Graphic Design Trends for 2016

Graphic Design Trends for 2016 – a guest post by Brian Jens.

This article is particularly useful if you’ve got some tech knowledge – it talks a bit about the stuff behind the screen and how that’s all going to happen in 2016; but even if you’re like me and a bit scant on this knowledge, it’s still got some fab pointers on what everything’s going to look like! Read on…

Graphic Design Trends 2016

graphic design trends for 2016

Web design trends come and go all the time. But unlike many other areas, web design has constantly changed under the pressure of ever-evolving technologies that constantly changes and moves forward. Therefore, new web design trends are often the result not of designers’ changes in taste, but of the emergence of new functionality in the industry.

No doubts about it, 2015 was quite interesting. The overall picture remains almost unchanged compared to 2014, except for a greater promotion of minimalism which is gained popularity in recent years. But no one can dispute the fact that the technology platforms underlying the production evolve. First of all, browsers of mobile devices: a growing “mobile” trend forces the majority of Internet users to move to mobile gadgets at least when browsing the web. These changes have resulted in the focus on the quality and usability of websites to make them adaptive for mobile.

All the above means that this year web design will be a playground open to experiments, innovations and creative approach. Up-to-date designers should use all their skills and abilities to create something new that contributes to the industry.

To be on the crest of a wave, you should be able to predict the upcoming trends. To help you a little, we decided to collect the strongest tendencies that will dominate in 2016 in our opinion. Let’s check them!

Material Design

graphic design trends for 2016That’s a sphere where there was a small revolution last year. Google has adapted all of its services under the developed “visual language” named as Google’s Material Design. Material Design is the intersection of good visual design, and usability for users.

This trend reflected in the habits of many users: Material Design is now used on Android, as well as on the popular services like YouTube, Google+, and so on. Looking at the extent of its spread, we can say it has opened the new era of design.

CSS3 as the Basis in the Markup of a Page

graphic design trends for 2016

Support for CSS3 has been developed very actively in the past few years, and finally it reached the stage when new cool layout modules could be safely used without any fear of being displayed incorrectly. CSS3 Flexbox works well in the latest versions of popular browsers.

Flexbox offers a simplified solution as compared to the layout-paradigm, which was used on the Internet for a very long period of time. Flexbox increases speed of loading pages and reduces number of vulnerabilities; when using Flexbox, layout becomes a kind of creative work.

In 2016 the layout principles won’t be changed, but the process will be significantly simplified.

Bright Typography

graphic design trends for 2016The use of typography is an important marketing tool. With the help of typography and color, you can create a strong association with your brand in customers’ minds. Every designer knows that the choice is often constrained by the technical limitations and what the means for the safety of the brand’s identity. We expect this will change soon.

The last couple of years we’ve seen a general transformation in web typography: web fonts became much more affordable, giving some “freedom” to designers. Colours remained muted, but designers have become much bolder when choosing fonts, so the typography plays a lot bigger role now. Consequently, large text became a kind of web design trend. 2016 will be marked as a year of colour experiments n typography. Actually, they’re already begun!

Cinemagraphs’ Growing Popularity

graphic design trends for 2016

Looks like there’s nothing new…cinemagraphs can be seen in the past few years in a form similar to the present one. But 2015 had brought us a few events that somehow refreshed this field both among designers and consumers. The strongest influence was made by the “Live pictures” on the latest models of Apple smartphones. When the smartphone takes a picture, it captures a short period with the movement (on the same principle as it captures video), and when you look at this picture a few seconds after you start watching, it “comes to life”, playing captured movement. Cinemagraphs represent a similar visual effect.

Another change that has contributed to a renewed interest is improving the technology that underlies the effect. HTML5 Canvas makes possible to display effects in real-time without any restrictions.

Illustrations Prevail Over Photos

graphic design trends for 2016

The era of websites with huge super-quality photos has come to the end. This may seem contradictory to the previous trend, but in fact we’re talking about a different thing. “Live pictures” look like the homemade variety; and when we’re talking about photos that headline websites, we mean the professional pictures.

