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Last month, in our color issue, we told you about GenoPal's free online color specifier. This tutorial makes use of that, but for all the features, you'll need the full program. You can download the program, but unfortunately it's not a demo -- but there is a 30-day, money-back guarantee.

Like a Cherry on Vanilla Icecherry one top

A step by step guide to make a color scheme with an accent.

by Christiane English

In this tutorial, sent in by GenoPal Color, we will learn how to create a color scheme with an accent from Christiane English, our color advisor. We've included some tips for GenoPal users that complements Christiane's methods.

Neutrals make great backgrounds for information and images. If you have a nice set of neutrals any color accent will look good with it, a bit like vanilla ice cream with a cherry, a pistachio or a piece of chocolate they are all delicious.

What you can make could look like this:

color bar

Tutorial Overview:
1. Pick a neutral light color to start with
2. Create close variations of that color
3. Add an accent color
4. Add a shadow color for text

Color relationships

Step 1: Pick a neutral light color

That sounds easier than it is.

Neutrals are difficult to judge and the differences between them are often only visible when you put them next to each other.
Also here you are interested in almost whites and almost perfect grey colors.
To make your life easier pick a neutral color from an image.

Google helps with a ton of ice cream photos - avoid the brightly colored ice creams though.
Alternatively the sandy beach and the tide image below provide a wide range of warm and cold neutrals.

color photo
Photos by Arjen Benders 2005

Step 2: Create close variations of your light neutral color

There are several possibilities to create a group of very close variations. Select colors which differ in color, saturation and lightness.

sampling tips You can pick several colors from the same area of an image or use a color picker to alter color values. Photoshop's 'variations' offer a range of automated variations.

GenoPal Tip:

It's easy to create neutrals with GenoPal
* Just eye drop a color with the eyedropper.
* See how apparent the subtle variations are.
Decrease C slider for more similar colors and increase L for more contrasting lightness value.

Step 3: Add an accent color

This is easier to achieve, almost any color will do.
Choose a color with a medium saturation level.
If you need some inspiration, pick one of the neutrals and see
what happens when the saturation value is increased.

sampling color

GenoPal Tip:

GenoPal offers a Saturation mode for the occasional boost of color.
Go to Options > Mode > Saturated Colors.

Step 4: Add a shadow color

Add the shadow color

The shadow color becomes your 'black'.
The shadow is mainly used as a text color.
Pick any of your previous colors, neutral or accent and alter the L
slider, so that you get a very rich dark color which
makes everything else look good.

You have just created a color scheme with accents!

GenoPal Tip:

creating accents Creating accents alongside your neutrals is just as easy with GenoPal.

Lock the neutrals you like.
(CTRL+click on the colors to Lock/Unlock)
And do one of the following to find your accents.
- Increase C and L values by dragging sliders
- Use Saturated Colors mode
- Use to pick an accent color

About the Author Christiane English. Unlike her name suggests she is a native German with Finnish roots and Dutch ties. Reinventing the Philips Medical Systems colors, talking about the Color of Light to Architects and conceptualizing the color selection tool GenoPal mark her experience with color. She is currently teaching Industrial Design at the National University of Singapore and experiments with new ways to teach color sense. She blogs at www.cinnamonandsugar.wordpress.com



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