Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tutorial Tuesday, Design Element: Using Color, II

Would you wear black to an Asian funeral? Color choices are powerful - and can be significant. Read on to find out more!

Color is also possibly the single most powerful tool you have to design with. This entry is part two of Using Color as a Design Element. Part 1 ran on May 26.

In addition to being pleasing to the eye, artists and creators may wish to consider the psychology of color - that is, how colors evoke feelings and emotions. Blues and greens are thought to have calming effects, while yellow evokes excitement. Bright colors attract attention. Warm colors (reds, with red considered 'hot') jump out, while cool colors (blues) recede, and don't yell "Look at me!" like the warms. There are also differences in how cultures view color - for example, in some Asian cultures, white signifies death and mourning, whereas in our country, we'd be more likely to wear black to a funeral.

Here is a list of specific colors and some of their associations, from Biopulse.org:

Black: self-confidence, power, strength
Blue: calming, lowers blood pressure, decreases respiration
Green: soothing, relaxing mentally as well as physically, helps those suffering from depression, anxiety, nervousness
Violet: suppresses appetite, provides a peaceful environment, good for migraines
Pink: used in diet therapy as an appetite suppressant, relaxes muscles, relieves tension, soothing
Yellow: energizes, relieves depression, improves memory, stimulates appetite
Orange: energizes, stimulates appetite and digestive system
Red: stimulates brain wave activity, increases heart rate, respiration and blood pressure.....

Color Matters lists links to several articles that discuss these topics.

I like to play around with some of the interactive online and application tools to try out color. I shared the best web site, ColourLovers.com in the part 1 of this article - check it out if you haven't yet. The coolest application I found related to designing color palettes is called Color Schemer Studio. It is not free - and, upon revisiting, it is only for those using a Mac computer - sorry! It's almost always the other way around (programs are for those with Windows, not Mac.) It does have a 15 day trial that is worth downloading if you have a Mac just to play around with it. I've linked here to a very comprehensive review of the program which details how it works. Note that this and many color applications are designed for web designers, but I still find the information useful and can apply it to my work.

The feature I liked best was Photo Schemer - you can drop a photo into the application and it designs a color scheme based on the colors in the photo! To show you an example, the bracelet I am working on now (pictured here ) is based on a color scheme derived from the photo of the flower at the top of the page. (My camera did capture the bracelet colors a bit differently than they appear.)

To set up my color palette for the bracelet, I printed out the palette of colors that were pulled from the photo onto a half sheet of paper. I put that in a large zip-lock baggie so I can see it, labeled with my bracelet information - this happens to be my summer free-form peyote bracelet, one of a limited edition of which I do four per year - and then collected my beads and materials in the baggies from my stash until I have enough to start. As I work on the bracelet, I work from this baggie. I have the color palette displayed through the plastic, so as I find and think of more beads that I may want as I create, I throw them into the bag. I can keep several baggies, with color palettes displayed, handy and ready to work from.

Here is a link to another useful color site, Color, Contrast and Dimension, an interactive experience on applying color theory. If the subject of using color interests you, a web search will bring up lots more information on this topic!

"I'm a rainbow today, all the colors of the world." The Color Song, Kira Wiley

Note: this is second Tutorial Tuesday feature, scheduled to run every other week. The feature is edited (and this tutorial was written by) Mimi Frawley, proud member of the Wisconsin Street Team, "The Moo Crew" and owner of A Thousand Dreams Designs and author of a blog by the same name. Please leave comments and suggestions!!


Kim said...

Love these tutorials! After reading this one I have decided to paint my kitchen and dining room pink...we'll see what DH thinks !

Mimi said...

Just make sure the pink doesn't have too much orange in it! Who knows what would happen then :)