What 2016 may bring is illustrations and drawings made from photos. The advantage of an illustration is that it can be stylized during its creation, giving you something that distinguishes you from competitors and increases your brand’s awareness. Some illustrations may even become a part of your style, or lie at its core.

So the essence of the trend is that photos will be replaced by illustrations, which will connect with the audience in a more personal manner and become a part of an individual style.

Patterns Instead of Pages

Modern design teams have moved to a new operating principle: to develop UI [User Interface] -components as the base for pages of the website or service. In 2016 this principle will be used by the teams all over the world.

Animation

CSS, HTML5 and jQuery already allow you to create full-fledged animation effects, similar to Flash. Until now, not all designers have learned how to use animation in the interface; however, in 2016 there will be more successful examples of how to use these animation effects.

Blur Images

graphic design trends for 2016

Facebook uses a blur effect and scaling when loading image and web pages. Thus, the user can see the image before it’s fully downloaded. According to Facebook, this speeds up page load time by 30%.

Scrolljacking

Scrolljacking is a technique whereby the content changes as you scroll your mouse.

However, according to many designers, this method is not always convenient for users, since the content changes are not synchronized with the scrolling. Because of this, the use of this interface may be uncomfortable for some. But we still expect that in 2016 there will be more and more pages with lots of effects and animations, so it will be more difficult to interact with the interface.

Eaten Hamburger

graphic design trends for 2016

In 2016, designers will abandon the use of the “hamburger” icon with hidden menus in favour of visible elements. For example, YouTube has already moved from the “hamburger” to the horizontal menu with tabs.

Heavy pages

Despite all the efforts to accelerate the pages loading speed, it’s indefatigably growing. In 2010, the average size of one page was about 700 KB, while in 2015 it was approximately 2200 KB. It seems that no one thinks about the limitations of this growth – of course, if the loading speed is acceptable.

2016 does not promise us to be a year of great upheaval. So, stay alert and continue to monitor the development of the web design industry.

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Brian Jens, a blogger and designer of DesignContest, is always on the crest of a wave. He tracks the latest marketing trends, as well as technical innovations and even crucial politics changes. Novelty is Jens’ primary passion.

Beautiful product photography for your online shop: styling & props

product photography dos and donts

Product Photography

When you buy things online, exactly what is it that compels you to press that “BUY” button? Especially when you can’t pick stuff up, turn it over in your hands, feel its weight, feel its texture? There are of course a number of reasons, but online, a big part of that ‘thing’ is the product’s IMAGES.

When you’re a maker, it should go without saying that your product image should be well lit with no harsh shadows; horizons and other alignment is straight, and there is ample space around the product so that the picture doesn’t look too cramped. There are tons of tutes out there on how to get all the technical stuff right; I’ve written about it over here, and I also particularly like this one from Jess over on Handmadeology, or this excellent one on the Etsy blog.

 

photography tips

easy peasy infinity ground

 

SO THIS IS IMPORTANT:
A good camera won’t instantly make you a brilliant photographer.

 

You’ve got to have a good understanding of what you’re doing and have a clear idea of the result you’re after in order to get consistent results from your camera. Conversely, even if you’re only working with your smartphone, you’re still capable of achieving some very good results.

 

THIS IS ALSO IMPORTANT:
Please don’t ever think that taking one snap and uploading it direct is a thing.

 

Before you get even close to uploading your pics to your shop, you need to figure out a few things about your image style.

Start by thinking about your business personality.

Consider what the lighting is like in those images. Is it strong and clear, soft and romantic, or somewhere in the middle? What’s the composition like – are they full and busy, or serene and uncluttered?

Most of the time, a lot of props and/or a complicated background are a bad idea. They confuse the image, and the viewer doesn’t know where to look. Also, if your style is modern and minimal, you’ll probably want to keep things simple on a plain background.

