This week I needed to create a color scheme for a company and approve a print job for metal tags. I don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator so needed to find some work-arounds. I found a couple of websites that were very helpful and I hope they will be useful for you too, if you don’t have access to a graphic / web designer and need to use specific colors for a project.
There are some acronyms that you will come across as you dabble with color. Screen based colors are usually communicated as RGB (Red Green Blue) which was the light system behind the cathode ray tube of TV and Computer monitors. For many years you could see little chips of red, green, and blue as part of the BBC logo. Nowadays designers work with Hex or web-safe colors which are expressed as a number/letter combination starting with a hash and will work consistently across different browser and device types.
If you have to choose complementary colors to go with a logo then head straight to Color Scheme Designer – either pick a fresh color from the wheel or enter the color reference you already have, and the site will also highlight the exact complementary shades or additional colors that go with your first one. It’s fun going through the different options on the dial – from a single shade, to complementary two shades, triad, tetrad (gives you four shades as complementary twin pairs), analogic – your shade and two sibling shades on the same side of the color wheel, and then finally accented analogic where a final shade from across the wheel is shown to give you an accent color.
Further clicks will show you your color scheme as it would look used as a color scheme for light web pages and for dark pages. Very fast, very easy, very classy. If you are creating something for another screen or print format then Color-Hex will help you translate web safe colors into RGB or other formats.
A trickier format to work with is PMS or Pantone Matching System for physical printed items. If you don’t have their physical PMS swatch cards then signing off a print job can be difficult when judging the tones from your computer screen. I recommend trusting an experienced printer who understands the effects that ink will have on different printed surfaces, when combined with your desired shades. To get the best results you may need to sign off something that is a good bit lighter or darker than the exact corresponding number codes.
If you want to learn more about the acronyms of color – RGB, CMYK, PMS, HEX etc etc then there are numerous websites that explain them separately. Marketing D.I.Y. has a quick summary too.
Coca-Cola Red Example
Here is an example here’s how Coca-Cola red is coded across the different color standards. To do this I found the RGB number for the color by using the DigitalColor Meter built into my Mac, and then plugged the RGB number into the search box on Color-Hex.
Here’s Coca-Cola red in all its glory, here’s the USA Coca-Cola website featuring the famous red, popping zestily against the #028f98 of the Arctic waters.