Wednesday, August 26, 2020

Color Your World

Color is a wonderful tool to have when preparing a print publication. Understanding the relationship between colors when mixing and matching is key to creating a professional layout. 

Primary colors are red, yellow and blue. When you combine two primary colors, you get complementary colors. For example, yellow and blue make green and blue and red make purple.

So, how do you know which colors you can mix and which combinations you should avoid? How colors complement or clash with one another can be explained by viewing a color wheel.

Adjacent colors, or those that appear next to one another on the color wheel, generally work well together. An example is yellow and green, which often look good together. However, adjacent colors can appear washed out if there is not enough contrast. In other words, if you pick a strong green, use a lighter yellow as your complementing color. This gives you colors that work well together but still have enough contrast. The same is true with blue and purple. They are adjacent colors and should work well together. However, in their purest hue, blue and purple are too alike. Using a hue of one color and a shade or tint of the other, however, can create a very attractive color combination.

Colors separated by another color on the color wheel are referred to as contrasting colors. Contrasting colors, such as orange and purple, are often too vibrant to be placed on the same page. They compete with one another and decrease readability.

Finally, colors directly opposite one another are the color wheel are clashing colors. However, even  with the negative connotation of the name, clashing colors, such as blue and yellow can be used together in the correct tints or shades to create high visibility. 


The appearance of color on your computer screen versus what your final printed bulletin looks like can be different. This is because computer screens use three colors to generate the screen image: Red, Green and Blue (RGB). You may notice that colors can even appear different from monitor to monitor depending upon contrast and brightness set by each user. The color model for printing is CMYK, which refers to the four colors used: Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. These four colors mixed together  create all the colors that appear in your printed document. Both RGB and CMYK have limitations as to how “truly” they represent color. And ink has limitations as well. Oranges and Reds are typically the most difficult to match.

Because of the variation of color models, you may notice slight variations in how your bulletin looks on screen versus the printed copy you receive. This is normal and to be expected. It may take time to experiment with shades and tints to achieve the desired effect in your printed bulletin. When selecting colors, be sure to choose from the Pantone® color wheel rather than the standard color wheel. Your printed bulletin will most closely match Pantone®, or process colors, as those colors correspond
more closely to ink colors.

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