Always always always keep your business personality in mind as you go through the different aspects of product photography below.

Composition. The first thing to remember about your photograph is that it’s in a frame, and therefore it’s a composition (remember that word from high school art classes?). So, you need to think about how to purposefully compose your photo. As noted above, don’t make your item too large in the shot (it looks cramped and uncomfortable) or too small (it looks lost), and keep props to a minimum.

When you’re cropping, keep in mind your pictures don’t have to be the standard height to width ratio! You can crop them to square, or shorter or thinner – whatever suits your object. Cropping also allows you to easily get rid of extraneous detail at the edges (like the edge of the verandah, that lens cap you left on the bench…), as well as allowing you to rotate the image to straighten up slightly crooked horizons. (YES. Please make sure your horizons are straight!)

 

Props. The most important rule is always Less is More.

photography - whats for sale

Seriously, what’s for sale here?
(Hint: it’s the shirt. But you looked at everything else first, didn’t you?)

So what’s wrong? Let’s see…. Think about what draws your attention first – it’s the white teacup, because it contrasts with the busy florals. The pink bangle stands out for the same reason. And not only is the shirt is only partially shown,  but the background floral is just as busy as the pattern on the shirt, and therefore it just gets lost.

 

Now you’ve got that, we can move on 😉

Props can play a wonderfully supporting role in your image. You might need to hang your earrings from something, or you might want to spice up your simple block of handmade soap with some fresh herbs or a flower, or put your kids toys next to a floor rug.

Whatever you do and however you set up your shot, look through the camera lens critically and ask yourself, “Does this look too busy? Is it obvious what the thing for sale is?” If it’s too busy, keep on taking things out until you’ve got the absolute minimum props (…just like your mum told you about wearing jewellery when you were young, “Take one more thing off”).

The trick is to make everything in your photo look like you’ve thought about it.

When choosing props, always go back to how you described your brand personality to decide what mood you’d like to convey. If it’s bold and sassy, you might try adding a touch of black or red; if it’s super soft and feminine, you might try adding in some tiny flowers, and use pastel backgrounds.

 

Editing. In my experience, most images require editing of some description. I ALWAYS adjust contrast and brightness; the aim is to have bright, clear images where it’s easy to see colour and detail.

If low light is a problem for you, digital editing is great for adjusting brightness and contrast, and correcting colour. (However, nothing can fix a blurry photo, so use a tripod or stand for your camera if shake is a problem for you.)

You can also change the colour balance to get rid of colour casts (like when your pic looks too blue or orange), and use the rubber stamp tool to get rid of minor blemishes (such as that bit of fluff you didn’t notice when you were shooting!). I use Photoshop, but if you don’t have it, there are lots of free web-based photo-editing programs out there, such as PicMonkey or GIMP.

 

Adjusting lighting to suit your style. While I don’t encourage you to alter the colours of your images so that it misrepresents what you have for sale, you can still tweak things to suit your brand style.

For instance, if your style is warm and beachy, you might make your pictures a touch brighter than normal, and tweak the colour slightly to bring up the yellow and orange hues. If your style is mystical, you might want to make your photos slightly darker with higher contrast. Or, if your style is shabby chic and romantic, you might like to soften the contrast, and brighten the image.

Once you’ve figured out your image style, stick with it. As I said earlier, most importantly your images should be in focus, well lit, and not cramped. Tweaking your images should be just that – tweaking – and certainly nothing that’s going to misrepresent your product.

 

Mixing it up. OK, so now I’ve got you all clicking along happily, feeling comfortable and confident, it’s time to mix it up again by adding in a bit of variety.

NOTE: THIS IS NOT YOUR EVERYDAY-GARDEN-VARIETY VARIETY. 

