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I'm a web developer, started to become a web designer. However, I think my understanding of colors is not practical yet. There are tools out there that can give you color harmonies, and more stuff, like Color Scheme Designer, but they don't give you the start point. I mean, how should I know that for this web site, I'd better use green and for that website, choose red. How should I know that?

I think color selection is more like an art, instead of being a science, and I'm like "you should become an color artist, in order to become a web designer".

How can I improve my color selection skill?

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3 Answers 3

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Truthfully I think this just takes time and practice. As you design more interfaces, you begin to understand which colors match the type of branding. corporate, social networking, gaming, cartoons... these are just a few of the thousands of categories a website could be based around. And each of these will draw in a different type of audience.

The link you posted to the color scheme picker is perfect for getting started. There is some science behind themes, especially if you understand color theory. It's not a very difficult topic but it may not help you much to "study" the science of colors. Instead I find looking at similar websites and browsing design galleries can give me much more insight.

Hope these external links can help you out man. Best of luck on building your design skills. It's definitely a process that just takes some time!

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Great answer to an excellent question. –  Alan Gilbertson Aug 11 '11 at 22:18

Since you are a web-designer now and are unsure whether your project color choices are ok, you can check them on this site: http://www.checkmycolours.com/

You can also create colors using Adobe Kuler, save and export them to your project. Since I just signed up with this site, I am limited to the number of hyperlinks I can post. You can easily find the site if you googgle. Also when trying to learn how to use colors, knowing a little about color blindness will be useful as well.

This link has a compilation of 55+ color tools: http://www.allgraphicdesign.com/graphicsblog/2008/03/20/55-color-tools-for-color-palettes-color-combinations-color-schemes-more-for-graphic-designers-web-designers/

Good luck to you!

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I don't have any tools to offer only references to help with your quest in finding inspiration for palette creation and understanding colors. re: "How do I know that?"

  • Take an art history class that covers from just before the renaissance to modern art.
  • Search for art work by Chuck Close and rather than marvel at the image from a distance, look closely at the individual squares in the piece and compare them to each other.
  • Check out color field paintings.
  • Look at different color spaces (here's one I was just perusing the other day, it's a very common one used in jpeg compression:YCBCR) and notice the different porperties of each.
  • Get the terminology down, understand the difference between things like "hue" and "color". Here's a small list of terms to investigate: hue, saturation, value, luminance, rgb and cymk (not just what the acronym stands for, but the interactions of each property), contrast, pastel, deep, pale, vivid, muted, intense, mars, acid, cadmium. Some of those are paint terms but very helpful in identifying qualities of color in a way that's communicatable.
  • Discuss color casually with your fellow designer friends.

Kuler can be a good resource to generate colors and see what different relationships are, but it's a far cry from a teacher as it gives no explanation to the terminology or the "why"s you might have. Again, this is why a classroom is great: get feedback from highly trained professionals who can give you their full and immediate attention.

Once you do all these things you will start generating color paletes in your head and with more ease when you get to designing.

(If a moderater deletes this please leave a comment first)

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