I’ve been meaning to write this post for a while, and I’m finally getting around to it. Below are a few color resources that I find invaluable in my design workday. Hopefully you’ll find these useful as well. :)
Designer’s Guide to Color is a compilation of small books with various color combinations to inspire you as you work on anything from logos, posters, packaging or anything really you can put color to. You can buy the books individually, or you can get the box set, which has 5 books in it. Each book contains over 1,000 color combinations and they each emphasize different aspects, such as tints, pastels, intense vs subdued, complex patterns, etc. It’s very helpful when you’re, for example, translating a logo from black & white to color, or when you need a complementary color for one you’ve already selected.
Color: Messages and Meanings – A Pantone Color Guide, as the title states, talks to the meaning behind colors. It goes into a little bit of color theory, showing you about monochromatic schemes, complimentary colors etc. But the main thing about this is showing you the feeling colors evoke. When you think “invigorating”, what cold you choose? What about “exotic”? What colors are considered more “assertive”? The thing I like most about is that that not only does it give you a list of colors, or a sheet full of combinations to work with, it also shows different pieces created using these color schemes. It’s always helpful to see how others have used these colors. Sometimes you look at a color set and can’t really visualize it, but here, you have a great resource. This is of course a book by Pantone, so all the colors used are Pantone based, but they also provide a CMYK breakdown in the back portion of the book.
Moving away from books, and into the web, another great resource is the ColorZilla plugin for Firefox. Install this on your browser, and you can use it to see the breakdown of colors used on your screen provided in RGB and Hex. It makes it a little easier than taking a screenshot, opening it in Photoshop and using the color picker.
It took me a while to purchase Pantone Colorbridge because its over $100, but I haven’t regretted it for a moment. There’s a few Pantone color guides, but for me the best is Colorbridge Coated. It shows you the Pantone inks and next to it, it has the CMYK equivalent. As you know (or are now learning) a Pantone ink is a special blend of colors so using your regular printer will not reproduce it exactly. Particularly blues and purples, they don’t get the same intensity. You may have selected a Pantone color for your logo (packaging, print piece…) and will be printing it at your local printer. It’s helpful to see what it will look like in CMYK. Likewise you may have created a color just from the colorpicker in Photoshop or you might need to find a Pantone color to match a print. You can use this booklet which fans out so you can find the closest match.
This last item I’m going to mention I have not used myself, but I thought was really cool. ColorMunki is a spectrophotometer, which allows you to literally scan colors off pretty much anything. Want to use the exact color on your favorite shoes to create a website? Scan it with ColorMunki. Saw a photograph in a magazine and want to use that color for your logo? Scan it! Now I haven’t bought it because I haven’t really had a chance to really look into it, and basically because I can probably get a close enough match with my Pantone book. But, if anyone out there has used it, I’d love to hear what you think of it!
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