Create Perfect Color Combinations

One of the most challenging and tricky parts of the design process can be choosing a color palette that represents your brand or message, while creating an amazing base for the design.

Creating perfect color combinations is more than just picking two colors and running with it. There’s actually quite a bit of science and design color theory behind it. Today, we’ll look at nine ways to help you create a more perfect color palette. (And of course, the tips come with a showcase of websites featuring beautiful color combinations.)

Do you remember the color wheel from school as a child? It’s still a practical tool as an adult.

The color wheel can help you think about color and how different hues relate to one another. It’s a practical way to determine whether a pair (or more) of colors will relate to one another in a harmonious way.

The wheel contains primary, secondary and tertiary colors and every combination therein.

  • Primary colors: Red, Yellow, blue
  • Secondary colors: Green, purple, orange (mix of two primary colors)
  • Tertiary colors: Azure, violet, rose, red-orange, chartreuse, spring green (mix of a primary and secondary color)

How you mix colors on the wheel is important and contributes to how well the hues work together.

  • Analogous: Pick three colors next to each other on the color wheel
  • Complementary: Colors from opposite sides of the color wheel
  • Split complementary: Pick a color and use the color on either side of the opposite color from the color wheel
  • Double complementary: The hardest to create, this concept uses a primary color and complements from both side of the opposite color on the color wheel (works best with tints and tones)
  • Monochromatic: One color and variations of that color (such as Nifty, above)
  • Triadic: Three colors equally spaced on the color wheel

Most color-picking tools use a simulation of a color wheel to help you make color choices. (So there’s really no way around this part of design theory.)