This is purposeful variety that fits with your brand, and is designed to add the personal touch. Including real people in your photos can be a big help – for instance, if you sell beachwear, have a couple of shots of happy people wearing your creations at the beach. If you sell jewellery, have a couple of pieces displayed on the body. On your shop’s main page, a couple of people pics amongst 20 or so other product shots will not only demonstrate what these things look like on the body, but because people relate to people, will also add some friendliness/approachability to your shop.

Of course, not every product is suitable for this – you can’t wear graphic design, or furniture. You could however include images of people using your products… or not! Do some research and check out other shops in your niche and see how they style their pics. Which images do you like? Why? How can you extract elements of that and put your own spin on it?

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Improving your photography takes a little bit of knowledge, some good hard thinking, and practice practice practice – you’ll ONLY get better with the doing!

Whatever you do, I’d love to see some befores and afters!! If you’ve been around a while and would like to show off your pic from a couple of years back, and your (vastly improved) one from more recently, drop me a link.  If you’d like have a think about some of the points above this afternoon, do some planning, and have a go at it tomorrow, let me know how it went.  If you’re still feeling stuck and you can’t think of any other ways you might make them better, drop me a comment below with a link to your shop/website.

Wishing you snap-happy goodness,
Julie x

 

Creative ways to get your brand noticed

Creative ways to get your brand noticed:
how to get your brand noticed

Guest Post by Lilly Adams

Today’s market is teeming with competition, and businesses both big and small must strive to stand out. Some brands have become so well-known that their names now replace the generic terms that used to denote similar items. Achieving such a pinnacle of brand awareness is a daunting task, but also the goal that is worth all the blood, sweat, and tears.

The road to success most often requires you to go step by step, but those who step up can make leaps and bounds. So, it is time to get your creative juices flowing and capture the imagination of the customers. Get the word out and plug your personality and business identity wherever you can, both in the digital and the physical realm.

Silence is not golden

Your products speak for you and your business, so you need to make sure they possess a golden tongue. Do your best to create a captivating design, and send free samples to influential bloggers and industry influencers for a review. A product sampling campaign is a great way to enhance the online visibility and make your brand recognizable. Word of mouth promotion can get your small business off the ground, but digital realm is only one part of the strategy.

One must not forget about the real world, and make an effort to make products visible in it too. Car wraps are one of those items that can feature a great customized design. They can cover the whole car, and that sure attracts a crazy amount of attention. So, wherever you go, you can take your brand’s visual identity with you. Do not hesitate to wrap your personal vehicle as well and turn it into a four-wheeled moving piece of promotional magic.

Think outside the promotional box

One of the brilliant examples of nailing a creative promotional product involves the legendary toy brand Lego. Kids adore those little building pieces, but they can turn the room into a minefield that causes pain to their parents. That is why Lego launched specially-designed slippers with thick, Lego-proof soles. They also look like one of the coolest pair of slippers I have ever seen, making them a perfect Christmas gift.

Everyone likes free stuff, there is no doubt. But, I think that we are all fed up with boring, generic gifts and want something that is not only functional, but also unique and adorable. Not many people know, for example, that you can make a personalized visa gift card which features your favourite picture, message, brand, logo, etc. Turning mundane objects into charming items customers are going crazy over is an ultimate art of promotional marketing.

Create stir in social media

Social networks are an immense ocean of opportunities for low-cost and effective marketing. You can use them as a megaphone to shout from the rooftops. So, create a contest and ask people to submit their photos or videos, and vote for their favorites. It is likely that many participants will share their content with friends and family to increase their chances of winning. That way you are building brand awareness effortlessly and in a combined effort with other people, which is a win-win scenario. Embrace trends as well, because things like going green can help you steal the show these days.

Now, do not spread yourself too thin on social platforms and choose those that suit your particular needs. Or to put it in other words, be where your audience hangs out. Surprise them with striking how-to videos and multimedia content. Small businesses in the creative industries can also profit greatly from focusing on Instagram or other photo-heavy websites such as Pinterest. You might have to dig into some analytics and see where your referral traffic is coming from.

