Choosing a color palette for your adult coloring books can be tricky. With so many colors to choose from, it’s pretty hard to know where to start!
While closing your eyes and picking a random color might work on some days, we all know that having a well-thought-out color palette greatly improves your coloring results.
Here are some awesome tips on how to come up with a beautiful and visually pleasing color palette:
It All Starts With Color Theory
You’ve probably heard this before, but we’ll say it again: it pays to know your color theory. Being familiar with colors and their relationships with each other can help you build a beautiful color palette.
Let’s take a look at the basics, starting off with the color wheel. As you may well know, a standard color wheel is made up of the following colors:
- Primary colors – these are blue, red and yellow. You can’t create these by combining other colors.
- Secondary Colors – Mix any two primary colors and you’ll get secondary colors. Combine blue and red and you’ll get violet. Red and yellow produces orange, while the combination of blue and yellow will give you green.
- Tertiary Colors – these are produced when you mix a primary color with a secondary color.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of the color wheel, you can then get to know color harmony. Here are a few terms that you have to familiarize yourself with:
- Complementary colors – take a look at your tertiary color wheel. The colors opposite of each other are called complementary colors. Examples of which include yellow and violet, red-orange and blue-green and so on.
- Analogous colors – if complementary colors are on opposite ends, analogous colors are colors found next to each other on the color wheel. A perfect example would be yellow, yellow-green and green.
If you’re still having trouble understanding these concepts, we’ve included a pretty nifty tutorial above. The first portion explains color theory and harmony in a fun and easy-to-understand way, complete with color wheels that you can make at home.
How To Choose Your Color Palette
Now that you’re all caught up with color theory and color harmony, here are some tips on how to come up with a stunning color palette:
Arrange Your Supplies
First things first: keep your coloring supplies neat and tidy. Whether you’re using gel pens, markers, colored pencils or even watercolor brush pens, it’s important to keep your supplies organized. Classify them according to color, so you get a birds-eye view of what you have at your disposal.
It also helps to make a swatch sheet, since colors can sometimes appear different from their labels, or can change once the ink dries on paper. Having color swatches allow you to be more organized and systematic when picking colors.
If you’ve got a lot of clutter around your work area, here’s a great article to help your studio or work area stay organized.
Limit Your Palette
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to pick rainbow colors each time you do a coloring page. One of the most important tricks to building a beautiful color scheme is by limiting your palette. We know, it can be pretty hard to do, but practice limiting your colors to a maximum of 5. You’ll be surprised with the results!
Play Around With Analogous Colors
It’s time to put your color harmony knowledge to the test by building a color palette from analogous colors. Pick three analogous colors and see what you can do with them. Try sticking to just cool or warm colors— again, the results will surprise you! If you feel like things are looking a bit bland, throw one contrasting color to shake things up
Mix and Match Complementaries
Working with complementary colors is not a walk in the park. When not done properly, your colors can look garish and messy. However, when you hit that sweet spot, you can create a lot of beautiful designs.
One way to make complementary colors work for you is by sticking to one dominant color. For example, you can color a significant portion of your coloring page with blue and then do the details in soft orange or even peach. Or, if you’re doing a mandala, you can use black as the dominant color for your background and then do the details in bright purples or blues.
Take Inspiration From Your Favorite Magazines, TV Shows or Films
Ever wondered why magazine spreads, TV shows, and movies look so good? All these visual media outlets use a color scheme or palette to tie everything together. From the props to the backdrops and outfits…the colors of these elements are already thought out and planned.
Take inspiration from a magazine page or film still. Study which hues look good together and apply that to your coloring pages. You can also do a cursory internet search to see the color palettes of some iconic films. Taking a closer look at these details is fascinating! Not only does it fuel your creativity, it also makes you appreciate the effort producers put into their sets.
Technology makes everything— including choosing a palette— so much easier! You can use an app like Pinterest to search for some captivating color palettes. There are so many to choose from, so pick a theme to narrow your choices down. You can use the seasons (summer palettes look especially bright and beautiful) or your current mood to match your palette.
If you simply can’t decide, don’t worry, there’s also an app for that! Check out this online color scheme generator to instantly come up with fabulous color combinations.
Don’t Forget Your Neutrals
Working with neutrals and subdued tones can be a challenge. You have to play around with their tones and shades to create subtle differences and effects. If you want to experiment with these elements— go ahead! If you’re not ready to go all out on minimalist colors, you can simply add one or two neutral colors to an existing palette.
Choosing a color scheme or palette is tricky, but it’s also one of the best parts about coloring. Nothing beats the excitement of picking your colors, building a concept and seeing it come to life.
Keep these color palette tips in mind the next time you color a page from your adult coloring books. You’ll never know what interesting color combinations come up with. Play around with the types of colors, explore your options and as always, free your creativity.