The Making of a Color Palette

Hello everyone! I get asked a lot about my designing process, and this month I’d like to talk a little bit about the starting point of all of my kits – a color palette. For me, a good color palette should have a range of fun colors that mesh well together. Here’s my process of picking colors for my kits.

 

 

Finding Inspiration

To start, I first need an idea of what I want to do. I’m inspired by many things: a quote, a song, a certain color… and I’m often inspired by photos that I need to scrap. For example:

I love the colors here: the black, the grey, and the pop of blue and coral.

 

Gathering the Main Colors

 

Once I know the main colors I want, I go on Pinterest and simply type them in. For example, searching for “blue and coral color palettes” pulls up hundreds of different images. I usually bring about 6 to 10 images that I like into Photoshop.

 

 

Then I simply use the eyedropper tool and begin drawing squares with the colors I picked. As you can see, there are multiple shades of the same color in the different palettes, but I’m not too worried about them at this point.

 

 

Checking Gamut and Fine-tuning Colors

 

After I have all my main colors, I put them into groups. Using the eyedropper tool and the color picker, I check each color one by one. If the gamut warning (as indicated) is on, I click the little box underneath and it will pick the closest in-gamut color for me. This process ensures that my color palettes are in gamut and that the resulting kits will print nicely.

 

 

Now I begin fine-tuning my colors. I rely heavily on the HSB values in this part. HSB stands for hue, saturation and brightness. I go through my color groups and make sure they are more or less the same hue. For example, in this palette, I changed the H value of the blue color so it would have the same hue as the navy. The same was done for the aqua, the coral and the grey color groups. The lightest coral was actually of a different hue, and since I liked the peach color, I kept it and moved it to its own group.

 

 

Another thing I do when fine-tuning colors is that I check if the same shades across the different color groups have more or less the same saturation and brightness. That is, I want the S and B values of, for instance, the lightest aqua and the lightest coral to be about the same. This is not always possible, but I try to make sure that each color shares the saturation and brightness with at least one other color in the palette. This way, the color palette is consistent as a whole!

 

 

Adding Neutrals and Accents

 

Finally, I add neutrals and accents to my palettes. Neutrals are colors that look great with anything. Black and white are my favorite, and sometimes I throw grey or brown into the mix. Texture doesn’t show up on pure black and white, however, so I make sure the brightness value of white is lower than 100 and higher than 0 for black.

 

 

Accents are colors that you’re going to use sparingly in your kit. For me it’s often a green for foliage, or gold/silver for foil, or even a “kraft” color. This is also the time to think about what textures will be included in the kit. For this example, I picked gold as I knew I was going to use quite a bit of foil and glitter.

 

 

Finishing Up as a Mood Board

 

A mood board is a collage of images based on either a color palette or a theme. I usually include a little bit of both. In this example, I knew I wanted the color palette to go with the photos I started with, to capture the childlike wonder and delight of my daughter. So I found some inspiration quotes, a picture of navy, coral and gold hearts, and also a blanket with arrows and feathers on them. One of the quotes eventually made it onto a journal card and the arrows and feathers became recurring motifs throughout the kit.

 

 

The mood board not only provides a jumping board for my creativity, but it generally guides me throughout the entire designing process. I hope this article has inspired you to create your own color palettes and mood boards!

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