a dark, neutral color, such as black or grey, for a background color and combining it with one or more bold, accent colors. These palettes are dynamic, vibrant, and punchy. They set the tone for your design or brand and that tone is fearless. Bright colors can be used in large floods or minimally as accents.
The '90s are known for two distinct styles. Let’s talk about this in pop culture terms:
1. Bright jewel toned palettes, think TV shows like Fresh Prince of Bel Air, Beverly Hills 90210, or Clueless.
These colors scream fun, approachable, and playful. Try using them for your next IG or Snapchat story.
2. Grungy, moody, more neutral palettes: think Daria, Office Space, and all of Friends' Chandler Bing’s wardrobe. These muted palettes are a great way to subtly throwback to the '90s while keeping your design low-key. How about layering some distress patterned icons on your design to add to the grunge aesthetic?
Think hunter green, mauve, dark blues, and dusty pinks. Deep jewel tones mixed with charcoal blacks. The kind of color schemes that would be at home in a Bronte novel or the Pacific Northwest in winter. Give your design gravitas and a moody vibe with these rich Heathcliff-inspired palettes. This color combo would work well for event invites or social posts.
Spark's smart color algorithm can instantly hook you up with intelligent palettes, based on the content you start with. To try it out, open Spark on the web or mobile. Create a new project, starting with a photo. Pick one from your camera roll or try searching the free photo or Adobe Stock library. Spark will auto-generate palettes that work well with your photo so when you add text, shapes, or other design elements, you know you're working with colors that go well together. Easily tap through our options to transform your design in a single tap.
Once you’ve landed on a palette, you can refine further using the color strips that appear when you choose “Customize.” The top gradient strip refers to the color, while the bottom allows you to find the perfect shade by tweaking according to saturation and pigment. Move the strips until you land on the perfect shade. The hex value will automatically appear just below your chosen hue.
Achieve ultimate text-to-image cohesion by matching text color to a color from your background, using Spark's color picker. Choose "colors" from the editor to open the color swatches. Choose the color swatch you want to customize and then move the eyedropper symbol anywhere on your image to instantly find and match the color.
Hex values are we identify and name digital colors. If you have your heart set on a specific shade, get a perfect match by selecting the hex value for that shade. From the custom colors view, you can copy and paste the code in the bottom box or scroll through hex values.