Color Inspiration: How to Use Color in Your Designs
Colour is at the heart of successful print design.
These stunning designs use the power of colour to transform their layouts from dull to decadent. From dreamy pastels to glamorous metallics, read on to find out how to use effective colour combinations in your own InDesign work.
1. Choose blue to calm things down…
…Using blue tones in your print designs can give a calming effect.
Blue’s cool palette soothes the soul and promotes a sense of low-risk and trustworthiness, making it a great colour base for professional documents, like reports, and travel guides.
Here, New York-based graphic designer Brandon Nickerson teams generous amounts of white space with soothing turquoise tones for his ‘Places’ travel book.
Design: Brandon Nickerson
2. Add a vintage touch with muted colour combinations
Muting otherwise bright, bold colours (try upping the level of Key [Black] in your CMYK Swatches) can give print designs a desirable Mid-Century colour palette.
Just take a look at this gorgeous book cover design from Madrid-based illustrator and designer Tatiana Boyko. The cover for The Jungle Book is rendered in an array of colours, but no single colour overwhelms the design. Muted takes on red, blue, green and yellow, laid over a vintage-inspired cream background, make for a cover that would look right at home on a 1950s bookshelf.
Design: Tatiana Boyko
3. Play up pastels for a delectable design
Moving away from their traditionally sickly-sweet stereotype, modern pastels can now bring a gorgeously edible and fun vibe to print design. Teamed with punchy black and minimal white they make for a particularly eye-catching colour combination, which is well-suited to retail and food branding.
The youthful branding for Swedish Mexican restaurant Calexico’s, by design agency Snask, use pastel yellows, pinks and blues set against black, white and brown paper, to create restaurant branding that looks good enough to eat!
4. Up the glamour with metallic inks
Think outside the colour box and look to metallic shades of gold, silver, copper and bronze to add a decadent touch to your print designs. When using metallic inks, consider teaming them with simple black and white graphics and text – let the metallic do the talking!
Quebec design agency lg2 used a touch of bronze to luxe up the branding for the foodie Bête & Fête event. Teamed with natural paper backgrounds the designs are both aspirational and down-to-earth.
The brand identity for trading company Ambar, realised by agency Look and do it, lends a special touch to minimal black graphics with a touch of gold ink added to the rim of business cards.
Design: Look and do it
5. Neon brights shout for attention!
Neon colours have a reformed reputation – once tossed into the ‘bad taste’ hole of 1980s graphic design, they now look fresh and modern, with a subtle nod to their retro past. Team neons with black-and-white photography for print designs that grab the viewer’s attention and give a sexy, youthful feel to magazine and flyer design.
To keep the neon looking modern, limit your neons to just one or two shades.
This cover for Interview Magazine Germany uses neon green typography to make the film noir-inspired photo pop.
Design: Interview Magazine Germany
This punchy city guide by German designer Axel Peemöller is a great example of limiting your use of neon to just one shade, for a high-impact, fresh, urban design.
Design: Axel Peemöller
Choice use of colour can transform your print work from bland to beautiful! Get your head around how to use colour in InDesign and how to prepare colour documents for printing. Check out more InDesign inspiration from around the world here.