Convey a story, add humour

The bulk of memorable brands has attained their present position through the craft of top-notch storytelling. This is the greatest tool of communication we humans have been blessed with, so get familiar with its incredible power. The trick is to connect with an audience on a deeper, emotional level and touch their hearts and soul. One of the best ways to do this online is to make good use of blog posts and boost the online organic traffic with fresh content.

Now, this does not mean you need to be dead serious about it. It is always a good idea to inject some humour and lightheartedness into your efforts. Show a fun aspect of your brand identity and introduce a dose of comedy. Take the example of a hilarious Old Spice commercial or Dollar Shave Club. These promotional videos went viral, and were shared across social networks. When that happens, you can expect your sales to go through the roof.

Finally, establishing a lasting connection and building the essential trust of customers is within your reach.

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Lilly J Adams has worked for six years in different marketing agencies across Australia. Her specialities are advertising, digital marketing, marketing for small businesses and consumers behaviour. She loves art, books and watching crime TV dramas. She’s a regular contributor at BizzMarkBlog.

Inspiring: Barbara Gilhooly {maker/artist}

Barbara Gilhooly’s work is seductive in its multilayered colours, its bright patterns and flowers, its hints of mid-century style. And she amazes with her variety of mediums and breadth of skill – painting, printmaking, wire and wood sculpture, just to name a few …

Barbara Gilhooly - balls for the wall

Barbara Gilhooly – balls for the wall

 

Barbara Gilhooly - balls for the wall

Barbara Gilhooly – balls for the wall

 

Rich with layers and lines and beautiful, beautiful, delicious colour, her work is reminiscent of Stig Lindberg and Lucienne Day amongst others. There are several motifs that Barbara returns to again and again – circles, botanical elements, and buildings.”Circles have been with me the longest – over 20 years. I identify with the obvious references of the shape; centered, wholeness, sphere, etc. However, the attraction for me is the playful quality a circle or sphere evokes. I appreciate the fact that a circle/sphere is both an organic and a geometric shape, and I’m interested in contrasting and blending the industrial and the natural world.”

 

Barbara Gilhooly - acrylic on canvas

Barbara Gilhooly – acrylic on canvas

 

“My compositions are intuitive and evolve from the act of doing, not planning. It’s not to say I have no thought about what I am creating. It is a more trusting place of being ready to plunge into the work without fear. It isn’t always pleasant, and sometimes many days of work get painted over. But, I find comfort in knowing the work underneath is still necessary and vital to the finished piece.  The hidden layers are revealed through sanding or scrubbing. It’s related to so much of our lives – what we don’t see or notice still matters.

 

We all have layers that aren’t visible and I find discovering the depth of these layers the most interesting in people and paintings.

 

Barbara Gilhooly - botanical paintings

 

Barbara Gilhooly - botanical paintings

 

After winning a scholarship to  Univ. of North Dakota (and being the only one in her family to go to college), she then went on to receive her MFA in printmaking and sculpture at Colorado State University.

“I was in kindergarten when I realized I could draw well beyond my classmates. I never thought of any other profession.” But Barbara says that making a career in art requires more than ability. “It’s my priority, profession and passion. Early in my career I chose to focus on making a schedule that puts my studio time on top of the list.”

“I’m disciplined when I’m in the studio. I learned that just because my studio is in my home I don’t do house tasks during studio work time. Being an artist is being a business person as well, and I also use half of my time on marketing and business tasks.”

 

Barbara Gilhooly - 100 x 6" (selection)

Barbara Gilhooly – 100 Six Inch Paintings (selection)

 

One of her favourite pieces was a work titled 100 Six Inch Paintings. “I wanted a large impactful piece, but was concerned about how difficult shipping such a large work would be, so I decided to create 100 small paintings that would cover the largest wall in the gallery. I painted these on birch panels and carved into the surfaces; each one is unique and complex.”

“It was important for me to make each 6 inch panel a standalone piece and not dependent on hanging with the others. I learned so much in working on so many pieces at once. I learned how to finish a work and become much more disciplined. I would critique the nearly finished work at the end of each day, then use post it notes to jot down what each work requires to be finished and stick the note right on the painting. During the two months that I painted these 100 paintings, I would then come to the studio in the morning and take each painting with the post it notes and finish them one by one. Then move to the next batch. I painted flat on a table and would work on as many as 10 to 12 at one time.”

The finished paintings were then hung in four grids of 25 paintings in each grid. Barbara said they were a big hit, discovering in the process that having a more affordable size for collectors worked well with the other larger works in the show.

“I’m often asked how do I make so much good work. I’m prolific because I have been in the studio making things full time for over twenty years. It’s like any profession that requires skill – it involves practice, practice, practice.  I compare it to being a chef.

 

“There’s a point in a chef’s career when you are trained and have the years of experience to create dishes without rules or recipes because you know ingredients and how to use them. It’s very much what I do with my work.

 

I know the ingredients, which are the elements of art. And the recipes in art are the basic principles. I don’t have to think about those formal aspects anymore, I work intuitively. (I cook that way too!) You have to work, make mistakes and put the time in the studio. Much of the work I paint on a panel is painted over. But, it’s still not a wasted day because when I sand through, the layers will reveal some of that history. I paint over panels a lot! It’s editing and being honest with what isn’t working. Another tip that works well for me is to make decisions about work in progress at the end of the day. I use post it notes to jot down my next steps for each work, and the next morning I know exactly what to work on for each piece.”

 

barbara gilhooly

 

“The other half of your work is running your business. It’s a reality and a necessity for success. Find a source to guide your way through the business side. There are many resources online – I’ve worked with Alyson B. Stanfield the Art Biz Coach, and others. Set aside time to learn and devote to marketing your work. There is no one way to be successful – my partner and I like to say ‘Let me do it my own wrong way’!

 

You can find more of Barbara’s brightness at www.barbaragilhooly.com.

 

Fonts : How do I match my font to my brand? (Part1)

how to choose fonts part 1

{photo by Kien Do, licensed under CC0}

 

You know there’s a squillion fonts out there. How do you choose? Just pick something you like?

 

Well sure you can!

 

However, it’s super important to keep in mind a number of things. Like, WHAT’S IT GOING TO BE USED FOR?

If you’re going to write a simple document for instance, there’s no need to get fancy. You can create hierarchy in text easily with a single typeface; just using all caps, italics, bold, and varying the size will be all that you need to do.

When it comes to branding however, you’ll need something a little bit fancier. Consider this too: if you don’t have a logo as such, you can absolutely use your biz name in a particular font as your logo (Myer does this; so do lots of other companies).

The first thing to consider is all the places you might be using that fancy font – business cards, shop banner, website, packaging, letterheads, … the list goes on. Now, some fonts are so fancy that they become difficult to read – so where and how it’s used has a big impact on what you should choose. When it comes to website headers or shop banners for instance, readability becomes less important. But if you’re including contact details or technical information… well, you want people to read that easily, don’t you?

 

So just where do you find good fonts? I’ve written about this before, but it’s worth repeating. So –

FREE FONTS

There are heaps of free fonts available from numerous sites. Here’s a few, but there’s plenty more – www.dafont.comwww.1001freefonts.comwww.fontsquirrel.comfontfabric.com.

There are a couple of things to watch out for if you’re getting a free font. The number one thing is to check the licensing conditions, as they vary from font to font and designer to designer.

Some fonts only come with a free licence if you’re using them for personal use (birthday party invites and the like) but won’t allow commercial usage (which is what you’ll be wanting if you’re using it for your business).

Also, watch out as some fonts are only offered as samples and don’t have the whole character set – very annoying, if not impractical. Look not only for missing letters, but also for punctuation, accented letters, fractions, etc. Some designers might forget characters because of inexperience, or because they’re simply slack, or even because they want to get them onto the free sites as an advertisement to get you to buy the full set.

If you want one of the free fonts spend some time filtering through and reading the licence conditions and get those with a commercial or open source licence if you want to use them in your branding.

You can also make your own font from your handwriting if you like. Try these sites such as www.myscriptfont.com or www.paintfont.com.

 

PAID FONTS

Like many things in life, you often get what you pay for. Because sites like dafont are free and anybody can upload, there’s a lot of bad stuff on there. (There’s good stuff as well, it’s just harder to find.)

When you buy a font from a designer, you’re not only supporting another artist, you’re generally making a leap in quality. There is a much wider array of styles to choose from, and you’ll most probably get a font family  – variations on the central font, which can be useful when creating a hierarchy in your text (headings, sub-headings, etc. And you’ll usually get all the characters). There are often also subtle differences in quality, like the kerning (space between each letter) and the size of various elements within each letter, which has a big impact on readability and making the font lovely to look at.

 

 

OK! Now down to the nitty gritty. How do you match your font to your biz?

Aesthetics

Of course, it’s all to do with aesthetics.

Firstly, be wary of following the latest trend – they may have a short life span and can quickly become dated-looking. That’s OK if you’re using them for short term things (e.g. ads), but you don’t really want to throw out those 500 business cards you just bought last month, now do you?

So beyond issues of readability and trendiness, it comes down to choosing something that you like that ALSO fits with your biz personality.

Briefly, there are several style groupings for fonts, including text fonts (those that are used for everyday writing, and are designed for maximum readability – e.g Arial, Times New Roman, Helvetica) and display fonts (these are the fancy ones for headings).

Display fonts

Big fat fonts with square ends are called slab fonts, and look masculine and modern. Script fonts are slanted and flowing like old-fashioned handwriting – they look elegant and timeless. Handwritten script fonts mimic modern handwriting, and are pretty casual. Condensed fonts (those that look tall and squished) are more tough and authoritative, and of course there are those super-fancy fonts that are a heap more expressive. For instance, curly and uneven convey whimsy; and there are those that refer to things we’re already familiar with like cowboy-style Western, starship-enterprisey space age, or fat 70s groovy.

There’s heaps to cover (including what not to do) and I’d like to do that justice without making this post overly lengthy, so I’ll go into more depth comparing different styles in next week’s post. But while you’re waiting, check out these great infographics I found on FastCoDesign – especially the section at the top identifying some of the different typefaces, and the “What’s it Saying” section –  (and yes they’re not perfect and they do come in for a bit of criticism in the comments, but they’re still a great introduction).

 

If you’ve got any burning questions on fonts, I’d love to hear them!
Besides a deeper analysis of styles next week, where I’ll also talk about how the little touches can make all the difference, I’m also planning a post on pairing font styles for your biz, so stay tuned for that too.

See you next week!
(update: You can find part 2 here – it gets into the stylistic details of each LETTER and how those angles, extensions and curls can all convey personality. Fun!)

How to choose the perfect colours for your brand (Part 2)

perfect colour 2

 

What was your favourite colour as a kid? Mine was always yellow – I couldn’t finish colouring in a picture unless it had some yellow in it somewhere; it always just looked dull. These days, I’m much more open to all the colour combinations; each palette has its own particular mood to convey (but notice I’ve still got yellow in my branding, haha).

Carrying on from last week’s post (here), we continue looking at the multitude of ways you can use to come up with the perfect palette for YOUR brand.

You can make your own palette from scratch in various ways. As noted in the last post,  ColourLovers.com is a great place to go and play with colour. They’ve got a great online community there too, so you can share the palettes you’ve made, AS WELL AS apply them to patterns … also made by you! (and others. Go on, it’s totally addictive.)

HTMLcolorcodes.com  is a modern take on colour pickers, and it’s a bit geeky if that’s your thing. It provides you with the ability to make up you own palettes from scratch, and gives you auto options to choose more colours by changing the criteria (e.g. complementary, triadic, tetradic, etc), so I do feel it comes from a designer’s perspective, and assumes that you already have some knowledge of colour. Having said that, it does include some very nice tools, colour charts, and tutorials on using colour within HTML, CSS, and SCSS.

 

Extracting colour from a photo

One of my very favourite methods of getting a great palette is to find an image that really, really nails who and what your brand is. (It doesn’t matter if it’s not your image – you’re just using it for inspiration, and this exercise is a totally private one.) When you extract the colours from an image like that, it should be pretty darn close to the perfect palette for you. For example, if your biz personality is bright and fun, and you’ve got an image of a fairground on a sunny day, chances are you’ll find the colours that you need right there.

If it’s already a digital image, great. If not, get it onto your screen somehow. Next, go to any one of the many colour picker sites online – such as pictaculous.com, cssdrive.com, Lokesh Dhakar’s color-thief or palettefx.com. However, my fave picker is Adobe’s, at color.adobe.com and you’ll see why in a minute. (ALL of these generators will provide you with at least the hex-code of your colour – this is the 6-digit identifying number (denoted by the hash key #) so that you’ll always get EXACTLY the same colour every time you use it.)

Start by loading up your photo (on color.adobe, the link to load is at the bottom of the page), and let the generator do its thing. Now in Adobe, the big advantage is that once you’ve loaded up the image, it will show you the points it’s used for sampling – and you can move them around to tweak your palette. Alternatively, you can change the ‘mood’ from the drop-down menu on the left. Once you’re happy, you can either save it (if you’re an Adobe member), or click on the little colour-wheel icon on the right and it will take you to the colour wheel, where you can tweak some more, or just find the hex codes for the colours you’ve got. Easy peasy!

 

colourpicker1

using the adobe colour picker

 

colourpicker3

using the adobe colour picker

 

Some basic colour theory

There is OOOODLES of stuff about the theory of colour out there, and really, you don’t need to know anything beyond the basics.

The technical terms you will find most helpful are these –

* Hue is pure colour, and includes all the colours in the spectrum (red, green, blue, etc).

* Value is to do with how dark and light it is – from almost white to almost black.

* Saturation is to do with how pure the colour is – it runs in a scale from the purest colour, through to almost entirely grey. (Consider also, that each hue has a different value – red is much darker than yellow, and that is why when you change the saturation on each of those colours, a different grey value will result.)

 

 

 

 

yellow saturationred saturation

 

 

Start with the colour wheel, you The most basic method of choosing colours is to start by looking at the hue i.e. pure colour), and the relationships that you can form around the colour wheel.

 

colourwheel 500px

 

One method of choosing colour is to use balance. Pick two colours directly opposite, you’ve got balance. Make a symmetrical triangle, and you’ve got balance. Make a square or rectangle, and you’ve got balance. Tweak those hues with value and saturation, and you’ll still have balance.

 

Another method is to choose colours next to each other on the wheel – because they’ve got a hue in common, they’ll look good together. Again, tweak those hues with value and saturation, and you’ve got yourself a useful palette.

analogous

 

As noted, there are TONS of ways you can come up with colour; it entirely depends on your brand and what mood you want to convey, that fits your business personality.

 

A last word on choosing colours for branding.

A very important thing to remember when you’re choosing colours for your palette is that these colours will be used for all sorts of things – text, backgrounds, borders on images, highlights, buttons….. and so much more. SO you’ll need to make sure it’s a useful palette. Ensure you include at least one dark colour, and one light colour, and that there is enough contrast between the different combinations.

OK, have fun!

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Oh, and p.s., I would LOVE you to tell me what your fave colour was as a kid, and if it’s still your fave now. Do you use it in your biz brand? Or would you consider it for your brand? Leave me a comment below, and tell me what your biz is, too! 

 

Colour-junkie Julie x