How to find a harmonious color palette

It is no secret that a harmonious color palette is an important component of any illustration or design. It helps to create a sense of unity, to evoke a certain mood or emotion, and to guide the viewer’s eye through the composition. Using a harmonious color palette can also give a design a more professional and balanced look.

The number of colors in a harmonious palette can vary depending on the design. A general rule is to use 2-3 colors for a simple, minimal design and 5-7 colors for a more complex design. For my purposes (especially in vector graphics) I usually choose 3-5 colors plus black and white.

Color wheel

A color wheel is a visual representation of colors arranged according to their relationships. We can describe the color spectrum as a circle with 12 sectors: primary colors (red, blue, and yellow), secondary colors (orange, green, and purple), which are made by mixing the primary colors, and the tertiary colors (red-orange, blue-green, etc.), which are made by mixing primary and secondary colors.

There are several main color combinations on a color wheel.

Color wheel
Color wheel: How to find a harmonious color palette
Complementary colors: contrast pair and connection of 4 colors (tetrad)

Complementary colors

These are colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, such as orange and purple. These colors create a high level of contrast when used together.

Triadic colors

Triadic colors are evenly spaced around the color wheel, such as yellow-green, orange-red, and purple. These colors create a balanced and dynamic look and mostly used to create a sense of movement and energy.

Triadic colors: soft contrast and balanced trio
Analogous colors: cool shades and warm shades

Analogous colors

The colors are next to each other on the color wheel, such as green-blue, blue, and purple. Analogous colors can be applied to create a sense of warmth and calm.

It is worth noting that these are just examples, and there are many other color combinations that can be applied depending on the design and desired effect.

I like to use Adobe Color application – here you will find a color wheel which generates palettes according to your colors and combinations: mentioned here complementary, analogous and triad and many other combinations. And one more useful tool is extracting the color palette from the picture!

And another one great tool which helps to generate harmonious color palettes is Color Space. On this platform you can get different palettes such as Generic Gradient, Matching Gradient, Classy Palette, Cube Palette, etc. Just enter a color! 🙂

I hope you will find this post interesting and useful. Let me know in the comments! Please read another “how to” posts here.


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