The possibilities for creating a colour palette are basically endless, but did you know that there’s more than one system of creating colours and they each have their own uses? It's important to know the differences so you can keep things consistent and easy. Here's a breakdown of a few of the most common systems and when to use each one.
To help you on your colour quest, check out coolors.co for some really awesome colour tools, or if you're an adobe user you might want to try color.adobe.com to create and save your colour palettes directly to Creative Cloud.
Used for: printing
You might remember from learning about colours at school that all of the colours in the rainbow can be made from red, yellow and blue. Well turns out you can make EVEN MORE colours by using cyan, magenta, yellow and black! This colour space is primarily used for printing and the colours are referring to ink, similar to what you might find in your printer at home.
This process is called additive colour which means that the inks are layered on top of each other in different percentages to create new colours, similar to mixing paint. So if you want to make orange you could use 50% magenta ink and 50% yellow ink. Or a lavender purple could be 50% cyan and 50% magenta.
You can make black by overlaying cyan, magenta and yellow but it will often appear muddy, that's why black is it's own ink to, to bring richness to the shadows.
There areso many variations though these four colours can work together to produce over 16,000 colours! If you work with printers you might hear them refer to CMYK as “4 colour process”.
Do you know your CMYK colour breakdown? My main brand colour is C-95, M-60, Y-55, K-40 (the K stands for Key or Black).
Used for: screen and web
This one is used for screens and web e.g. websites, apps and video. Inside the screens are lots of little lights that use three colour channels (or light beams) one red, one green, one blue.
RGB uses subtractive colour which means when the colours combine in the form of light they sort of cancel each other out, so depending how much light is emitted from which channel will change which colour is displayed.
Each of the three light beams has a scale of 0 (least saturated) to 256 (most saturated) which means there’s over 16,770,000 possible colours… That’s a lot.
It's important to remember when to use RGB vs CMYK as they produce quite different results because one is vibrant light and one is ink on paper. Sometimes a colour you like in CMYK won't look anything like what you see on the screen, or a colour in RGB won't even be possible to achieve when printed using CMYK.
Have you found your RGB colour? My main brand colour is R-0, G-69, B-76.
I'd love to know your brand colours! Tag me on Instagram @3rdeyestudio.au or send me a DM.
Pantone or PMS
Used for: printing
One of the challenges of colour in design is that it’s really hard to keep it consistent. There’s so many factors like different screens, different viewing devices, how the file was set up, and even the lighting in the room. The Pantone Matching System (PMS) was created as a universal way to manage colour consistency no matter where you are printing in the world.
There's over 1000 of these specially formulated inks, including metallics and pastels, each with a specific identifying number. Choosing a Pantone colour as part of your brand system is really helpful to make sure the same colour is being used every time.
It's worth noting that if you want to print in Pantone it might be a little more expensive, but if you care how your colour looks it's worth it.
Check out Pantone's cool colour finder tool for a complete list of all the colours, you can even enter colours from other systems to get the closest match. What are your brand's PMS colours? Mine are PMS 316, PMS 3265, PMS 9224 and PMS 419 (:
Used for: web
Hexadecimal codes are used as a way to tell an internet browser which colour to display. This one is pretty technical but basically, it uses a 6 digit code to represent the RGB channels (like we talked about just before) and tell the browser what to display.
The code contains 3 pairs of digital which can include numbers 0 to 9 and letters A to F with each pair representing a different light intensity (0 - 256, like In the RGB space). Black as a hex code is typed as #000000 and white is #FFFFFF, a bright pink is #ED518E.
Alot of hex codes also have names which you can use to remember them easier or write in your code.
Check out this awesome HTML colour picker website to learn more and to find your hex codes! Mine are #00454c, #45ccbc, #f23bda and #262626.
I hope you learnt some new things about working with colour, don't forget to document and save them so you can keep it consistent. I'd love to know what your brand colours are! Use the colours tools mentioned in this post and share them with me on Instagram, tag @3rdeyestudio.au or send me a DM! (: